Posts Tagged ‘graduate businesses’

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

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: