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.

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Photo of Ghapios Garas

Ghapios Garas

Garas’ “Simpatico Network S.r.l”

“Simpatico Network S.r.l” is a leading company in the market of new and reconditioned IT equipment. Thanks to the partnership with Microsoft MAR (Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher), it was founded in Milan in 2000 by the Egyptian entrepreneur Ghapios Garas (winner of the MoneyGram Award 2016 as best foreign entrepreneur in the category of profit growth). Arriving in Italy from Egypt (a country, as Garas points out, whose trade traditionally includes the reconditioning and marketing of used instruments), he noticed that many Italian companies were replacing their old computers with new ones after a few years (about 2 to 4). So Garas thought about an activity that would give new life to these products. In fact, the main purpose of the company “Simpatico Network S.r.l” is to regenerate computers, laptops and smartphones, and relaunch them in the market at low prices. The company owned by Garas provides second-hand computer products - though of the highest quality, tested and guaranteed - that might be an interesting alternative for individuals or companies with a tight budget. “Simpatico Network S.r.l” supplies many schools and many public institutions and is one of the few in Italy to provide one-year warranty for its products. Other services offered by the company are:

  • reinstallation of the operating system and drives;
  • attribution of an image kit on CD/DVD of the original Microsoft Software;
  • delivery of a product 100% in compliance with the law and with license;
  • minimisation of the risk of system errors thanks to the installation of the original software;
  • updates and support directly from the Microsoft website http://support.microsoft.com.

When asked How did you start and finance your business? Garas answered: “starting a business requires a lot of preparation so I had to read many marketing books to learn how to promote my business on the web. The next step was to invest my savings in the purchase of ten computers. I needed a substantial amount of capital… so, I asked my brother for help, and I asked for a bank loan, and for the first three years I had the financial support of an outside investor who believed in my project”.

According to Garas, in today's hyper-connected world, the web must be exploited to reach potential customers more easily; this is difficult to achieve today through traditional advertising media. That's why Garas invests a lot to spread its company both on the website (with 7,000 visitors per day) and on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.). Garas also believes that to be successful you need to “be honest, persevere, invest in human resources and work with passion to achieve the goals you set”. With regard to Garas' satisfaction today, he points out: “I feel very proud of myself and the successes I have achieved so far. I have much more responsibility not only towards all those who have believed in me but also towards my employees and the community itself. My company is environmentally friendly, we don't produce what is already in excess, but we give the products a new life”. What he does put IT products into a new condition. It's gratifying to see how hard work and commitment pay off so much that more and more people are involved.

The main reason for success, according to Garas, is to “be creative, seek innovation and not copy. Do you have to ask yourself: what I want to do? Why? What are the motivations? And how do I want my business to be?”.

Finally, Garas concluded by saying the following: “I felt it was my duty to increase the company's capital to repay my investment and the time stolen from my family, but after 20 years in business now I feel free to decide for many things in my life, I am free to travel and enjoy life”.