A UNIVERSITY student from Bradford is among a group of friends who have set up an initiative to provide cost-price face masks to the public.
Greg Cox, a former Bradford Grammar School student, along with friends Cogan Wade and Freddie Filz, are behind new operation Mask Bros.
Their idea began after being shocked at the mark-up on face masks and respirators during the coronavirus pandemic.
Together they used their contacts to source PPE from China and Hong Kong and set up a website which people can use to order the products.
Originally from Ilkley, the 23-year-old business management graduate at St Andrews University, said that they were aiming to be a reliable supplier for smaller orders of PPE without charging extortionate prices.
He told the Telegraph & Argus how they were all “entrepreneurial”.
“I used to run a business at Uni selling t-shirts to raise funds for a charity in Kenya, so I’m used to having a lot of boxes around the flat.”
Now studying for a masters at Oxford University, he said the three friends were currently running the initiative from a shared flat in St Andrews where the trio were in lockdown together.
The masks and respirators, which are not medical grade but are suitable for small businesses, charities and individuals, are available for 29p and £1.60 respectively.
All the products are certified for non-medical use, so customers are not taking vital PPE away from healthcare workers.
Cogan added that he and Freddie had first discovered the high mark-up on face masks when they had tried to source them for a new volunteering network they had set up, Students Against Corona.
“We needed to source PPE for our hubs, and all the stuff we could find was way over priced.
“We talked to some our our contacts in China and Hong Kong and found that the masks that we were being offered from £1.50 to £2 each, we could actually source for 29p.”
He stressed they were not a non-profit organisation but only charge a reasonable flat shipping fee to cover their costs.
Orders for their sold-out initial shipment of 25,000 3-ply mask had been packaged up and sent out from their flat, but they are to use a fulfilment centre service for the next shipment.
The trio met at the University of St Andrew where Cogan is currently finishing his final term studying history and philosophy.
Greg is currently finishing a masters course in African Studies at Oxford University, where Freddie is also a masters student, studying software engineering. Freddie also worked at Google for one year as a strategy analyst.
Cogan is a graduate of the US Marine Corps Officer Candidate School and is set to start his commission this autumn.