Ploiesti-born Anemarie Hoarau, 43, has repatriated to Romania this summer after 15 years on the Cote d’Azur in France. Joining her on the new adventure is her French husband and their two children, daughter Eva, 11, and son Ange, who will be 5 in October.
Dana Tudose-Tianu spoke to Anemarie and is sharing a little of her story for our OZB readers.
DTT: When did you first move to France? And when (and why) did you start thinking about repatriation?
AH: I moved to France in 2005. In my senior year of college, I started working for a German company based in Ploiesti teaching English. When I graduated, they hired me as an interpreter and secretary. I stayed with them for 4 years and learned so much by moving across departments: human resources, inspection, audit. I thought I’d go abroad for a while, too. After 15 years away, we made the decision to move back and gave ourselves a whole year to plan the relocation, mostly because it meant moving our daughter to a school in Ploiesti.
DTT: How were the first years in France? What was very hard in the beginning and how did you overcome it?
AH: The hardest part lasted two years, the first two years. I couldn’t get a job. When I moved to Nice, I only knew one Romanian family, a couple. I stayed with them in the beginning. I spoke French well, in fact, I speak five foreign languages. The first few months, I was euphoric. Nice had a warm climate, palm trees and beaches and I used to feel I was on vacation. But when I began to look for a job and couldn’t get one for more than a year…I was crying all the time. I had work experience from Romania, and yet I didn’t get hired for reasons which included the fact that I was Romanian. I was actually told this to my face.
A big, big help, was my husband. I met him early on, after I arrived in France, through the same friends I stayed with. He is French and taught me about the local culture, taught me how to behave with the people, helped me integrate in my new environment. During those many months I was unemployed, he was my biggest moral support.
In 2007, in my second year in France, I got a job as an English teacher in a private school. I worked
DTT: You spent a decade working in Monaco and became an entrepreneur in 2017. What drove you on the path of entrepreneurship?
AH: I worked in audit documentation in Monaco. The company was an oil platform manufacturer. I had to audit all the documentation coming from suppliers, clients and engineers. I traveled quite a lot for work, through Europe, but also Dubai, Singapore, USA, Brazil. The company employed 1200 people in Monaco and, even though the official language was English, we also spoke French, Italian, Spanish, even Romanian. Ten years into the job, in a period of restructuring, I began thinking about starting my own
business. My own job was not in danger, but I took advantage of the context and left to become an entrepreneur, in 2017. I did a few trainings in tourism and started my own travel agency.
DTT: How was the first year of entrepreneurship? What type of business did you set up to develop?
AH: I own a tourism agency that focuses on promoting destinations in Romania and Central & Eastern Europe. In the first year as an entrepreneur, I did significant networking. I used to go to all the events where I could meet new people and talk about my business, even if they were not related to the tourism industry. After networking so much, I started to get to know Romanian entrepreneurs who were also living and working on the Cote d’Azur. But I couldn’t understand why there wasn’t any community for them to meet and create value together. I wanted to show that Romanians in our area were entrepreneurs, building businesses, creating value for the French economy. We, Romanians, have been caught up in stereotypes, here in France. We were mostly seen as doing low-level jobs. But we are so much more than that.
DTT: And this desire, to promote Romanians who create value on the Cote d’Azur, led you to create a Romanian community of entrepreneurs. What did you achieve in the two years you have been working on this project?
AH: I started small, by organizing small events like Romanian wine tastings, where I would invite both Romanian and French businessmen and women. When interest began to grow and I sensed the potential of having a strong community, I created the Entrepreneurs’ Café. Under his umbrella, I organized events with 80-100 participants, brought in speakers from Romania and France to talk about current issues in business and society. As this series of events was bringing in more and more engaged people, who wanted to contribute to our mission, too, I set up the RoAzur Association, which will turn 1 in December 2019. This September we will be organizing a Romanian-French Business Fair, where we’ll have start-ups, as well as local companies, presenting their products and services. Now that I have relocated, I’ll be staying on as President of RoAzur. It was my idea from the
beginning to create opportunities for collaboration between Romanian and French businesses and to promote Romanian entrepreneurs.
DTT: So, you moved back to Romania, with your two children (husband will follow soon). How is your family adapting?
AH: My husband, for one, loves Romania. We have been coming here for over a decade, together, and we traveled a lot throughout the country. But I think my attitude towards Romania mattered a lot to the way he thinks about life here. He knows Romania is my home. I have always spoke to him in positive terms about my country. He learned to love it, through my eyes, but also discovering it for himself. He is used to the people and their way of being.
My children feel home completely in Romania, and especially Ploiesti, where my parents are and where we are now located. I have always spoken to my children in Romanian and they spent each summer vacation here. My daughter, Eva, already has business plans of her own, at 11. She will be attending the Arts School in Ploiesti and she wants to be a fashion designer. She plans to launch a teen fashion line and has already produced a serious portfolio of designs, as well as come up with a name for her brand.
DTT: So, now that you are back, what will be doing in Romania?
AH: Aside from my tourism agency, we plan to develop a couple of businesses in Romania. One will be in real estate, but we have other plans as well. For now, we are getting ready for the children to start their first school year in Romania, and we are adjusting, getting to really know
the market. But I couldn’t be happier to be home.