A Tribute to Mark Hayes

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A Few Words for Mark Hayes

by Pauline Tiffen, Editor in Chief
January 2020

I felt moved by the news of his death to offer just a few words for family and friends:
Mark was one of an amazing cohort of people who ‘stepped up’ in the late 1980s to contribute to the advance of a global fair trading movement. He was a banker (3i) and left that world for a still emerging one in Fair Trade, founding Shared Interest Society in 1990. I remember thinking at the time: “Wow: a real professional in our truly (and mostly) amateur midst!”

A learned and thoughtful man, with a passionate and moral interest in economics, finance and money, Mark identified the historic and perpetual challenges in the financing of fair trade. He applied his unique knowledge of banking to tackle the distance, the trade cycles, the risks faced by small-scale producers on the one hand, and the lack of conventional capitalisation and access to finance of the fair trade movement’s importers on the other.

Mark didn’t just found ‘another bank’ however. He built on structures and models from best, past practices of social self-help, mutuality and the efforts of working men and women to support each other in explicit cooperation, as solutions to these complex realities. Shared Interest, his brainchild, is a unique structure: cooperative and egalitarian. All members have an equal voice regardless of the amount in their account. Most importantly, perhaps, is the way Mark manage to weave deeper social relations and a wider purpose and connectivity of interest into the pure and necessarily technical functionalities of capital (re-)allocation.

This leading work, linking large numbers of social investors practically with networks of fair trade businesses around the world, notably World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO) members and including Twin and Twin Trading of which I was then a Director, was a direct reflection of Mark’s interests; it was a pointer too to where his later work and academic positions would take him. Mark’s work in fair trade finance points to his profound and sustained interest in social economics and the intersectionality of morality and ethics in finance, economic theory and practice in his extensive academic life (to read more on his publications see here).

Just over a year ago, when Mark was struggling with ill health he stepped up again: to support the launch and early issues of the Journal of Fair Trade as an active member of the Editorial Board. As such, he fully engaged with our early, somewhat chaotic efforts, overseeing several reviews and supporting our efforts to find other relevant reviewers for our first issues. He was delighted at this initiative to reboot Fair Trade, and gave so much despite battling ill health in our formative first year.

We have lost a pioneer, a brilliant mind and a dedicated soul full of love and solidarity.

Pauline Tiffen
Editor in Chief, Journal of Fair Trade
January 2020


Read Mark's obituary in the Guardian here

Read a tribute by Ed Mayo here

Read a piece by Geoff Moore (Professor of Business Ethics, Durham University Business School) here

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