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 Spanish
Photo of Nabil Ajmal

Nabil Ajmal

My name is NABIL AJMAL. I am 26 years old. I am a self-employed worker in installation of surveillance cameras and mobile telephony. The name of my company is Vigilanta Seguridades. It is located in Valencia, Spain.

It was established in 2012 and the main activities are:

  • installation of surveillance cameras, access control, verified alarms and fire safety systems.
  • anti-sun systems, day or night, our systems can cope with any temperature.
  • mobile telephony.
  • wholesale distributor (spare parts supply).
  • providing a personalized service.

I was born in Pakistan.

I came with my family, my parents and my two sisters, to Valencia in June 2010. I was 16.
It was supposed to be a holiday trip for three months but my father got very sick and needed a liver transplant. Fortunately he recovered from his illness but doctors recommended us to stay here and not coming back to Pakistan for health and safety reasons.
We spent our savings so I had to start working to keep the family together.

I worked in a cleaning company, a kebab restaurant, parking cars, as a private driver…
But at the same time I went to school and learned Spanish in three months.
After finishing the middle-level training cycles in the telecommunications sector, I decided to set up a company of mobile telephony. I rented a small commercial premise of 26 square meters. I wanted to work for myself.

I started doing more things like editing videos and developing websites.
So I decided to extend my business to the sector of surveillance cameras, which currently is my main activity.
Now I have a shop of 80 square meters and things are going fine.
Moral support is absolutely necessary, especially at the beginning. My family have always helped and supported me. And they are still doing it.
I didn’t do any preparation works. My project did not even contain a viability plan. It was more a mixture of illusion and need.
I borrowed money from some relatives. I did not need too much money at the beginning.

But I still remember that in my first import activity we had economic losses of 70% of the investment because of a bad advice from a friend. This is also a way to learn…
Regarding finances I started doing everything by myself in order to save money.
But now an accounting and tax management services agency is in charge of it.
Our customers are mobile phone stores and the general public, since we sell directly to the public.
We also work with companies which request our services to install surveillance cameras in their premises.

We have a website. But we also use social media for communication like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
We promote our products and services through our website and using the app Google My Business.
From time to time we also organize advertising campaigns but they are not too profitable.
At the beginning of the business we produced some leaflets in order to make it known but we abandoned the idea because we realized that the best way to be known was face to face contact or through contact networks.
But of course we have business cards and use email in our daily activities.

We created a contact network through Whatsapp in order to keep everybody informed about our products and services.
We don’t organize events but sometimes we attend events, mainly fairs, at national (Madrid) and international (Germany) level because we consider that innovation is very important in our business and we want to know all new things because our sector is very dynamic.
We talk with as many people as possible, whenever we can, we don’t miss any opportunity to do so. And we have checked that it works.
Family is the most important reason to keep the motivation. It is also very important that things are going fine.
It is necessary to make many sacrifices, especially at the beginning. A lot of things, as hobbies, can’t be done because of a lack of time.
Commitment is quite essential for being successful. And the feeling that you are doing the right things.
At personal level, the benefits are the satisfaction of a job well done and of the achievements.

At social level, it depends on your relationships. In my case, for example, all my friends are employed workers so they can’t understand most of my feelings. But I know that they appreciate my efforts and this is comforting.
In my sector it is very important to be constantly updated in terms of knowledge and skills.
I studied the middle-level training cycles in the telecommunications sector but I also learned self-taught.
Many friends have helped and advised me.

And I have learned a lot through the internet. The amount of things that can be learned is incredible, for example, from youtube.
I have myself uploaded several videos to youtube to teach some things, for example, how to repair a mobile phone.
Languages ​​are also very important. I have a very good level of English and that has helped me a lot in my business.
There are also other very important skills when you are in contact with people, such as empathy, education, quality customer service and so on.

My tips and recommendations for migrants who want to start their own business would be:

  • before: to analyze the economic and financial viability / to analyze the market and the area / to be scrupulous in the initial investment.
  • at the beginning: to launch and start the business with energy / to avoid analysing losses or gains too much.
  • after: to attend fairs and events of the sector / to be aware of all the news and changes / to grow slowly but decidedly.