The Finance Alliance for Sustainable Trade (FAST) is announcing a new approach to stimulate access to finance for sustainable agriculture and forestry producers, including co-operatives, producer associations, and private companies.
Existing FAST members and new entrants in these sectors will now find training, analytics, and matchmaking services available through the new FAST website: http://www.fastinternational.org.
The new site is the main portal for promoting FAST news and events, while also offering a new Member section with Member Spotlight articles that highlight fascinating stories within the quickly changing landscape of social lending and commodities.
FAST originally started as an idea of leading socially and environmentally oriented lenders in 2006, and was formally established in 2008. With the support of key partners and input from its members, FAST has successfully implemented projects over the past 8 years in over 10 countries. Building on this strong and successful base, FAST is expanding its portfolio of services and products for members.
2016 will be a transformative year for the agriculture and forestry sectors. Noemi Perez, President and CEO of FAST, notes that, ”The sustainability agenda is snowballing at a faster pace in the aftermath of the Rio+20 Sustainable Development Goals where agriculture has a huge part to play in achieving almost all of them. The COP 21 Paris climate talks have also highlighted the important role that agriculture, forestry, and financial markets will play in securing a sustainable future. New solutions are needed and FAST is ready to lead the way.”
Francisco Boilo, a FAST Board of Director member, explains how online content will allow FAST to extend its reach to both new entrants to the sector and mainstream financial institutions in meeting defined social and environmental investment criteria, especially local banks. Boilo states, ”Our extended reach will allow FAST’s existing and new members to continue to set the agenda in developing the sector by creating new channels to realize their goals. Members and other interested stakeholders must really register their interest to receive all information as it unfolds so they do not miss out on the developments looking to open-out in the year ahead.”
FAST was founded in 2008 to provide leadership in building sustainable agricultural and forestry businesses through sustainable trade finance. Support from USAID, Root Capital, IISD, Rabobank, Cordaid, ForesTrade and Montreal International allowed FAST to become the first organization to bring financial service providers together to support and grow sustainable trade finance with its focus on agriculture and forestry. The support of our key partners enabled FAST to grow quickly to represent over 150 member organizations in 30 countries, including financial service providers, NGOs, technical assistance providers, buyers, export agencies, producer cooperatives, and other value chain stakeholders.
World agriculture is dependent on its 2.5 billion smallholder farmers, the vast majority of whom subsist beneath the poverty line. An estimated $450 billion a year of capital and financial services is needed to ensure they can access the market at fair prices, according to the 2012 Dalberg Report, Catalyzing Smallholder Agricultural Finance.