Finding My Entrepreneurial Identity: From the Candy Brand to WeRin

By Maynara de Almeida Furquim, Münster University of Applied Sciences

Starting your own business and becoming an entrepreneur can sometimes be a dream, a  family heritage, a career choice, or even a completely unexpected event in life. In my case, it was a bit of everything, and I want to share how I ended up at WeRin and my experience with entrepreneurship.

My name is Maynara, and I support the WeRin project through the FH Münster University of Applied Sciences, in Germany. I  am originally from Brazil but came to Germany to study and build on my career. I always dreamt of becoming the owner of my own business, but in my “life plan” that would be later, after I had had my successful career in the industry – I didn’t see entrepreneurship as a career option back then.

However, my entrepreneurial path began in  2017, even though I didn’t see it like that. I was finishing my Bachelor’s studies in Brazil when my cousin and I decided to start a gourmet- candy brand. Our family had always said that we should try something with candies. Somehow, right before I defended my Bachelor’s thesis, we did it. We kept it only online, selling via Instagram and to close friends. I continued studying and working, with the candy brand in parallel, and my cousin decided to open her own business,  in 2019 – not related to candies.

A few months after she did it, my family, unexpectedly, got the opportunity to acquire a   candy store next to my cousin’s store, and, as I  had the candy brand, I thought why not? My mom and dad would have their dream of a cafeteria and benefit from it. While all of that was happening,  life gave me the chance to go to Germany to study. I took it without even thinking twice and not knowing what was ahead of me there. But I was still involved in the candy brand (now selling in my mom’s store) and helping with the new store. So, I  went to Germany and ran the businesses in  Brazil in parallel with my studies.

Yet, in 2020, I still was not seeing any of this as entrepreneurship. I was just caught in the moment and involved in others’ decisions. So, I “hugged the opportunity” and just found a way to do it.

Then, the pandemic came, and we all know how hard it was for everyone, especially small businesses. I finished my studies in Germany (online) and went back to Brazil. We did the best we could to go through this tough period, thinking outside the box as much as possible to get (new) customers’ attention. We learned a lot during that time, even though we wanted to give up sometimes – resilience was a key element for us.

In 2021, I decided to go back to Germany to pursue my dream of an international career. My professional career was not going as I expected in Brazil, I was frustrated, and I needed a change – note: not for one second, I  thought of focusing on the family business or investing more in my candy brand. Then, here, I needed to choose: my dream abroad or the partnership with my cousin. I gave the last one up – and it hurt me. But I was still helping my mom with her store, and we even opened a second one!

Then 2022 came. This was the year I got involved with the Science-to-Business Marketing Research Centre, a part of FH Münster, and the WeRin project. This was the year I heard and saw entrepreneurship as it is. This was the year I saw myself, for the first time, as an entrepreneur – even though it was a bit weird in the beginning. This was the year I chose to continue pursuing my international career in Germany, but also make my family business thrive in Brazil and be proud of being an entrepreneur.

Why did I just share with you this big (personal) story? Because I had to come to another country to realise and understand that what I was living in my home country was indeed a career, and that I could have pursued it. I had contact with entrepreneurship only once in my whole university experience in Brazil – and it was not good, everyone hated that course.

Only when I got involved in WeRin, met so many inspiring people, and participated in events, I understood the entrepreneurial path that I have been walking. It makes me want to work towards bringing more awareness to entrepreneurship as a career path, especially for women, and in my home country. Thank you, WeRin! There is more to come.