Congratulations to Tintsaba, Gone Rural and Fetola

Great news from Shared Interest Foundation, three organisations that we work with through our Swaziland training project Tintsaba, Gone Rural and Fetola have won prestigious awards.

Tintsaba were awarded with the “For Her” prize at the Be Fair Awards. The award celebrates the success of organisations that mainly consists of women. The Be Fair Awards are the annual recognition of fair trade initiatives from the Trade for Development Centre of the Belgian Technical Cooperation (BTC).

The women of Tintsaba have a reputation as master weavers in sisal thanks to their products’ excellent quality and design. The women of the co-operative are trained to weave sisal as well as make jewellery. The group also provides training opportunities for other women in the region.

The jury commented: “We wanted to reward Tintsaba for its holistic approach, which includes business and social support. Thanks to its innovative production model, which generates high-quality products, Tintsaba is a source of inspiration for other entrepreneurs.”

Handicraft producers, Gone Rural were awarded the Trade Sector award in the African Small Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMME) Awards. The awards are organised by the Africa Growth Institute, in partnership with African governments, private sector institutions, NGO’s and SMME support agencies.

Gone Rural was founded by the late Jenny Thorne in the 1980s to create sustainable incomes for rural women in Swaziland, with the objective of bringing independence and a voice to these women. Today, it creates sustainable income for over 760 women throughout Swaziland. In the last four years the business has doubled in size and quadrupled the women’s income. Gone Rural supplies over 400 retail stores internationally with products sold in some of the worlds most renowned home stores.

Swaziland fair trade business

Mrs Nkambule from Gone Rural, a women’s weaving cooperative in Swaziland

We are really proud of the achievements of the groups and we look forward to hearing about future successes from them and the other groups that we work with across Swaziland.

Fetola were awarded the coveted Africa SSME Award 2011. We have been working with Fetola for the last 4 years and this month launched a second phase project with them. The new project involves training 40 new craft producers throughout South Africa in business and financial skills, market access and good governance.  You can read more about our work with Fetola by clicking here.

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

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National Ethical Investment Week

Last weekend saw the wrapping up of the fourth National Ethical Investment Week (NEIW).  The annual campaign, established by the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association (UKSIF), aims to let individuals know how they can make money and make a difference.  The week forms a significant period of activity for us here at Shared Interest, as encouraging people to invest ethically is at the heart of what we do. UKSIF’s Lisa Wootton described ethical investment as ‘the natural next step’ for those who buy fair trade products and we wholeheartedly agree.

Last Monday as part of NEIW, I participated in the Investing Ethically Conference in London.  The conference was organised by Independent Financial Advisers, Investing Ethically Ltd and brought together a host of organisations offering ethical investment options.  Keynote speakers included Harriet Lamb of the Fairtrade Foundation and Helen Boothroyd of the Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility (ECCR).  Harriet opened the conference with emphasis on the opportunity that the ethical investment movement has now.  A chance to take stock, to rethink and to do things differently, Harriet called on us all to put ‘integrity into investment and ethics into economics’.

We couldn’t agree more. We’re looking forward to hearing about how successful the week has been and about how we can get involved in the fifth anniversary of NEIW in 2012.

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

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Sharing an interest in the Fairtrade community

Weaving my way through the Saturday morning shoppers on my way to the Fairtrade Supporters Conference in Birmingham I was looking forward to the day ahead.  A day which turned out to be full of smiling faces keen to share their stories and experiences working to support fair trade in their towns, schools and faith groups, and keen to hear about the work of Shared Interest.

Arriving to set up my stall in the market place area, alongside BananaLink, CAFOD, Equal Exchange, Fair Trade Association Birmingham, Liberation, New Internationalist, Pants to Poverty, Tropical Wholefoods and Zaytoun, it was great to check out what wares I was going to be able to purchase, if nothing else some fab fair trade munchies for the train ride home!

Over the lunch period we were ambushed by fair trade enthusiasts keen to learn what the next step is that they can take in the fair trade journey, the theme of Fairtrade Fortnight 2012.  Some existing members of Shared Interest stopped to say hello, while some stopped to find out what we’d been up to recently as well as new faces enquiring about our work and how they can learn more.  A great conversation developed as one Fairtrade Town was explaining to another what Shared Interest does and why they have chosen to invest with us, word of mouth is such a powerful tool.

