Paul Rice, President & CEO of Fair Trade USA, Selected as Finalist in Entrepreneur Magazine’s Entrepreneur of 2012 Contest

Social Entrepreneur Recognized for his Work to Fight Poverty in Farming Communities
Aug 15, 2012 10:35 AM ET
Press Release

(3BL Media) Oakland, CA - August 15, 2012 - Paul Rice, President & CEO of Fair Trade USA, has been announced as one of five finalists for the Entrepreneur of 2012 contest presented by The UPS Store®, the most prestigious award bestowed upon entrepreneurs today.  Now through September 17, the business community and consumers can vote for Paul Rice to become the Entrepreneur of 2012 by visiting

“This is an unprecedented group of finalists. How the small-business community votes will indicate which finalists fellow entrepreneurs draw the most inspiration from, and that insight will be critical to us when making the final selection of winners.” - Amy Cosper, VP/editor in chief at Entrepreneur

About the Entrepreneur

Paul Rice has made it made his life's mission give businesses and consumers a way to fight poverty in farming communities through their purchases. Whether it's a cup of coffee, a bar of chocolate or a scoop of ice cream, he has given busy shoppers in the North America a simple way to make a difference with their dollar.

Paul came to Fair Trade by way of the mountainous Segovias region of northern Nicaragua, where he spent 11 years organizing cooperatives and training farmers. During his time there, Paul founded and led PRODECOOP, the country's first Fair Trade, organic coffee export cooperative, which introduced him to the transformational power of Fair Trade. Upon return to the United States, he earned an MBA from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, and wrote the business plan for what later became Fair Trade USA, the leading certifier of Fair Trade products in North America.

Since launching the Fair Trade Certified label in 1998, Paul has pushed to mainstream the Fair Trade movement and expand its impact on farmers.  In partnership with over 750 U.S. companies, Fair Trade USA has helped drive U.S. retail sales of Fair Trade Certified products to an estimated $1.5 billion in 2011, enabling millions of small-scale farmers and farm workers earn more than $250MM in additional income over the past decade.  Farming communities have democratically elected to invest these in social and business development projects including scholarships, healthcare, and women's leadership programs.  Rice’s innovations also include expanding certification to new product categories and deepening efforts to increase consumer awareness.

“Paul Rice is on the cutting edge of social entrepreneurship.  By helping consumers gain a deeper understanding of how their everyday purchases affect people around the globe, Paul has found a powerful way to mobilize business and consumers to benefit millions of people in the developing world.  We look forward to seeing Fair Trade USA’s impact in the years ahead.” - Seth Goldman, TeaEO of Honest Tea

To see Paul Rice’s full business profile and video—and to vote, go to Finalists will receive a percentage of points based on the number of online votes they receive, which together with voting points allocated to each of the panel of judges will determine the final winners.


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About Fair Trade USA

Fair Trade USA, a nonprofit organization, is the leading third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States. Fair Trade USA audits and certifies transactions between U.S. companies and their international suppliers to guarantee that the farmers and workers producing Fair Trade Certified goods were paid fair prices and wages, work in safe conditions, protect the environment, and receive community development funds to empower and improve their communities. Fair Trade USA also educates consumers, brings new manufacturers and retailers into the Fair Trade system, and provides farming communities with tools, training and resources to thrive as international businesspeople. Visit  for more information.

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Paul has received numerous honors and awards for his pioneering work as a social entrepreneur in the Fair Trade movement.  In 2000 he received the prestigious international Ashoka Fellowship for social entrepreneurship. In 2001 Paul was recognized by the AVINA Foundation for his "leadership for change.” Paul was honored by the Klaus Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship and the World Economic Forum as one of the world's top 40 Social Entrepreneurs in 2002.  Fast Company magazine named Paul “Social Capitalist of the Year” four years in a row (2005-08). Paul also received the prestigious Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship and has been honored by the Clinton Global Initiative for his leadership in Fair Trade. 

Lauren Brock
Fair Trade USA
+1 (510) 844-1649