Name: Francisco Blanco
Organization: HONGARES, Santa Cruz de Tenerife 7, 46018 Valencia (Spain)
Country: From Nicaragua, living in Spain
HONGARES: A BEACON OF HOPE AGAINST REAL ESTATE RACISM IN SPAIN
The real estate market in Spain is becoming increasingly complex, particularly for potential tenants who are not Spanish citizens. This has given rise to HONGARES, Valencia’s first real estate agency specializing in rental management for migrants.
“Real estate racism is a reality that we live day by day”, says Francisco Blanco, founder and owner of HONGARES. As a migrant himself, Francisco experienced the difficulties of finding housing first-hand. The limited supply, soaring prices, unattainable salary requirements, high deposits, non-payment insurance, and other barriers make renting a home challenging, especially for migrants.
Although discrimination based on origin is prohibited by the Spanish Constitution, real estate racism persists and often goes unnoticed. Blanco, who migrated from Nicaragua six years ago, decided to tackle this issue after working in a real estate company and witnessing the obstacles faced by migrants in the rental market.
HONGARES aims to support migrant families in Valencia who struggle to access housing. Their work involves breaking down landlords’ prejudices that often lead to distrust when renting their properties to non-Spanish tenants.
“With a clear idea of what I wanted to achieve, the Incubadora CON VALORES provided the necessary tools to launch my business”, says Francisco. Incubadora CON VALORES is Spain’s first inclusive incubator, working with individuals at risk of social exclusion to help them create sustainable livelihoods.
Over the past four years, HONGARES has experienced tremendous growth. With a vast network of private landlords, the agency receives thousands of calls daily and successfully places four families in housing each month. Additionally, HONGARES offers immigration advice and provides both landlords and tenants with cleaning services.
While Francisco may not be able to resolve the challenges faced by thousands of migrants experiencing real estate racism in Spain, he has taken a stand against this issue. Through HONGARES, he offers hope and opportunities to many people seeking a new home far away from home.
Provide a brief description of your business. What do you do in a nutshell?
HONGARES is an organization based in Valencia, Spain, that specializes in rental management services for immigrants and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Our main goal is to support and streamline the housing process for immigrants and families involved in international reception programs.
To achieve this, HONGARES has assembled a professional team that focuses on providing top-quality tenant management services. We work closely with a network of private landlords, collaborating real estate agencies, and investors to ensure that immigrants and families in need have access to suitable rental properties.
HONGARES has established itself as a trusted partner for several NGOs in Valencia. These NGOs refer families participating in international reception programs, which are funded by the Ministry of the Interior, to HONGARES for assistance with their housing needs. By working closely with these organizations, HONGARES helps to facilitate the integration and support of immigrant families in Valencia.
Which sector does your business idea belong to?
Describe the opportunity: What problem does your business idea solve? What challenges and pain points are you resolving for users/customers?
The business idea aims to address the challenges and difficulties faced by migrants when searching for housing upon arriving in a new country. It seeks to solve the problem of finding suitable accommodations for people who are new to the area and unfamiliar with the local real estate market.
Challenges and weak points for users/customers:
– Lack of familiarity with the local area and language barriers: Migrants often face difficulties in navigating the local housing market due to a lack of knowledge about the area and potential language barriers. This can make it challenging for them to find a suitable place to live.
– Limited network and social connections: Newcomers may not have an established network or social connections in the country, making it difficult for them to access information on available rental properties and trustworthy landlords.
– Legal and bureaucratic hurdles: Migrants may face additional challenges in understanding and navigating the legal and bureaucratic requirements of renting a property in a new country.
– Discrimination: Migrants can sometimes face discrimination when searching for housing, with some landlords being hesitant to rent to individuals from certain backgrounds or with limited rental history in the country.
Describe the company: What does your company do?
HONGARES is a specialized real estate agency service tailored to the needs of migrants. By providing assistance in finding suitable housing, our agency helps newcomers overcome the barriers they face when searching for accommodations in a new country. Our agency’s knowledge of the local market, legal requirements, and available rental properties enables us to efficiently and effectively match migrants with appropriate housing options, easing their transition into their new home.
Describe the Team: How many people were involved from the beginning? How were they involved?
The HONGARES team was initially formed by a group of entrepreneurs who had personally experienced the challenges of settling in a foreign country while seeking better opportunities for their families. Empathizing with the difficulties faced by migrants in finding suitable housing, we decided to address this issue by establishing HONGARES.
To better serve the needs of immigrant families and NGOs in Valencia, the founding team collaborated with national advisors from Asociación Con Valores, an organization that shares their vision and values. This collaboration has enabled HONGARES to effectively respond to the unique challenges faced by migrants in the housing market.
Over time, our team has grown to include a multicultural group of professionals, reflecting the diverse backgrounds of the clients we serve. The team now also features an immigration specialist lawyer who assists potential beneficiaries with navigating the bureaucratic processes involved in settling in a new country.
Describe the Target Market: Who is your target market? Who makes up your target audience?
