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 Spanish
Photo of Amparo Balarezo

Amparo Balarezo

My name is AMPARO BALAREZO. I am 59 years old. I am a self-employed worker in an optical centre.

The name of my company is Optica Las Torres. It is located in calle Borrull 5, 46008 Valencia, Spain. It was established in 2015 and the main activities are:

  • optical-optometrist.
  • optical centre specialized in the vision of children, the elderly and young people and also adults with impaired vision.
  • comprehensive eye care service.
  • shop for sunglasses and other eyewear.

I am from Ecuador.

In 2002 we decided to come to Spain looking for a better life. The four of us, my husband and my two daughters.
I graduated as an optical-optometrist in my country and had an optical shop there for several years.
But when I arrived to Spain I found many obstacles along the way.

I had to process a lot of documents in order to get the work permit and the validation / recognition of my degree as Optical-Optometrist issued in Ecuador. It took me three years to complete the process but I got it and it was a great satisfaction for me.

Immediately I started working in an optical shop but as an assistant.

Unfortunately the business closed because of the economic crisis in Spain and I was unemployed for two years. There was no way to find a job.
Some time later I started working again but in many different activities.

But in my mind I was always considering the possibility to set up my own business, an optical centre, like the one I had in my country many years ago.
I looked for and looked for and looked for… and I found a small optical shop that closed during the crisis period. It was located in a beautiful neighbourhood and existed for 40 years.

And I launched the project. It was 2015.

The beginning was difficult but now everything is ok and I am very satisfied with the decision I took.
My husband and my two daughters have always been my main support and motivation. And my friends as well, becoming customers of my business.
I had the experience of my business in Ecuador and also the experience of having worked in an optical shop in Spain. And of course enough enthusiasm to start.

I had enough savings for the beginning.

As the optical shop had been running for many years, I didn’t have to invest that much money.
An accounting and tax management services agency is in charge of my finances. It is worthy and easier.
My customers are friends and the general public, since the shop is a proximity trade.
Word of mouth is the best advertising. And my customers and friends help me with this issue.

I don’t have a website but use social media for communication.
I have a page in Facebook and a contact list in whatsapp.
I promote my products and services through my Facebook page and by whatsapp.
Some time ago I used to participate in a radio programme of a latin station called “Energia Estereo”, with a section about eye care / visual health, every Wednesday.

From time to time I have the possibility of advertising special offers on a television programme of the channel “Latinos FM”.
I have business cards but never used flyers because it is a waste of time and money, from my point of view.
I have my own network of business contacts, in Facebook and by Whatsapp, informing everybody about new products and services.
I neither organize nor attend events because I don’t have free time to do it.
I talk with a lot of people about my business in my daily activity, especially of the neighbourhood.
Success, personal and professional growth drive my motivation.

My work is very slave due to the schedules. I open from Monday morning until Saturday afternoon. And when there is a chance we travel to Paris because our daughters are now living and working there.

To believe in what you are doing and to have faith in the final success are the main reasons for being successful.
Benefits are more emotional, close contact with people, satisfaction with the work well done, to feel that people respect you and appreciate your resilience when things are not going fine.

The most relevant skills and competences to perform my business successfully are, obviously, the theoretical and practical knowledge of the career of Optical-Optometrist. And also the skills needed when you are in contact with people, such as patience, empathy, humility, modesty, sensitivity, kindness and so on.
My tips and recommendations for migrants who want to start their own business would be:

  • before: eagerness to overcome / to analyze possible public grants to start the business.
  • at the beginning: to strive in dealing with the public and customer service.
  • after: perseverance, tenacity and constancy / do not look back / do not give up despite the arising problems.