Belay Enterprises was launched in 1995 by a group of Denver-area business owners, builders, pastors, and community leaders. Their initial vision of using recycled building materials to open a combination home-improvement thrift store and job-training/employment program for the disadvantaged resulted in the opening of Bud’s Warehouse. Bud’s stands for Building Unity and Dignity through Service, an acronym which reflects our vision for rebuilding lives through employment, career and life-skill development programs.
The stated mission of Belay Enterprises is to “partner with area churches to develop businesses to employ and job-train individuals rebuilding lives from addiction, homelessness, prison, and/or poverty, to strengthen families and neighborhoods.”
The term belay comes from rock-climbing, and is defined as the process by which one climber holds the rope to support another…serving as the “safety-net” to allow a confident continuation of the ascent. Like rock-climbing, fundamental lifestyle changes are never undertaken without risk – but a strong partner can make all the difference. It is in this spirit that Belay Enterprises serves our clients—seeing them not as “problems beyond fixing”, but instead as a people needing to be empowered and set free from the past.
In the years since 1995, Bud’s Warehouse has been a favorite destination for bargain hunters, receiving excellent press coverage for both our products and our mission. Through this steady community support, Belay Enterprises has been able to launch or “incubate” several additional Faith Venture projects:
- Baby Bud’s – Founded in 2002 to employ low-income single mothers who are re-building their lives from issues including addiction, incarceration, domestic violence and homelessness, through the Baby Bud’s thrift store and a janitorial services division, Freedom Cleaning Services, launched in 2005.
- The Good Neighbor Garage, launched in 2003 under the Belay Enterprises umbrella to repair donated cars, thus providing affordable transportation to low-income clients, as a way to increase their employability. In October 2006, in accordance with its founding vision, GNG became an independent 501(c)(3) organization and now operates as a valued partner to Belay.
- The Ascent Venture Fund, founded in 2003 to provide low-interest micro-loans for community-based businesses that create jobs in their neighborhoods. After assisting a few projects, we saw the need for a more intentional effort to assist small business start-ups. We are therefore reorganizing the Ascent Venture Fund, recruiting experienced business leaders from the community, who will work with Belay to identify, launch and provide mentor support of promising new ventures.
Belay’s Faith Ventures offer a holistic response to the challenges our clients face. Along with employment and skill training, we offer addiction counseling, career/goal setting, budgeting, and other critical life-skills. All of this is offered in the unique context of operating businesses which generate a double bottom line – by providing both financial and social returns for each dollar invested in our organization, meeting consumer and client needs while generating much of the income needed for program sustainability.