“We have long supported the work that Shared interest has done to promote social change and economic development in South Africa. Through our investment in the Shared Interest Guarantee Fund, we can also keep our commitment to our own shareholders to invest their assets in institutions that make a difference – and that have a positive impact.”
- Joseph Keefe
President and Chief Executive
Pax World Funds
WHY INVEST ?
Since 1994, socially respsonsible investors have partnered with Shared Interest to make an impact in low-income communities in Southern Africa.
These investments provide the collateral needed to guarantee commercial loans to previously disadvantaged entrepreneurs, farmers and home-owners.
Since inception, not one investor has lost either interest or principal as a result of a loan to Shared Interest.
If you would like to learn more about investment opportunities to support, please contact Casey T. Cline, Director of Impact Investing and Operations at 646-442-0184 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We are investing in Shared Interest in order to begin to move Southern African financial institutions to lend to smallholder farmers and emerging small and micro-business owners in Mozambique,” noted Frank DeGioivanni, Director of Ford Foundations Financial Assets Unit. “These potential clients have a wealth of talent and entrepreneurial spirit, but lack access to the credit, technical support and markets they need to become commercially viable.”
“Over the past few years our foundation board has been in discussion about how we might be more mission driven in our investment strategies and more creative and effective in the ways in which we deploy our assets,” explained Susan Pritzker chair of The Libra Foundation. “One of the solutions we’ve devised, working with our trusted grantee partner, Shared Interest, is a three-pronged model which combines credit, philanthropic and investment strategies which will enable Shared Interest to scale its work in Southern Africa, and move the region’s lenders to bank on enterprising communities most excluded from capital.”
Wespath Investment Management
Vidette Bullock Mixon, (former) Director of Corporate Relations, Wespath Investment Management, the investments division of the General Boad of Pension & Health Benefits of the United Methodist Church, explained: “We have a history of investing in underserved communities where our members live and work in the United States, and are eager to continue that practice in Southern Africa through Shared Interest – particularly given our positive track record with them.”
Susan White, Oneida Trust Director recalls, “We understand what indigenous South Africans suffered when they were dispossessed of their land, when the apartheid government came to power. Over the years, we continue to build the capacity to invest in the development of other tribes. With this international investment, we hope to further the prospect of Indigenous Peoples helping Indigenous Peoples, as South Africans First Peoples heal, envision and redirect their own history.”
Jen Astone, Executive Director of the Swift Foundation
“Your work is a beacon for what needs to happen on the continent and more broadly,” commented Jen Astone, Executive Director of the Swift Foundation, which has made a $500,000 program-related investment in Shared Interest. The loan reflects a number of priorities the foundation and Shared Interest share. These include investing beyond the United States in initiatives that address multiple thematic areas: underserved populations in Southern Africa, agriculture (particularly agro-ecology work with small-scale farmers), and low-income housing.
“And we want to provide solidarity with indigenous communities by creating economic opportunity on their land where they have knowledge and history. Swift’s mission is to support land and water stewards who protect and defend biocultural diversity, community self-determination, and local systems of resiliency essential to a healthy planet.”
Ms. Astone added, “We found Shared Interest’s low-risk, well tested model to be particularly strong for enabling us to ‘recycle’ funds into future investments.” She reflected on Swift’s strategies and role in the impact investing field, noting that “the foundation has always taken the position that we are small but willing to take on risk and ask basic questions. We feel we ought to be able to engage in this work even though we are small. We try to identify investment opportunities that fit a range of risk profiles but align with our mission – the key and core of what we do. We’re on a learning journey.”
Swift Foundation finds other parallels between the work in South Africa (which moved from disinvestment to reinvestment) and the divest-invest climate change strategies that prioritize the shift to investing in renewable energy. Today the Foundation’s support for “local resilient economies” often combines endowment investments (loans) and “philanthropic investments” (grants) – maximizing the impact of each.
For over 15 years, Ms. Astone has worked, researched, and volunteered for organizations focused on community-based development efforts in Africa. Her involvement with Africa began in the Peace Corps in Senegal, West Africa, where she became aware of gender discrimination in agriculture and the challenges of poverty and inequality. She returned home, went on to earn her doctorate in anthropology, and conducted an intergenerational study of changing gender roles in agriculture in Guinea.
Ms. Astone concluded, “At heart, I am an activist. After the Peace Corps, I taught a little, and then worked at the African Development Foundation, the Global Fund for Women and the Firelight Foundation. My heart lies in direct community engagement and supporting locally identified solutions and Indigenous Peoples. I have been on that journey ever since.”