By John Ensor • 15 September 2023 • 12:27
Is there a solution to the growing loneliness among the elderly? Natalia Ceron, originally from Colombia, might have found an answer.
In her early days in Spain, Natalia Ceron faced challenges adapting to the new university curriculum. This led her to take up roles in caregiving, a job often assigned to newly arrived settlers. During her time in Malaga, she noticed a recurring pattern among the elderly she cared for, writes El Español.
‘I realised that there were many elderly people living alone with two or three empty rooms and only memories. Then I would go to another house and again the same situation: alone in a house with two empty rooms.’
This observation led Ceron to think of a solution. ‘It was one of the older women I was with who suggested that we should be flatmates. That was the seed that made me think that it was a solution to people’s loneliness,’ she recalled.
Fast forward 15 years, Ceron is now the CEO of Hagamos Hogar, a Malaga-based startup. The company’s mission? Helping seniors find compatible flatmates. ‘Hagamos Hogar is an online platform for finding flatmates for people over 55.
We look for compatibility, and that’s where we use technology,’ Ceron explained. She playfully likens the platform to the famous American sitcom ‘The Golden Girls.’
The core team comprises Ismael Moreno, the Chief Technology Officer, and Ricardo Pagan-Rodriguez, a professor of economics at the University of Malaga, serving as both CFO and COO. ‘We are in the cave a lot, because we are three kittens and we have to be on our toes. But we are becoming more and more interesting for public institutions and investors,’ Ceron said.
Ceron believes that the ‘silver economy’ is on the rise. ‘There are no services that are understanding what is happening with the baby boomer generation. It is a very active, digital generation, eager to do things,’ she said. The company’s primary focus remains on seniors sharing flats with their peers, though they’re exploring intergenerational living as well.
In 2021, the University of Malaga awarded them the Spin Off prize. ‘We are working on the development of the platform as it evolves. Right now we have the minimum viable product, but we need to add more user experience,’ Ceron stated.
Their appearance on the Juan y Medio show was a turning point. ‘We saw the real interest of the users, because we went out there and the requests to the platform and the calls didn’t stop. We realised that we had a lot of work to do,’ Ceron reflected, emphasising the importance of ‘companionship and humanity’.
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Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina.
He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.
When he's not writing for EWN he enjoys gigging in a acoustic duo, looking after their four dogs, four chickens, two cats, and cycling up mountains very slowly.
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