Borrower Highlight: Belay Enterprises

Twenty-five years ago, a group of pastors and business people called Mile High Ministries began looking at how they could bring jobs to Denver’s urban poor. They saw people struggling to find work after experiencing homelessness, prison, or addiction, and they wanted to help rebuild lives.
The solution was Belay Enterprises, a faith-based nonprofit that creates businesses to employ and job train individuals rebuilding their lives.

The organization’s first project was Bud’s Warehouse, a home improvement thrift shop that doubles as a job-training program. While saving lives, Belay helps save the planet by selling doors, window frames, and other building materials that would otherwise become landfill.

Many programs with similar models exist, but Belay evolved to become an incubator of social enterprises. Belay has started five social enterprises and recently launched the Belay Venture Partners Program. The program recruits experienced business leaders from the community to work alongside Belay to identify, launch, and provide mentor support of promising new ventures.

In 2016, RSF connected with Belay when the organization needed a new building. After much searching, Belay found a 50,000-square-foot warehouse in a retail complex in Aurora, CO. RSF was able to help with a creative financing arrangement that made the dream a reality. Since then, Bud’s has increased sales and added more employees, granting even more people a second chance. Last month, RSF renewed and increased Belay’s loan. We are thrilled to continue to support the organization and the amazing work they’re doing for the community.

Many graduates credit the program with changing their lives: “When I got the job at Bud’s, I worked hard. I showed up early. I stayed late, if I had to,” says Anthony Morales, a former addict and gang leader who is now assistant manager of the store. “In my former life, I led my brothers astray. But now God switched that around, and Bud’s gave me an opportunity. My marriage, my employment, my spirituality— they’re all leveled out for the first time in my life.”

To learn more about Belay Enterprises, visit their website: belay.org

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