Oluwabukola Folasire, a 23-year-old student of the University of Ibadan (UI), has found herself in two time-consuming turfs. She is studying Law, a discipline that requires constant reading and operating a mobile kitchen to earn extra income. The final year Law student tells MERCY ADEDIGBA (200-Level Communication and Language Arts) how she combines her studies with catering.

Studying Law is as demanding and time-consuming as cooking a delicious meal. As a discipline, Law requires constant revision of real and hypothetical cases for students to hone their skill, just as a caterer is relentlessly meticulous about getting the accurate measurement of condiments and ingredients to make food taste good.

These are the turfs 23-year-old Oluwabukola Folasire has found herself. She is a 500-Level Law student of the University of Ibadan (UI) and founder of Mo’s Kitchen, a mobile catering service.

Mo’s Kitchen is fast becoming a popular brand among UI students. While her colleagues engage in social and extra-curricular activities at weekends, Oluwabukola deploys her talent in cooking to earn extra income to support herself financially. She prepares soups on order and delivers to customers at any location within and around the campus.

During the week, the final year Law student is usually seen in the Faculty’s mandatory white-and-black clothes, studying Law cases, while at weekends, she drapes a branded pinafore, making soups for her customers.

Born to Chief and Mrs John Omolade Folasire, the last child of the family of nine said she ventured into commercial cooking in pursuit of her entrepreneurial dream. Although she started her cooking business while she was in 400-Level, she said she could have started since she was in 100-Level but for her father’s advice and the strenuous academic work.

After her admission into the premier university to study Law, Oluwabukola said she had a dream to start something unique aside academic pursuits. When she discussed her desire with her parents, her father, she said, vehemently opposed the idea and told her to face her studies.

She said: “I’ve always wanted to become an entrepreneur since my first year in the university. But because of what my course required, my dad discouraged me. He repeatedly reminded me of the nature of the course I am studying and would tell me that Law does not give room for distractions. He vehemently opposed my idea of engaging in business. Of course, I know studying Law is tasking and requires a lot of dedication and concentration.”

She followed her father’s instruction, dedicating time to her studies. But she said the fire of entrepreneurship in her could not be extinguished, prompting her decision to venture into commercial cooking.

“When I saw that I was not comfortable with giving all my time to Law, I decided to go ahead and try something on my own. I discussed it with a friend. When I was thinking of what I could do, the friend asked me which skill I had. I told him I could cook. Then, he told me to go into catering and I came up with the name Mo’s Kitchen, which is an abbreviated form of Mojisola’s Kitchen,” she said.

Oluwabukola said she considered going into catering and cooking soups because it was what she could do with ease. Her aim, she said, was to create a unique business that would make her self-reliant after school.

“After taking this decision, another challenge I had was to create a unique business that would be different from what others are doing. I thought of weekend soups for students. Then, I created time arrangement that will favour my class timetable and cooking business. So, I study during the week and cook on weekends,” she said.

Asked if she finally got her parents’ approval to venture into the business, Oluwabukola said she only told her mother, who had been supporting her. Her father, she said, was not aware of the business.

Her mother, Mrs Omolade, who is also a caterer, taught Oluwabukola everything she needed to know about cooking.

Oluwabukola is patronised by students and residents of the school and the host community. According to her, she started the business less than two years ago, and she has grown her customers’ base by being polite in the face of insults.

She said:“I believe in the saying that customers are always right. So, whenever I am dealing with impatient customers, I usually smile and apologise for whatever inconvenience and I move on. This way, they will call again.”

She sees the campus as a large market to do business, saying students consider survival first before embarking on studies. “The campus is a very conducive environment for business. I have discovered a big market in the school. The only thing required is to have unique services. For me, I am not running a cafeteria. I make mainly home-made food. There is little or no competition from anywhere because my service is unique. My customers get the best and they appreciate the taste of my soup.

“Food is a very important source of survival. Also considering my targeted consumers, who are mainly students, most do not have the time to go through the stress of making stew or soup. I am here to relieve students of the stress of going to the market and cooking food at an affordable price, made in a hygienic environment. So, I do make delicious soup on students’ behalf and they love it. It is profitable because there are many students facing the challenge,” she said.

What is her challenge in running her mobile kitchen? Delivering the soup is her biggest snag. She said: “I do not really have delivery challenges within the campus, but delivering outside the campus is stressful. I confirm orders a day before delivery in order to avoid mix-ups and confusion. Most times, I deliver at different locations, which are far apart and clients do not want to pay well for delivery. So, I am usually at a loss when I deliver to just one person at a distant location. Going to fetch the ingredients in the market and the stress of waking up early to prepare the soup is part of the challenges I face.”

She said she is skilled in multi-tasking. This, she said, enables her to combine catering with her studies.

“Combining cooking with academic work is not easy. Law is a course that requires constant study; same also goes for cooking. But, I balance both by creating time for each. So, it doesn’t affect my grades,” she said.

To students, who patronise her, Mo’s Kitchen is relieving them of the stress of cooking.

Oluwabukola’s classmate Biola Abegunde is stunned by the young woman’s enterprising spirit. Despite being in her kitchen throughout the weekend, Biola said her colleague’s academic performance has been excellent.

She said:“I am still surprised how Oluwabukola has been able to cope with her studies. Her academic performance is excellent just as her cooking. I regularly order stew from her and she delivers on time.”

Tunde Williams, a 200-Level Law student, said he could not resist the urge to order for stew after tasting Oluwabukola’s fish stew the first time.

“I was impressed by her cooking ability. I am choosy when it comes to eating, but the first time I ordered for a fish stew from Mo’s Kitchen, I got exactly what I wanted. All the condiments were added in the right proportions. This has kept me ordering for more and I don’t think I can resist the urge not to order. I have no doubt she’s going places,” Tunde said.

Oluwabukola said she would practise law for a while after graduating, but added that she would return to outdoor catering.

While encouraging students to embrace entrepreneurship, she said: “Entrepreneurship is the way out of joblessness. Although everyone may not have the idea to become business owners, students who have the passion for entrepreneurship should summon the courage to start. Our academic certificates cannot be useless. We can pursue our careers and still be entrepreneurs.”

Source: The Nation

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