OLGA VOYTENKO, an asylum seeker living in a Cork Direct Provision centre, has set up her own sewing and alteration business in the heart of Cork city. Olga is originally from Russia and has been living in the Kinsale Road Direct Provision centre for the past three years with her daughter. Her grandmother and two aunties were tailors and they sewed from home, and she learned the trade from them at a very young age. She also volunteers her skills with the Irish Neonatal Health Alliance, who sew clothes for premature babies.

“Sewing was like a hobby to me, but I think it was always my dream. I have big ideas, I’d like a few studios in Cork, maybe some in other cities. I hope it and I will work really hard to make my dream a reality.”

Olga’s dream to set up her own business was achieved with the help of four generous Cork businessmen. They originally put out the call in October, saying they wanted to help a refugee or asylum seeker set up a business. John Dennehy, chairman and founder of Zartis, was one of the businessmen involved. He says they got around 14 applicants to the initiative, with different ideas.

For more information on Olga’s journey, follow the link below: