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Equal Exchange

Massachusetts United States
#Farming #SocialEnterprise #Food&Drink #Cooperative

Invest in Our Alternative Model

Most food brands today are owned by just a handful of multinational corporations leaving shoppers with a false sense of choice in grocery store aisles. Today's food system has given farmers little to no voice to advocate for their interests in a difficult market. At Equal Exchange, we do things differently. Our mission is to build alternative trade networks that put power back in the hands of farmers and eaters, like you. We're committed to:
  • trading with small farmer co-ops who run their businesses democratically and decide how to invest in their communities 
  • supporting farmer-led innovative programs to address climate resilience, sustainable agriculture, gender equity, youth empowerment, and more
  • building a democratic food system that includes–and relies on–the voice and participation of all people in the supply chain: farmers, workers, and Citizen-Consumers (you!) 

Our worker cooperative has been a major innovator in the way that social mission-driven companies can secure financing. We strive for a modest 2-5% profit, and we have bylaws in place preventing us from ever selling the company for profit known as our “Never Sell Out” clause. We’re looking for ways to grow without compromising our mission. By working cooperatively, not just with what we buy and sell, but in how we finance our business, we’re transforming our economy together.


$109,049 funds committed
of $1,500,000 maximum target
$100K minimum
63
Days Left
65
Investments

Investment Summary

Promissory Note

Interest rate: 3%

Maturity date: 2027-12-31

Minimum Investment: $500

*See Offering & Form C sections below for disclosures

Offering

Debt

Form C

Mission

Equal Exchange’s mission is to build long-term trade partnerships that are economically just and environmentally sound, to foster mutually beneficial relationships between farmers and consumers and to demonstrate, through our success, the contribution of worker co-operatives and Fair Trade to a more equitable, democratic and sustainable world.

Invest and be part of:

Every business needs capital in order to operate and to grow. In our line of work, it’s what pays for things like roasting equipment, warehouses and offices, packaging machinery, forklifts, the coolers for our chocolate, and raw materials like green coffee beans. Through a new federal regulation, we're able to offer mission notes as low as $500 to more people through crowdfunding. This means we can fund our business with the support of our own network as an alternative to a bank loan.

Investment Perks

  1. $

    Raising cooperative capital

  2. $

    Preserving Equal Exchange's mission

  3. $

    Deepening your support and involvement

All campaigns are minimum or nothing; Equal Exchange will only receive funding if the minimum goal is reached.

Key Facts & Financials

  • One of the biggest worker-owned co-ops in the country, one of the largest alternative trade organizations in the world.

Equal Exchange Story

ACOPAGRO Cacao Co-op, Peru
Equal Exchange started with an idea: what if food could be traded in a way that is honest and fair, a way that empowers both farmers and consumers? Our founders - Rink Dickinson, Jonathan Rosenthal and Michael Rozyne - asked this question as they envisioned a trade model that values ​each part of the supply chain​. They decided to take a big risk and started importing fairly traded coffee from Nicaragua in 1986, despite a US embargo against the Sandinista government. A new business was born from this bold act of solidarity with Latin American farmers and Equal Exchange grew from there.
Equal Exchange staff and customers with farmers from ACOPAGRO

The Team

Nicole Vitello

Vice President and Capital Coordinator

After studying International Development at American University, Nicole founded her own organic farm business, Manic Organic, which she operated successfully for 10 years in her home state of Rhode Island.

In 2008, Nicole joined Equal Exchange as a sales rep inspired by the economic model of trading directly with small farmers internationally. In 2011, Nicole became president of Oke USA, the fresh produce subsidiary of Equal, and grew the $3M business to trading $16M of organic fair trade bananas from Ecuador and Peru and avocados from Mexico.

Nicole rejoined the Equal Exchange leadership team in 2023 as a Vice President and is proud to continue promoting the connection between small farmers in Latin America and consumers in the United States through the Equal Exchange Capital Model.

Rink Dickinson

Founder and President

Since our founding in 1986 Rink has played, at one time or another, almost every major role in helping Equal Exchange to become a model of a democratically controlled, socially responsible business — Co-founder, Board Chair, Director of Sales, and since 1999 Executive Director.

Rink was deeply influenced by the two principle areas where he grew up: inner-city Detroit and the “Springsteen” region of New Jersey. He first gained a passion for organic foods when working at the New England Food Co-ops in the early 1980’s. There he met Michael Rozyne and Jonathan Rosenthal, with whom he co-founded Equal Exchange in 1986. Their goal was to create an unprecedented, progressive organization that balanced the interests of farmers, customers, shareholders and workers. They had no models to follow, but did decide to forego the privileges that normally accrue to entrepreneurs. Instead they structured Equal Exchange as a worker-owned cooperative, where every employee would also be an equal owner, each with one vote and each eligible to serve on the company’s board.

Rink has also served on the board of another natural foods worker co-op, Once Again Nut Butters (New York). He holds a BA from SUNY-Binghamton, and a MA in Urban Planning from M.I.T. Rink lives in Providence, Rhode Island.

Comments

Andrew Neely

Added 18 days ago

So am I right in understanding that this debt only pays 3% annually? I really enjoy Equal Exchange and would love to support your mission but that's a lower APY than I get from my checking account. Am I misunderstanding the terms?

Nicole Vitello
Promoter - not receiving compensation

Added 18 days ago

Hi Andrew. This is Nicole. I am the Capital Coordinator at Equal Exchange. Thank you for your question. You have the terms right at 3%. An integral part of our model is pre-financing green coffee with producer coops in advance of the harvest which is generally annually so we pay a portion up front and a portion at harvest. Raising this capital at 3% enables us to extend funds to them vs them borrowing under onerous bank credit terms in county or their members facing temptation from middlemen/coyotes who offer cash for low prices. Our goal is stability with the small farmer groups with which we partner and part of that is capital. We understand this investment model does not work for everyone and that there are many choices out there for investors.so I appreciate you helping us to clarify our terms and business practices.

Natalie Norton

Added 17 days ago

I am elderly, a non-tecno, and want to loan money to you. I can't seem to find the place to do that. Where do I go from here? Instead of using my credit card, can I use my PayPal account? That is already connected to my bank and I trust it.

Nicole Vitello
Promoter - not receiving compensation

Added 15 days ago

Hi Natalie. This is Nicole, the capital coordinator at Equal Exchange. You are not alone in your questions! Others have found this easy to watch video helpful as it outlines the investment process and the steps clearly:. https://crowdfundmainstreet.com/campaigns/x5el1q2g#

The investment can be made by credit card or electronic bank transfer but not Pay Pal. The bank to bank (ACH) funding method is the same information as writing a paper check and includes routing number and account number. This form of transfer is bank level encryption.

Please let me know if you still have trouble by commenting on this site and I will do all I can to help. Your questions are likely the same ones others are having so thank you again for sharing!

Suzanne Christensen

Added 14 days ago

Hi,
What is the maximum investment, please? Thanks.

Nicole Vitello
Promoter - not receiving compensation

Added 14 days ago

HI Suzanne. This is Nicole, capital coordinator at Equal Exchange. Thank you for your question. Under Investment Crowdfunding rules, anyone over the age of 18 can invest at least $2,200 every 12 months. If you would like to invest more than $2,200 in any given year, you will need to calculate the maximum amount based on your income and net worth. Here is a link to a summary of how to calculate your annual maximum investment amount as well as some scenarios. Note that the Investment limits do not apply to accredited investors. Please let me know if you still have questions. I.am happy to help!
https://blog.crowdfundmainstreet.com/how-much-can-i-invest/

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