Since our beginnings, the good of our farmer partners has been at the heart of our business. Now we have made that official: On January 2nd, Peace Coffee became one of the first companies in the state to file as a Public Benefit Corporation under a new Minnesota law passed in the last legislative session.
Minnesota joins at least 26 other states in the U.S. that define Public Benefit Corporations (PBCs) as a separate class of for-profit businesses who recognize benefits to society in addition to returning dividends to shareholders. Unlike not-for-profit organizations, PBCs receive no tax benefits, nor are there tax benefits to investing in one.
Instead, this designation helps formalize principles that are integral to our DNA. Peace Coffee got our start in 1996 as a pilot project of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP). The aim was to show that it was possible for a for-profit coffee company to pay fair prices to small-scale coffee farmers and run a successful profitable business. In the words of Queen Bean Lee Wallace, “While this will not change anything about the way Peace Coffee operates, it is exciting to now have a legal structure that allows us to proclaim that we consider the benefit we’re aiming to have on coffee growing communities as a measure of our success, not just our bottom line.”
As a Public Benefit Corporation, we will file an annual public report documenting how we met our obligation to pay fair prices to small-scale coffee farmers. Look for those starting in 2016!