Meet the students who turned to entrepreneurship during the pandemic

Many college campuses across Ireland are attempting to assist their students by launching entrepreneurship initiatives that not only boost their morale but also provide them with financial assistance.

This entrepreneurial spirit is spreading across the student population as more students express an interest in starting their own businesses.

Students have had more time to learn these new skills with college moved online due to the pandemic.

UL international journalism student, Ehienomen Godwin, runs a business remotely in her home country, Nigeria.

Godwin started her business to gain financial independence and has grown her hair extension brand “Hair by Grace” to the stage where she now employs people.

“I had to leave the business back in Nigeria to further my education. I still coordinate the business from Ireland, but it is not the same as if I were on ground,” she said.

“It’s difficult for you to find people who will run your business which as much energy as you would yourself.”

She claims that the fact that her education is online has been beneficial to her business because it has given her more time to keep track of sales.

“The time difference between Ireland and Nigeria is just an hour. I have shared my time schedule with my staff, and they know when I am available to take meetings,” she said.

Fourth-year University of Limerick student, Deba Okodugha, is studying mobile communications and security and has started a small business as a barber, cutting hair for his housemates.

Mr. Okodugha started his brand as a third-year student as he was interested in learning a skill that he could use to make money.

“I always wanted to learn a physical hand skill outside of my degree. Something I could use to make money on the side.

“I figured no matter where I go, someone will always need a haircut, so it felt like the best option at the time.”

Okodugha admits that the barbering business does not require a lot of capital and that he was able to start his business with his little savings.

“I bought the necessary two clippers I needed from my savings. Eventually I was able to get more equipment from the profit I had made over time,” he said.

Okodugha says it is difficult to balance school and being a full-time barber.

“Cutting hair requires a lot of practice. I don’t get that many hours of practice when school is on”

“I started my business during the first lockdown. I was able to get a lot of practice in then because I had a so much free time. When school began things changed,” he said.

Okodugha stated that by learning proper time management, he has been able to keep both his business and school life afloat.

Second year University College Cork commerce student Emma Coffey is currently juggling between 50 hours of class weekly and her own Fitness Apparel business.

A track and field athlete, Emma was motivated to create a brand that better reflected the sport and shares that she started her business when she was very young and with no capital.

Meet three Irish women who have used their time during Covid-19 pandemic to  help others
On the right track: Final Bend founder Emma Coffey

“Starting so young I had no money. The business was print on demand. The customer would place an order for a design and when they made that transaction, it would then get fulfilled. I wasn’t buying bulk at the start,”

Although Final Bend has come a long way as a brand, Coffey admits that the company was not doing too well at first.

“I sold six things my first month. I kept putting small bits of profits back into the business and it took me a couple of months to finally buy my first bulk order,” she said.

Coffey says she balances her life between learning and running a company by making the business a priority and working while she has free time.

“It is tough balancing school and a business. I have people who help me out when I must focus on school and exams. I also have been sacrificing my free time,” she said.

Coffey states that the lockdown restrictions and online classes have helped her business, as it has given her more time to concentrate on the business, as opposed to having to physically attend classes every day.

“I think it will be a challenge for me when the restrictions are lifted,” she said.

Coffey believes that TikTok is a vital asset to small businesses.

“I started Tiktok because my sister recommended I get the app. The first videos I had on Tiktok had about eight views, then I eventually had a video with 600 thousand views”

When she graduates from college, Coffey hopes to be able to work for herself full-time.

“When I leave college, I will have my own job. Potentially I will be in a position where I can go out and explore the world because I’ll be taking on staff this year and next year.”

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