19 March 2019
4 May 2019

Our mission is to help Expats – Lionall

Lionall Interview in English

Interview with Sandra de Leon-Sotelo, founder of Lionall. The company provides comprehensive assistance to foreigners coming to Poland who are trying to fill the gap in the labor market in our country. 

So, you created the company because you wanted to help people who were in a similar situation as you once did. Not many firms can show off with such an interesting startup story.

I must admit that this is true. I am Spanish, I met my husband in Austria during my studies; I have experienced living in Germany, Austria, Hong Kong, Poland, among cultures different from mine. My husband’s work made us move to Poland, to Stalowa Wola. We had two small children, I was just starting to learn Polish. I have always communicated in English with most of the people, but in Poland it turned out to be more difficult than I thought.

Lionall was founded aiming to support Expats in any tasks

When I moved to Poland, I faced the problem of Expats coming to a foreign country for a better life or for other reasons. The main problem was that I did not speak the language. My husband worked a lot. It happened that he would stay after hours and I would be alone at home with two children all day. One of my children suffered from chronic bronchitis. I had a very big problem getting to the doctor. My friends were in a similar situation, who also came to Poland with their children. You get really stressed out when your kids are sick and you cant get the help they need

Initially, I was really lost for a long time. I felt foreign here. The most unpleasant was the feeling of not being able to do anything myself due to language barrier. I began to learn Polish intensely and try to deal with everyday problems. My husband supported me very much. Today I can say, I’m settled in and feeling well in Wroclaw. However, at the beginning it was very difficult.

And after some time, the idea came to set up a company. 

Yes, although I thought about it for a very long time. I wanted to help people who come to a foreign country and feel like I once did. I know how these people feel. I got to know it on my own skin. I really wanted them to have someone who would lead them, advise them, help them. Therefore, the company’s goal is to support such people at every stage of their life in Poland. It is often the case that foreigners have communication problems and this is the biggest barrier. It’s hard for them to find a flat, arrange the necessary documentation in the offices. But there are also people who do not know how to adapt to the new place, they feel uncomfortable. 

We are here to help. We are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They can call us at any time of the day or night. We provide assistance in English, Polish, Spanish and German. Our company is made up of trusted people. We provide assistance in preparation of the necessary documents to apply forresidence cards. We settle matters in a bank, we help to make purchases, we make arrangements for a doctor, we support when finding a school for a child. We offer advise and help to Expats wanting to open their own business in Poland. The scope of our support is very big.

It seems like Expats coming to Poland do not have to worry about anything because they receive full support from you. 

From the very beginning, this was the company’s main goal. I must admit that a lot of foreigners come to us. They are people who only need to settle one case, for example they have a problem with creating a new driving license or booking an appointment with a doctor. They call us and we meet up on a specific date. If something is urgent and can not wait, we don’t wait either. 

We also offer long term assistance starting from a residence card, finding a flat and a job, to getting a right school for children. We work for people with whom we are in constant contact. We help them in dealing with everyday life.

It looks like the biggest barrier for foreigners is the lack of language skills. 

Of course, yes, but there are a lot of people whose life situation forces them to go abroad because they do not see the future in their own country. There is no time to even learn the language. Such situations are increasingly frequent. It is enough to see how many people from Ukraine have decided to come to Poland. It is not a surprise, Poland is a very attractive country for foreigners in many aspects. As a company, we have over ten years of experience in translating various types of documents, which makes it easier for us to conduct ongoing operations. We help in settling with PITs, applications for opening an account in the bank or filling out documents in the clinic and other documents.

Most often what nationalities are people who apply for help?

Honestly, these are people from different countries, including Brazilians, Indians, Japanese, Koreans, Ukrainians, Americans and Germans. It is worth mentioning that more and more people need this kind of help. There are international companies sending their employees and their families to Poland, they also seek assistance in the process. Therefore, our company was founded to help Expats to live better life in Poland. I am glad that I can support such people. 

Frankly, I could not count on such help, so it makes me really happy to help others. 

Please note: it is often the case that entire families move to a given country for several years and then stay permanently. There are rarely situations when a husband leaves for many months alone and leaves his relatives. It is important to help them in the first months. We want them to feel that they are not left alone. Support in such a moment of life is very important, it is difficult to find yourself in a new country, especially when you do not know the language and have problems with the simplest things like shopping.

It is also worth noting that there are still so many vacancies ready to be filled up with specialists on the labor market. 

This is a chance for foreigners. There are many excellent professionals coming to Poland, who are valuable to the Polish employer. Many business owners can not find the right people for the position. One can notice that there are jobs, but there is a shortage of qualified people. Our help is used by people with different education and experience in the labor market. We currently have an American who is serious about moving to our country. We are currently handling all formalities related to his arrival. We organise everything: we pick him up from the airport, we find a flat, we help to settle matters in council. There are a lot of people who apply for this type of help. I do not know a company that provides such comprehensive help as we do. Most of the request we get are regarding the the residence card that allows legal life in the country. We operate mainly in Wroclaw and outskirts of the city. Together with Karolina Dejnert and Magdalena Zborowska and two law firms specialised in legal aspects related to legalising stay in Poland, we create a team that knows the feeling of being lost and alienated, which makes it much easier for us all to identify the problems and needs of our clients. If someone wants to use our help, we invite you to visit our website You can also find us on Facebook.

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