For Equator Coffees & Teas, the awards keep rolling in – and they’re getting bigger each time they do.

Less than six weeks after Mill Valley residents and Equator co-founders Helen Russell and Brooke McDonnell were named the 2016 Small Business Persons of the Year for California, and after Equator was named SBA San Francisco District Office’s Small Business of the Year for 2016, the fast-growing company was named Small Business of the Year in the United States.

Just as with the California honor, it is the first time in the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 63-year history that it has selected lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) business owners, and an LGBT-owned business, as its honorees.
It’s an award given out by the U.S. Small Business Administration, and the win is special for another reason: Equator is the first LGBT company ever to get the award.

Russell and McDonnell, “partners in life and in business,” were honored at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. on Monday, May 2, by Maria Contreras-Sweet, administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

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,” Russell said. “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.”

“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,” said Jacklyn Jordan, President and CEO, Capital Access Group, who originally nominated us for the California SBA Award. “They are eminently deserving of this award, and we are honored to have played a role in the success of their business.”

As previously reported, Russell and McDonnell are hosting a celebration with officials from the SBA, the Golden Gate Business Association and Capital Access GroupThe event, set for May 20 from 5:30-8pm at Equator’s Tam Junction shop at 244 Shoreline Hwy., is open to Equator customers.


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