At last! In the second of my interviews with colleagues on the Yale World Fellows Program, I chat with Patrick Struebi, an entrepreneur from Zurich, Switzerland.

Patrick and I have a lot in common. We both had “proper” jobs, only to decide that our careers did not reflect our personal values. As Patrick puts it, he was working to make rich people richer and poor people poorer. He quit his job and went to Mexico, where he spent 7 years. During this time of soul-searching he came up with the concept forĀ Fairtrasa, a company that links small-scale farmers in Latin America to local and international markets. Fairtrasa supports the formation of farmer cooperatives, provides farmers with technical skills, and fosters community development through health and education projects.

He has also established his own marketing companies in Europe and North America to sell these sustainable and fairly traded food products directly to all major supermarkets. Today, Fairtrasa represents over 3,000 small-scale farmers and operates offices in Mexico, Peru, Chile and Argentina.

Patrick’s goal is to replicate Fairtrasa’s business model in other Latin American countries and beyond. He was recognized as “Social Entrepreneur of the Year” in Mexico in 2009, and as an Ashoka Globalizer Fellow and Endeavor Entrepreneur in 2011.

After the interview had ended, Patrick and I went on chatting for a while, and found a few more similarities. Both our fathers were 10 years older than our mothers, and both our fathers died at the age of 75. We have both been (or still are) on a spiritual quest, reading lots of books and asking lots of questions. And both of us are at a point where, having already made a major career change, we want to carry on basically doing the same thing, but taking it to the next level.

I hope you enjoy listening to our conversation. And maybe you’d like to think about what you would like to do next? The same thing, but at a higher level? Or something different altogether? Post a comment and let me know!

I also need a better title for this series than “Yale Video Blog No.X”. I mean, really! If only I was doing these every day (not possible) I would call them Yalie Dailies. But they’re not. Please let me know if you have any better ideas!


Filmed in my apartment in New Haven on 16th September, 2012.

Featured image: Patrick at Yale World Fellows Night last week talking to Jason Young, one of my two undergraduate liaisons.


  • blog names: (not meant to be serious!)
    Yale tales.
    A Yale Tale.
    Face to Face with a Savage!
    Roving Roz reports.
    Savage snippets!
    One fellow to another.
    Rozzie’s ramblings.

    the last blog was great , David C

  • Roz, love your conversations!

    David’s got some good ones … THOSE are hard to top.

    First thing that came to mind my was “Rozblogs” … just too simple and plain and stereotypical … and then my mind went to the opposite extreme: with this tongue twister: “conservation conversation” … forgedaboudit!

    Surely, you can shorten THAT … How about “_____ talk” (fill in the blank). Hmmm … “Shop Talk” … or “Blog Talk” … or “Tops Talk” … or perhaps something multisyllabic like “Follow the Fellows” … or “My Ordinary Heroes” … or “Yalies Extraordinaire” … or “Special Moments” … or “Getting 2 Know U” … oh such silliness! Hope this sparks your imagination. You have it in you already!

    Gotta Run! Presently visiting friends deep in the Heart of Texas.

  • Fascinating talk that truly resonates with me – after 30 years with a transnational oil corp I began volunteer business consulting in sub-Saharan Africa with 5 month placements arranged by VSO International. After 2 placements (Uganda, NW Tanzania), I had my “epiphany” and created a subsistence smallholder farmer coffee project (working with a national Tz NGO) in 2008. This won a UN SEED award in 2009 and has encountered significant success such that we are preparing proposals for lateral scaleup to 5 or 6 new villages. Project financed with zero interest loans and multiplies net revenue to farmers by 6 to 8 times ultimately. Patrick’s success is a huge motivator for those of us attempting similar ventures.
    Have also “picked up” 3 young kids along the way in NW Tz. We placed them in a private residential school (operated by the NGO) after their Mom died.
    When not in Africa I am an addicted kite surfer.I look forward to more of these interviews.
    Jamie Kyles P Eng, Sustainable Livelihoods Consultant (Africa)

    • Hi Jamie – great to hear your story. Thank you, and keep up the great work. You are truly touching and enhancing lives.

  • imho- keep the enumeration of the vlogs even if you change the title..

    the viewers responding to this are more not only more familiar with you historically, they are also more artfully eloquent and give a (albeit, beneficial and benevolent) opinion. A reader that chances upon one of your blogs are more likely to re-visit a previous blog based on it’s linear time frame. so I suggest keeping the numbers. I do like the suggested titles however as they sing as you often do, from the heart.

    I often wonder how devious and heinous leaders come to power and how the masses follow them, the eventual counter revolution, and then the re-organised more enlightened thinking. Do the world fellows study “the enemy”? I think that an opposing point of view often tells one of ones identity. Whereby both similarities and differences are slated unevenly and more pronounced by the interpreter’s point of reference.

    Adolf Hitler, “How fortunate for governments that the people they administer, don’t think”.

    Decimation: (decimatio; decem = ten) was a form of military discipline used by officers in the Roman Army to punish mutinous or cowardly soldiers. The word decimation is derived from Latin meaning “removal of a tenth”.

    “We do what we know, to do. And when we know better, we do better.” ~Maya Angelou

    Keep Rowing!


    • Hi Jay – tomorrow we have our class on “Grand Strategy”. It might possibly address your question. I will keep you posted. Chase me up if I don’t!

  • I’m enjoying being part of your experience at Yale. Thanks for taking the time to bring it to us!
    I thought you could call your series:
    Roz Scroggin – ‘Scroggin’ being the Kiwi and Aussie name for trail mix. Your trail through Yale is certainly a mix of different ideas, different cultures, different people – and maybe that’s the point – to come out the other end as a better blend.


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