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Equal Exchange


Equal Exchange is a worker-owned cooperative that specializes in fair trade. Its mission is to transform the relationship between consumers and food producers. Equal Exchange works together with democratically run farmer groups and cooperatives - from North, South and Central-America, Africa and Asia – that produce tea, coffee, bananas, cacao-products and fair foods.


Over 100 worker-owners are employed by Equal Exchange, each with an equal stake - and an equal vote - in the business. They have organized themselves as one of the largest US democratic worker co-operatives.


Every worker-owner has:

● the right to vote (one vote per employee, not per share);

● the right to serve as leader (i.e. board director);

● the right to be informed;

● the right to speak his or her mind.


The worker-owned cooperative is based upon standard democratic principles. It is not designed to maximize profits, nor for returns to investors, but rather to bring many of the rights and responsibilities that the workers hold as citizens in their communities to the workplace. These principles include one-person/one-vote equality; open access to information (i.e., open-book management); free speech; and the equitable distribution of resources (such as income).


The worker owned co-op is not owned by outside shareholders or a small group of founders or partners, but by all the employees in equal portions. Top level managers and entry-level employees alike, own an identical share and receive an equal share of any profits or losses. The ‘worker-owners‘ both elect the Board of Directors and fill six of the nine Board seats. The Board in turn is responsible for hiring and supervising management. The delegation of responsibilities is very much like that of conventional firms - which allows for efficiency - except for the fact that at Equal Exchange those at the ‘bottom’ of the organizational chart are, as owners, also at the ‘top’ of the same chart.


Equal Exchange's mission is to build long-term fair trade partnerships that are economically just and environmentally sound, to foster mutually beneficial relationships between farmers and consumers. They believe that worker owned co-operatives and fair trade are the means to building a more equitable, democratic and sustainable world.


To establish a better contact between producer and consumer, Equal Exchange has developed a whole set of educational and consumer orientated programs. They offer consumers the possibility to sell fairly traded products in their own community. This is a very direct way of supporting small-scale farmers and bringing people together. Anyone who is interested can start selling Equal Exchange products from small scale organic farmers; for example on events, congregations or in schools or offices. Equal Exchange also offers educational programmes on fair trade for schoolchildren.


Also watch the video below.




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Type of initiative Company
Field of work Agriculture, Trade
Date of commencement 1986
Founder(s) Rink Dickinson, Jonathan Rosenthal and Michael Rozyne
Legal form Co-operative
Continent North America
Country USA
City West Bridgewater
One or several keywords that describe your initiative Fair Trade, worker owned co-operative
Publications educational material, newsletter, product page
More information

Contact person(s)

Rodney North


Contact information

Name Equal Exchange
Address 50 United Drive
Zip/postal code MA 02379
Place West Bridgewater
State/province Massachusetts
Country USA
Phone +1 774-776-7400



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