Want to make some extra cash while giving a boost to markets in the developing world? Shared Interest lends capital to fair trade buyer and producer organizations in areas of the world that have limited access to finance. Because they only invest in Fair Trade businesses, that means living wages, better working conditions, and often benefits for workers like health care and education for their children.
For many of us in the West, starting a business without the help of a bank would be impossible. Those in the developing world face this challenge and more when beginning a new venture. Yet developing economies will never improve without the expansion of the free market; this can only happen through improving the environment in which business can operate and gain access to capital.
This makes the work of companies like Shared Interest all the more crucial. Microfinance this is not; Shared Interest lends capital in the range of $10,000 to $20,000 or more at a time, allowing for companies to make serious expansions and investments of their own in equipment or facilities.
I’ve documented Shared Interest’s investments all over Africa. These recent photographs come from the West African nations of Ghana (Fotobi) and Cote D’Ivoire (Grand Bassam), where Cocopack and Fotobi Cooperative are growing, processing and exporting Fair Trade pineapple and coconut products to Europe. The businesses are excelling while providing much-needed revenue and jobs to poorer communities. That’s something to toast to with your next Fair Trade piña colada!