Bishop Martin writes ~ May 2014


Shared Interest

The Bishop of Newcastle, the Rt Revd Martin WhartonI want to share with you this month, news of one of Tyneside’s best, but little known initiatives.

With offices within a short walking distance from our Cathedral, Shared Interest is one of the best examples of making a little go a very long way in support of people all across our world.

For as little as £100 you and I can open an ethical investment account with Shared Interest, and help lighten the load and transform communities.

The Shared Interest Society over the last 25 years has provided low interest finance to farmers and handcraft producers in unstable and disadvantaged countries around the world. The combined investments of nearly 9,000 UK investors are loaned and re-loaned to fair trade businesses in need of fair finance. All investments are made within the fair trade network, ensuring that, in addition to fair prices, a premium is paid for re-investment into the local community.

Bananas are just one of the commodities financed by Shared Interest Society. Fair trade offers banana farmers a better deal, and ensures investment is made in sustainable and safe processing, as well as supporting business growth.

For example a Shared Interest load helped Cepibo, in Peru, install a cableway so farmers no longer need to carry bananas on their backs to the packing plants. This speeds up production as well as protecting the health of the farmers.

Founded on the Christian principles of love, justice, and stewardship, the Society attracts members including individuals, church groups, Fairtrade towns, schools, and community organisations. Anything from £100 to £100,000 can be invested. Each member has a Share Account, which can be accessed at any time to top-up or withdraw funds. A small amount of interest is paid to members, but is frequently waived or donated to Shared Interest Foundation.

Managing Director, Patricia Alexander, says “Fair trade businesses are able to access low interest loans from us because of our investors. In return, we keep our investors up to date with how their money is transforming businesses and communities across the globe”.

Investments are not protected as they would be in a regular bank, but with staff in offices around the world, Shared Interest understands and responds to the changing context within which customers operate; taking care of investments, but also taking care of people. In nearly 25 years of ethical investment, Shared Interest has never failed to protect investor funds.

The Society had modest beginnings, but last year was able to make £47 million available to farmers and producers across the world, supporting them to trade their way out of poverty. By investing, you will become a member of a community benefit society, which acts co-operatively, and will have an equal voice, regardless of the size of your financial investment. An investment with Shared Interest Society is an investment for the future – and not just your own.

I opened my account a few months ago and I hope many people in the Diocese will be encourage and inspired to do the same.

Anyone over 16 can open a Share Account with as little as £100 or as much as £100,000. For an enquiry pack and to find out more about investing in a fairer world, please telephone 0191 233 9100, or visit






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