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Fernanda Alvarez was born in Mexico and moved for her master programme to Germany in 2002. She lived in different countries before she decided to stay in Germany. After her master's degree she took over a position in the corporate business where she could take advantage of her Mexican background. Before she decided to set up her own business she worked for the Economic Ministry of Mexico in Germany, representing her own country. Fernanda founded her company FA&Co in 2013 and registered a trademark International Talent Forum in Mexico in 2020. FA&Co is a team of international business growth experts, based in Germany, Mexico and the USA. They help fast-growing companies grow through talent search and market entry analysis.
Fernanda, what motivated you to set up your own business?
It's very funny how things work with motivation, because the things that motivated me with the job at the Economic ministry, is exactly the same reason why I went out of this dynamic, this spontaneous job without an agenda, working 24 hours for the government, very exhausting and not sustainable. So, this was my first motivation. When my second child was born, I decided to set up my own business, as I have to manage my time and my well-being more cautiously with two kids now.
What entrepreneurial challenges have you encountered that you wished you had more help with?
For the customer service part, I haven’t had a challenge. I was very lucky I had good content, I had a good network and didn't need any help. What I needed help with was more about taxation or bureaucracy topics. Someone who can reduce the complexity and explain the most important things to be clear about each of the steps and the consequences.
Who or what has supported or empowered you through your entrepreneurial journey?
My friends. When I made the decision to start my own business, lots of friends around me also made the same decision. So, I was very empowered. I was like, great, I'm not the only one and we're exchanging a lot of ideas, a lot of challenges and it is great to have also women supporting me.
How can female founders who were not born in Germany be supported to ease their way into entrepreneurship?
In general, female entrepreneurs are an interesting topic. However, they for sure are different. A lot of us foreigners, we take the role model of a German. In the first instance I wanted to be like a German, when I was presenting, or whenever I was talking to our clients, I was pretending to be really good at that. I'm very good at German, not making mistakes, etc.. And then I realized: no, this is not the best way for me to be authentic. Then I decided to focus also more on the Mexican part, on my strength, the market that I know. And not only Mexico, I extended the whole bridge to North America, USA, Canada. So, I think if you asked me what is exactly the support needed for women: to find their voice and to feel secure about it. I'm not trying to copy Germans for only because we are in Germany, and to realize that is the first step. The second step is to find your market niche. And this is possible. A lot of foreigners, once they have an idea, and they want to be entrepreneurs, and they focus on selling their product in Germany they can find their niche. And Germany is a great place to focus on the niche as the international infrastructure is there. And Germany is the second country exporting.
What is your personal tip or hint for women with a migrational background who wants to start their own business?
Focus on who is going to pay that invoice, not who is going to like it. It's always: who is going to pay for that invoice that you're going to send. This is the first thing that I would recommend. The other one is that you shine from your own heart and authenticity. Look for your own authentic way of doing business. Doesn't have to be the German or the American way, the
Thank you very much Fernanda!