For emigrants who devoted their energies to trade, the beginnings were almost always the same: after arriving in the new country they worked for some years as employees of relatives and friends who had encouraged and helped them to emigrate. Obviously, this initial phase was skipped by those who already had a small sum to invest and could set up their own small business. The family always played a crucial role, not only because it provided the initial financial resources, but also because several – or all – the members of the family directly involved in the business.
The first shops were small, mainly catering businesses, and their customers were initially Italians. Many shop windows proudly advertised genuine Italian products. Most shop owners achieved maximum success when they managed to open a bigger shop. Some of these activities consolidated further over the years, and many shops later became major food companies, or large international distribution businesses.
The fact that these new businessmen came from the trade sector gave them certain advantages - previous knowledge of the local market situation and access to suppliers and credit.