A crisis can hit anyone at anytime, and usually does so when least expected. The Moyano family learned how to work through crisis to keep their business alive and birth education for all.
There are many stories in the business world of how companies started due to a crisis. The story of UNILATINA is no different. Originally a school with a genesis in Bogota, Colombia in 1983 with a strong presence still there, politics and personal threats brought the entire family to Florida for political asluymn. In 2001, the father, Julio Alberto Moyano Ferrer founded UNILATINA in South Florida.
What first attracted to me to the school was the name, UNILATINA, as a person who is always advocating for women and with a strong interest in women in business, I thought the school was named for united Latinas. I came to find out that it stood from a united Latin America based on the father’s hope that Latin America would learn to work together for the betterment of their people.
While I may have been off on the name I was definitely not off on a story worth writing. They are an immigration success story but it didn’t start out that way! When they arrived the father and mother were offered low level entry positions even though they knew how to speak English and were professionals in their country. Not satisfied with the options that they were being offered, Julio and his wife decided they would do the hard thing and work to establish an education business again but this time in South Florida. As experienced business owners and educators, they knew what they had to do and they were prepared to do it. They started with diploma programs and English as a Second language. The daughters were in school and as they graduated with their own professional degrees they were offered roles in the school as volunteers since the school was not producing surplus revenue at the time. However, during this time, Julio, was diagnosed with throat cancer and their mother, Lydia, thought it was the beginning of the end of their entrepreneurial education journey because there was no way she could care for her husband who would have to have a tracheotomy and also run the school. The sisters united and said no matter what, the school would continue. They determined that although they had to flee the crisis in Colombia and had no say in that matter but they would not run from this crisis that threated their livelihood again.
Together, they shared the burden of the school and the care of their father, they did everything from answering phones to teaching students and everything in between to ensure the school continued to provide a place for people who want to rise above their current circumstances in a school with a family feel.
UNILATINA, which recently celebrated its 15th year, has about 150 students and offers diploma, Associate, Bachelor degrees and soon will be offering Master’s program. It is accredited by ACICS and serves a wide array of people in its beautiful Miramar, FL location. What stands out in this school is their holistic teaching model which not only provides academic preparation but helps students become better people but helping them become more self-aware of their personality and other individual characteristics!
Like many family- owned businesses, there is much to learn from this story for all business owners:
Know which crisis you have to run from. Know that there will always be crises upon crises but not all of them have the power to take you out. Analyze and review your options before you leave what you started behind or at the table for someone else to pick up.
When you start something, be ready to do everything. In the beginning of every start up, there will be challenges and one of the biggest ones is that you will not have enough staff or enough money. Be ready to do what you need to do to keep the dream alive.
Share the burden with others. As the founder of a business, you may be overwhelmed with all you have going on personally as well as in your business. There may be others around you who want to help you build your business especially if they see it will have far-reaching impact on others. Ask. Tell. Then share the burden so you can keep your business alive.www.unilatina.edu or call 954-607-4344.
About the author
Dr. Elizabeth Rios is a strategic visionary and has served her community in NY and FL as a pastor, educator, and women’s advocate for over 20 years. She has served in high level executive positions in higher education management, nonprofit organizations and small business. As Founder of Fierce Life Solutions, where she serves clients as a Transition and Executive coach helping them thrive in their individual or corporate shifts. She received her MA in Business Management from Regent University and her Ed.D. from Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Rios is the author of Don’t Buy the Lie: Eradicating False Belief Systems that Keep You From Your Destiny. In addition, sits on many national boards and serves as Contributing Editor or writer for a few national magazines. She is a dog lover and a certified make up artist for fun, she is passionate about educating and equipping others especially women and wishes she could spend some more time in the Florida sun.Website