Entrepreneurial Migrant Women – Being Migrants Has Empowered Us

Svietlana Lavrentidi

When a woman migrates, she is aware about the challenges and difficulties that she has to face in the new country. Some of them decide to stop dreaming, as they do not believe that they can succeed in following the career they started in their country of origin. But many others keep fighting and with their strong inner drive, they achieve and show the best side of themselves, proud of who they are

This is the impression I gained when I attended one of the events at the “Entrepreneurial Women’s Network”. It is the largest female meet-up in Europe and one of the UK’s top networking events, helping entrepreneurs to communicate effectively, and build strong relationships for business as well as personal life.

While it is for all entrepreneurial women, I was pleasantly surprised to find and meet with so many migrants of different nationalities. Some had taken on very ambitious projects as entrepreneurs. It was an inspiring evening seeing so many women coming together to tell their successful stories and share their experiences with each other. T

he Entrepreneurial Women’s Network is led by a young woman who, after experiencing bullying and harassment at companies she worked at, along with a  nervous breakdown and family issues, decided that it was time to make a big change in her life and to help other people. Svietlana overcame a lot of challenges, such as social anxiety and self-doubt, to now becoming recognised as an expert in business networking and a powerful connector of entrepreneurs both in the UK and internationally.

This article features some of the amazing women I met there: Svietlana Lavrentidi from Russia; Aska Kolton from Poland; Marian Alonso from Spain; Vivienne Aiyela, African Heritage and British born; Mariana Lucía Marquez  from Argentina, and Emma Zangs, from France.

Svietlana Lavrentidi: Role Model is my Mum

Svietlana moved to London at the age of sixteen and started her journey by working at “Favorite Chicken & Ribs” 12-13 hour shifts at weekends. She then moved on to several coffee shops, doing dish-washing and waitressing, while trying to decide what to do with her life. Svietlana studied graphic design while working as receptionist but realised that it was not her passion and then qualified as an Accounts Technician.

After working in accounts for about six years and having bad job experiences, the idea came to become an entrepreneur and build a business. It did not go as smoothly as expected and after several failed attempts Svietlana understood that she needed expert help. Svietlana decided to start working for Entrepreneurs in London and this happened to be the turning point she had been looking for. After just a few months of valuable experience and learning, she was acknowledged for her hard work and commitment by the Founder, who promoted her as co- organiser, saying that she is “The Natural Networker”.

You are the organiser of events bringing together successful women in London from different nationalities – what is your experience of this project?
I’ve been blessed with an incredible community of multi-national women. It’s been an amazing experience. The energy we usually have in the room is like no other event I’ve seen, our women are truly inspirational. They are all ready for big things in their lives and it is a total delight to meet them on a regular basis.

How did this initiative start?
I was helping at a different event and realised that I really loved it, but there was one issue… I had to deal with men, who were attracted to me and pretended being interested in doing business together. I ended up on a “date” a few times and then decided to start events for females as a safe place for female entrepreneurs and business owners.

You are a young woman with a big drive – how do you achieve being successful at such a young age?
I simply made a decision. I reworked my aims and goals in life, got my long and short-term vision straight and then started taking small steps towards it. If there is a will, there’s also a way. Once you make a conscious decision and commit to it, everything else is just a matter of time.

Who has been your role model in life?
The only person who was and is my role model is my mum. Since being very little I have always been hugely proud of being my mum’s daughter. To start with, she’s just a stunning woman, that always went for things she wanted, never seemed to be scared of anyone or anything, and never afraid of challenges. I thank God for giving me the most inspirational Mother of all!

You are a migrant here and have a big network – how do you build it?
Networking is my expertise, that’s what I do. It started with the realisation that before building any type of business, I need a network or community that I can serve. I learned from others, implemented, tested other techniques out, and never looked back. I love our members and enjoy serving them. And they guide me, letting me know what their needs are.

What is your aim of organising these events?
The aim is to bring together female entrepreneurs and business owners (in a safe environment) to network, learn, meet like-minded women for inspiration, possible business ventures, whatever it is that is missing for them… but this is only the beginning. The bigger vision is taking it globally, to help women worldwide to connect, and get them from point A to point B in their business.

What makes you feel proud of yourself?
Every time when my mum says that she is proud of me, they’re the moments worth living for.


To find out more, or book Svietlana Lavrentidi to speak at your event, please connect with her through any of these links: 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/svietlana.lavrentidi Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/EntrepreneurialWomensNetwork https://www.facebook.com/LavrentidiSvietlana
Meetup: http://www.meetup.com/EntrepreneurialWomensNetwork/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/SvietLavrentidi
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/svietlana-lavrentidi/48/673/905
Email: svietlana@svietlanalavrentidi.com


Aska Kolton – Originally from Poland

“Passionate about happiness” 

Having a strong vision and direction is important. I want to make a difference in the world and empower women to take responsibility for their own happiness. Also passion for what I stand for and for my business is crucial. I have strong faith in what I do and I stand for women who haven’t discovered their happiness yet. Especially single women who believe they will be happy when they are in a relationship and postpone their own happiness for years. Also for women who are in relationships but are not truly happy. I am passionate about happiness. It is our main drive in life and it is important to be happy, otherwise what is the point?

