business insights help Texas inmates start over
Texas inmates are well versed in the laws of supply and demand.
In fact, their business skills are what got them into trouble
with the law in the first place. But what if someone could
show them how to use those skills to set up sustainable —
and legal — enterprises?
Kellogg students have taken up the challenge. This year, Barbara
Geluda, Raj Datta, Ranu Bhatia, Rick
Perez, Sarah Montgomery (all '08) and Sarah
Gillis and Sarah Harrison ('09) are volunteering
their time and expertise with the Prison Entrepreneurship
Program (PEP), a Texas-based nonprofit that helps inmates
create sound business plans to implement after their release.
The program prepares inmates to carve out their own living
in a world in which few employers are willing to give ex-convicts
students review the inmates' work and submit suggestions via
thought it was a really great way to give someone a second
chance," says Bhatia, who is offering advice to an inmate
on a plan to help develop technology for a Texas industry.
Student volunteers also help inmates write, refine and polish
r�sum�s. "They're not starting from scratch when they come
out," adds Bhatia. "They're getting the background work done."
Moerbe, a PEP marketing and public relations associate, says
inmates have to work hard to secure a seat in the program.
"They must take multiple tests and pass multiple rounds of
interviews," he says. "It's pretty intensive."
student Perez says this volunteering has helped him think
and speak more clearly about business basics that his peers
take for granted: "It may seem obvious to an MBA that you
need a differentiated strategy even with a small business,
but it is not a given for a high-school graduate. I've also
learned that even the most advanced strategies can be understood
by the inmate that I'm working with. It is just a matter of
communicating it in a way he understands."