I was contacted by SCIO and spoke at length with SCIO staff in the London office who thought this would make a great story for Community magazine, and would be of benefit to their clients.
I was told, “Besides being a creative business plan by young entrepreneurs focused on issues related to people with disabilities, this is another great equipment resource for our staff and clients, and perhaps in the future, could have partnership potential.” I am glad to share our story with the readers of Community magazine, and do hope that some of you will access our services.
RollUP is a social enterprise that strives to remove social and physical limitations by making mobility affordable for everyone. We collect gently-used wheelchairs from the community, work with our partners at Goodwill Commercial Solutions to refurbish them, and then sell or donate the devices back to community at a 95% discount.
RollUP Solutions was founded in July 2017 by students at Western University. It continues to be run by students at Western University to this day, in partnership with the Enactus chapter on campus. When we founded RollUP, we knew we wanted to start a business that benefitted the community. After learning that over 630,000 Canadians currently go without a wheelchair because they cannot afford one, we saw an opportunity to take action. We started collecting donated mobility devices from the London community and we currently accept manual devices like wheelchairs, walkers and rollators – no power chairs yet.
Next, we partnered with Goodwill to refurbish the mobility devices. We developed a process with local experts that ensures that every refurbished device meets our safety and quality standards, meaning we clean the device thoroughly, ensure all mechanical parts are working, and replace anything porous like the seats and handle grips. Finally, all of our inventory is posted to our online store at rollupsolutions.ca. Customers can simply log on, browse our inventory of devices and purchase the device online. We are able to ship these devices right to your door or arrange for pick-up at our warehouse facility. All of our devices retail for less than $150, so everyone who needs a device can access one. Additionally, we are launching a Sponsor a Device program, whereby individuals or companies can donate funds to RollUP and we will connect someone in critical need with a wheelchair for free. A $100 donation equates to one donated wheelchair.
Our goal with RollUP is to provide value at every single step. First, we divert waste by refurbishing gently-used wheelchairs that would otherwise end up in storage or the landfill. Next, through our partnership with Goodwill we are able to create meaningful employment opportunities for individuals facing barriers to work or social circumstances. Finally, by selling or donating our devices at an extremely low rate, we can make buying a wheelchair a reality for many Canadians. Finally, RollUP has actually been studied by the Ivey Business School and is now a mandatory component of the foundational business curriculum at Western, meaning thousands of students will learn about this critical issue and be exposed to social entrepreneurship as a result.
More info can be found here:
We currently operate in London, Ontario. If a person would like a device delivered by RollUP, they need to be in this service area. However, we can always arrange for a pick-up at our warehouse if someone lives outside of the London area. Finally, anyone anywhere can sponsor a device through our website.
RollUP is currently operated by me and Leanne McKinnon. We are fourth year students at Western University. I am pursuing an Honours Business Administration degree from the Ivey Business School, and Leanne is pursuing an Accounting degree through the Bachelor of Management and Organizational Studies (BMOS) program. Leanne and I are actively involved in the social entrepreneurship community at Western and in London, and lead the Enactus Western team on campus. We have received awards and recognition for our work with RollUP including winning the Spin Master Business Plan Competition and the 3M Best Project Solution Award, being chosen as one of the Top 15 Business Plans in the country through the Queens Entrepreneurs Competition, and competing in countless pitch competitions. Upon graduating in Spring 2019, Leanne will join the audit team at PwC, and I will begin working in the Global Partnerships division at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. We will both remain active as advisors and members of the Board of Directors for RollUP, and day-to-day operations will continue to be run by students at Western University and Goodwill.