In 1986, Equal Exchange was founded to challenge the existing trade model, which favors large plantations, agri-business, and multinational corporations. They set out to support small farmers and connect consumers and producers through information, education, and the exchange of products in the marketplace. Equal Exchange joined a growing movement of small farmers, alternative traders (ATOs), religious organizations, and nonprofits throughout the world with like-minded principles and objectives. Underlying their work is the belief that only through organizations, can small farmers survives and thrive. The cooperative model has been essential for building this model of change.