ALMA: Access to Language Methods for Increasing Migrants' Abilities to Start Their Own Business

alma: Access to  Language Methods

ALMA: Access to Language Methods for Increasing Migrants’ Abilities to Start Their Own Business is a European cooperation project aimed at stimulating migrants to begin a new business, to inspire and provide them with practical guidelines in order to start and run a successful company within a new cultural and linguistic context.

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Photo of Nena Stojanovic

Nena Stojanovic

Nena Stojanovic learned the art of entrepreneurship by watching

Nena Stojanovic (53) has had her own hair salon in the centre of Rotterdam for 22 years.
But before she started on her own, she first became an apprentice to an experienced hairdresser. To learn the trade, but also to be able to copy the art of entrepreneurship.

Nena's company is called Hair and Beauty salon Nena, where she dyes and colours hair, but also provides beauty treatments. Her goal is to make customers feel good about themselves, externally and internally. Nena tells how she got this far: "When I was 30, I decided to start my own business. I always wanted my own business, but no one believed I would make it. I have therefore received no moral or financial support from anyone. That was just more motivation for me to continue! Nena was convinced that she would succeed, so she was well prepared. "By first learning from an experienced hairdresser, I could learn all the tricks of the trade. Both in terms of cutting and running your own company. As a result, I knew well what I did and did not want, and what the pitfalls were."

Before Nena opened her own hair salon, she first obtained her middle-class diploma and gathered information from the Chamber of Commerce. By saving, she was able to finance the company with her own money. That was not an easy period, but now she is reaping the benefits: "For me, the advantage of own entrepreneurship is freedom. It's hard work, but I can do what I want."

Nena explains what she encountered in the beginning: 'In the beginning the challenge was to understand the Dutch customer, to bridge the cultural differences.' The manners in particular took some getting used to for Nena: 'The Dutch are very direct and not fast satisfied. It took me a while to dare to speak back if I disagreed with the customer."
Language was an important factor here, Nena explains: "You have to be willing and able to adapt to your new country. It is therefore very important to be able to speak the language well. You have to do your best for that. You have to be a go-getter, but by continuing to practice you will get there automatically. "

When asked whether Nena has any tips for beginners, she says the following: "Make sure you first gain work experience in the field where you want to start your own company. This way you can see how it should be done. And don't get distracted by people who don't understand your vision, no matter how difficult that can be at times. "