Twit or Tweet?

It was only last Friday I was expressing my disdain for social networking. Bored of Facebook, and the idea of being ‘Facebook stalked’ by people who don’t know me, I wasn’t keen on the idea of signing myself up to anything else. But after our team’s New Media briefing I became enthused about Twitter and registered on the site that very day! Less than a week later, I have to admit, I’m hooked. It is a great way to keep up with brand new thoughts and ideas and it has been fun getting to grips with Twitter’s own lexicon. You can follow me here – http://twitter.com/fair_ruth

The Supporter Relations Team at Shared Interest have been using the site for networking. You can see the page at  http://twitter.com/SharedInterest and by following us, you can help to raise our online profile.

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Update from Kenya

The following is a message from Rachel Ngondo, Shared Interest’s Regional Development Executive – Afrtica.

It was good meeting you all last month and catching up again. We had  lots of fun too!

Back in Nairobi and reflecting about my trip to the UK for the last few weeks.

It  is always a pleasure for me to meet members  and bringing to life what their investments are achieving with regards to changing people’s lives especially here in Africa where food prices have gone up, production costs have gone up and producers are making  less from their sweat.

But it’s not always  a grim picture. This week I met with   Daniel of KISAC one of our existing customers.

KISAC produce soapstone  and sell to the American market. They have specialised on the heart shaped soapstone carving which sells a lot during valentine and all other occasions really.  You see the symbol of ‘Love’ always works even in times of  crisis. We always want to feel someone loves us and cares for us.  Daniel came to thank  Shared Interest for  supporting their organisation.  KISAC are now discussing with Ten Thousand Villages and hopefully they will start selling to them. In addition, they  now have a website! www.kisac.co.ke They did not have it when we first started working with them. What makes happy is that we have enabled the widows who work with KISAC access a livelihood.

Rachel

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Putting market access into practice: reaching the bottom billion through corporate supply and distribution chains

Nice presentation by David Croft, Cadbury’s Sustainability Director at the Business Fights Poverty event discussing “Putting market access into practice: reaching the bottom billion through corporate supply and distribution chains.

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Fairtrade ‘well positioned during recession’

One of the most often asked questions asked at events that we attend is, ‘how is Fairtrade holding up in this economic downturn?’  The answer we give is always, ‘so far so good.’  I’ve just come across another blog post that quotes Giles Robertson, interim director of marketing at the Fairtrade Foundation, providing further evidence that Fairtrade is flourishing in spite of the current economic climate.  Good news indeed!

Businesses committed to accounting for carbon emissions may be pleased to hear that one sector commentator has claimed Fairtrade is well positioned to take advantage of people’s “disillusionment” with global financial markets.

Giles Robertson, interim director of marketing at the Fairtrade Foundation, said Britons were beginning to question the way the economy is run amid the collapse of trusted organisations, which would result in an “explosion” in the growth of Fairtrade.

“People increasingly look for new ways to potentially make a difference and increasingly we are seeing that people see buying a Fairtrade product as a real opportunity to make a development impact,” he added.

Mr Robertson went on to note that 70 per cent of UK consumers recognise the Fairtrade mark on the products.

According to research commissioned by the Fairtrade Foundation, one in four (25 per cent) of the UK’s shoppers now regularly buy several products carrying the Fairtrade mark.

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Namayiana - Fair Trade Producer Visit Click here to learn how you can invest in fair trade.

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Shared Interest on Ethical.tv

Just a quick note to let you know that our latest video from Costa Rica is now on Ethical.tv.  You can access the video here.

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New Office, New Customers, New Demand for Shared Interest!

Despite the calendar saying we are now here at the beginning of the autumn, the summer refuses to abandon Lima. So, it has been very nice to start working with warm weather! And I am now writing you from my improvised new “office”: my bedroom. Luckily, from this position, I cannot see my bed! Nevertheless, it is not a big issue to start working at home, it has its advantages actually, but it will better to find a suitable office soon. At the beginning I thought it would be very easy to find a small office in a centric area of Lima, but the reality is quite different. I was in contact with a couple of state agents or brokers who search for offices and houses. They both agreed that due to the size I am looking for, it is much better to drive through some main streets and try to find one directly! It seems it will take more time than I thought. Today I saw 2 of the options they suggested, but I think those offices are too big… my search will continue and I will let you know the (good) news.

Recently I had the opportunity to meet the guys from Sustainable Harvest. They are very nice people and are willing for me to travel with them in their next trip to visit producers. There was a possibility to share an office with them, but they will need all the space they have available now. Also I met Daniel Rivera from Root Capital and their Investment Officer, Luis Miguel Ormeño, who is based in Boston and was visiting the offices in Lima. Both Sustainable Harvest and Root Capital agreed that the main weaknesses of smaller cooperatives and producers are the management and communication skills. Because of that, they have a poor and limited planning and also it is easy for the middle-men to seduce individual producers offering a “better” price. That leads to short term relationships and weakening of the bonding of the cooperative members. Probably we will notice the same situation all around the world for this type of small organization.

I also had my first meeting (not by Skype or phone!) with a potential new customer: Mountain Coffee. It is a small coffee cooperative that needs a facility for the current harvest (does that sound familiar to you?). They are located in Chanchamayo, Junin, around 7 or 8 hours by bus from Lima. They are aware of our lending position, but they are willing to start the relationship and apply to for Producer Export Credit Facility. What we discussed during Shared Interests AGM was totally correct. The need of funding for the cooperatives is almost in its peak here, and they really need our support. The following months will tell us what will happen. Regarding our current customers, I have many expectations about the trip to Atlanta in order to participate in the SCAA Conference. It is a great opportunity to meet them and naturally potential new ones.

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Farmers of the World Unite!

