Finance Alliance for Sustainable Trade: Bridging the Finance Gap
Montreal – After a busy first year of operations, and acquiring 129 members from over 26 different countries, the Finance Alliance for Sustainable Trade (FAST) has paved the way for combining sustainability and finance. With its head secretariat office in Montreal, FAST is an international, member driven, non-profit association that represents financial institutions committed to the production and trade of sustainable goods.
FAST focuses mainly on Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) that produce sustainable commodities such as coffee, cocoa, and cotton in developing countries, with a mission to help these producers participate in the worldwide commodity trade industry. FAST has recently accomplished the initial phase of one of four core projects to help these producers by creating an Online Marketplace through its website, which brings together sustainable producers and financial institutions that are willing to lend them affordable capital.
The Online Marketplace promises to simplify access to financing for the many thousands of producers serving sustainable supply chains across the world. The idea and design of the online marketplace, which emerged as a “core project” of FAST during its founding stakeholder meetings, represents the most substantive communications product to be offered by FAST to date.
In an effort to overcome the “communication” hurdle facing producer organizations in identifying appropriate financing opportunities, the Online Marketplace will enable them to search for a lender that offers services for a specific “type” of enterprise based on a variety of factors, including certification(s) held, product type(s), location of enterprise, loan size required and loan term desired.
According to Mr. Willy Foote, Founder and CEO of Root Capital, “the online marketplace represents an incredibly important window of opportunity for coffee producers to learn about new financing opportunities.” Over the course of the coming year, the Online Marketplace will see the addition of new lenders and additional services, including the provision of online application forms for FAST members. Although the Online Marketplace is specifically designed to assist producers in identifying appropriate lenders, roasters, traders and other such specialists within the industry, they can also use the market tool to identify lenders for producers in a specific supply chain.
FAST is also planning to provide Financial Literacy Training and an Impact Assessment Tool in order to further facilitate international trade for the producers. More information can be found at www.fastinternational.org