Student Entrepreneurship Microgrant Supports Creative Business Projects

Editors’ note: The author of this piece received a grant through the Student Entrepreneurship Microgrant Program.

How does one build a business? Does it start with an idea, or a strong business partner, or maybe just a grant to get the ball rolling? For some Oberlin students, the opportunity to bring their business concept to life was provided by the Student Entrepreneurship Microgrant.

The microgrant is a recurring opportunity for students to apply for financial support for extracurricular projects. The latest iteration of the microgrant offered students a range of financial support to develop their approved project over the Winter Term period from Jan. 3 to Jan. 25. Over the course of the project, students were required to record their budget, submit receipts and completed expense forms, and submit a final video report explaining the experience and planning for future development.

“I have made it a mission to take up as many opportunities that the school offers, especially financially, and seeing the opportunity for a microgrant inspired me to do this project,” Conservatory third-year Nik Divall said. “So I came up with this in response to that offering, and it turned out to be really helpful.”

While some people might think of technological development or financial businesses when they hear the word “entrepreneurship,” many grant winners used the funding to develop creative projects and ways of expressing themselves. The grant money allowed some students to establish their artistic practices with tools they may not otherwise have had access to.

“I used my entrepreneurship grant to buy a microphone and record a bunch of repertoire,” Divall said. “I play classical guitar, and used the opportunity to record a bunch of pieces to audition for a competition back in Australia. I also just have them in the bank for auditions going forward.”

The microgrant was not only provided to students who were continuing their personal artform. For College third-year Bour Opoku, the grant offered the ability to expand an artistic craft she had been developing for many years into a sustainable business model.

“I started Beauty by Bour, my makeup company, during the pandemic,” Opoku said. “I really wanted the opportunity to invest in my brand and myself, so I applied for the microgrant to expand my YouTube channel. I also used some of the funding to get started with more clients.”

Opoku has been able to grow a social media presence for Beauty by Bour, as well as reach more clients, since receiving the grant. In the week following the grant spending timeline, Opoku was able to see three clients. In all of her work, whether that is client work or social media representation, Opoku aims to encourage people to fall in love with their natural features. Opoku’s business honors an often overlooked art form that helps to resist oppression and build confidence on a personal level.

“I was inspired by this project I once did to see how Black trans women resist oppression,” Opoku said. “For me personally, makeup is a way that I can subvert negative stereotypes that I see about myself. It is also a way for me to express my art form. Makeup as art is underrated in a lot of people’s minds; it is often seen as something shallow, but to me, it is on the same level as painting or any other art form that there is. I think especially for minority populations, specifically Black women, it is a great way to express yourself artistically and also to build your self-confidence. That’s what makeup has done for me.”