The target market for HONGARES consists of individuals and families who are immigrants or migrants, moving to or settling in Valencia, Spain. These individuals often face unique challenges in finding suitable housing due to factors such as unfamiliarity with the local area, language barriers, limited social networks, and potential legal or bureaucratic issues.
In addition to serving individual migrants and families, HONGARES also targets non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that work with immigrants and refugees. These organizations may require assistance in securing appropriate housing for the people they support, particularly those participating in international reception programs funded by the Ministry of the Interior.
HONGARES’ target audience includes:
– Immigrants and migrant families: People who have recently moved to Valencia from another country, seeking better opportunities for themselves and their families, and require assistance in finding suitable housing.
– Refugees and asylum seekers: Individuals and families who have been forced to flee their home countries due to conflict, persecution, or other circumstances, and are in need of safe and stable housing as they establish their new lives in Valencia.
– Non-governmental organizations (NGOs): Organizations that work to support immigrant and refugee populations and require assistance in finding suitable housing for the individuals and families they serve.
Implementation Timeline: Briefly, how did your business roll-out? Which phases were involved until it was up and running?
HONGARES participated in the second edition of the 2020 Incubadora Con Valores program, organized by Asociación Con Valores. The 12-week incubation process included various workshops, group activities, and learning modules that helped me to develop and refine my business idea. The program covered essential topics such as design thinking and lean startup principles, business strategy, marketing, sales planning, customer experience, communication strategies, content creation, legal aspects of starting a business, finance management, and presentation skills.
This comprehensive program provided me with the knowledge and tools necessary to establish and grow my specialized rental management agency focused on serving immigrants and NGOs in Valencia.
Funding Required: How much did it cost to begin approximately? Where did the initial funding go? How did you acquire that funding?
While I cannot give the exact figures for HONGARES’ costs, I can provide you with a general understanding of the initial expenses and funding sources for a business like this. The initial costs for starting my agency included:
– Legal and registration fees
– Office space and equipment
– Marketing and branding
– Insurance and professional services
Funding for these initial costs (that approximately ranged between 20.000€-40.000€) came from various sources:
– Personal savings: I used some of my personal savings to fund the initial costs of starting the business.
– Friends and family: I also received financial support from friends and family members who believed in my business idea.
– Incubator support: Since HONGARES participated in the Incubadora Con Valores program, we received some financial support as part of the incubation process.
Brief Financial Profitability Estimate: How long did it take for your business to become profitable?
From the very beginning, HONGARES has proven to be a successful idea. Considering that HONGARES’ business idea was developed at the end of 2020, and just three years later, we have already expanded significantly, hiring, and adding new members to the team. This rapid growth is a testament to the effectiveness, success, and scalability of our business model.
By addressing the housing challenges faced by immigrants and working closely with NGOs, we have effectively filled a gap in the market. This early success can be attributed to my personal understanding of the unique needs of our target audience and our ability to provide tailored solutions.
As HONGARES gains more exposure through Spanish newspapers and social media and reaches a wider audience, we are well-positioned to grow rapidly and become even more profitable. With a strong focus on customer service, innovation, and maintaining a high level of expertise in the rental management industry, we are allowed to continue to grow and serve a larger clientele. This way we can further solidify our position as the go-to rental management agency for immigrants and NGOs in Valencia and beyond.
Industry Analysis: What are some key elements related to being successful in your industry? What does your business have that your competitors don’t?
We have managed to distinguish ourselves from competitors by addressing some key elements effectively, including:
– Understanding the target market: We have a deep understanding of the unique challenges faced by immigrants and the specific requirements of NGOs. This understanding allows us to offer tailored solutions that directly address the needs of their clients.
– Strong relationships with NGOs and local authorities: HONGARES collaboration with NGOs and connections to international reception programs funded by the Spanish Ministry of the Interior give us a competitive advantage. These relationships help us to gain access to a steady stream of clients and referrals.
– High-quality customer service: Providing excellent and warm customer service is essential. Our professional team and personalized approach to tenant management ensure that both landlords and tenants have a positive experience.
– Effective marketing and outreach: HONGARES growing exposure through Spanish newspapers and other media outlets, among them the wide Asociación Con Valores’ network, helps us reach a wider audience and establish a strong reputation in the market.
– Expertise in legal and bureaucratic processes: Having an immigration-specialized lawyer on our team enables us to assist clients with complex legal and bureaucratic matters related to housing and immigration, setting them apart from competitors.
– Multicultural and multilingual team: A diverse team with language skills and cultural understanding enables us to communicate effectively with clients from different backgrounds and provide a more inclusive service.
By focusing on these key elements and addressing the specific needs of immigrants, we have been able to differentiate ourselves from competitors and achieve success in the rental management industry.
SWOT Analysis: What are the main Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats of your company?
– Niche market focus: HONGARES specializes in serving immigrants, catering to their unique needs and challenges, which sets us apart from general rental management agencies.
– Strong relationships with NGOs and local authorities: Collaborations with NGOs and connections to international reception programs provide us with a steady network of clients and referrals.
– Professional and multicultural team: The diverse team with immigration law expertise and language skills allows us to effectively serve clients from different backgrounds and handle complex legal matters.
