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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Darla Robbins
Swahili Imports, Inc.
October 26, 2011
The Shared Interest Society Approves Swahili Imports for a Buyer Finance Facility
The fair trade lending cooperative Shared Interest Society Limited, based in the United Kingdom, has approved US importer Swahili Imports for a buyer finance facility. Founded in 1990 in Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK, the Shared Interest Society was established to further the fair trade movement by providing loans to farmers and craftspeople in the developing world.
As the world’s only 100% fair trade lender, the cooperative currently lends over 33 million pounds yearly to both producers in developing nations and the buyers who distribute their goods worldwide. Shared Interest funds, invested completely by members with UK bank accounts, today facilitate fair trade transactions in 36 nations around the world. In 2004 the organization founded the Shared Interest Foundation to provide business training to marginalized producers, furthering the sustainability of cooperative investments. The Shared Interest Society received the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in 2008.
Affiliated with the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) and the Fairtrade Labelling Organization (FLO), Shared Interest thoroughly evaluates companies seeking funding for adherence to fair trade principles. The organization strives to increase the number of producers directly receiving credit, yet recognizes companies like Swahili Imports as serving a useful role in the advance of the fair trade movement. As stated in the Autumn 2011 Quarterly Return release, “There are now 71 producer groups and 42 buyer organisations with credit accounts. We expect this trend to continue. But we will keep on lending to fair trade buyers – to early pioneers such as Traidcraft and Ten Thousand Villages and to less well known newcomers – because through them our members’ capital can reach producer groups who would not be able to borrow directly from us.”
Founded in 1995, Fair Trade Federation member Swahili Imports cooperatively develops modern home décor and gifts with artisans and craft groups in 10 African nations. The company distributes its catalog of more than 1800 products to retail stores and consumers worldwide via two e-commerce websites from its headquarters in Eugene, Oregon.
Over the past 16 years, Swahili Imports has maintained solvency using only a small local line of credit. Growing sales, an expanding global customer base and increasing demand for fair trade African products from high volume retailers like West Elm, Crate and Barrel, Coldwater Creek and Anthropologie has presented a need for a credit structure sensitive to the fair trade export process. The Shared Interest credit facility aptly suits the company’s present need by advancing deposits directly to African craft producers for high volume orders placed by Swahili Imports.
Swahili Imports plans to utilize the funding facility to increase production while adding a greater level of accountability to its fair trade practices in Africa. Additionally, the company sees the Shared Interest Foundation’s business training services as a useful resource in educating African producers about fair trade production and export. Company founder Leslie Mittelberg states, “With many orders in different nations now underway concurrently, the Shared Interest loan structure bodes well for keeping our artisans at work, further strengthening our fair trade relationships and allowing further expansion of our artisan network.”
To learn more about The Shared Interest Society, visit www.shared-interest.com. Read more about Swahili Imports at www.swahiliwholesale.com and www.swahilimodern.com.