From Prison to the Boardroom

I like to write about entrepreneurial motivations, partly because of my experiences, and partly because of the entrepreneurs I have been able to meet. So when I received a text message about Defy Ventures, Inc., it definitely piqued my interest.

What is Defy Ventures? Well, simply put, they are a group of motivated Americans trying to help those with criminal backgrounds become entrepreneurs.

Wait, what- you don’t want hustlers trying to scam you out of your money?

Well, before you judge, consider this fact.

5% of Americans have a criminal background, and the majority of those people return to prison. Even if you don’t know someone who has been to prison (with those odds you probably do), if you are American, you are paying for their crimes.

How? It costs money to prosecute crimes, run prisons, and rehabilitate a large amount of people – money America does not have. As a result, we have under-paid, over-worked police officers, for-profit prisons, and rehabilitation programs that are destined to fail. It’s a cycle that feeds off the most disadvantaged communities in America- the poor.

Defy Ventures attempts to break this cycle by reducing the likelihood of returning to prison. By giving those with criminal backgrounds business skills and corporate connections, they hope to empower these people with the tools needed to keep them out of a life of crime.

Will it work?

Well, it’s not exactly a new concept. Immigrant communities, often arriving in America with little to no money, have always embraced an entrepreneurial mindset. They understood the need to build their own futures, rather than be defined by what was expected of them. Perhaps it was because they knew the odds were against them and they wanted to put up a good fight.

Now, a new class of American outsiders –those with criminal backgrounds- are preparing to use entrepreneurship as their stepping stone toward success.

Hey, it beats stealing cars and selling crack.

The hope is that with proper education, these ‘criminals’ can come up with a ‘hustle’ that adds to society; not take from it. They could learn how to start their own businesses, small and large and stay out of prison. Their children would learn the benefits of self-employment and stay out of prison as well. In other words, entrepreneurship could reduce our growing prison economy.

Is small business a cure for our society? Defy Ventures seems to thinks so.

Learn more about Defy Ventures on their website.

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