Most people in prison have operated criminal enterprises while they were in society. Some offenders even ran legitimate establishments when they were in the free world. Many people, such as Catherine Rohr who founded Defy Ventures as an incubator for ex-offender entrepreneurs, believe that criminals possess the same mentality as corporate executives but they are applying their entrepreneurial and management skills in illegal endeavors.
We are aware that the current labor market and its employers are biased towards hiring people with felon backgrounds and criminal history. Many state and local legislatures throughout America are currently introducing bills to remove the felon box from job applications and other regulatory obstacles that prevent returning citizens from obtaining licenses to earn a living through various vocational trades that they earned certifications for while they were in prison. However, I advocate for inmates in prison to embrace the mindset of returning to society to “create jobs” instead of only looking for employment.
In a recent article published in the Wall Street Journal on May 26, 2015, professors Dr. Rebel Cole and Dr. Tatyana Sokolyk wrote about how there is a current crises amongst many entrepreneurs neglecting to apply for bank loans because they think that they will not be approved. Utilizing statistics from the Federal Reserve Surveys of Small Business Finances from the years of 1993-2003, and from the World Bank data covering 80 countries during the time span of 2006-2014, the professors averred that small companies are letting fear of rejection keep them from applying– and getting — bank loans. They found that two out of three firms need credit, yet 40% of the companies that needed credit were discouraged from even applying for it. Furthermore, it was discovered that many of those same small businesses could have gotten loans only if they had tried.
The article highlighted how with such a high percentage of small businesses need credit, but failing to apply for it, small businesses and entrepreneurs are leaving billions of dollars on the financing table. Getting discouraged entrepreneurs to apply for loans will reduce the number of credit-constrained small firms, which would lead to faster economic growth and more jobs.
The article also stated that startups that receive bank loans in the company’s name have a 25% probability of surviving the first three years than those small firms that get bank loans in the owner’s name. The professors further explained that bankers keep in touch with startups that obtain loans in the firm’s name instead of the owner’s name to ensure that the loans stay current and to provide counseling to borrowers that run into difficulties.
I write this blog entry to illustrate how even entrepreneurs in society are not educated thoroughly about the matters of financing their enterprises. Therefore, as prisoners, we must invest our time capital into learning how to obtain financing for our business ideas. Almost 80% of the people serving time in prison say that they want to start their own business when they return to society. Nonetheless, almost none of them are certain as to how they will obtain the money and capital to operate their ventures profitably. Under capitalization and a lack of debt financing is what causes most self enterprises to fail. We now know that there are “billions of dollars” out there on the table for our ventures, now lets learn how to get it the “right” way to help build the global economy.