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.

heading illustration image heading illustration image heading illustration image heading illustration image heading illustration image

Role Models' Guide / Profiles

The guide introduces active entrepreneurs with migrant background who have become successful thanks to their language and intercultural competences in the partner countries. Promoting real people with real stories, the project provides clear picture on what knowledge and skills are important and needed to be improved and what steps migrants should take towards establishing and running an own company.

See profile in: English Български
Photo of Janice Myer

Janice Myer

My name is Janice Myer and I am 58 years old.

Our hotel is called Dog Tired and Cat Nap. We look after dogs and cats whilst the owners are on holiday. We are not a rescue organisation, but our license allows us to board rescue animals for 30 days in order to transport to other countries legally using the TRACE system.
Our activities involve daily cleaning of kennels, feeding and exercising the pets.
We opened our business in June 2011 and currently we are the only registered pet hotel in the Veliko Tarnovo region.
The decision to start the company was purely a financial one. We loved Bulgaria and moved here before pension age hence it was essential to find a way to earn a living.

In UK we had a dog and when we visited our home here in the years before we moved permanently, we were aware that there were no facilities for our dog should we choose to visit UK after moving. A boarding kennel seemed to be something that was needed here.
We were supported both morally and financially by my father. When we approached a builder to help us, he assisted us with planning permission and with the documents needed from our neighbors to ensure that we were legal. Later our local government vets helped with certificate and legalization of the premises.

Initially our target group was British pet owners and we used to go to local British events to find customers. Now however, our Bulgarian clientele has grown significantly. Most new clients now are Bulgarian.
We primarily use telephone, email and Facebook for communication with our clients and we do have a website in both Bulgarian and English.
Mostly our customers are recommended by other customers, but we give advertising calendars and business cards to the pet shops, veterinary surgeries and customers every year to help to promote our business.
We don’t have a network of business contacts, but we have partners and organisations we work with. We have the backing and support from local veterinary services to ensure the well being of the Pets.

Until now we never organize network events or attend events held by others.
We are driven by the love of the pets and a belief that when a client leaves their pet in our care that they are trusting us with their family.
Contrary to our initial belief, the kennel is a full time job. In more than 9 years we have had only a handful of occasions when we have had no animals here, hence we are very restricted with days off and holidays. Making a success means constant high standards and hard work.
We have, however had the opportunity to meet many people in some cases found very good friends.
The most relevant skills are communication with both clients and animals. Clients need to trust us with their pets and the animals need to feel safe.
Dedication to the business and consistent maintenance of the kennel and animal gardens as well as daily disinfection to ensure high standards.
Essentially understanding of the animals is the major requirement, but also dedication to cleanliness and understanding of the animals needs both physically and emotionally.

My ability to speak in the native language is not as good as I would like. I can generally deal with Bulgarian customers in their own language but I believe that it is disrespectful not to do this. Many customers want to practice their English, but my endeavour is to be fluent in the language.
Some customers ask English speaking friends or the vets to call us as they are unsure and don’t speak English. Usually communication is good.
The government vets do not generally speak English, so on occasion we find it a little more difficult during inspections of the kennel, but mostly we all manage.

My tips….. respect the country that you want to live and work in. Learn as much of the language as you can. Obey the law and follow all requirements.
In almost 10 years since we started our business many similar businesses have been set up locally. Not one of these businesses has a license. It is expensive to be legal but essential.