St Andrews students ship 150,000 masks after setting up social enterprise import business.
Friends set up Mask Brothers to counter rip-off prices for PPE.
Two St Andrews students have supplied more than 150,000 protective masks at cost price after being sickened by profiteers cashing in and counterfeiters.
Frederik von Reiterdank and Cogan Wade sought out contacts in the UK and Hong Kong through their involvement with the charity Students Against Corona and set up the social enterprise Mask Brothers.
They managed to find reasonably priced PPE to buy wholesale from European import and export firms, and have sold masks to as far away as California.
Von Reiterdank, from Amsterdam, said: “We were looking to get PPE for StudentsAgainstCorona and quickly realised what a dark market PPE is.
“There are a lot of counterfeit products and the products that are of the right quality are being sold at extortionate prices. The cheapest retail price we have seen is 2x wholesale whereas typical retailers sit at around 1.3x wholesale price.”
StudentsAgainstCorona, which Frederik co-founded, has delivered groceries to more than 700 people in the UK, made gift bags for NHS workers, has facilitated more than 80,000 meal deliveries in India, given classes on the virus and hygiene in Pakistan schools and donated 350kg of food to families in Gambia.
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Wade, from Little Rock, Arkansas, is in his final year studying philosopy and history at the University of St Andrews while von Reiterdank graduated in physics in 2018 and is doing a Masters in Software Engineering at the University of Oxford.
Von Reiterdank added: “It is very difficult to find reliable suppliers. Because the product is in such high demand, the seller dictates the payment terms. Typically, they require almost 100% upfront and obviously there is very little you can do about it if shipments are late, faulty or don’t arrive.”
The above article by Hamish Burns first published on insider.co.uk in May, 2020.