Rosa Arias-Yague, founder of EGALVIA

Photo of Rosa Arias-Yague

Rosa is a Sociologist and a passionate educator who has been working in improving learning and teaching and embedding diversity and inclusion, both as a teacher and as a manager during the last ten years here in Oxford. She brought to education her professional background in both the private and the public sector and along her career she has always embraced new challenges.

Rosa founded EGALVIA because prejudices and biased attitudes keep impacting negatively young people and adults’ lives and she wanted to change this. Her mission is ending discrimination, making both learning and working environments, more inclusive, spaces where employees feel recognised and valued.

Through EGALVIA, Rosa offers training and long-term support through services such as online interactive workshops and a membership. She delivered her first face-to-face workshops in February, as a prototype, and moved to online training as an adaptation to COVID19 times. The initial funding for EGALVIA comes from my own savings and since sustainability is key for me, I have worked hard in contacting and securing clients.

What is your background? What made you decide to become an entrepreneur?

I am an educator (QTLS, Society of Education and Training) who has lived in three countries. I hold a BSc in Sociology (UNED, Spain) and a MSc in Development Management (The Open University). I have ten years of experience in Oxford, teaching young people and adults and embedding inclusion, equality and diversity in lessons; as a manager, I have supported teachers to do so, designing and running workshops and developing resources. I became a social entrepreneur because due to prejudices and biases, not all young people have a positive experience at school and I was determined to change that.

What is your definition of entrepreneurship?
I would reply what a social enterprise is for me: it is developing an idea that addresses a social problem, aiming to become sustainable in the long run. Therefore, it is important to stress that generating income and becoming sustainable is key since it is the only way to create social impact.

How and when did you know your idea was good enough to develop it?
I launched EGALVIA in January 2020 and delivered my first seven workshops in February. I initially wanted to work in Oxfordshire and close areas, did my research and did not find anything similar in Oxfordshire. This and the positive feedback I got from my workshops confirmed me that this was something needed. However, after COVID19 hit, I lost my agreed paid workshops, so I adapted my business model to an online offer, expanding my reach to companies and organisations, with online interactive workshops and long-term support.

What would you say are the top 3 skills that needed to be a successful entrepreneur? Why?
I find that passion, adaptability and collaboration are absolutely key. Passion to see your idea developed, overcome difficulties and in my case, to make sure social impact is achieved; adaptability to be able to iterate your offer, to adapt planning (also essential) to new circumstances and challenges; and collaboration with others because it is the way to reach more people, to spread what you are doing, and to further your impact. Collaboration is one of my core values.

What is your favourite part of being an entrepreneur?
Being able to make change possible, creating awareness and promoting strategies to tackle biases and fight discrimination. Additionally, being able to build relationships to support me and to support others, to learn from others and to develop new ways of collaboration.

What individual, company or organization inspires you most? Why?
– Individual I know: Kat Luckock from Share Impact for the enthusiasm she puts in supporting social entrepreneurs, stressing also the importance of measuring our social impact and providing skills to do so. I am part of her Thrive Society, a support group for female social entrepreneurs, that was key for me when OxWise was discontinued.
– Individual I would like to know: Rhonda Magee for her approach with mindfulness to break biases and racial discrimination.
– Organisation: the Oxford Mindfulness Centre of the University of Oxford. I took an 8-week course with them on mindfulness. I believe mindfulness is key to break biases and to facilitate inclusion, so I would like to develop this further.

If you had 5 minutes with the above individual/ company/organization, what would you want to ask or discuss?
Collaboration! Let’s team up and do something together that can create social impact and benefit both organisations!

What has been your most satisfying or successful moment in business?
Being able to develop alliances to further my impact. I have done so with GT Scholars to reach students for less privileged backgrounds on inclusion and mental health, especially at COVID19 times; and with a coach’s network to raise awareness on biases in communication.

What would you say have been some of your mistakes, failures or lessons learned as an entrepreneur?
It took me a while to understand the importance of having long-term goals and a clear business plan, and these are essential to develop your organisation. I also learned that we need to ask for support when we need it, and this is not a proof of weakness, quite the contrary, it shows the willingness we have to make our enterprise succeed.

How have you funded your ideas?
With some savings and some additional work. Also, developing new services with EGALVIA where I could use other skills I have to generate income quickly: Spanish course for advanced students that brings about diversity and inclusion as a key component.

Are there any sector-specific awards/grants/competitions that have helped you?
As mentioned above, I was awarded one non-financial Oxford University Social Enterprise Awards in the form of introduction to networks and potentially in-kind offers, as a recognition that EGALVIA seeks to address a serious social issue.

What is good about being an entrepreneur in Oxfordshire? Bad?
I live in Oxford, and this is a very dynamic place where you can find interesting people and lots of initiatives. This programme for the University of Oxford made me develop my enterprise further and The Oxford Hub is an awesome place to create networks.

If a new entrepreneur or startup came to you looking for entrepreneurship resources, where would you send them?
I am a new entrepreneur myself, so first thing I would say is: identify and ask for the support you need and develop a support network. Talk to others, listen to others, learn from others. Then, I would send them to the University of Oxford and their incubator programmes; to The Oxford Hub as a way to link themselves with other entrepreneurs; to the Old Fire Station for storytelling programme evaluation resources. If they want to identify their strengths, I recommend the practical book The Strengths Workbook by Sally Bibb.

Any last words of advice?
Identify your core values as soon as you start your enterprise. Those will be with you along your way and would be key to the promotion of your services, to your planning and your activities. Embed them in everything!