There is also determination. When I arrived here 14 years ago I couldn’t speak English, had no contacts, confidence, or a plan, but I have always known deep in my heart that I could do better! This faith has helped me get through many difficulties. Today I am in a completely different place. I have everything that I need to be a change maker and I still believe I can do better and push myself further.

My dream – I want women to feel free to go for anything they dream about in life!

More about Aska you can find at: www.getreadyforlove.co.uk


Marian Alonso – Originally from Spain

“Belief in my ideas”

As a portrait and reportage photographer, I see myself as an entrepreneur in the sense that I’m someone who strongly believes in the product and service I provide. One of the main reasons I like to work for myself is the ability to set and deliver a product meeting to my own highly professional standards. Working within a company, as I had in the past, wore me out. I had to focus often on maximizing profits at the expense of quality. I strongly believe that people deserve good things in their life, and that makes me want to live my life my way. I believe in my ideas and abilities, and will defend the craft of photography with perseverance and dedication through my career. My future goals include working with high profile design agencies involved in exciting jobs and have a big range of clients (editorial and commercial). I enjoy working on my own but also within a team as this  opens possibilities, resources, and dialogue. But most of all, I want to do what I love, feel satisfied with what I attain, and within a context of other people doing the same. That’s powerful.

More about Marian you can find at: www.marianalonso.com


Vivienne Aiyela – African Heritage and British born

“Dream of being a successful businesswoman”

Creativity and innovation has always been in me ever since I can recall. From an early age I watched my grandmother and mum with their knitting. I used to take the left-over wool and knit my dolls some clothes. Then I discovered the sewing machine and have not looked back. When it comes to fashion I dance to my own beat. I loved to read books (and still do) and used my vivid imagination to write stories in English class. I am a creator and able to pull a seemingly infinite number of ideas out of thin air and uncover solutions that have been explored. With a high level of openness, I am comfortable with variety and change, always open to new possibilities, and I respond well to fresh concepts and challenging tasks. Being like everyone else is not me. I thrive when I have the freedom to explore alternatives and my attention is naturally drawn to abstract ideas and the big picture. I am known for bending some rules and ignoring existing methods, and challenging conventional approaches. Or spotting unconventional or unusual approaches to getting a job done, especially when the traditional path is blocked.

My motto which I live by is ‘Different is the new normal’. Curious and interested in the new and different, if I haven’t experienced it before, I want to give it a try. My dream is to be a successful business woman and also get a pilot licence, which means learning to fly and something that I am looking into. I am passionate about helping to empower and support women and young girls as I truly believe that ‘no one is successful by themselves together’. As Beyoncé says, “Girls we run the world”. First impressions are lasting impressions and you never get another chance to make a first impression!

More information at www.clothes4realwomen.com
Contact viv@clothes4realwomen.com
Twitter: GoddessofGlam1
Pinterest: GoddessofGlamour
Instagram: GoddessofGlamour1
Mariana Lucía Marquez & Emma Zangs

We Have “Vision Talk”

Mariana Lucía Marquez (35), from Argentina, and Emma Zangs (25), from France are choreographers and movement coaches. They started working together during our MA Choreography at TrinityLaban Conservatoire in London and then incorporated Marquez&Zangs three years later

They say that it was a natural progression, one project leading to the next and then realising that they were a great team and had fun working together. Registering the company was definitely a big step that came with responsibilities so they experienced it as a graduation of sorts: an exhilarating feeling combined with a “oh, lord, I’m a grown up now”. But it was certainly the right time to launch as they had already built a nice portfolio of works and had made some good contacts.

At the beginning, all people think they have a big idea and will succeed – what makes you different? 

We are different in that we consider choreography exists outside of dance. Our work involves thinking up movement-based concepts to communicate all sorts of ideas (live or on film). As movement coaches we help performers (mainly singers and models) as well as entrepreneurs master their body language for effective communication. Unlike other coaches, we never tell people what to do but rather work along their natural movement preferences to achieve a polished and natural movement style.

Do you have a time when you lose your motivation to continue?

Whenever we lose motivation it’s because our vision needs some revising. Over and over again it turns out that we were trying to accomplish too big an objective. So we quickly have what we call a “vision talk”, re-define our objectives, and move on.

What inspires you mostly?

Our greatest inspiration comes from ideas that challenge pre-conceptions. We love all sorts of clever design that challenges the obvious, be it in fashion, print, architecture, objects, or theatre.

What is the biggest challenge on your entrepreneurship?

At the moment, our biggest business challenge is achieving sustainability. Even broader than that, our “life challenge” is to change the perception that contemporary dance is a form of high art only accessible to the elites.

Have you ever felt that being an immigrant has impacted your results and dreams?

If anything, being a migrant has empowered us. Our diverse backgrounds allow us to think differently than the locals, giving us a creative edge. We manage to harness the incredible energy and power that come out of having to adapt to new challenges daily. We are forced to be very clear in order to be understood… especially with our thick accents 🙂

What is your message to other migrant women who want to start their own business?  

Our most relevant piece of advice is to find a partner that complements your skills.

We meet lots of solo entrepreneurs who find it very hard to stay afloat as they are faced with doing it all. We have very clearly defined areas of expertise and responsibility which allows us to complete tasks more swiftly and with virtually no friction.