This month, Black Women of Brazil profiles Monica Costa, an Afro-Brazilian business owner from the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, who overcame humble beginnings to achieve her American dream. Fourteen years ago, Monica and her husband, Francisco, started Wilniq Auto Body and Mechanical Repair (named after their children William and Monique.) The business has grown to become one of the top-ranked minority and women-owned businesses in the D.C., Maryland, Virginia and Mid-Atlantic area, with nearly 2,000 customers, and notable clients such as Montgomery County Government, Maryland State and Pepco.
Click here for the full story and video profile on Monica Costa, produced by Mable Ivory of Louella Productions.
“In Brazil, Black women have been the base of the social pyramid for centuries and most people only think of them as potential babysitters, maids or Carnaval dancers. Monica’s success in the world’s top economy shows that Brazil does a quarter of its population a huge disservice by not investing in their lives and aspirations. For Monica and millions of other Afro-Brazilian women, opportunity itself is the missing ingredient to a successful, productive future!” says Marques Travae, editor-in-chief and founder of Black Women of Brazil blog.
For Monica, growing up as a darker-skinned, Black woman and daughter of the favelas, she was culturally conditioned to believe that she should settle for a path of limited possibilities. To become a low-wage domestic worker or assistant would have been a socially acceptable and attainable goal for someone of her complexion and income level in Brazil.
“My father begged me to get an education and not become a maid,” said Monica. “He instilled in me that you can be and do anything.”
Monica aims to expand and launch a training facility in Maryland to provide the Black community and minorities with a platform to learn the auto repair business and be future business leaders and owners.
“My goal here is to empower people to feel comfortable and get good service no matter where they go. Empowering women with auto clinics and how to be comfortable around their own cars is paramount,” says Monica. “I also desire to train young black people and minorities to learn the craft, locally as well as internationally.”