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Social Capitalists

TransFair USA

Oakland, California

President and CEO: Paul Rice

Previous winner: 2005

What it does: TransFair USA certifies "fair trade" products--coffee, tea, cocoa, sugar, and other foods produced without exploiting growers' labor. It also connects farmers' cooperatives in Latin America, Asia, and Africa directly to U.S. distributors, eliminating middlemen who otherwise would capture a chunk of the profits.

Results: Since 1999, TransFair has channeled more than $60 million in price premiums to farmers. It estimates that every $1 invested has yielded $7 in income for fair-trade farmers.

Social impact: A
Aspiration and growth: A-
Entrepreneurship: A+
Innovation: A-
Sustainability: A-

Winner's Statement

Thanks to Fair Trade, my family now owns a house, all four of my children have finished primary school, and two are currently attending high school. Our situation has greatly improved because of Fair Trade--I would like to say thank you to all who support this movement.

-Yldefonso Riva Trigoso, APARM cooperative

The mission of TransFair USA is to build a more equitable and sustainable model of international trade that benefits producers, consumers, industry, and the earth. TransFair achieves this mission by certifying and promoting Fair Trade products. As the only third-party Fair Trade certifier in this country, TransFair USA gives farmers and farm workers around the developing world direct access to the world's most powerful consumer economy, together with tools and resources they need to succeed in it.

Yldefonso Riva, quoted above, is a smallholder coffee farmer in Peru, and his story epitomizes Fair Trade's unique impact. The dramatic improvements to their quality of life that Yldefonso and his family are enjoying do not come from charity or from international government aid, but from Yldefonso's own business, as a member of an export cooperative that is a thriving international enterprise thanks to Fair Trade. Yldefonso shares this success story with 1.1 million other farmers and farm workers around the developing world: from tea pickers in India, to banana growers in Ecuador, to cacao farmers in Côte d'Ivoire.

By guaranteeing farmers and farm workers a fair price for their products--as well as direct trade, credit, and support for sustainable agriculture--TransFair USA has enabled farmers in some of the most historically disadvantaged communities in the developing world to earn over $65 million in additional income. This revenue funds investments in farmers' products, and uniquely sustainable development initiatives in their communities, including:

Educational Programs. Children of Fair Trade farmers are often the first in their communities to get more than a primary school education. US Fair Trade revenues fund scholarships at cooperatives in over 20 countries, from Haiti to Indonesia.

Women's Programs. The US Fair Trade market has provided women in Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, India, Mexico, Nicaragua, Papua New Guinea, and elsewhere with funds for services including reproductive health programs, leadership training, and business capacity building activities.

Health Programs. Fair Trade revenues have built health clinics in East Timor that today provide free health services to over 18,000 coffee farming families.

Globally, development projects funded with Fair Trade revenues and implemented by democratic farmers' associations are improving the lives of 5 million beneficiaries in 50 developing nations.

In the United States, Fair Trade is taking off fast. Fair Trade Certified coffee is the fastest growing segment of the specialty market, and Fair Trade in this country is no longer just about coffee. TransFair USA now works with over 500 companies making Fair Trade Certified coffee, tea, chocolate, fruit, rice, and sugar available to US consumers at over 33,000 retail locations nationwide. These outlets range from independent coffeehouses to major chains like Costco, Sam's Club, and even select McDonald's restaurants. These companies and their customers are helping TransFair USA prove that Fair Trade works as well for consumers and industry as it does for farmers.

TransFair USA's goal now is to build on the momentum Fair Trade has achieved in the US, and extend its benefits on an unprecedented scale. This is being accomplished by reaching out to new mainstream retail outlets, new products, and new producer communities around the world. Together, TransFair USA, the producers TransFair serves, and the businesses with which TransFair works will make it possible for American consumers to live a "Fair Trade lifestyle," choosing more responsible approaches to whatever they buy.

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The above Winner's Statement was provided by the profiled organization.