New Social Investing Option: In Equal Exchange

Fair trade and beverage pioneer, Equal Exchange, has teamed up with socially progressive bank, Wainwright Bank, to raise capital, protect its independence, and create a new financial product for investors.

What a great idea! Small and large investors alike can now buy a Certificate of Deposit (CD) at Wainwright Bank (Nasdaq: WAIN), the proceeds of which will go to Equal Exchange, one of the top socially responsible businesses on the planet.

While other small, growing natural product brands continue to get bought up by large corporations, Equal Exchange – the Fair Trade coffee pioneers – and Wainwright Bank have created a unique, company specific CD to raise affordable capital for Equal Exchange while protecting its unorthodox structure of employee ownership.

Unlike funds raised by other CDs which go into a general account at the issuing bank, and might help finance a subdivision in Miami or a hotel in Las Vegas, purchasers of the Equal Exchange Certificate of Deposit will know their investment goes to creating a line of credit dedicated to Equal Exchange’s use. To their knowledge this is the first company-specific CD to be issued in the United States.

Thanks to Equal Exchange’s strong growth – it has grown 100% since 2002 – the worker cooperative needs more cash each year to purchase the fairly traded coffee, tea, and cocoa that it is known for. In 2005 alone the cooperative bought 4.3 million pounds of Fair Trade Certified- coffee, costing more than $5.7 million.

To understand how the CD supports Fair Trade – Rink Dickinson, Equal Exchange co-founder and President, described it this way:

“Each time someone buys a $2,000 CD that provides the cash Equal Exchange needs to purchase, at a Fair Trade price, the coffee grown by a typical family farm supporting 6-8 people. Over 100 million Americans drink coffee every day, so even if a tiny fraction of them were to add this CD to their portfolio that would make a huge, direct contribution to supporting small-scale coffee farmers around the world.”

Wainwright will handle the sales and customer service for the CD’s, which are now available alongside other Wainwright financial products. The CD has a 3-year term, a competitive rate (currently 4.20% APY) and a $1000 minimum.

Wainwright Bank is a natural partner given its long history of commitment to progressive business practices and for putting its customers’ assets to work on behalf of the broader community.

Founded in 1987, Wainwright Bank is a socially responsible commercial bank headquartered in Boston with assets of $780 million primarily serving neighborhoods around Boston, Massachusetts. Over 40 percent of the Bank’s commercial lending portfolio is committed to progressive community development initiatives including affordable housing, homeless shelters, HIV/AIDS services, community health centers, and environmental issues to name a few.

Wainwright’s commitment to supporting social justice issues has been widely recognized including being named one of the 11 Best Lenders to Women in the U.S., one of the Top 10 Best “Green” Banking Firms nationwide, and most recently, ranked 18th among the Nation’s “100 Best Corporate Citizens” by Business Ethics Magazine. WAIN was featured on’s SB20 – The World’s Most Sustainable Stocks – in 2004.

Equal Exchange, a market leader in Fair Trade coffee and other foods since 1986, is a full service provider of high quality, organic coffee, tea, cocoa, chocolate and sugar to retailers and food service establishments. Major customers include Shaw’s, Stop & Shop, Hannaford supermarkets, natural food stores, consumer food cooperatives, and thousands of places of worship nationwide. 100% of Equal Exchange products are fairly traded, benefiting over 30 small farmer cooperatives in 16 countries around the world. In keeping with its Fair Trade mission Equal Exchange is a worker cooperative, owned and democratically controlled by its employees.

Contact David Dolbashian at 800-444-BANK (2265) for more information on the CD.

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