Brad Brown / Commerce

I am proposing a “Dream Idea” to support a student team working with me this academic year on a consulting project for Resplandece, a non-profit organization in Guatemala. Our team will develop and implement a marketing and distribution strategy for Guatemalan coffee to be sold in the United States, with a goal of eventually expanding to Europe, Asia, and Australia. All net proceeds will go to the non-profit to cover its overhead costs.

Resplandece was formed by a small group including Greg Lowden (McIntire 2008) in 2013 to respond to urban poverty in Guatemala City. The organization focuses on districts in the city that struggle with high crime, violence, drugs and poor nutrition. Resplandece works to provide holistic care to communities suffering from urban poverty and violence in Guatemala. This entails supporting local non-profit service providers with the end goal of helping people, especially children that are struggling from a lack of education, lack of access to medical care, lack of work opportunities, lack of shelter, and lack of the emotional and spiritual support that contributes to one’s self-esteem and personal development.

Resplandece is partnering with Freedom Guatemala, a socially minded business that has five years’ experience in coffee production, logistics, and connection to visitors of Guatemala. Freedom Guatemala is responsible for purchasing mountain-grown coffee beans after they are roasted in Guatemala, and shipping them to purchasers in other countries via DHL

I recently agreed to help Greg develop a sales and marketing strategy for the coffee in the United States. This will entail developing an overall strategy, promotional materials, e-marketing websites, and a lot of emphasis on the logistics—shipping costs, handling and distribution costs, customer support. I would like a student team to help me with this project.

The project team will be recruited largely from my Managing Sustainable Development class this fall. There is plenty of work to be done so I will plan to get between five and ten students involved, mostly 4th-year commerce students, but with a few students with special qualifications from other schools at the University. Greg Lowden spends most of his time in Guatemala City, but he will be in Virginia for an extended period during the fall semester. Greg wants to meet with the team several times and he will be a valuable resource.

Proceeds from the Jack Lindgren Award will be used to support our team project including the purchase of coffee for tastings and samples for coffee shops and retailers targeted by the team. The award will also support the development and purchase of promotional materials and minor travel costs in our region.