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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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 Harry Rosios

Harry Rosios

My name is Harry Rosios and I am 45 years old. In 2016 I opened my first Coffee Lab in the center of Sofia, on “Tsar Ivan Shishman” Str.

I came to Bulgaria in 2016. I immediately saw big opportunities in the capital city and it didn’t take me long before I decided to start my own business in Sofia. Investing in Bulgaria was definitely a better choice than trying my luck in Greece.
It all started with a friend of mine who showed me a cosy place waiting to be transformed on the buzzing “Tsar Ivan Shishman” street in the center of Sofia. The investment showed promise and I took the chance without much deliberation. Today hundreds of people passing the street, come to drink a cup of coffee or eat a little snack. At night, they can enjoy one of the finest cocktails on the second floor of “Coffee Lab”.

As far as help and moral support - I already had friends in Sofia who helped me along the way, whenever I needed it. That and the previous experience in the sector I set up the business and it all worked out perfectly. Of course, there was a lot of market research beforehand but as I said - Sofia was a good place for starting a business, taxes were much lower, the competition was there but nothing discouraging. In terms of finances, I rarely think about that in the first place. What I focus on is bringing satisfaction and quality service to my customers. When that’s done everything else just happens naturally.
I don’t have a particular target group. Anyone who wants a good coffee and snack comes here and if he like it he come back. Currently I’d say mostly young people visit Coffee Lab but it really depends on the day.

We don’t have a website yet but we are considering it. For the moment, Social media does a good job, however I think the best way to make Coffee Lab popular is by word of mouth. When keep the quality of your service high people will come and spread the word. I don’t believe in flyers or things alike. What I focus on is keeping a good reputation and maintaining the high standard I always strive to achieve.
I created my network during my time in Sofia Hotel Balkan and still count on them when I need help and of course I try to return the favor every time. It’s a good thing to have a solid network. You know who to call and where to look when you need something. We haven’t organised specific network events but maybe in the future we will. I always talk to other people in the same line of business and try to stay up to date. This is what we call healthy competition and it really helps.

I had to close the restaurants during the lockdown. The business landscape is changing at a rapid pace. I'm dealing with a million concerns right now and it’s difficult to know where to prioritize time and resources. The scale of this crisis is unprecedented. However, I think eventually, we will come out on the other side of this pandemic with a greater sense of personal empowerment and increased connection to our community—all of which will be advantages for our businesses in the future.

I would say that there is only one thing that truly motivates me and that’s my clients. When I see their faces smiling, then I’ve done my job and I’m satisfied. I focus on their needs and this is the recipe for a successful business - never think about making money, think about making your clients happy.
Another key aspect to a successful business is thinking long-term. I want to work as much as possible and this was my intention when I started Coffee Lab. This is important because it makes you aim high and there is no need to rush if you want to have a high-quality service.
The last but not least is competition. I think good competition is a necessary ingredient for a successful business because you always try to improve, to achieve something better.

I think some of the most important skills are patience, having experience, confidence and hard work and probably the most essential of all - never-ever give up.

It’s really important to learn the native language and that was the biggest challenge for me but I think I’m doing quite well now.
I can’t say I’ve had any problems with the people from Bulgaria as I come from Greece and the culture is very similar. That’s important because it makes things easier.

I also didn’t have any difficulties with the authorities, they were always friendly.

Never make compromise with quality. Always aim for the best and think about your clients.