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How do Ex-Offenders become Entrepreneurs

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  • Post published:February 6, 2021

How Do Ex-Offenders become Entrepreneurs?

In this article I am going to explain how an Ex-Offender become Entrepreneur. According to the Organisation for Economic Development (OECD) unemployment could rise to almost 15% of the working population if the UK experiences a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

Even without a second wave, the unemployment rate is likely to rise to 11.7% by the end of 2020 (OECD).

With those of you leaving prisons in the coming months, there is no doubt that finding employment is going to be challenging.

There is comprehensive empirical evidence that employment is a significant contributing factor in reducing the risk of reoffending.

With the predicted rise in unemployment and the contraction of the economy what can be done to help prisoners being released and reduce rather than cause a ‘spike’ in the cost of reoffending? How can ex-offenders become entrepreneurs?

The Ministry of Justice 2020 Report on the economic and social cost of reoffending calculates it amounts to a figure in excess of £18 billion per annum – with £6 billion attributed to adults released from custody.

One option would be for more investment by Government in entrepreneurial programmes and focus on the prisoner entering self-employment on release.

Ex-Offenders become Entrepreneurs

How can an ex-offender becoming an entrepreneur help?

Over the last few years, a number of business start-up pilots and reports have been commissioned and published including:

  1. The Department for Business Innovation and Skills: The Evaluation of the Enterprise Pilots in Prisons in 2015 which stated that: “Participants and stakeholders have reported an array of different skills being developed amongst those that engaged well in the programme”
  2. “Many participants felt the programme would help them to change their lifestyle after release and impact positively on their chances of reoffending”.
  3. The Centre for Entrepreneurs: From Inmates to Entrepreneurs report in 2016 which stated: “59% of prisoners surveyed would like to take an entrepreneurship course in prison, while 79% of those surveyed are interested in starting a business”.
  4. The Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs Report: Unlocking Enterprise in 2019 also stated that: “The engagement with enterprise learning has a positive impact pre and post release and also in the development of the individual and their plans for progression whether through employment or self-employment”
  5. Ex-offender becoming an entrepreneur, is a viable way to gain employment

Being able to become a small business owner could be a way to focus a person’s talent and earn a legitimate income.

Although a riskier option than paid employment, it can enable the person to focus on their skills and experiences and look forward.

As opposed to being held back by their past convictions.

Are there lessons that can be learned from further afield to strengthen this case?

The United States has higher rates of reoffending but has examples of best practice that demonstrate how entrepreneurship can be utilised to underpin personal transformation. These include:

  1. Defy Ventures and RISE, which run in-custody / community programmes that focus on personal transformation through entrepreneurship
  2. Inmates to Entrepreneurs, who run business start-up workshops in the community;
  3. Refoundary, who incubate businesses focussing on craft-based skills and entrepreneurial skills development.


Entrepreneurial programmes in prisons should firstly focus on personal transformation, leading to recognition and development of the individual’s entrepreneurial talent.

This can then be harnessed to enable them to understand themselves and enable a solid platform on which to consider and develop their business ideas. This change in mindset enables individuals to become better versions of themselves.

There are over five million self-employed people in the UK and it is the nation’s fastest growing workforce.

With the increase in unemployment there is likely to be a surge in self-employment and those in custody need to be prepared on release to enter this particular employment sector.

Are you considering using your talent as an ex-offender becoming an entrepreneur?

Contact me and ask for your free “Be Your Own Boss, Change Your Life, Stay Out of Prison” booklet, where you can review your skills, provide a summary of your idea and have the option of receiving written feedback via FREEPOST direct to you.

Contact: David Morgan, Entrepreneurs Unlocked CIC, PO POX 2786, Horwich, BL6 9LN or call 01204 263002

Prior to going self-employed on release remember to get your tax affairs in order

Remember to contact The Tax Academy CIC to review your tax affairs to ensure they are up to date.

There is nothing worse than being released from prison and finding that you have tax penalties and tax debt that need to be resolved with HMRC, particularly when going self-employed.

Contact: Paul Retout from The Tax Academy CIC on 01824 704535 or write to me: The Tax Academy CIC, Unit 4 Ffordd Yr Onnen, Lon Parcwr Business Park, Ruthin, Denbighshire LL15 1NJ.