For more than 100 years, May Day has symbolised the struggles of workers around the globe.  Join us to celebrate the creative struggles of small-scale farmers who are working with consumers to re-shape our unsustainable food system, through Fairtrade and local food.

Live Music, Performance Poetry, Speakers – Sophi Tranchell of Divine Chocolate and Nick Saltmarch of Tracing Paper, Fairtrade stalls from Divine, Dubble, Liberation, Cafedirect, The Co-operative, Shared Interest, London Diocese Fairtrade Campaign and the City of London Fairtrade Campaign.

Between 12.00 and 14.00 on Friday 1st May at the Forecourt of the Royal Exchange in the City of London.

Come along to find out more and hear how you can take action for fairtrade.

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Cotton On…

As calm is restored after Fairtade Fortnight up creeps World Fair Trade Day.  This year Saturday the 9th of May has been designated World Fair Trade Day.  Dubbed ‘The Big Bang’ people across the world will be uniting for this day of events, including fairtrade breakfasts and talks.

Cotton On is an event organised by Bristol Fairtrade Network and Bishopston Trading and takes place from 10am until 4.30pm on Saturday the 9th May at the Council House in Bristol:

A one-day conference exploring every aspect of this fascinating fibre and challenging us to find the most sustainable ways forward.

The day is open to everyone with an interest, from fashion students to ethical consumers, from textile manufacturers to campaigners, from clothing retailers to certifiers, from development students to designers.  Come along and find out more about this amazing fibre, which involves over 100 million households globally in its production and many more in its design, manufacture, retail and consumption.

Speakers include Lucy Siegle, ethical living and environmental journalist, Observer; Robin Maynard, Campaigns Director, Soil Association; Claire Durkin, BERR / DfID; Abigail Petit, Director, Gossypium; BArbara Crowther, Communications Director, Fairtrade Foundation.

For more details and tickets please follow this link http://tinyurl.com/cotton-on-booking

Hope to see you there!

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Exciting partnerships in South Africa

South Africa is one of the strongest economies in Southern Africa – and provides economic shelter for many in the region – through jobs, skills transfer and trade. Yet it is at cross-roads. Numerous Government poverty alleviation strategies since 1994 have not been effective enough to stem the rising tide of poverty, and the gap between rich and poor is now larger than ever.

One of the stumbling blocks to success in the country is the shortage of appropriate skills – and in particular skills that support growth and development at grassroots level.

Shared Interest Foundation has a long established relationship with South African based consultancy Fetola Mmoho and we have teamed up to develop training modules and capacity building work to address these issues within small craft businesses throughout the country.

This expanded small business development programme is based on a model which connects locally owned & managed community craft shops to tourism routes. It will help crafts people to step up the value chain from their traditional role as producers to the more lucrative role of retailer. The creation of successful community craft shops will increase the proportion of sales income to the local communities, thus improving impact in these rural areas.

The expanded programme will provide selected groups and individuals with practical and applied craft retail skills. The sustainable business development outcomes are

  1. Community Owned Retail Businesses
    1. Black ownership up the supply chain
    2. Job creation – in the shop and through growth of the local supply chain
    3. Income Generation – including higher (retail) profit margins
  2. Personal development & empowerment of communities, especially vulnerable – women, the rural poor and youth, through
    1. Skills development
    2. Personal Development including personal Financial management
    3. Local economic opportunity

So far we have completed and piloted three out of the 6 training module’s with the remaining three well on there way to completion.

This is an extremely exciting partnership for the Foundation and we hope to expand on this project in the coming years.

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Swimming the length of the English Channel

Dear Friends,

As many of you already know Shared Interest Foundation does some amazing work in order to help people in the developing world work their way out of poverty.  This work, whether it be a small grant to pay for an organisation to attend a trade fair or an intensive three year training course changes poeples lives. It empowers them to break out of the poverty cycle. I would like to share one such story with you.

Theoneste once lived with his two parents, 2 younger brothers, and 2 younger sisters. His parents were farmers with some land and cattle. In 1994, he lost both of his parents, his 8 year old brother, and the family’s cattle. Theoneste was forced to care for his younger brother and two sisters who needed food, clothing, and education. In his own words “I was 10 and I had to grow up and provide for my family as none was left even in my extended family to take care of us.” He was able to finish primary school but could not continue his studies with all of his responsibilities. So, Theoneste began to farm his parents’ land but soon sold it off piece by piece to survive the days.

Since working for Cards from Africa he has been able to provide for his 20 year old brother, Charles, and his 15 year old sister, Rachel. His 13 year old sister was adopted by another family when they lost their parents. For his two younger siblings, Theoneste is able to give them food, clothes, and school materials. In addition, through working with others in his same condition, he has been able to regain a sense of trust as well as a hope for the future. On a practical level, he has learned how to save money and problem solve wisely. In the future Theoneste would like to learn English, French, and go to music school to perform his gift (the guitar).

We would love to help more poeple like Theoneste achieve their true potential, however this can only be achieved with your help and this is where the swimming come into it.

I will be swimming the length of the channel in only 4 weeks to support more poeple like Rachel. I will swim 22 miles which equates to 35,405 metres, which is a whopping 1416 lengths of a 25m pool.

So to do the maths for you….that amounts to 354 lengths per weekfor 4 weeks. Which is a bit of a step up from my current 30 lengths per week!

I will start this challenge on the 1st May and will be providing short updates on here to chart my progress.

I would be really grateful if you would support this worthwhile cause – remember that every little bit helps!

Thank you for visiting my fundraising page,

http://www.justgiving.com/andreawilkinsonchannelswimming

Andrea x

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Namayiana - Fair Trade Producer Visit Click here to learn how you can invest in fair trade.

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