Oxford Ethical Investment Debate

December 17, 2012

Oxford Ethical Investment Debate (2) (1)

“Every economic decision has a moral consequence”


Ethical investment co-operative Shared Interest marked the run up to National Ethical Investment Week (14– 20 October) with

a topical debate on the choices we make when it comes to our money. Somewhat belatedly (with apologies) bring you details of the discussion.

Held at Oxford’s Wesley Memorial Church on Saturday 6th October as an event open to all, the debate involved four panellists with different approaches to ethical investment.

Shared Interest uses investment from people living in the UK to lend to fair trade businesses across the globe, with the aim of improving livelihoods even in the most marginalised of communities.

Shared Interest’s Sally Reith introduced the panellists before Board member Carol Wills opened the debate, talking about the roots of fair trade and how the movement began.  She went on to say:

“One way to exploit people is to make sure that they are not well organised – to deny workers the right to form associations or to join Trades Unions or to hand out work to individual homeworkers ignorant of any rights they may have.  At the heart of fair trade is the cooperative concept, that people are stronger if they work together.

“Fair trade has been hugely successful in that every supermarket has their own Fairtrade brand, and many large companies have committed to purchasing their raw materials on fair trade terms.

“Where does that leave the pioneering Fairtrade brands?  It leaves them competing for shelf space in the supermarkets.  That means they have to focus on quality, taste and origins to keep the consumers buying.

“It’s a good challenge to have – because the volumes now traded on fair trade terms are  growing all the time  –  running to over £1 billion a year in the UK alone – and this can only be good for producers.  And ethical investment is needed to sustain this. “

Co-ordinator of the National Justice and Peace Network, Diana Mills spoke about how every economic decision has a moral consequence: we need to be informed and engaged to be able to speak out and query fund managers.  There is a legal obligation from companies to give an open and honest response and we have an ethical obligation to ask the questions.

Team Rector of Marlborough, Reverend Canon Andrew Studdert-Kennedy, highlighted that we live in a world fuelled by debt.  As a “nation in a hurry”, he believes that our easy access to credit and the fast and impersonal nature of technology has sped up our purchasing activity and left little time for reflection on our actions.

Andrew argues that: “The world in which we live is competitive, but is it happy?  We think we need to be prosperous before we can be generous – we need to reverse this thinking.”

Policy Adviser within the Joint Public Issues team serving the Baptist, Methodist and United Reformed churches, Steve Hucklesby, looked at how investments are made in the context of power.  He explained how investment options like that of Shared Interest engage the investor to the borrower.

What are your views on ethical investment?  Shared Interest would like your feedback on this topic.  Please get in touch at info@shared-interest.com to share your views.

Press Contact: stina.porter@shared-interest.com / 0191 233 9132

Get active for Fairtrade Fortnight 2013

December 9, 2012

generation-fairtradeAre you a teacher looking for support to get your school going Fairtrade? Want to find an innovative way to empower your students to become active global citizens?

For a limited time only, People & Planet and the Fairtrade Foundation are offering Mentors to come to your school or college from January 2013 to work with a group of students on Fairtrade, as part of a unique new mentoring programme, Generation Fairtrade.

Hurry – the deadline to apply for FREE support for your school is Friday 21 December.

The programme of support offered to your school will run from January – April 2012 and includes presentations and workshops with students, support to put on events, and guidance on working towards the Fairtrade Schools Award. The mentor will provide tailored support to help your students be active during Fairtrade Fortnight in February/March 2013.

All of our School Mentor volunteers have background knowledge and experience of campaigning on Fairtrade and global issues, current CRB checks and have undergone a formal application process and training.

Learn more and register your school today:


Here’s what other teachers have to say about our workshops:

“Really exciting – the best visiting speaker we’ve had this year.” ~ Teacher, Rounday School

“Our students found it very informative and it was an enjoyable change to see a young speaker inspiring them.” ~ Teacher, Cardinal Newman School

For a taster of what the project might look like in your school, read this account by Generation Fairtrade mentor, Lucy, of her first workshop at a school in Sunderland:


Half a dozen ways to switch to Fairtrade

December 9, 2012


A student ambassador for Fairtrade at St Michael’s has come up with some easy ways to ‘Swap your Shop’ to a fairer trade option:

“So, as a Fairtrade Ambassador, I suppose I don’t really need persuading of the ethics of buying Fairtrade…  I know I’d much rather spend time browsing round a quirky, individual independent shop than the clinical efficiency of a big chain store. But sometimes it’s just so much easier and cheaper to pop in there and grab something, especially with Christmas coming up and so many presents to buy. I know it’s not what I should be doing, and quite often it’s not what I want to be doing, but when you’re on a student budget with an Oxford student workload, it’s not always easy to stick to your principles. So, with this in mind, I’ve come up with a handful of easy ‘Swap your shop’ ideas. They take no more time to buy, are generally of comparable price if not cheaper, and come with that satisfying feeling that you’re making the world a better place (always an excellent way to justify a shopping spree..!)” >>Read more