Overall it was a great day and great to touch base with the rest of the Fairtrade community. Hopefully I’ll see you all next year!

Sharing an interest in the Fairtrade community

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Producer ownership of Fairtrade International moves to a new level

The members of Fairtrade International have voted to increase the influence and ownership of producers, making them half-owners of the Fairtrade certification system. Since 2006, certified producer organisations have been co-owners with labelling initiatives from consumer countries but the recent decision implies that the producers will now have an equal voice in the highest decision-making body of Fairtrade International. In the future the General Assembly will include 12 delegates from Fairtrade labelling initiatives and 12 delegates from producer organisations.

To read the full article, please visit the Fairtrade International website.

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Chief Executive of WFTO visits Shared Interest

WFTO Carola Reintjes at Shared Interest We were delighted to welcome Carola Reintjes, the Chief Executive of WFTO to our Head Office last week. Carola kindly gave staff a presentation focused on the WFTO vision for the future. She said that the fair trade community was facing challenging times but nevertheless WFTO had a “commitment to the interests of producers, especially small farmers and artisans, should be the main focus in all the policies, governance, structures and decision making of WFTO (and within the Fair Trade movement).”

Carola finished the presentation with a thought provoking quote “Fair Trade is life in dignity”.

Part of the presentation by Carola Reintjes

Part of the presentation by Carola Reintjes

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Zip across the Tyne

Fancy joining the 25 of Shared Interest staff and volunteers who are rising – quite literally – to our latest fundraising challenge?

There are 5 places left for our Zip Slide Challenge which will see our adventurous volunteers travel 230 meters across the Tyne at 25mph on the 29th October 2011. New volunteers are asked to raise £85 for Shared Interest Foundation. £35 covers the cost of the experience and the remaining £50 will be used to support the Foundation in its mission to help producers in the developing world to create a sustainable income for their families.

To get involved all you need to do is contact Shared Interest Foundation on 0191 233 9129 or email andrea.vanwagtendonk@shared-interest.com to book your place.

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Blog Action Day 2011

People sometimes question the impact that social media has on our society. Change.org certainly believes in the power of collective blogging.

Today marks the Fourth anniversary of Blog Action Day. In the summer of 2007 Collins and Cyan Ta’eed recruited thousands of bloggers to write about the issue of environment on October 15, 2007. The initiative achieved unexpected success and since then Change.org has carried on the campaign, annually encouraging the world’s bloggers to unite by posting about the same issue on the same day. In 2008 the subject was poverty, last year the campaign looked at Water. Change.org said “our aim is to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion around an important issue that impacts us all.”

Today, thousands of bloggers will take part in Blog Action Day 2011 discussing food issues that affect their communities and the rest of the world.

Here at Shared Interest we are keen to show how Fair Trade food helps farmers and communities improve their lives. The Shared Interest film below shows how our investors have made a difference. Candela works with nearly 300 Brazil nut gatherers (castañeros) and their families who live along the Madre de Dios River. The nuts are transported by river and road to Candela’s processing plant in Puerto Maldonado and then to Lima, from where nuts and oils are exported to Europe, North America and Australia.

If you would like to learn more about investing with Shared Interest please click here.

Have you been blogging about food today? If so we’d love to see what you’ve written so don’t be shy and send us a link!

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Charlotte’s Work Experience Blog

My name is Charlotte and I am currently a student at Newcastle University and a volunteer for Shared Interest. I started volunteering this summer and have really enjoyed attending events and working in the office with the staff. Rachel, the Volunteer Manager, was kind enough to organise a week’s work experience for me so I could gain a greater insight into the departments within the organisation that I have an interest in.

On my first morning I was given a tour around the office to meet everyone and learn a little bit about their role within the society. Everyone made me feel very welcome.

In the afternoon I was introduced to the environment team. I already know Rachel, so really I was just introduced to Steve! Although there is only the two of them they have been hard at work figuring out how to off-set Shared Interests carbon emissions for this year. They have decided on a tree planting project to replace the paper they have used in the office which according to Steve is 11 trees! Throughout the week I helped Rachel with organising this event

I finished the day off by talking to Margaret about working in HR which I am considering as a career after my degree. She is involved in recruiting new staff and maintaining the well-being of existing staff. I learned that part of her role is very similar to an agony aunt, as she deals with any worries in the office!

