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St. Lawrence News

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You might say that the leave of absence that Martin Papp '08, of Colorado Springs, CO, is taking is a coffee break. He's teamed up with two friends to launch a "fair trade" coffee and tea business in his hometown.

Papp, a government major and graduate of Cheyenne Mountain High School, studied in China through St. Lawrence's International and Intercultural Studies program, and visited a number of spots there and in India and Singapore, where tea is grown. Two friends from Colorado made similar study trips to coffee-growing areas of Belize, Guatemala and Mexico and are about to launch BuyWell International, which will supply fair-trade coffee and tea to food-service businesses, especially at colleges.

Fair trade means that products are bought directly from growers and producers, at a price that includes a premium to assist them in raising their standard of living. While about 25 percent of the market in Europe includes fair-trade products, Papp says that the market share in the U.S. is only about 3 percent.

Papp, who is BuyWell's chief networking officer, says that the company plans to launch in June 2007 with 25 employees and about 60 interns recruited from colleges. Their business plan includes a goal of bringing 11,000 families around the world above the poverty level in two years.

Part of Papp's expertise in the beverage market comes from his former campus job, as a barista with the Caribou Coffee shop in Brewer Bookstore.

More information: BuyWell Interntational Web site

Posted: February 22, 2007

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