Fair Trade: How to Brew Justice

COFFEE IMPORTER EQUAL EXCHANGE SHOWS HOW TO MAKE GOOD MONEY WHILE PAYING FARMERS HIGH PRICES

In the mid-1980s, Rink Dickinson wanted to go into business to help an unusual constituency: his vendors. He proposed to import coffee by paying impoverished Latin American farmers double the going rate for their beans. Reaction from potential investors was predictably cool. "People were just, like, 'That's a bad idea,'" he recalls. "The concept of having your values embedded in everything you did in your business ... was just not happening in any major way at all." Nonetheless, with just $100,000 from family, friends and a few supportive idealists, Equal Exchange was born in 1986 in a 2,000-sq.-ft. room in Boston's...

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