We’re gearing up for World Fair Trade Day on May 14 by celebrating our Fair Trade and Fairly Traded products, such as Equal Exchange. Adhering to the Authentic Fair Trade model, Equal Exchange - also a cooperative! - was founded in 1986 to challenge the existing trade model, which favors large plantations, agri-business, and multi-national corporations. Equal Exchange supports small farmers through direct trade and connects consumers and producers through information, education, and the exchange of products in the marketplace.
Fast forward to 2011, Equal Exchange founded the Congo Coffee Project in partnership with the Panzi Foundation as a means to bring Congolese coffee to market in the United States and raise awareness about the alarming rate of sexual violence that takes place every day.
Sexual violence has affected thousands of people in the Democratic Republic of Congo over the last two decades. While there are not many resources, survivors seek refuge and assistance at the Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, DRC, a bustling hospital with more than 360 staff and thousands of visitors each year. Founded by Dr. Dennis Mukwege, a world renowned gynecologist, two time Nobel Peace Prize nominee and out-spoken activist, the hospital treats patients with various ailments, but has become known as a safe place for survivors of sexual violence to seek treatment and heal from their trauma.
The Congo Coffee Project has raised more than $50,000 for survivors of sexual violence and has worked with numerous organizations to tell the story of the DRC to the world. You, too, can make a contribution to the Congo Coffee Project by making a purchase in store. $1 of each sale directly benefits the Panzi Foundation.
For more information about Equal Exchange, visit equalexchange.coop/congo-coffee-project