They had nothing to lose, so they took the plunge. With little money but great organizational skills, many young Spaniards in Madrid are setting up on their own, as traders on a market that's facing demise.
Maria Alonso rubs her face and tired eyes. She didn't get much sleep last night, as she had to get up early to go to the wholesalers to buy fresh goods. Alonso is just 23, but already has her own shop selling flowers on the market in Madrid. She is a florist, although she has no professional training.
At the Mercado de San Fernando, Maria has used her market stall to carve herself a different kind of future. She is taking advantage of cheap rents, themselves the result of the crisis. Last year more than half the stalls were left empty, after large numbers of traders were forced out of businesses by the competition from cheaper supermarket chains.
"We had to do something to save the market," Victor Alonso Yagüe, head of the Mercado de San Fernando, explains as he walks through the hall. He promoted his market throughout the district with a view to encouraging young people to rent his stalls for the lowest price he could feasibly offer.
Maria is one of many to set up shop in the market. They have their work cut out for them, as being your own boss requires good organization. As yet, the young business people are not making enough to live from, but nonetheless they have not lost faith in their venture.