Under the hood of a car, Roy Geban is in his element. This 24-year-old entrepreneur has created a thriving business on Fabers Road in Belize City's South Side, an area plagued by gang violence.
But the journey hasn't been easy. A few years ago, Roy was struggling with drug abuse. Though he was never arrested, the police harassed him frequently, he says. The trouble started when he was about nine years old and his father died. "It was rough for me," he says.
Eventually, he got a job as an apprentice at a car wash. He worked there for seven years in the hopes of one day starting a business of his own.
Roy received business training and support through our Youth Engagement Services Program. With support from U.S. Embassy Belize, he also got seed funding to open Roy-O's Car Wash in Belize City. The training made a big difference.
"It changed me a lot," says Roy. "It showed me that if you work you can become a boss.”
The grant helped Roy purchase a pump for his pressure washer as well as a tool set to work on cars. So far, he has diversified to washing motorcycles and has about 30 regular clients.
His efforts have not gone unnoticed by his neighbors. Roy is a leader and a respected member of the local community. He has also become a father figure to his younger brother, who is struggling with the law. He plans to eventually hire at least two young people as apprentices at his own business.
"I want to move forward," he says. "I don't wanna stay down."