Expat Entrepreneur: Barbara Ciccarelli offers skills for life
American expat Barbara L. Ciccarelli runs an educational company in Amsterdam that offers skills courses, face to face and online, for all ages and levels.
Name: Barbara L. Ciccarelli
City of residence: Amsterdam
Name of company: Lifelong Learning Skills International
Date of company launch: launch of online services-2011
Can you give us a brief description of your business and how it is going?
Lifelong Learning Skills International is an educational company based in Amsterdam that offers skills courses, face to face and online, for all ages and levels. The courses are geared especially for transitioning between life, work, and school for personal and professional development. Our courses cover everything from English language and Computer skills to Academic Research Writing, Management skills, and the Visual/Creative Arts. All online courses include the EPIC, the E-Portfolio from Idea to Change, which allows students to document, reflect on, and process their progress in their courses and to use after course completion as a personal or professional dossier. Our facilitators come from all over the world and hold at least one postgraduate degree with relevant teaching experience. Currently, we are pleased with the response we are getting internationally to our expansion into the online educational market.
What do you like about doing business in your country of residence?
I think Amsterdam is wide open for opportunities.
What do you find most frustrating about doing business in your country of residence?
I haven't found anything frustrating about doing business in the Netherlands aside perhaps from knowing that polishing my Dutch is an advantage.
What hurdles did you encounter when setting up?
Mostly technical, but our business associates eventually found solutions.
How has the economic crisis affected your business?
Any time of difficulty requires more creativity, so we see the crisis as an opportunity.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs setting up business in your country of residence?
Get firsthand experience in that business so you have that personal and local context and experience from which to draw.
How does running a business in your current country of residence compare to running a business in other countries that you have lived in?
You have to explore the possibilities and/or policies in either case so we don't see much difference. However, the US/Dutch alliance seems to especially welcome new ventures.
Would you like to add anything?
Lifelong Learning Skills International is motivated by a vision to contribute to the development of an international community in which inequalities are challenged and overcome through equal access to education and in which differences are no longer a threat to one's identity, family, country, but rather the very source of future growth. Our objective is (1) to serve the educational needs of the global community including those in remote locations, (2) to provide training in skills for life, school, and work while recognizing diversity of ideas and individuals in an international context (3) to acknowledge different learning styles and needs for learning support, (4) to recognize and develop the potential of facilitators and learner, (5) to provide a safe environment for learning which promotes equality of opportunity free from unlawful discrimination, harassment or victimisation to create stimulating and successful partnerships.
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