MARQUETTE, Mich.—Northern Michigan University students have gained practical experience this semester marketing Honduran coffee beans for a community fundraiser to help develop the Yojoa International Medical Center in the Central American country. They named the product—YoJoe—produced a marketing brochure and poster, determined pricing options and created a logo to be used for promotion and packaging.

“The students have also been doing taste tests and sales events at locations throughout the community,” said Bruce Sherony, professor in the College of Business, who teaches the marketing for entrepreneurship class that took on the project. “The final phase they are working on in smaller groups is developing a marketing plan. They will complete those near the end of the semester.”

NMU professors Mary Jane Tremethick of the health, physicial education and recreation department, and Eileen Smit of nursing approached Sherony. They have traveled with students the past four summers to Santa Cruz de Yojoa, a rural, medically underserved area of Honduras. With Marquette resident Kim Danielson, they imported 600 pounds of coffee beans to sell as a fundraiser, but looked to the College of Business for help in marketing the product.

“We believed that the faculty expertise, along with the student creativity, would provide us with a much better plan for the project that we had in mind,” said Tremethick. “We value Honduran coffee and believe that it is an important source of ongoing funding for a long-term project such as the medical center. It is available at Babycakes and we hope other local businesses will be open to marketing it as well.”

All proceeds will support the planned hospital, which will meet international standards and provide specialized services to low-income citizens in an area isolated from reliable health care. The class brochure bills YoJoe as “coffee to heal a nation” and states it is made from Arabica cherries grown in high altitudes, carefully monitored and picked at intervals to ensure optimal quality.

Student Natalie LaCombe described the class project as a rewarding experience: “Being involved with marketing an actual product is entirely different than just learning about marketing from a book. Helping with all of the elements gives us hands-on experience and we are able to address problems and challenges that come up in the new product process. It will be beneficial to everyone in the class.”

This is not the first NMU class to assist the community effort to aid the Honduran people. Several years ago, one of Sandra Poindexter’s business classes developed a website about the Yojoa International Medical Center. For more information, visit www.yimc.org.

Prepared By
News Director
November 23, 2010