DEC 5, 2007— Fast Company magazine announced today that they have awarded one of its fifth annual Social Capitalist Awards to Equal Exchange, the worker co-operative best known for its pioneering work in Fair Trade foods and beverages. For the first time, this year’s awards feature both nonprofits and for-profit organizations who use the tools of business to solve the world’s most pressing social problems – ranging from rural poverty in developing nations to homelessness, unemployment and substance abuse in the United States – and who have demonstrated a consistent and unusually large impact on society. 

Since the inception of the awards in 2003 Fast Company has partnered with global consulting firm Monitor Group to identify, evaluate, and celebrate top-performing nonprofit organizations. This year Fast Company expanded their search to include innovative for-profit enterprises such as Equal Exchange, Organic Valley Family of Farms and Domini Social Investments. The Awards assess social entrepreneurial organizations of different sizes and ages across social sectors as an explicit effort to further performance measurement and accountability in the social sector in a highly rigorous, data driven, comparative approach. Organizations are rated on five critical components: social impact, entrepreneurship, innovation, aspiration and growth, and sustainability, based on an application that included two years of operating data, audited financial data, a statement of mission and objectives, and answers to a survey to assess strategy and activities. Winners were selected by an independent advisory board of sector experts.

“This year we’ve seen an explosion of diverse experiments, many of them engineered by onetime Wall Street heavies, that attempt to bring new capital – and capital-market dynamics – to the realm of social good,” said Fast Company Contributing Writer Keith Hammonds. “Through these deals, social entrepreneurs and businesses are raising the stakes, creating both business and social impact, and changing old-style capitalism as we know it.”

Equal Exchange was recognized for their commitment to Fair Trade with small-scale farmer co-operatives; for delivering significant social and economic benefits year after year; for their novel capital model that distributes the benefits of success more equitably and protects the employees’ democratic control of the business; and for demonstrating the commercial viability of these innovations by profitably growing the company to nearly $30 million in annual sales. 

This is Equal Exchange’s third such award in the last two years. In February, Equal Exchange was also named to Worldblu’s list of the World's Most Democratic Companies. In May 2006, Equal Exchange garnered the SBANE Innovation award for its unique Fair Trade/worker co-op business model and capital structure.

The winners are featured in Fast Company’s December/January 2008 issue (on newsstands December 4 - January 22, 2008) and will be recognized at a ceremony at the Westin Washington, D.C. City Center on Jan. 8, 2008.

About Equal Exchange:
A pioneer and U.S. market leader in Fair Trade since 1986, Equal Exchange is a full service provider of high quality, organic coffee, tea, chocolate and healthy snacks to retailers and food service establishments. Major customers include Shaw’s, Whole Foods, Hannaford, Ten Thousand Villages, hundreds of natural food stores, restaurants, and thousands of places of worship nationwide. 100% of Equal Exchange products are fairly traded, benefiting more than 40 small farmer co-operatives in 18 countries around the world. In keeping with its Fair Trade mission Equal Exchange is a worker co-operative, owned and democratically controlled by its 100+ employees.

About Fast Company magazine:
Founded in 1996 and acquired in 2005 by Mansueto Ventures, LLC, award-winning Fast Company magazine covers the ideas, trends and visionaries that are sparking change and creating the future of business. With a total paid circulation of 746,161, Fast Company explores the profound innovation, creative breakthroughs, best and “next” practices that are driving the business world.

About Monitor Group: 
Monitor Group is a leading global professional services firm working with corporations, governments, and social-sector organizations to help them drive growth. Employing over 1,500 people in 22 countries worldwide Monitor offers a blend of advisory, capability building and capital services. Headquartered in Cambridge, MA, Monitor can be reached at 617.252.2000 or on the web at www.monitor.com