Press release

Citigroup and Cordaid Award Grants to Support FAST

August 20, 2007

Winnipeg, Canada. August 21, 2007 – The Finance Alliance for Sustainable Trade (FAST), an association of financial service providers and organizations invested in the development of "sustainable trade finance", announced today that they have received essential "start-up" grants from Citigroup Foundation and Cordaid. The grants are a key contribution towards the establishment of the new non-profit trade association and a strong indication of the support that has emerged from the financial and development communities.

The International Institute for Sustainable Development has played a key role in the development of this unique program. The coordinator of the Sustainable Commodity Initiative, Jason Potts, has been an integral part of this project from the beginning. The innovation required to develop the small-medium enterprise (SME) finance industry is an excellent example of the kind of work that IISD supports in its mission to "champion innovation, enabling societies to live sustainably".

The FAST alliance, born from a recognized need to improve the delivery of finance and financial management tools to producers in the sustainable trade arena, will improve the lives of some of the world's poorest rural producers who lack access to basic financial resources essential to the sustainability and prosperity of their businesses. The new trade association will work to promote the growth of this financial niche market, enabling rural entrepreneurs to successfully leverage quality financial services to work their way out of poverty.

With the funds from Citi Foundation and Cordaid secured, FAST is set to hire an Executive Director and will formally begin taking on new members this fall. The funds allow the alliance to focus energies on the development of four key areas of project work identified through stakeholder consultations as the most urgent for rural producers in need.

The projects in development on the FAST agenda will improve the operational efficiency of the sector by; creating networking systems to bridge the communications gap between producers and lenders; analysing the social and environmental impacts of socially oriented lending; and centralizing access to financial services information and educational tools. FAST will work with the sustainable donor industry to generate the funds needed to implement these key project plans.

Citi Foundation has supported the development of FAST from early on. "The Citi Foundation is pleased to support effective organizations like FAST that facilitate the growth of sustainable production and trade, creating jobs and economic development for developing countries," said Pamela Flaherty, President and Chief Executive Officer, Citi Foundation.

Cordaid, a relief and development aid organization based in the Netherlands, provides pre-financing to producer organizations and cooperatives and views FAST's ability to lead the growth of the SME finance sector as a critical tool in poverty reduction for rural producers.

"Currently social lenders work independently without cooperation, causing inefficiency that stagnates growth," says Gauke Andriesse, Cordaid Investment Officer and FAST steering committee member. "We support FAST with the hope that the alliance will help improve the current situation. We expect FAST to encourage better coordination between financing entities, act as a spokesperson for this emerging sector and develop new products that will benefit producer organizations and their members."

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About FAST

The Finance Alliance for Sustainable Trade (FAST), launched in May 2007, is dedicated to developing a coordinated, long-term vision for the Small to Medium Enterprise (SME) finance industry. Working within the "sustainable trade" arena, FAST aims to improve the delivery of finance and financial management tools to "sustainable" SME producers through the development of joint projects, high level advocacy, shared strategies and enhanced transparency. Currently developing four core projects in its first year of operations, FAST will work to; bridge the gap between producers and lenders, create networking systems, centralize access to financial services information and educational tools, and analyse the social and environmental impacts of socially oriented lending. For more information about FAST visit our Web site.

Supporters of FAST include: Citigroup Foundation, Cooperative Coffees, Conservation International, CORDAID, Root Capital (formerly Ecologic Finance), Forestrade, Green Development Foundation, Green Mountain Coffee, International Institute of Sustainable Development, Rabobank, Shared Interest, Starbucks, Technoserve, Transfair USA, Calvert, UNCTAD and the World Bank.

About Citigroup Foundation

Citi, the leading global financial services company, has some 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 100 countries, providing consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, and wealth management. Major brand names under the trademark red arc include: Citibank, CitiFinancial, Primerica, Citi Smith Barney and Banamex. Additional information may be found at

About Cordaid

Cordaid's work focuses on achieving sustainable poverty eradication in around 40 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin-America, the Middle East, Central and Eastern Europe and the Netherlands. Cordaid was formed in 1999 after a merger of the Catholic development organisations Memisa, Mensen in Nood and Bilance (Vastenaktie and Cebemo). The gospel and the Catholic doctrine based thereon is still Cordaid's source of inspiration. The Cordaid head office is in The Hague and the organisation has around 280 employees. Cordaid receives funding from the Dutch government, the European Union and half a million private donors in the Netherlands who support Cordaid's work via the funds of Memisa, Mensen in Nood or Vastenaktie. Every year around 150 million euro is spent on initiatives in developing countries.

About IISD

The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) is an award-winning independent think tank working to accelerate solutions for a stable climate, sustainable resource management, and fair economies. Our work inspires better decisions and sparks meaningful action to help people and the planet thrive. We shine a light on what can be achieved when governments, businesses, non-profits, and communities come together. IISD’s staff of more than 250 experts come from across the globe and from many disciplines. With offices in Winnipeg, Geneva, Ottawa, and Toronto, our work affects lives in nearly 100 countries.