For the first time in history an LGBT business has been awarded a national accolade.
A Californian coffee shop has become the first LGBT business to be recognised as the National Small Business of the year from the United States’ Small Business Adminstration (SBA). It has become the first openly LGBT run business in the SBA’s 63 years.
The SBA awarded Equator Coffees & Teas in California the National Small Business award, making the coffee shop the first LGBT business to be recognised in the awards.
The SBA was created in 1953 to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of the United States.
Speaking at the award cermony Maria Contreras-Sweet, Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration said,
“It is my extreme pleasure and honor to announce that business partners Brooke McDonnell and Helen Russell from Equator Coffees & Teas headquartered in San Rafael, California are this year’s national Small Business Person(s) of the Year. It all started in 1995 when they started to roast coffee in Brooke’s garage. Equator now has 90 employees and 350 wholesale customers including the renowned French Laundry restaurant, cafes at LinkedIn, micro-kitchens at Google and three retail stores in Northern California with two more on the way,” Contreras-Sweet said. “Helen and Brooke purchased their own roasting plant using an SBA 504 loan. They have worked diligently with their farmers for 17 years and were one of the first roasters to support the Fair Trade movement to gain better wages for growers.”
“The overall competition was extremely competitive this year. The highlight of my day was to be able to meet and award every state and territory winner and thank them for all they do for their local economy and America’s small business community. Two out of three net new jobs in America are created by small businesses and it’s all of our small business winners today who are leading the way,” Contreras-Sweet added.
According to the Equator Coffees & Teas website the business “was established in 1995, when business partners Brooke McDonnell and Helen Russell began roasting coffee in a Marin County garage, it marked the beginning of their journey to build a high-impact coffee company focused on quality, sustainability and social responsibility.”