Starting a business let alone building it into a successful one is not particularly easy. Now imagine starting a business when you come from an impoverished background, have no college education and speak little English in America. That’s the story of Manny Garcia, who beat all odds to become a successful entrepreneur and philanthropist.
He gave us an interview to talk about his background, journey to success, and philanthropy.
Q: Tell us about your background. How did it shape your entrepreneurial spirit?
Though I was born in New York, my family moved to the Dominican Republic and stayed there until I was 14, at which we moved to Miami. My mother worked three jobs just to put food on the table, and even at times, the money she earned simply wasn’t enough. I hated seeing her struggle and suffer so much, and I promised myself that I would take her and my siblings out of poverty.
I started my first business at 14, where I would wash cars for 5 dollars each. I also borrowed my uncle’s lawnmower and would cut grass for a fee. I did all sorts of jobs in my neighborhood as a teenager, and I carried this entrepreneurial spirit with me into adulthood. Escaping poverty was my primary motivation; I wanted to give my family a comfortable life. I’m now invested into real estate, e-commerce and own a streetwear brand with multiple retail locations. I also own an auto customization and collision repair shop.
Q: You are a known philanthropist. What’s the motivation behind your philanthropy?
I simply see too many teens lose themselves in the streets to drugs, violence and crime but in my heart I know that they can do better if they put their minds to it. I want to show them that a poor background doesn’t determine the rest of their lives; with hard work and education, they can change their lives for the better. I mean, I was a poor Dominican boy who didn’t speak English, but here I am, a successful entrepreneur and business owner. I hope to empower them so that they can create better lives for themselves and their families.
Q: As a parting shot, what advice would you give an aspiring entrepreneur?
Starting will not be easy but you figure things out on your way. Take all the mistakes you make during this window as learning experiences not losses. Have a mentor, preferably in the same line of business as you, who’s capable of helping you navigate obstacles that you come across. Finally, always have goals, both short and long-term, and have plans on how you are going to achieve them. As an entrepreneur, if you don’t have goals and plans, you are bound to falter.