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Chef Yesenia Melo stands in her black chef jacket, over a wood cutting board full of healthy vegetables.

Success Stories: Yesenia Melo

Yesenia encourages other business owners to apply for the Biz-M-Power crowdgranting program.

This story was originally published by Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation, our partner for the Biz-M-Power crowdgranting program that offers small businesses in Massachusetts financial assistance with their acquisition, expansion, improvement or lease of a facility, purchase or lease of equipment, or with meeting other capital needs for the business.

Chef Yesenia Melo holds a healthy, green beverage and smiles to the camera.
Chef Yesenia Melo

Yesenia Melo is bringing delicious and healthy alternatives to the grab-and-go lunch lifestyle in Lawrence, MA through her meal prep business, Jessy’s Clean Meals.

While the business has been around for three years, the past year has been a turning point for both Yesenia and her meal prep, which offers healthy substitutions to many Dominican-inspired traditional meals. When the pandemic hit, Yesenia realized that her alcohol struggles were preventing her from taking the business further, decided to turn things around through rehabilitation, and was able to dedicate her focus on Jessy’s Clean Meals.

As Jessy’s Clean Meals continued to grow, food shopping with limited space in her small car became difficult. When Kristin Wallace of MCCI introduced Jessy to the Biz-M-Power Crowdfunding Matching Grant Program, there was hope of purchasing a delivery vehicle sooner than expected.

Alongside Kristin, Yesenia’s Patronicity coach, Camryn Greer, she reached out to family members and posted on her social media page. While her posts generated questions about the campaign, Yesenia found that the donations weren’t increasing at the rate she had hoped. New to crowdfunding, she was hesitant about reaching out to the public, but found support through giving out cupcakes with a letter to customers and presenting her story and campaign during Alcohol Awareness Week at the Haverhill District Court.

"Our team at Patronicity specializes in campaign coaching, providing technical assistance to all campaigns,” said Camryn. “It is incredible to support businesses like Yesenia’s, who have never crowdfunded before, and see them leverage their networks and patrons to succeed in such a big way."

When the campaign was nearing its end and needed a final push, MGCC stepped in to help. “That was the key. That’s what helped me reach my goal,” Yesenia said. Through connecting with partnership corporations and sharing Yesenia’s campaign through MGCC’s social media, she was able to exceed her $10,000 goal by an additional $461.

While Yesenia continues to look for a van, she noted, “things like cooking classes and being able to buy the things needed are now possible because of this program, just like brand new items in our menu like juices, new containers, and a delivery vehicle that will help me promote my business on the road!”

Chef Yesenia Melos hands prepare clean, healthy meals.
Chef Yesenia Melo prepares meals for her small business.

Yesenia encourages other business owners to apply for the Biz-M-Power Program, as it helped her to “stay focused on what [my] business needed, what the purpose of the funds were and what they’re being used for.”

“Throughout the journey, I have found a passion to not just provide meals but a future space to help people carry a lifestyle that will help them to achieve a better quality of life. I am here today sober because of decisions I have made for my body and mind.”