LAWRENCE — Should you car break down somewhere in the Merrimack Valley, a strong-willed young woman may very well be at the wheel of the tow truck that comes to your rescue.
Roanny Colon, 33, started doing business a few weeks ago and has already started making her mark on the local scene.
A man at Walmart in Methuen was experiencing car trouble and noticed Colon's 2006 International 4300 ramp truck in the parking lot. When he saw Colon seated in the cab, he exclaimed, "Oh my! It's a girl!"
Colon recalled he was grateful, however, when she hooked up his car, loaded it onto her truck and towed the troubled vehicle out of the parking lot.
Colon, who does business as La Patrona – that's Spanish for "the boss" – has 10 years of experience in the towing business. She had a towing business in her native Puerto Rico, where she was also known as La Patrona, but Hurricane Maria put a rude end to it two years ago.
A wall collapsed on her tow truck and destroyed it. Colon, her three daughters and many other residents of Puerto Rico left the island and came to Lawrence and other cities on the mainland.
Colon had years of experience in her business, but she was in a new environment and needed help in making a new start. That's where EforAll came into the picture.
The E in EforAll stands for entrepreneurship. EforAll helps people who have the vision to start their own companies but lack capital and the knowledge of the intricacies of establishing a business, such as setting up a payroll system and obtaining a tax identification number.
EforAll has had considerable help from the Deshpande Foundation, which is led by Andover residents Gururaj and Jaishree Deshpande. EforAll has a program for those whose first language is Spanish called EparaTodos, with the E standing for emprendimiento, the Spanish word for entrepreneurship.
After her arrival in the Merrimack Valley, Colon was among 14 candidates selected for the 14-week Accelerator course, in which students learn "how to navigate the system," according to Andres Silva, program manager for EparaTodoes in Lawrence and Lowell.
EparaTodos has helped Colon deal with the "legalities of setting up a business," Silva said. These include acquiring a tax identification number.
The classes have also helped Colon promote her business. She has a website, a Facebook page and she's on Instagram. The official name of her business is La Patrona Services LLC.
Her husband, Giovanni Mercado, is a mechanic. He helps her keep her truck in top running condition, she said.
With winter on the horizon, Colon plans to expand into another field of endeavor that is still dominated by men: snow plowing.
Silva said he and other staffers at EparaTodos are eager to help other people who want to start their own businesses. For more information, call EparaTodos at 978-989-9229 or visit EparaTodos.org.