Third Sector Awards 2015: Enterprise Award - Winner Shared Interest Society

Awarded to a social enterprise or the trading arm of a charity that has made a significant difference to beneficiaries through its ability to generate income to meet its social goals

Shared Interest links investors with fair-trade organisations around the world
Shared Interest links investors with fair-trade organisations around the world

What does it do?

Shared Interest is an ethical investor based in Newcastle. It links investors in the UK with fair-trade organisations around the world that need funding, particularly in volatile areas that other social lenders fear are too risky. Research has found that 450 million smallholders provide 70 per cent of the world's food, but only 2 per cent of their financial needs are met. The organisation works with businesses for up to five years, with the aim of enabling them eventually to access fair local finance. It has regional offices in Costa Rica, Ghana, Kenya and Peru.

How does it raise money?

Shared Interest has to encourage people to invest, which it does through magazine advertising, including cover wraps with The Big Issue, and online activity, as well as advertising on public transport. Last year, investments grew about two-and-a-half times faster than they did the year before and were at the highest level for 10 years, with 60 per cent of enquirers going on to invest, compared with 48 per cent the previous year.

What has it achieved?

Last year, Shared Interest made 2,712 payments in 65 countries, adding up to a total of £48m. During that time the organisation financed 133 producers, which paid £182.8m to their workers. At the end of 2014, Shared Interest had more than £31m in share capital and almost 9,000 investors.

What did the judges say?

Phil Maguire, chief executive of the Prison Radio Association, said: "There is clear evidence of an organisation meeting its social goals and obviously making a significant difference to beneficiaries."

Finalist

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