As Head of Member Engagement at Shared Interest, Kerrey Baker leads a team that looks after over 11,000 ethical investors in the UK. Here, Kerrey describes what inspires members to invest.
Have these motivations changed during the pandemic?
Our members are at the core of Shared Interest – without their commitment, we would not be able to provide finance to over 200 businesses across the globe. We have a strong retention rate, with people investing in Shared Interest for an average of 14 years. This dedication truly came to the fore in the face of Covid-19. The last 18 months have been unbelievably challenging for businesses and individuals, and we are deeply grateful that our members have continued to invest during this difficult time.
Desire to feel part of something meaningful
As a membership organisation, a feeling of shared purpose has always been at our heart. This sense of community has never felt stronger, and recent research shows that there is an increasing desire for consumers to feel part of something meaningful. This year’s Mintel report on Global Consumer Trends stated:
‘The Covid-19 pandemic has had an impact on feelings of belonging and togetherness, as well as isolation and loneliness, pushing consumers to unite in order to lend a helping hand and support each other during such unconventional times. These communities are overcoming any social differences with connection as a common purpose, looking to have a positive impact and consequently evoke feelings of solidarity and unity.’
Using technology to stay bring people together
We have worked hard to ensure that our members have continued to feel connected during a period when we had varying degrees of contact with the outside world. Our usual schedule of Supporter Events across the UK did not take place but we were delighted to see hundreds of members join us for a series of online sessions. The success of these virtual events lay in the ability to bring together our members in the UK and our business customers in Africa and Latin America.
During our first event, Daniel Amponsah, President of fast-growing cocoa co-operative Asunafo, joined us from Ghana, explaining to members how their investment has helped their business. Shared Interest finance has enabled the co-operative to buy fertiliser so farmers could improve the quality of their crops, and a truck, which is helping transport their increasing production of cocoa.
He said: “Our mission is to help farmers have a better life, and working with Shared Interest has supported us to fulfil this.”
Spirit of a shared goal
We know from member feedback that this spirit of a shared goal to change lives through practical support, continues to inspire people to invest.
Elsa Fairbanks has been a Shared Interest member for over 25 years. As someone who works in the food industry, specialising in international trade, Elsa understands the challenges faced by businesses globally.
Practical way to support producers
She told us: “I became a member of Shared Interest in 1994, and I remember being aware of how tough it was then for coffee, cocoa, and sugar growers, and how they earned so little in comparison to the profits made by the companies they supplied. This inequality in the supply chain continues today, and Shared Interest remains a practical way to support producers in disadvantaged communities – to create a fairer world.
“It has been fantastic seeing the organisation go from strength to strength, to now make international payments to 51 countries.
"In increasingly challenging times, Shared Interest is more relevant than ever. As the world adjusts to a new way of living amidst the coronavirus pandemic, there continues to be a growing need for finance so that businesses and communities in the developing world can survive.”