Shared Interest, a nonprofit organisation who work with UK investors to provide fair finance in disadvantaged communities, recently approached BeeBee looking for a gift to thank their volunteers. We were so taken with what they do, we wanted to share their amazing work with you.
Tell us about Shared Interest!
Shared Interest exists thanks to our 11,500 UK members who invest their spare money in a Share Account. We pool these funds together to reach almost 400 fair trade organisations in over 60 countries. Our finance supports Fairtrade products such as coffee, fresh fruit, nuts, and cocoa, as well as handcrafts such as weaved baskets and furniture. We currently have over £41 million in Share Capital, which enabled us to make payments totalling £62.9m this year. Many of the organisations we lend to are unable to access finance elsewhere and we become a lifeline for their business.
Can you give us some examples of the people and projects you have helped?
Our experience provides us with the belief that, by providing increased access to credit facilities to smallholder farmer organisations, we empower them to work towards the reduction of poverty and the promotion of economic growth and social development in their communities.
We work with a shea butter organisation in Burkina Faso, which is led by women. UGF/CDN supplies well-known beauty retailer L’OCCITANE. They asked us to finance a truck for transporting nuts, and funds to improve their processing equipment.
As many of the women are widows, theirs is the sole income of the household so the subsequent increase in production and income has made a huge difference to them. Kansole Eli (51), said: "I used to depend on the help of my relatives to feed my children, but with the increase in my income, I have been able to do this without any external help."
Furthermore, a new community initiative has also brought positive changes for the surrounding villages, to challenge the low number of girls receiving an education. This literacy programme now serves nearly 10,000 women in the local area.
What do your volunteers do for Shared Interest?
There is no such thing as a typical volunteer at Shared Interest. All of our volunteers share our vision of a fairer world and they play an integral role in raising awareness of our work. They do this in a variety of different ways, from giving talks or running stalls in their local community, to carrying out data entry, and translating our website into French and Spanish. No matter whether their role is behind the scenes, or actively involved in events, our network of almost 70 volunteers helps us encourage support of Shared Interest across the UK.
You can read more about our volunteer experiences here.
What can our readers do to support you?
If your readers like the sound of Shared Interest, they can support us in a number of ways. They may like to watch the animation on our website, which gives an overview of how things work. From here, they may decide to volunteer or invest using the online application process for each. Alternatively, even if they do not have the time or funds to get involved now, they may want to tell a likeminded friend who does. Our membership team is happy to answer any questions people may have, by either email or telephone.
Why did you choose BeeBee Wraps as a thank you gift for your volunteers?
Our Volunteer Engagement Manager, Sally Seddon, first discovered beeswax wraps when in New Zealand last year. She said: “I really liked this alternative to using single use plastic such as cling film so brought some home with me. As Volunteer Week approached, I thought that this would make the perfect thank you gift for our network of volunteers. BeeBee wraps seemed the perfect fit as not only are they a bright, colourful and practical gift, but they also send a ‘function over consumption’ message, which we know is important to our volunteers too. We liked that BeeBee hold similar values around the environment and sustainability, and that the product is multi-purpose and also provides a good talking point.