This time I had the pleasure to do an interview with Waldir Prado who is originally from Peru but has been living in South Africa for quite a while and also likes to travel extensively. He’s a great example that the digital nomad lifestyle is not only for privileged people from the US or West Europe. Everyone can do it if he has the right attitude and mindset. Nationality, gender or educational background should never stop us from striving for the life we want.
However, let’s go straight into the interview now. Enjoy.
Interview with Waldir Prado from Peru
Hi Waldir! Thanks for taking part in this interview. Could you please introduce yourself and tell us who you are and where you come from?
Thank you, Daniela, for allowing me the opportunity to interview with you. My name is Waldir Prado, I’m from Peru and I am a portable entrepreneur, ELE teacher, co-owner and director of an online international company called The Muchas Gracias Group, which means The Thank you very much group. The reason behind the name is because we are bringing cultures together, it was a form of gratitude in saying “thank you for sharing your language, thank you for sharing your culture, etc.” It is a place where we are working hard to bring people together, allowing them to build bridges of friendship across the world, while learning a language.
When did you start to work online and how did this change your lifestyle?
I started experimenting with the idea of online in 2011, which involved students who were living in a rural area in South Africa. As they were not able to attend my face to face lessons I offered online classes to them. It actually worked so well, that I researched the concept more, thus resulting in the birth of The Muchas Gracias Group.
It changed my lifestyle in that I have more time available to me and I learnt to manage my time better in all areas, where my class teaching time was reduced to a two-hour work block per day, giving me the rest of the day to do what I wished. So, in essence, it cut my work hours in a week from 40 hours to 8 hours weekly, my weekends start as of Thursday evenings.
Which advice would you give a new online Spanish teacher who is struggling to find enough students?
Market yourself, build an identity and never give up no matter how bad it may seem, your persistence will pay off. Be well prepared with your product. Clients can also be very frustrating at times as they let you down or don’t commit. Establish your rules from day one, so that the client is well aware of the terms and conditions you set in place before they sign up.
You’ve founded your own online language school. Could you tell us a bit more about this project?
The Muchas Gracias Group is a place where cultures meet. We offer languages and slowly will evolve into other areas, such as music, theatre, cuisine, arts, etc.
For languages, we currently offer Spanish, English, French, German and Portuguese, with more languages to come.
What was the biggest challenge you’ve ever had to face?
One of the biggest challenges was establishing an international business and not being fully prepared for all the pitfalls that exist. It became a process of learning by trial and error. Be prepared to make many mistakes, but the secret is to get back up and learn from those mistakes and continue moving forward. If you consider going into the international arena, be aware that you will be swimming into very shark infested waters.
Due to my experiences I put together an entrepreneurial course which I offer online, teaching and guiding those individuals who wish to start an online business, taking them through a step by step process with lots of guidance, tips and hints to help them avoid the mistakes I made during the process of building my online business.
How do you see yourself professionally in 10 years?
Ten years from now, Muchas Gracias would have grown into the vision I intend it to be, with expansion into other areas, as well as establishing a major physical cultural centre.
You’re currently living in South Africa which is not one of the most common destinations among remote workers and digital nomads. So why South Africa?
I like to swim against the current, so while everyone rushes to the USA, the UK, Australia or New Zealand, I dared to be different. South Africa is not for the faint of heart as it’s not the easiest of countries to get things done as there are many controls, blocks, restrictions and regulations for anyone starting out in a business. You have to work 10 times harder in order to get yourself clients.
I established myself over the years and built a brand and name and have been blessed to work with very high profile people and companies such as FIFA, United Nations, International Road Association, European Union, Global Campaign for Education, etc.
I am now at a point where I travel between South Africa, Brazil, Chile, Peru and Ecuador. Sometimes I have breakfast in South Africa and dinner in Sao Paulo.
When you work online, a good internet connection is essential. What’s it like in South Africa? Can you comfortably work there as an online teacher?
The infrastructure in South Africa is actually very good, but the internet is very pricey. Yes, I am able to comfortably teach my classes from the comfort of my home or from sunny beaches in Durban or the bungalow located in a game reserve where you are surrounded by wild animals such as lions, elephants, buffalos and springboks, etc., to my students around the world located in countries such as England, Peru, Chile, Russia, around South Africa, Mauritius, India, Zimbabwe, etc.
Thank you, once again for the opportunity to interview and share with you a bit about my life and experiences.
Thanks to you, Waldir and good luck with your future business plans.
Would you like to connect with Waldir? Follow him on social media and visit his website.
Do you want to read more interviews with fellow language teachers? Here are direct links to the ones I’ve published so far.
Any remarks or questions? Please don’t hesitate to write in the comments.