Ellen Clauss and Randy England of Aya Fair Trade won this year’s TecBridge Business Plan Competition in the collegiate division, but how did they get there?
The company was originally founded around 2007 by Abby Speicher, daughter of the Marywood teams’ advisor Christopher Speicher, PhD. While she was visiting Ghana, she noticed that the children were out selling water bottles in the streets to try to make a few cedis, or Ghanaian currency. She had a purse with her at the time, and she wondered if it could be replicated to sell over there instead. Her thought then became a business she continued for a few years, aiming to use proceeds to help fund children’s education in Ghana.
Enter Ellen Clauss.
Ellen became involved with the company briefly around 2010 before Abby decided not to continue the business any longer to pursue other endeavors. Around the end of 2015, though, Chris Speicher asked Ellen if she might be interested in reviving the company for the TecBridge BPC. Ellen happily obliged, utilizing Abby’s previous resources, contacts, and connections to start up the company again.
Enter Randy England.
Ellen and Randy had worked on projects in and out of the classroom when Ellen asked Randy to form the newly named Aya Fair Trade team. Randy specialized in financials and legal documents while Ellen comes from a strong marketing background. Together, they developed a new strategic plan for Aya with the same ideals of Abby’s brainchild: a for-profit company with strong social ideals and a mission to help those in need. Continuing to pay for children’s education in Ghana was at the heart of this mission, and it won over the hearts and minds of many as Ellen and Randy would go on to win the TecBridge BPC.
Where are they now? Aya Fair Trade is currently live on Facebook with updates, and their website will be fully launched in July. In the meantime, stay tuned for more stories of their TecBridge success and their visit to Ghana as we continue to highlight their incredible story.