I spent my second day at SCAN. SCAN is Newcastle Universities’ volunteer centre for students and they will be helping me and Rachel organise the tree planting. We organised transport, refreshments, equipment and the venue. We delegated the remainder of the jobs between us which we will work on this month. I will be in charge of finding out which trees can be planted in October and where to source them from. I will have to work within a budget which will involve a bit of ringing around to find the best deal!

I have spent most of the third day with the marketing team, another area of work which greatly interests me. They allowed me to sit in on two meetings.  One was a team meeting and it was interesting to hear what everyone has been working on recently and how they are making progress with it. The other meeting was about the changes that Adam had made to the website – which looks great!

I spoke to Kerrey and Stacey during the day who are both involved in marketing. They showed me some packs that were getting sent out to members, and ones that could be sent to inquiring members. They looked great and will be very useful for current and future investors. They explained the process in which the packs are made; this involves working with designers and printers outside of Shared Interest and is much more time consuming than I thought!

I learned that marketing needs creative thinkers, and am now even more interested in pursuing it after my degree!

On Day four Rachel asked me to attend a volunteer conference on ‘volunteering in a big society’ with her. I found this very interesting from a volunteer’s point of view and found out some of the difficulties with recruiting and managing young volunteers. It was a real insight into Rachel’s line of work and I thoroughly enjoyed the day – despite the rather beige buffet!

On my final day I returned to SCAN. I helped Phil sign people up to volunteer and explained to people how volunteering can benefit them as well as others. Rachel came with me to promote Shared Interest and we were able to hand out some of her business cards to students that were interested in becoming a Shared Interest volunteer.

This week has been very useful in helping me decide which career path to take after university. I am still a little torn between HR and marketing but I am positive that I would love to work for an ethical or charity organisation similar to Shared Interest.

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Fairtrade Supporters Conference 2011

It seems like only a few months ago I was decorating a bit of cotton bunting and buying some Fairtrade Christmas pressies at the Fairtrade Supporters Conference.  This year the annual conference, hosted by the Fairtrade Foundation, is moving out of London and travelling to Birmingham and I’m really looking forward to returning to what feels like a massive family reunion.

It’s great to meet in person the ‘@’ signs I’ve been following on Twitter or catch up with people I’ve met in the last few years of my involvement within the fair trade movement.  This year I’m particularly looking forward to hearing from Allegra McEverdy, founder of LEON restaurants, on the future of food.  LEON’s sweet potato wrap got me through a chilly Fairtrade Tea Dance at Spitalfields market a few years ago!  I’ll be taking lots of notes this year because as well as running a Shared Interest stall I’ll be attending for the first time as Chair of my local Fairtrade Steering Group and they’re expecting a great report.

Watch this space for an update and pics from the event and I look forward to seeing you there!

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Edinburgh volunteer recruitment event

By Rachel Norman

When we were invited to the annual volunteer recruitment event organised by Edinburgh Volunteer Centre we jumped at the chance. The event took place in St Paul’s and St George’s Church on York Place, a spectacular light and airy venue in an excellent location. I went along with Kelly one of our Newcastle based volunteers. It was an early start for both of us, but we had the sunshine on our side and temperatures in Edinburgh that day reached 25 degrees!

Over 1,100 potential volunteers came along to the event and there were 35 organisations there looking for people to help them out.  We had a prime spot and managed to speak to lots of people about Shared Interest and get a huge list of people interested in finding out more about volunteering; we also managed to sign up an investor in the process.

After a long day Kelly and I got back into Newcastle late at night, exhausted but happy with the amount of people we had spoken to and the amount of interest we had acquired. No doubt in part due to my recent undertaking of knitting, which attracted so many people to come and speak to us and ask what we were all about. Some stalls had freebies, but we got by with smiles and knitting!

If you live in Edinburgh and would like to know more about volunteering with Shared Interest feel free to contact me rachel.norman@shared-interest.com

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

Click here to donate to the Shared Interest Foundation
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