The Prison Entrepreneurship Program offers incarcerated men an unparalleled opportunity to transition “from inmate to entrepreneur.” Inside of prison, our participants complete a rigorous 3-month character development program that is followed by a 6-month business plan competition. This process culminates in a cap-and-gown graduation ceremony through which our graduates earn their Certificate in Entrepreneurship from Baylor University.

Upon release, they are provided with housing, basic needs and transition support that they need to rebuild their lives in the free world. Once they have stabilized, PEP also supports them in the launch and growth of their own businesses. This includes providing them with the opportunity to secure capital from our partners such as Kiva, PeopleFund and other microlenders.

Since 2004, over 150 of our graduates have incorporated a business. The vast majority are still operational, including at least two that are generating over $1MM in sales. But for most, their businesses are considered “microbusinesses” that provide stable income for them and their family.

Why do these businesses matter?

From PEP’s perspective, there are many answers. First, “felon-owned” businesses are felon-friendly employers (and the lack of employment options is one of the main drivers behind our country’s high recidivism rate). Second, for many ex-offenders, there are few pathways to financial stability outside of self-employment. But third, and perhaps most importantly, we believe that there is tremendous power in giving incarcerated people a “new identity” as an entrepreneur. They are no longer a criminal … they are a producer, a provider, a job creator.

But even beyond the impact on our graduates and other ex-offenders, what is the broader impact of the microbusinesses created by PEP’s graduates?

The answer can be seen clearly in a new study from the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) entitled “Bigger Than You Think: The Economic Impact of Microbusiness in the United States.” Below is an excerpt from that study.

Please feel free to share this study with others. Thank you for your support of PEP!

Bigger Than You Think: The Economic Impact of Microbusiness in the United States

Bigger Than You Think: The Economic Impact of Microbusiness in the United States

  1. what a gift. if anyone in prison doesn’t take this offer, they should stay where they are.

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