Using my entrepreneurship degree to help migrants reach their full potential |

Using my entrepreneurship degree to help migrants reach their full potential

By Laura L

Updated May 17, 2022 Updated May 17, 2022

Fernanda Hermanson came from a family of entrepreneurs. Following in their footsteps, she started selling things as a small child in Brazil and has been drawn to the power of entrepreneurship ever since.  

While pursuing her own business ventures, Fernanda realised that it was talking about, and studying the idea of, entrepreneurship that really ignited her passion.  

Missing the discussions around finding innovative ideas and making them viable, Fernanda decided to study an MSc in Entrepreneurship at Trinity College Dublin, where she would spend a year learning more about the start-up mindset and how to scale and grow existing businesses.  

Fernanda’s lightbulb moment came during her master’s, when she spent every day talking about new ideas, trying to solve problems, and collaborating with others to make things happen.  

“I realised that this is what I should do,” said Fernanda. “Instead of focusing on one problem to try and build a scalable business for myself, I should contribute to the development and growth of other entrepreneurs on their start-up journeys.”  

The result is Unleashe, a digital hub that connects migrants to unlock their entrepreneurial potential.  

Fernanda spoke to TopMBA about empowering migrants, like her, to create their own successes. 

How does Unleashe help migrants to grow their own businesses?  

Unleashe provides opportunities for start-ups across three pillars: mentoring and accelerator programmes, consultancy, and a digital hub where entrepreneurs can work together online. 

“We offer a range of training programmes delivered by experts and experienced entrepreneurs and we tailor solutions for our clients to help them develop business plans, market research, market opportunity assessments, and strategic and financial planning for businesses at all stages,” said Fernanda. 

“The aim is to create a supportive environment for developing connections and fast-tracking business growth through our hub. The digital space allows entrepreneurs across the globe to connect, share experiences and ideas, participate in training, and much more.” 

As an entrepreneur in your home country, the business knowledge required for market analysis, audience development, funding and making a product or service viable is comprehensive enough.  

But having migrated from Brazil to Ireland, Fernanda understands the additional challenges that come with starting a business in a new country. “You must learn the language, understand the culture and find new networks for yourself. It’s difficult.” 

Many of the entrepreneurs Unleashe has worked with are migrants who have arrived in Europe without a job, or have a job they’re not happy with. 

“It’s great being able to meet these people and say, ‘you can have a job and make a living, or you can do much more than that’,” said Fernanda. “You can have a business and you can have the best job ever. It’s up to you.” 

By providing the tools and advice for entrepreneurs to set up and grow their businesses, Unleashe allows the people it supports to focus on settling into their new country, without the stress of doing it all on their own.  

How did a master’s in entrepreneurship provide the skills to make Unleashe successful? 

Compared to an MBA programme – which provides foundational business knowledge and skills to helps students take their existing business experience to reach management or strategy-led positions – an MSc in Entrepreneurship is designed specifically for those with an entrepreneurial mindset.  

Providing the practical techniques to start or support new businesses, a master’s in entrepreneurship focuses on the frameworks needed to develop, test, fund, grow and scale new ventures. 

Fernanda’s MSc in Entrepreneurship at Trinity College Dublin was foundational in understanding why her previous ventures had gone wrong, and how to adapt her clients’ ideas for better success. 

Gaining the skills and techniques to iron out the creases of an entrepreneurial idea allowed her to identify and assess the problems, evaluate the best solutions and use innovation and creativity to implement a viable plan.  

“It also helped me to build a strong network of highly skilled and experienced business mentors and peers. I was able to integrate myself into the Irish innovation ecosystem which gave me the courage and confidence to create my venture in Ireland,” she said.  

“It’s the frameworks, techniques and solution-focused thinking that has been lifechanging for me – understanding how to effectively test the market, how to find funding, and how to make the most of your networks to create the best business possible.” 

What challenges have you faced and overcome as a woman in business? 

Fernanda said: “It was challenging not to let my insecurities and fear of failure keep me from taking risks and dreaming big. However, I learnt to work through the moments of self-doubt by ensuring that in any initiative I was trying to progress, I had a solid business case to back it up. 

“To overcome the fear of failure, I had to change my point of view, become mentally prepared for what could happen and constantly focus on learning. I stopped waiting for perfection because I had to get things done.” 

Another one of Fernanda’s greatest lessons has been to ask for help. “My aim was to build a community of entrepreneurs, but I was trying to do everything by myself to make that happen. It didn’t make any sense,” she said.  

“Seeking support can help you to overcome problems, understand the market better and prepare yourself for any challenges you may face. I’ve learned that people usually want to help and be involved in something. To grow, I need to keep learning new skills and gain new knowledge, and that comes from working with other people to bring something together.” 

What advice do you have for budding entrepreneurs? 

“Start small and grow over time,” said Fernanda. “It’s easy to want to do everything at once and jump straight in, but it’s important to start small and do your MVP (minimal viable product) testing as early as you can. That will teach you a lot and from there you can grow and develop in the right direction.” 

For Fernanda, being an entrepreneur is about taking action, but understanding that there is always more knowledge to be gained and techniques to learn. “Keep studying, keep finding new methods and ways to innovate and to lead. Find people who can help you on your journey and bring them along with you as you grow and adapt.”

This article was originally published in May 2022 .

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Written by

As Senior Content Editor for and, Laura publishes articles for our student audience around the world, working with ambassadors and alumni to provide helpful content to those looking for study options. Laura has six years' experience in Higher Education marketing and writing for a student audience. 

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