Christina McDonald sells preloved fashion items for women. She is based in Co. Cavan and has an outlet on ‘Depop’. Here, she tells how doing a course at Technological University Dublin put her on the road to self-employment.

Christina McDonald completed the 2021 course with a business plan for selling women’s fashion online. She share how the course led to her starting “Grá-Nua” / granua.

“I was diagnosed with MS in 2016. I was working two jobs and I found myself becoming disabled overnight.

“I kind of feel like in Ireland the system is a bit flawed, especially for adults with disabilities. If you’re on social welfare they push you to get a job; when you’re on disability, they don’t. After I got married my disability got cut to 70 euro a week. I can’t live off that.

“Over the past two years there hasn’t been much employment opportunities for people with disabilities. I’m not able to work a physical job, or the Monday to Friday, 9-5. I thought, ‘I’m going to work for me, I want to do something I’m passionate about, and I’m going to be my own boss.’

“The course was great, I’ve never had an opportunity like this before. I wouldn’t have gotten this information anywhere else. There is no other course like this in the country. Whether you’re going to start a business or not, [Professor Cooney] gave us tools to understand how. This course will open your eyes to what you need to think about and the step-by-step process in developing the business plan.

“One of the main things [I came away with] is confidence. You don’t really hear much about disabled entrepreneurs and people starting their own businesses with disabilities. With the guest speakers, all of the entrepreneurs were people with disabilities who faced the same struggles. It really gave me the confidence to say, ‘Well if they did it, so can I.’
“Just go for it!” she advised. “You have nothing to lose. You might as well take matters into your own hands. If you’re passionate about starting a business, don’t let a disability stop you from achieving what you want.”

New course beats challenges facing people with disabilities who seek self-employment