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Belmont Students Create Fair Trade Coffee Brand to Benefit Farmers, Local Hispanic Community

coffee.jpgBelmont University students on the Belmont Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) team hosted an event at Nashville coffee shop Bongo Java Thursday, May 3, to announce and unveil a fair trade coffee brand the students developed to be served at Belmont with plans to extend distribution to other local businesses. The Belmont SIFE team partnered with Sodexho and Conexion Americas to create the new, organic, private fair trade coffee.
As a project to fulfill the entrepreneurship requirement of the SIFE team’s yearly objectives, Belmont students JonEric Pettersson, Renee Reyle, Victoria Aleksina, Janice Dotti and Lauren Winfield developed every aspect of the fair trade coffee, from working with the farmer to marketing and labeling the new brand, RumbaRoast. The students created the coffee to fund entrepreneurial and financial literacy programs, to teach Hispanic adults how to develop and sustain new businesses and to financially support the fair trade coffee growers of Central America.
“Our mission is to connect people with people one cup at a time across the table and around the globe,” JonEric Pettersson, a Belmont student involved with the RumbaRoast Coffee project, said. “Buying RumbaRoast fairly traded and organic coffee is caring for the families of farmers in Latin America, the support of local business and the highest quality in coffee we can share. The ultimate goal of RumbaRoast Coffee is to create a social and entrepreneurial means for the community to invest in itself and those we are connected to around the world. ”
Bob Bernstein, owner of local coffee shops Bongo Java and Fido, was instrumental in the creation of RumbaRoast Coffee. As a member of a consortium of privately-owned coffee houses, Bernstein was able to negotiate reduced prices for Belmont SIFE in importing fair trade coffee beans from Latin America. He was also able to match Belmont SIFE with a locally owned roaster to produce RumbaRoast at a lower price than the students would have paid independently.
The students adopted a three-phase approach in implementing their business plan for RumbaRoast coffee:
1. Belmont SIFE will launch and manage the new venture.
2. Belmont SIFE will develop a strategic plan for capturing commercial accounts and use the business as a platform to teach local Hispanic entrepreneurs.
3. Belmont SIFE will choose two – four entrepreneurs from the Hispanic community to take full control of the business, while continuously providing business-consulting services.
To date, the SIFE team has developed the coffee blend, bag labels and a marketing campaign and has sold over 200 pounds of coffee. RumbaRoast is estimated to gross $50,000 in the first year of operation. Belmont SIFE will allocate 80 percent of the profits made off of the fair trade coffee to the development of projects within the local Hispanic community and 20 percent back into the SIFE program.
One of the biggest developments in recent years in the coffee industry has been the rise of fair trade coffee. “Fair trade” refers to a rising political and economic movement that is designed to create an equitable and fair partnership between coffee buying and coffee producers in major coffee growing regions. Fair trade coffee is designed to assist poor coffee farmers that often produce high quality gourmet coffee in organic conditions.
To purchase RumbaRoast Coffee and learn more about Belmont SIFE, click here.
Click here to watch a short video of Belmont student JonEric Pettersson discussing RumbaRoast coffee.
Click here to watch a short video of Dr. Pat Raines, dean of the College of Business Administration, discussing the mission of Belmont SIFE.
Click here to watch a short video of Dr. John Gonas, faculty adviser of Belmont SIFE, discussing the nonprofit organizations that Belmont SIFE has worked with over the past two years.

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