We are extremely honored to be named the 2016 Small Business of the Year! Maria Contreras-Sweet, US Administrator of the US Small Business Administration recognized our cofounders, Helen Russell and Brooke McDonnell, at the National Small Business Week ceremony & reception held on May 2nd in Washington D.C. Not only were we selected to win this prestigious aware, but we are also so proud to be the first LGBT-Owned company to do so.
“This celebrated recognition of Helen and Brooke’s outstanding work not only exemplifies what we know of women in business leadership; it also illuminates an answer to the challenge of our time, demonstrating that businesses can be both successful and sustainable,” said California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom. “Their example and their achievements set the standard for small businesses to follow and I congratulate them both on their contributions to the community and the state of California."
“We were especially proud to nominate Helen and Brooke for this prestigious award,” said Jacklyn Jordan, President and CEO, Capital Access Group, who originally nominated us for the California SBA Award. “These amazing women have not only created a successful, socially responsible business, they have also helped to influence the overall trajectory of the coffee industry through their early support of the Fair Trade movement. They are imminently deserving of this award, and we are honored to have played a role in the success of their business.”
Helen and Brooke have spent that last 21 years building Equator, with a deep focus on not only sourcing and roasting the best coffees, but also on making a measurable, positive impact on the world around them. We’ve supported Chido Govera’s work with orphan girls and food security in Africa, helped women in Nicaragua secure land rights to their farms, and provided micro loans to farmers, among other programs. In 2011, we became the first US coffee roaster to become a certified B Corporation, and have recently been part of a completely B Certified supply chain by working with Sustainable Harvest to bring coffee from Nyampinga, a Rwandan farm, to market. We even co-own a sustainably planned farm in Panama, Finca Sophia. We’re proud of our work, and will never stop doing what we can to make the world a better place.
"It is such an incredible honor to be recognized by the SBA as Small Business of the Year for the State of California, and we are grateful to Capital Access Group for nominating us for this prestigious award,” said Helen Russell, Co-Founder, Equator Coffees & Teas, Inc. “As an entrepreneur, a women-owned business, and a LGBT-certified business, I am proud to say that the SBA has been there for Equator at all stages of our growth over the last 21 years. The SBA knows that small businesses like Equator are creating quality jobs and driving our economy. The SBA has had our back at important milestones in our evolution. We celebrate this achievement with our employees, our partners and our collective communities."
Thank you for being a part of our journey. It’s been a spectacular 21 years, and we couldn’t have done it without you. We look forward to another 20+ years of providing you with great coffees, and helping the world along the way.
Equator is a member of the Golden Gate Business Association , a certified LGBT-owned business by the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), and for 12 years, the company has been included in the San Francisco Business Times Top 100 Women-Owned Businesses. The Business Times also included Equator as No. 6 in the Top 25 LGBT-owned businesses in 2015.