Cruising around the web today for some interesting material I came across this blog posting from last fall about fair trade lending.
The author is Hugo Villela, Market Development Executive – Central America for Shared Interest, and he writes about his recent trip to Bogota and Armenia. Shared Interest describes itself as follows:
Shared Interest is a co-operative lending society that aims to reduce poverty in the world by providing fair and just financial services. We have been part of the fair trade movement for 17 years and work extensively with community-based businesses in Africa and other continents to help them make the most of fair trade. We work primarily by providing finance up front to producers, often via their buyers, to enable them to buy raw materials, tools and the other things they need at the time they need them. We also offer longer term loans and other credit facilities to support the development of fair trade businesses. We currently have more than 8,500 members who have invested over £22 million to allow us to make a range of financial services available to fair trade producers and the businesses that buy, market and retail their goods.
A good thing, wouldn’t you say?
Visiting Colombia, Hugo reports that he was able to have successful meetings with ProExport, the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Investment, as well as the Bogota Chamber of Commerce. Hugo writes that “there are not many micro or alternative lending companies operating in Colombia,” but he was “able to determine that we can legally operate in Colombia as well as raise our profile in the region.” He also attended “Let’s Talk Coffee,” in Armenia, which he says:
assembles farmers, cooperative leaders, roasters, industry visionaries, market analysts, and business experts, providing a forum for 250 participants from thirteen countries to receive industry-specific training, listen to expert presentations designed to help improve supply chain quality, and share best practices among peers (from the Sustainable Harvest website).”
Coffee is big in Colombia, and so is fair trade, so Shared Interest’s success is wonderful to hear about. Villela also met with Fruandes (Frutos de los Andes) during his trip, which has made a success of its fair trade approach.
I would like to hear and share more. I am developing a post about micro-lending and alternative financing in Colombia. Please post any suggestions.