Prisoners are training to be the entrepreneurs of the future. Prisoners at HMP Thorn Cross presented their business plans to local business owners and ex-offenders. In addition, they presented their company plans to a “Dragons’ Den” group as part of a new programme to keep them out of jail.

At a special event held inside HMP Thorn Cross in Cheshire, proposals from prisoners competing for start-up money included a graphic design firm and a personal training business.

The “Dragons,” which included local business owners, members of the public, and ex-offenders who had already founded their firms, cast votes for their preferred strategy to assist the prisoner’s business take off after release.

What Was The EU Hidden Entrepreneur Event?

The 12-week course, which our nonprofit Entrepreneurs Unlocked created, educates inmates about the reality of starting a business, culminating with the event, which took place during Global Entrepreneurship Week.

To give ex-prisoners the tools they need to rejoin society and leave a life of crime behind. Sessions include finance training, marketing training, sales planning, and product or service design.

David Morgan, the founder of Entrepreneurs Unlocked, said:

“The Hidden Entrepreneur event is the first to highlight inmates’ entrepreneurial skills. We will draw attention to this career option for individuals since it not only lowers the likelihood of recidivism but also exemplifies the social and financial benefits of entrepreneurship.”

“I am thankful to HMP Thorn Cross for letting us host the event, to our speakers for telling us about their inspiring stories, and to all the businesses who joined us because together, we can change people’s lives by helping them on their new entrepreneurial pathway,” said one of the event speakers.”

The event’s attendees heard from various motivational ex-offenders who have successfully started their businesses. These included H.M.Pasties, a start-up that uses ex-offenders to create and sell pasties to “bring out the good inside.”

A tried-and-true method of reducing reoffending is to get inmates into the workforce; individuals who find employment after release are 9% less likely to commit crimes again.

What Happened During The EU Hidden Entrepreneur Event?

Over 50 people participated in the event to listen to other people’s stories from our six guest speakers and three hidden entrepreneurs. They pitched and participated in a speed network where connections were created.

Damian Hinds, the new Prisons and Probation Minister, was our speaker, who announced the Hidden Entrepreneur who had the most votes.

He announced the winner as “S”, seeking to start his graphic design business. He will be provided £400 upon release to give him the help he needs to turn his idea into reality.

“P” and “J” were the runners-up, each receiving £300 after release.

One discussion was the “capital” to start up, not just financial but social capital, and how to develop positive networks.

The attendees made 50 pledges of support, such as:

  • Gain a business bank account and free account software
  • Support to register with the HMRC.
  • Access to construction training and development of skills.
  • Assistance in gaining relevant insurance
  • Website training and mentoring
  • Fully refurbished PC gifts
  • Networking/marketing/PR starter sessions
  • Personal resilience and self-confidence support

Plus, a load of offers with mentoring and creating connections to give those who need the best chance possible of success.

Why Is This Effective?

Statistics reveal that inmates who land a job after release are much less likely to commit crimes again.

The nonprofit Entrepreneurs Unlocked, which attempts to provide inmates with the skills they need to establish a business, ran a 12-week course that culminated in this event.

Additionally, it gave a stage to several deserving former inmates who have launched prosperous firms and allowed ambitious businesspeople to network with local experts.

Damian Hinds, minister of prisons and probation, said, “putting ex-offenders to work reduces reoffending and improves the safety of our streets.”

“Our economy is driven by entrepreneurship, which can offer a bright future for individuals who are prepared to rebuild their life. Observing inmates display the abilities required for success in both business and life is encouraging.”

Is The Government Doing Anything To Help Ex-Inmates?

The Government’s Prisons White Paper outlines a strategy to lower reoffending and maintain public safety, emphasising assisting inmates in developing the skills they will need to find employment upon release and give up crime.

The government is making investments to lower reoffending, which includes assisting inmates in acquiring the skills they’ll need to obtain employment upon release and give up crime.

The Prison Service’s (HMPPS) New Futures Network was created to link businesses with prisons so that employers may discover and train a pipeline of talented, motivated people to meet their hiring needs across several important industries.

The government modified the rules earlier this year to allow inmates in open prisons to apply for apprenticeships in crucial industries; the first inmates began their apprenticeships at well-known firms like Timpson and Greene King in October 2022.