We acknowledge that we live and work on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishinaabeg and Haudenosaunee peoples. The University of Waterloo is situated on the Haldimand Tract, the land promised to the Six Nations that includes six miles on each side of the Grand River.
Tara Scanlan is a social entrepreneur and current Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology (MBET) student at the Conrad Centre.
I want to be a change maker, and this is one of the reasons why I came to the MBET program at the University of Waterloo. I don’t strive to be the average do-gooder because I want to be the most effective agent of change that I can be.
Before coming to MBET, I volunteered for three years with Crossroads International and the Centre for International Studies and Cooperation (CECI), two of Canada’s leading international development agencies. I worked with marginalized producers in Bolivia, Senegal, and Nepal. It was clear that Canada’s international development agencies and their partners were doing great work to empower the poor, increase gender equality within communities, and increase economic equality across regions and continents. The problem Canadian and international Non – Governmental Organization’s (NGO’s) face is sustainable funding, and funding that is generated through development projects.
I saw a need for more of a business mindset in implementing projects abroad, in terms of efficiency, economic development, execution, and access to capital. For these development and NGO institutions to stay successful, they need to lessen their dependence on aid and increase their involvement in revenue generating projects that support their humanitarian mandates. After working with Fair Trade producers, it became evident how handicraft and apparel production drives economic growth and increases community social welfare. In light of these issues, I founded a fashion company specializing in knitwear called ULLO.
How ULLO works
ULLO works directly with handicraft producers across the apparel supply chain, from raw material production to manufacturing, to consumers. All of our products are handmade from natural materials such as silk and banana fiber. ULLO only works with producer organizations that are Fair Trade certified, and ones that offer fair working conditions to their employees. ULLO’s producers are able to send their kids to quality schools and their families have access to healthcare.
As ULLO grows, we hope to strengthen our partnership with NGO’s offering training in fashion production, as well as humanitarian aid. Providing education for producers on topics like budgeting and savings, gender equalities, violence against women, and nutrition, will improve the quality of life for producers, their families, and their communities.
How MBET has helped
The MBET program has given me the knowledge and skills I need to develop a strong business strategy with complementary marketing and finance components. In addition to great academic support, I have had the opportunity to network with a variety of very interesting and intelligent industry leaders. My professors, mentors, and peers also provide me with the most critical aspect of my personal success and the growth of ULLO: constructive feedback.
Through the MBET program, I am learning how to identify opportunities, create a scalable business, all while building relationships with the most inspiring people I have met to date! As a result, I am able to turn ULLO into a company that will create a positive ripple effect in developing communities with economic growth activities and capacity building.
Tara Scanlan is currently enrolled in the MBET program. Her main interest lies in social entrepreneurship, fashion, and culture. She has an undergraduate degree in International Business from Carleton University. She was also a finalist in the Velocity Fund Finals competition where she pitched ULLO.