GREENSBORO, N.C.– The painful truth of life after prison is that getting a job can be nearly impossible.
A North Carolina non-profit is trying to change that. Inmates To Entrepreneurs helps people with criminal records start their own business.
The program’s founder Brian Hamilton hopes this will help keep people from returning to prison.
The Raleigh-based organization started back in 1992, but the program wasn’t available in the Triad until September of this year.
The course focuses on sales, marketing, and business finance to those with a criminal history. It also teaches how to get a business off the ground for less than $500.
“So we know not everyone who takes our course is going to start their own business, but we give them the soft skills so they can be a better employee, a better general manager or manager. So they will understand what the boss is trying to do,” Co-chair of Inmates To Entrepreneurs A.J. Ware said.
Those who finish the program are provided a mentor. About 30 people graduated from an 8-week course in Greensboro Thursday night. Donald Brown was one of them.
Brown spent four years in prison. He said he knows how tough landing that first job outside can be.
“It took me 95 applications to get a job. I had put in 94. Probably about my 95th one getting ready to go there, I was at the point I was ready to quit I was getting ready to go back to doing what I knew how to do,” Brown said.
Brown has already owned a business, but took the course as a refresher. He plans to open a community gym in Ramseur called “The Fit District” in January.
Brown said his gym will focus on teaching kids proper eating habits and how to have fun while exercising in a unique way.
“Exergaming is part of exercising and gaming put together… There’s two bikes. There is a TV monitor on it has an Xbox hooked to it for it to work you have to pedal you quit peddling it doesn’t work no more,” Brown said.
Inmates To Entrepreneurs said demand for the course is high, so another 8-week course in Greensboro is in the works.
The non-profit is also taking their one-day course on the road with a national tour that kicks off in New York City next month.