NMSU branding

New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

News Center


Search News Center Articles


Related Articles




NMSU graduate, social entrepreneur helping to feed the hungry

As a student at New Mexico State University, Jose Rodriguez discovered a passion to help people and an entrepreneurial way to do it.


Two men with hair nets on, standing in front of people working at tables.
Aron Jones and Jose Rodriguez are social entrepreneurs who graduated from the New Mexico State University College of Business. They formed ROJO Ink to raise money to help social issues. Through meal-packing events across the nation, ROJO Ink has donated more than 500,000 meals to organizations that feed hungry people in Africa and other third-world countries. (Courtesy photo)

During annual food-drive service projects Rodriguez saw the impact of helping others.

“While the food drive was fun, there were some impactful moments when we would actually go into people’s homes and see that they did not have food in their cupboards,” Rodriguez said. “We discovered that here in our community people are living almost in third-world conditions. One home we visited didn’t even have electric power. When you hear their stories you just can’t help but get teared up on something like that.”

Those moments planted a seed in Rodriguez that sparked his ideas about how to help alleviate poverty. The way to finance that ambition was discovered during an independent-study class focused on social entrepreneurship.

A social entrepreneur recognizes immediate social problems, but also seeks to understand the broader context of an issue that crosses disciplines, field and theories.

During his studies, the finance and economic major in the College of Business learned that a little effort can go a long way from established social entrepreneurs such as Muhammad Yunas, founder of the microfinance movement through the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh.

He learned that a social entrepreneur competes in the marketplace with all other competitors but is inspired by a set of social objectives. This is the primary reason for being in the business.

After graduation, Rodriguez and fellow College of Business student Aron Jones wondered how they could raise money to help alleviate poverty. ROJO Ink was born as a business where the profit would be used to help people.

“We decided we could make custom T-shirts and then, working with organizations that send food aid, we could finance sending food to the hungry,” he said. “Every order helps us pay to host meal-packing events.”

During its eight years of existence, ROJO has provided over 500,000 meals by financing meal-packing events organized by their customers.

The first was in Las Cruces in 2010 where NMSU students and community members helped pack 100,000 meals for Haiti earthquake victims.

“We now finance one or two smaller events annually with our customers around the nation,” Rodriguez said. “These are fun events where people contribute a couple of hours to combining the meal ingredients in sealed bags.”

Rodriguez has his vision set on other ways to help people. One is right in his community of Las Cruces – Camp Hope.

“I’ve seen and studied a lot of programs helping homeless people. Camp Hope is a fairly good model,” he said of the tent-to-rent program. “They are wanting to take the tent community to the next level by building 40 permanent three-sided structures that will protect the people from the elements, wind and sun.”

Rodriguez wants to help “knock this project out.” While this project is not in ROJO Ink’s marketing promise of sending meals, he says it makes sense to do it.

“We have a standing offer to finance some of these structures, as soon as they get the project organized,” he said. “We also want to get other people involved in financing the project.”

The young social entrepreneur doesn’t see himself as a hero nor wants to be put on a pedestal. He just wants to help his fellow human beings.