May 23, 2014, by International students

How studying at Nottingham helped me set up my own business

Alumni of The University of Nottingham have excellent career prospects. Nottingham was recently voted the most sought-after university by Britain’s leading graduate employers (The Graduate Market in 2014 – High Fliers Research). Nottingham students who would rather be their own boss can access the University’s EnterpriseLab (now known as the Ingenuity Lab) in order to learn about the practical aspects of business development and build their entrepreneurial skills. Nnenna Nwaiwu, a Nottingham alumna from Nigeria who took part in the EnterpriseLab, shared her story with us:  

When I arrived at The University of Nottingham to begin my graduate studies, I saw a banner that said ‘Study here and go further’. This filled me with so much expectation. My MSc programme in Research Methods was very rigorous and at the end of the programme I felt really fulfilled. The academic and non-academic support was fantastic and I gained a lot of transferable skills through numerous courses offered by the Graduate School. I started attending programmes at the University’s EnterpriseLab and embraced the opportunities that were on offer. The Lab has experts to guide you through and consolidate any business concept you have developed.

Graduation day

Graduation day

After completing my postgraduate studies, I found that the banner I saw originally was not a fallacy. With the support of the EnterpriseLab, I decided to put the transferable business skills I had gained into practice by opening Chewy Tropicana, a restaurant/café that offers exotic tastes and flavours of Afro/Caribbean origin. I did this to convert a much loved hobby into a business venture and to fill the gap I had identified in the provision of a variety of assorted, much-loved Afro/Caribbean food and snacks, and increase the variety of foods in the city.

Our survey of international students from Afro/Caribbean countries revealed that they often crave food and snacks that they eat back home in their countries. Apart from various soups, jerk chicken, rice and peas, jollof rice and vegetable rice are also available.  There is oxtail, and other curries like mutton and chicken.  We offer well known delicacies from West Africa like egusi, okro, ogbono and vegetable soup served with pounded yam or garri. Some students like to stock up, so we can prepare multiple servings of this soup at low cost. We cater for all occasions and we offer bespoke food preparation. Our wide range of food gives everybody a choice. We try and provide a sociable environment to many international students who like to have a taste of home food during their time in Nottingham – or just anybody that loves good food!

Hard at work in the kitchen

Hard at work in the kitchen

I would advise any Nottingham student who would like to set up their own business to join the EnterpriseLab and at least one other group like Nottingham Business Ventures, as you can receive loads of advice and training on business basics for free. Good research must be carried out and the business must be taken as a project. The fundamental elements of project management, i.e. initiation, planning and execution and review, must be applied. Good luck!

Advice from the International Office:

For international students, working in the UK after completing your studies is possible under a number of different working visa routes. Nnenna used the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa route to set up her own business, but there are a number of possibilities. The key thing is for students to begin their job search and to know the immigration options early on. We encourage all students to use the Careers and Employability Service. They can assist you to research your career ideas, find job vacancies, make effective applications, develop your skills and meet employers. For more information, visit

In terms of working in the UK, our guide to ‘Working in the UK after completing your studies’ (pdf) outlines the immigration options available.

The Student Advisors in the International Office are happy to answer further questions that you might have.

Posted in Careers