Friday, February 9, 2018

A Good Job is the Best Way to Fight Poverty

That fact has formed the foundation of my career leading Belay Enterprise's over the last 18 years. I have seen first-hand how good jobs in faithful organizations transform lives.

Employment helps people move beyond the problems of being disadvantaged. It ends homelessness and prevents individuals from returning to prison. It allows people to support their families and engage in the creativity God intends for all to enjoy through work.
   
Work also provides the environment for people to learn about God in faithful businesses.

Since 1994, Belay Enterprises' mission has been to partner with the church to start businesses that employ and job train individuals rebuilding lives from addiction, homelessness and prison. Over the past 24 years, Belay has incubated six projects in Colorado that have hired hundreds of individuals.

At different points over the years, Belay has set various goals of starting a certain number of businesses by a future date. But increasingly we realize that this is not enough. If we are going to positively impact disadvantaged communities, we have to engage for-profit entrepreneurs, who are the true engines of job growth in a community. I have seen firsthand how there are many talented entrepreneurs sitting on the sidelines of our churches that if engaged towards these goals could make a much bigger impact employing individuals rebuilding lives than Belay alone.

This year, we have been designing out our newest project, the Belay Venture Partners program. But others have been encouraging me that our vision should be bigger than just the Denver community. It should expand to include other cities throughout the US and the world. 

Belay Venture Partners plans to connect Christ-following business leaders with emerging entrepreneurs to provide technical assistance, mentoring relationships and venture funding.  

We envision the program to have a team of MBA students or retired business people identifying startup or existing business as missions in need of incubation or acceleration services. The initial team would then help with business plan development and crafting a venture support plan. After a handful of businesses have been identified, the ventures will be shared with a group of Christian business people who have been identified to be mentors and investors. 

Each business in the program will be partnered with 7 mentor/ investors of which Belay would be the 7th. The Venture Partners program will invest donor advised funds (DAF) into the business that will then be paid back by the business to revolve into future investments in other Business as Missions. During the period of repayment, the businesses would have regular mentor meetings with the group as a whole and the Belay team with the aim to help the businesses grow and thrive. 

Over all, the aim is to create more jobs employing people rebuilding lives from poverty.

Does this interest you? Please contact us here if you'd like to learn more or if you have thoughts on our approach. Also, let us know if you'd like to be a business mentor.







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