– Positive reputation and media exposure: Our growing exposure in Spanish media helps us to establish a strong reputation in the market.
– Limited geographical presence: Currently, we only operates in the province of Valencia.
– Potential scalability challenges: As the company grows, we may face challenges in maintaining our personalized service and high-quality customer support.
– Expansion into new markets: We can explore opportunities to expand our services to other cities or regions with significant immigrant populations or NGO presence.
– Partnerships with other organizations: Developing partnerships with other immigrant support organizations or related businesses could help us extend our reach and offer more comprehensive services.
– Leveraging technology: Adopting new technologies and tools to improve service efficiency and customer experience can help us stay competitive.
– Competition: The rental management industry is competitive, and we may face challenges from other agencies targeting the same niche market.
– Economic factors: Changes in the economy, housing market, or immigration policies could impact the demand for our services.
– Regulatory changes: Any changes in laws or regulations related to housing or immigration could potentially affect our business operations.
Legal Requirements: What are the basic legal requirements for someone to start this business in your country? Are there any licenses they need to obtain?
Starting a rental management business in Spain involves several legal requirements and steps, such as:
– Choose a business structure: In Spain, common legal business structures include Autónomo (self-employed), Sociedad Limitada (limited liability company), or Sociedad Anónima (corporation). We started as an entrepreneurship venture, therefore as an Autónomo.
– Business registration: We needed to register our business with the Registro Mercantil (Commercial Registry) and obtain a Número de Identificación Fiscal (NIF) or a Código de Identificación Fiscal (CIF) for tax purposes.
– Obtain required licenses and permits: To operate a rental management business in Spain, we needed an operating license from the local municipality.
– Tax registration: We needed to register our business with the Agencia Tributaria (Tax Agency) for tax purposes. This registration includes value-added tax (IVA), corporate income tax, and other applicable taxes.
– Social security registration: As we have expanded our team, now we have employees, whom we have had to register with the Tesorería General de la Seguridad Social (General Treasury of Social Security) for social security contributions.
– Contracts and agreements: We work with legal professionals to develop contracts and agreements for our services, such as lease agreements, property management agreements, and client contracts.
Which hard skills and specific knowledge will the individual require to become successful if they implement your business idea?
Several hard skills and specific knowledge areas are essential for success in this field:
– Real estate knowledge: Understanding the local real estate market, property valuation, and rental regulations are crucial to provide appropriate rental options for clients and manage properties effectively.
– Property management: Proficiency in managing properties, including maintenance, inspections, rent collection, and conflict resolution between tenants and landlords.
– Legal expertise: Familiarity with housing and immigration laws, as well as any regulations specific to immigrants and NGOs, is necessary to navigate the legal aspects of rental agreements and support clients in their housing needs.
– Marketing: Skills in marketing, including digital marketing, to promote the business, attract clients, and build a strong brand reputation.
– Financial management: Understanding of financial management principles, such as budgeting, financial analysis, and cash flow management, to ensure the business remains profitable and sustainable.
– Language skills: Proficiency in multiple languages, especially those spoken by the target immigrant communities, is essential to communicate effectively with clients and provide personalized service.
Which soft skills will the individual require to become successful if they implement your business idea? (communication skills, leadership skills, etc.)
Some soft skills I consider essential to work in this sector are:
– Empathy: Understanding and relating to clients’ emotions and perspectives helps us provide personalized and compassionate service, especially when working with immigrants facing challenges in their new environment.
– Communication: Excellent verbal and written communication skills enable us to convey information clearly and concisely, build rapport with clients, and address any issues or concerns.
– Active listening: Paying close attention to clients’ needs, concerns, and preferences enables us to provide tailored solutions and better serve their housing requirements.
– Cultural awareness: Recognizing and respecting cultural differences is vital when working with diverse clients, particularly immigrants from various backgrounds.
– Adaptability: The ability to adjust and respond to changing market conditions, clients’ needs, and other circumstances is crucial for success in the rental management industry.
– Sales and negotiation: Knowledge of sales techniques and negotiation strategies to match clients with suitable properties and secure rental agreements that satisfy both tenants and landlords.
– Networking: Ability to build and maintain relationships with NGOs, local authorities, landlords, and other stakeholders in the rental market to secure a steady stream of clients and rental properties.
– Teamwork: Collaborating well with colleagues, landlords, and other professionals in the rental management sector helps to create a supportive work environment and deliver the best outcomes for clients.
– Conflict resolution: Addressing and resolving disputes or disagreements between tenants, landlords, and other parties in a diplomatic and professional manner helps maintain a positive business reputation and client relationships.
Please provide any final comments, links and resources related to your business idea.
In conclusion, HONGARES is driven by the belief that housing is not only a human right but also a cornerstone for personal growth, security, and well-being. A home represents warmth, stability, and the opportunity for individuals and families to thrive.
Ultimately, we recognize that everyone, regardless of their background or circumstances, has the fundamental need and right to a secure and stable home. By providing tailored rental management services to immigrants in Valencia, HONGARES is committed to helping individuals and families find a place they can proudly call their home.
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