Pursuing higher education is transformative. It also involves academic growth, personal growth, and financial development. Students worldwide are exploring innovative ways to alleviate financial burdens due to the rising cost of education.
In 2021, Havard Business School conducted a global survey of undergraduate and graduate students from 58 countries. The survey revealed that around 11% of these students already own and run businesses.
At the University of Education, Winneba, students have embraced trade as a means of generating income to support themselves through school. Many students have ventured into various business activities like selling wigs, cosmetics, pastries, designing flyers, and even working as part-time mobile money agents. This article delves into the challenges that these students face, the benefits they enjoy, and the strategies that these students employ to manage their trade ventures successfully.
Despite the enticing prospect of financial independence, these student entrepreneurs are not immune to challenges accompanying trade and academic pursuits. Exceptional time management and organizational skills are required to juggle coursework, assignments, exams, and nurturing a trading venture simultaneously.
Moreover, the pressure to perform well in both academics and trade can take a toll on mental well-being. Due to extended working hours and the mental strain of multitasking, many of these students find themselves grappling with fatigue. Students must also find ways to reconcile deadlines and commitments from both spheres, often sacrificing sleep and personal time.
In interviews with some of the students, they revealed that engaging in trade has been a lifeline for them in their pursuit of academic excellence.
“Trading has been very helpful to me because it has enabled me to pay for part of my tuition fees and other school-related expenses,” said Afia Yeboah, a level 300 student.
Another student, Asare, shared his experience of selling mobile phone accessories. “I realized that there was a demand for earphones, chargers, and other accessories on campus, so I started selling them. It has been profitable, and I have been able to save up some money.”
Students are not just relying on traditional forms of trade but are also taking advantage of modern technology. Emmanuel Baidoo, a level 400 student, created a page on Facebook to sell clothes and shoes.
“I decided to start that Facebook page because I realized that many students prefer to shop online. It has been quite challenging, but it has been worth it because I have been able to reach a wider audience and make more sales.”
Despite the benefits of trading, students face other challenges such as the lack of start-up capital (the initial funds required to start a business) and the difficulty of balancing academics with business activities.
“Starting a business requires capital, and as a student, it is not easy to come up with the money. It is also not easy to balance schoolwork and business activities, but I have learned to manage my time,” said Angelina Yaa Gyenibea, a level 300 student who sells pastries on campus.
In an interview with Mr. Ayipe, a father whose ward is also a student and trader, he lauded the entrepreneurial spirit of the students and encouraged them to continue with their business activities.
“We are proud of our students who have taken the initiative to start their businesses. It is an indication that they are not just focused on academics but are also acquiring practical skills that will be beneficial to them in the future.”
The emergence of trade as a means of financial solace among UEW students underscores the dynamic nature of higher education in the modern world. With careful planning, determination, and a supportive community, these students are proving that they can thrive in both the classroom and the business world, laying the foundation for a future where financial independence is within reach for them.