|Social Impact & Special Achievements||Equal Exchange was built upon creating long-term relationships with producer groups to bring fair trade products to market. This began with coffee from Nicaragua in 1986 and has grown to include chocolate, sugar, tea and more. Most recently, Equal Exchange has added other marginalized producers as suppliers, such as one out of the Congo region of Africa.|
These efforts have benefitted farmer producer groups by increasing awareness and demand of fair trade products in the market. This commitment is evident through higher payment or product and added premiums, open and transparent communication and frequent visits to producer groups in origin as well as bringing producers to company headquarters outside of Boston to strengthen relationships and improve quality through learning together. Equal Exchange is initiating a collaborative project &amp;amp;amp;amp;quot;Cooperative Development Program&amp;amp;amp;amp;quot; funded by USAID to build processing facilities in cocoa growing countries to export semi-finished goods rather than only cocoa beans; this ultimately benefits cocoa workers and farmers. By being a cooperative as a company and working with producer group cooperatives, Equal Exchange continually seeks ways to improve relations - internal and external - and way to make a positive social impact in the world.
Equal Exchange demonstrates their own fair trade behavior by including social responsibility in the structure and practices within the company. This commitment is evident in company philosophy and mission statement as well as in internal company structure and practices. As a worker/owner cooperative, all members participate in annual meetings and committees, are thoroughly educated in fair trade and have a voice. Part of ownership includes being recipients of annual profit/loss dividends, thus sharing the risk of performance, as well as generous benefits in health and dental insurance, ESL and computer application training, a large kitchen with complimentary coffee, tea and cocoa, generous paid time off (vacation and sick days) and employer contribution to 401K. Relationships between management and employees are open and a high level of trust an cooperation is present. Environmental conservation is evident in composting chaff, a processing by-product, and reducing packaging material where possible.