Equal Exchange is a worker owned cooperative with over 120 owner-workers. A worker owned cooperative is an alternative to a for-profit structure in that it is based on democratic principles. All owner-workers share in the profits and the loses. At the same time all owner-workers have rights.
Equal Exchange partners with small farmers in countries like Peru, Dominican Republic, Sri Lanka, and Burkina Faso to name a few. These farmers are members of cooperatives based in each individual country. One example, ACOPAGRO in a cooperative in Peru that started with 27 members in 1997 and now has over 2000 members today. They are now the largest organic cacao exporter in Peru. But before the establishment of this cooperative, coca (the plant from which cocaine is derived) was the dominate crop. Now because of ACOPAGRO, the farmers have a safe and more secure source of income. It has also been the driving force in reforestation which has led to better environmental stewardship of the region.