Christian Venture Capitalist Defies Sex Scandal With God's Calling

Catherine Hoke
Founder and CEO of Defy Ventures, Catherine Hoke, speaks at Movement Day 2015 at the Hilton Midtown Hotel in Manhattan, New York on Thursday October 29, 2015. |

That decision, however, led her to start Defy Ventures which she calls "my 2.0 effort to make a difference in this sector."

Defy Ventures, according to the organization's website, is an entrepreneurship, employment, and character training blended online program for people with criminal histories.

"We defy the odds every single day. And what we do is we transform the hustle of America's biggest underdogs. We teach them employment training and readiness. Place them in jobs, entrepreneurship, where we actually get them to start their businesses and extensive character and personal development which includes spiritual training even though we are not a faith-based organization. They get tons of amazing training," said Hoke.

Now five years since starting Defy Ventures, Hoke and her team have helped more than 700 people with criminal histories. They have a 95 percent employment rate for graduates of the program and a 3 percent recidivism rate.

In the last couple of years she said "we have incubated and funded now 112 businesses started by our graduates."

One of those graduates, Coss Marte, who founded a company located in New York City's Lower East Side called conbody, is touted as a prison-style boot camp.

"I served a total of five years in prison. I went to prison for running one of the largest drug delivery services in the city. Around the age of 19 I was making over $2 million a year," said Marte.

"Toward the end of my incarceration, I ended up in solitary confinement. All that was given to me was my Bible and I read Psalm 91. Psalm 91 really helped me learn how to trust the process. And from trusting that process it gave me my calling to trust the mission I [am] following today," he added.

He explained that through his unique fitness regimen he managed to lose more than 70 pounds in six months in prison after doctors told him he could die due to weight-related health issues.

"I helped over 20 inmates in prison lose over 1,000 pounds combined. And I brought that program from the prison yards to the streets of New York, and now we have a studio in the Lower East Side of Manhattan and we hire formerly incarcerated [people] to teach our programs," he said.

Thanks to his partnership with Defy Ventures, conbody now has more than 4,000 customers, seven employees and the business has been featured on major networks such as MSNBC and FOX.

Hoke says she is now looking to serve 10,000 people in the program nationwide and is appealing for volunteers and other investors to help her on her mission to pursue God's calling on her life to give ex-cons second chances like she found herself.

"Two years ago I was remarried. And I have my second chance as a wife. I have my second chance at life, I have my second chance to extend second chances to others. This would not be the case if it weren't for the grace of God and the grace of amazing people like yourself," she said.

Contact: Follow Leonardo Blair on Twitter: @leoblair Follow Leonardo Blair on Facebook: LeoBlairChristianPost

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