Growing a Business with a Cause

Tommy Safian, Executive Director and Founder of Refoundry

Are you interested in business management, entrepreneurship, and helping others?  Check out Tommy Safian’s story on Forbes.  Tommy has had a long and winding career path; he started as a teacher in LA, but was inspired to start his own business to make more money.  Thus, Tommy began a succession of successful businesses in the furniture industry – and Tommy remained passionate about hiring released prisoners and former gang members throughout all of his ventures.

He then joined a program of training recently released prisoners, but felt as though the program funneled them into low-wage jobs that didn’t retain them.  That’s when he started Refoundry, an organization that has a three step program for training recently-released prisoners to allow them to start their own businesses.  For the first 90 days, employees learn how to repurpose discarded materials into home furnishings.  During this period, Refoundry pays them wages.  They actually make more than Tommy, who serves as the executive director for this organization.  The employees are then given keys to Refoundry’s workshop spaces so they can make their own products to sell during off-hours; they keep the revenue of those items.  At that point, Refoundry stops paying them a salary and they run their own business from Refoundry’s site.  They begin to pay Refoundry to cover rent, insurance, and expenses, which Refoundry sets aside for them as seed funding.

Refoundry has an incredible business model that believes in recently released prisoners and offers them an opportunity to become entrepreneurs themselves.

By Kaitlynn Cull
Kaitlynn Cull Peer Coach Kaitlynn Cull