Defy-HeaderImg-WHATWEDO-WhyEntrepreneurship

Why Entrepreneurship

Self-employment is a viable solution
for individuals with criminal histories when
traditional careers paths are not open to them,
allowing them to be their own bosses.


Self-employment creates opportunities to earn a solid income rather than resorting to low-wage employment that, more often than not, does not allow one to truly support a family. Learning how to run a successful company also allows formerly incarcerated individuals regain their confidence, which is often lost through their dehumanization behind bars. Entrepreneurship provides the opportunity to uncover, and redirect, their leadership ability.

If between 1 and 7% of people leaving state or federal prison next year started their own businesses, 6,800 to 48,000 new businesses would be created in the United States every year—a boom to the economy.

Why can formerly incarcerated individuals make great entrepreneurs?
A high percentage of formerly incarcerated people have natural leadership skills and business acumen that are often overlooked in the labor market because of their criminal histories. They have proven entrepreneurial skills from illegal businesses and natural leadership talents that help them survive on the streets.

Successful former gang leaders and drug ring bosses innately understand essential business functions, including:

• Execution
• Sales and sales management
• Marketing
• Accounting
• Quality control
• Competition
• Differentiation
• Market penetration

What do entrepreneurial, formerly incarcerated men and women have in common with many successful business leaders?

• A scrappy, “hustler” mentality
• Resourcefulness
• Ability to overcome adversity
• Profit-driven and results-oriented
• Charismatic and influential
• Tenacity and relentless drive
• Feel most alive when beating the odds
• Competitive, risk-taking, challenge-oriented
• Ability to identify unique market opportunities
• Strong presence