SE100 2020 Impact Management Champion: Shared Interest Society

The Impact Management Champion award celebrates enterprises that take considerable measures to demonstrate and communicate the social or environmental impact of their business, using this to improve their performance and win new business. This year's award is shared by two winners.

“Impact is clearly at the heart of everything that the organisation does.” This is one of the judges’ comments about Shared Interest Society – a well-deserving joint winner of the SE100 Impact Management Champion award. 

Shared Interest Society encourages UK residents to invest their money in people in remote and disadvantaged communities overseas. Investments are then loaned to farmers and handcraft producers to buy seeds, fertilisers and raw materials. Once they sell their crops or crafts, they pay back their loan and it’s lent out again. The financial co-operative is now in its 30th year, has 10,000 accounts and £43m in share capital.

Shared Interest’s submission to the SE100 awards emphasised that its independently audited social accounts process is “embedded throughout our organisation”. Detailed assessments take place at regular intervals and over the past year a new theory of change process was introduced to strengthen how projects are designed and delivered as well as evaluated. The SE100 judges were impressed by the range of techniques used to gather qualitative and quantitative data and they also noted how Shared Interest’s performance is mapped against the Sustainable Development Goals. Investors are kept up to date through a quarterly newsletter.

Impact is clearly at the heart of everything that the organisation does

While the covid-19 crisis meant that Shared Interest couldn’t properly celebrate its 30th anniversary in April, managing director Patricia Alexander remains positive about the co-operative’s current situation. Amazingly, the team has seen new investments come in over the past few weeks. “When we closed the office [in March], I said that nobody is going to be thinking about investing in Shared Interest at a time like this,” says Alexander, “but I couldn’t have been more wrong. That shows quite a lot about the British public.”


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