‘Nobody Can Hold You Back:' Partnership Supports Black-Owned Green Energy Business

The Streetwise MBA Program at Interise is focused on helping minority-owned and women-owned small businesses thrive

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Efforts to expand the Massachusetts green economy are fueling all kinds of business opportunities.

A partnership between a nonprofit and a green energy company is an example of the work being done to help companies expand their footprint and close the racial wealth gap.



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The phones are usually busy at Green Energy Mechanical in Canton. From the office to the warehouse to the crews in the field, it’s a whirlwind of activity.

“We specialize in energy-efficient solutions for customers who are looking to go green,” Jonathan Neves, founder and CEO of Green Energy Mechanical.

But the company was on the verge of going out of business, twice. Then Neves took the Streetwise MBA Program at Interise. It was a game-changer.

“When we started Interise, we were about four employees, just shy of a million. Today, well, last year we finished off at a little over $7 million in revenue and about 40 employees,” he said.

“We work with minority-owned and women-owned small businesses,” Darrell Byers, Interise CEO, explained.

Companies have to fit certain criteria for revenue and employees.

Byers said it’s three hours, every other week, for seven months of training, networking and growth planning. It helps set business owners up for success.

“Definitely understanding my profit and loss, balance sheet, cash flow statements and like what it meant, like what to do with that information,” Neves said.

With that understanding comes new opportunities.

"I doubt there's probably a more diverse HVC company in Massachusetts, and that's by design,” Neves said. “I really believe in giving people chances.”

Byers said the Green Energy story is typical.

“When you take this course, on average, you're going to grow 36% after your first year,” Byers said. “ There isn't a business we don't affect, whether it's construction, whether it's green energy, whether service,” he added.

While Green Energy is focused on housing, other companies are working to get bigger government contracts.

“They're very few minority businesses, to be honest, that can handle the large contracts that you see coming. But our goal is to help these businesses grow so that one day they will be the primary contractor,” Byers said.

“As an apprentice, I dealt with a lot of racism, a tremendous amount, actually,” Neves said. “I had so many people say when I was young, ‘Oh, you'll never amount to anything. How do you think you're going to grow a business as a Black owner? People are going to be racist. I have other Black people that were tell me: how do you think you're going to be able to run a business? Being Black in the city?’”

“My message would be like, don't let anybody or anything dictate what you can and can't do. I don't care if it's your mom and dad. I don't care if it's your brother, sister, your friends, society, politicians. I don't care who it is. Like nobody can hold you back.”

Green Energy Mechanical is growing. Keep your eyes open for a new location in the Needham-Newton area soon.
Interise hopes to expand to eight gateway cities in partnership with the Urban Leagues of Eastern Massachusetts and Springfield.

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