How Defy Ventures Helps Ex-Inmates Form Profitable Businesses


An organization called Defy Ventures is focused on providing second chances to the formerly incarcerated by equipping them to start and run their own businesses, CEO Lindsay Freeman writes for the Huffington Post. freeman says that participants in Defy’s program have low recidivism rates and high employment rates in comparison to national averages. The organization offers a tuition-based, MBA-style national entrepreneurship, employment, and character-training program, which Freeman says equips former drug dealers and gang leaders to defy the odds and get second chances of their own.

Defy helps its entrepreneurs-in-training (“EITs”) leverage innate entrepreneurial talents, including drive, charisma, and the ability to turn a “no” into a “yes”, to become CEOs of their own legal, profitable businesses. Defy uses intensive leadership and character training; executive mentoring from seasoned entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, investors and business leaders. This includes “Shark Tank”-style business-plan competitions, where participants compete for $100,000 in startup financing; and startup incubation. Since its launch in 2010, Defy grads report an 83 percent increase in income and a 95 percent employment rate, with a recidivism rate of 5 percent.

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