Archive for the ‘Graduate Businesses’ Category

Click the picture to learn more about investing in David's business.

Click the picture to learn more about investing in David’s business.

Great news! PEP Graduate David M. has raised nearly 1/2 of what he needs to expand his business. We now need you to invest so that he can purchase another vehicle.

You can invest as little as $25: this is a loan (NOT a gift) that will be repaid over two years … and the return that you get will be a changed life.

Please click the link below to get started!

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

forbes From Cellblock To Startup: Teaching Inmates How To Be Entrepreneurs

Forbes: “From Cellblock To Startup: Teaching Inmates How To Be Entrepreneurs”

A wonderful story about the Prison Entrepreneurship Program and two of our graduates was just published in Forbes. Check it out here:

Please share this story with your network so that others can see the impact that we are making through PEP.

Thank you!

UPDATE: This story was also picked up by the Chicago Tribune here (login required).

eSchool class in Houston

eSchool class in Houston

One of our graduates, Justin M., recently shared this note about eSchool — “Entrepreneurship School,” a continuing education program that PEP offers for graduates who have been released from prison. We have adapted for this blog:

“The greatest lesson I have learned from attending eSchool is ‘slow-cooker, not microwave.’

When I was incarcerated, I had all my goals and plans laid out and I imagined taking off like a rocket when I was released. But while in prison, I had lost sense of real-world time. I forgot how much time work and family and day-to-day living consume. So finding time to work on my new goals became frustratingly slow, it seemed.

Sure, I was moving up and on, bringing my family with me, but not even close to the pace I was planning and expecting. Then I heard from two executives on two different nights at eSchool, the phrase ‘slow-cooker, not microwave.’ It made me realize that I was trying to put rocket fuel in a vehicle that requires regular gas. It made me realize that, Hey, I am still going to get there, as long as I have my foot on the pedal, and I can enjoy the scenery on the way.

The greatest challenge I have overcome since joining PEP is the ability to form goals and spend time pursuing them, rather than participating in things that only pulled me down in life. I have achieved several goals since being released. Multiple raises at my job, purchasing a vehicle (finally getting off that bicycle!), time with family, moving to the suburbs from a tiny apartment. The biggest goal I have achieved is forming an LLC and launching my business. Of course, that one is ongoing!”

Read similar testimonials from other graduates here.

Clarence C. is a graduate of Class 18 of the Prison Entrepreneurship Program. He was recently profiled in Dallas by the CBS 11 program “Texans with Character” for the launch of his shoe shining and leather care business in the Dallas/Fort Worth Area.

See the video here:

Kiva Loan to Prison Entrepreneurship Program GraduateThanks to a new partnership with Kiva, PEP graduates can now receive ZERO-INTEREST loans up to $5,000. These loans are “crowd funded,” meaning that individuals like you provide the capital for the loans.

These are NOT gifts. You will be repaid monthly over a two-year period as our graduates repay the loan (and we are only endorsing those whom we feel certain will do so).

Better still, if you are new to Kiva, your loans will be MATCHED by a private foundation … meaning that if you invest $100 in a PEP graduate’s business, another lender will match your investment with another $100 (for a total investment of $200 in a business owned by a PEP graduate).

Here is one of our current loans that needs your help … please consider this amazing investment opportunity, which will deliver powerful returns in the form of changed lives:

Thank you!

best ice cream texas

Sherif Alghali, founder of Best Ice Cream.

Great news! Kiva just approved PEP graduate Sherif A. for a $5,000 business loan for his Dallas-based ice cream truck!

All we need now is for YOU to provide the capital. These are not gifts, but zero-interest loans. As Sherif repays his loan, you get your money back.

Learn more and invest today at this link:

You can also keep up with Sherif’s “Adventures in Entrepreneurship” through his blog here:

sherif alghaliClass 17’s valedictorian, Sherif Alghali, just launched a blog to share his adventures as he pursues the launch of his own business after release from prison. Follow him here to join his journey as he seeks to open Best Ice Cream:

If you would like to help our graduates like Sherif to turn their business plans into reality, please contact us! There are many ways to get involved, including:

Once you’ve been to prison, you can then get involved as a mentor or a teacher in our Tuesday evening eSchool (“Entrepreneurship School”) classes in both the Houston and Dallas areas.

Thank you, Sherif, for sharing your story with us! We hope it inspires more of your PEP brothers to pursue their own business, and that it helps our volunteers to see what an impact they can make on our program.

PEP Graduate Harvey M. recently launched a company with his fellow graduate Phi T. Their company recently launched its first concept — a food truck that is now rolling across Houston serving the finest gourmet Vietnamese sandwiches that you’ve ever tried!

(What? What do you mean you have never tried a Vietnamese sandwich??? Get out of your culinary cave, call Harvey and prepare to have your mind blown!!!)

After hearing how shockingly awesome these sandwiches are, PEP volunteer and serial entrepreneur Phil Collins — a.k.a. “Not the Singer” —  invited Harvey and Phi to setup their truck outside of the two companies that he owns in Houston. The dynamic duo brought smiles to dozens of satisfied customers, and created quite a buzz in the normally tame parking lot.

Below are some photos of the truck in action. Please check out these links: