All Things Being Equal

A company that embraces producer-friendly business practices? It's only fair.
This story first appeared in the November 2006 issue of Entrepreneur. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Twenty years ago, Rink Dickinson's business model had people warning him, "Don't waste your time. It'll never work." Today, he is co-founder and president of Equal Exchange. The 90-employee West Bridgewater, Massachusetts, organic coffee, tea and chocolate company engages in fair trade practices, which eliminate middlemen and allow producers to earn a significant share of their product's final price. Equal Exchange projects sales of $24 million this year.

The company is an employee-owned cooperative that works with farmer cooperatives in 15 countries. "The organization reflects the mission to make the world work better," says Dickinson, 49.

Fair trade does have its challenges: Dickinson sees big corporations trying to lower fair trade standards, with some degree of success. But he also sees entrepreneurial opportunity in offering consumers more openness and fairness: "They really want to support something that works differently." he says.

View Comments (0)