On Saturday, January 26, 2019, RED had the pleasure in being cordially invited to attend the Inmates to Entrepreneurs Atlanta conference. The Inmates to Entrepreneurs conference, led by co-founder Brian Hamilton and co-chair AJ Ware, sought to give another viable option for individuals returning back to society from incarceration who want to become financially stable and are having a hard time finding gainful employment. Their solution: start your own business.
Inmates to Entrepreneurs’ mission is to assist people with a criminal background in starting their own business by providing resources and mentorship. Their vision is to reduce the rate of recidivism in the United States by providing a path to financial stability and success. Research has shown that returning citizens have a more difficult time obtaining gainful employment than the average American without a criminal background. A viable option, not many returning citizens know exist, or understand how to undertake, is the path to entrepreneurship and establishing their own business.
The conference offered practical advice on how to start a cost-effective business from scratch. Topics discussed were marketing, sales, customer service, and most importantly, the “never give up” attitude. Unfortunately, the planned keynote speakers Kevin “Coach K” Lee and Pierre “P” Thomas, co-owners of the local, Atlanta record label, Quality Control Music, were not in attendance for personal reasons, and their criminal defense lawyer and president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, Drew Findling, admirably filled in and offered words of wisdom to all the individuals on the path to redemption. Mr. Findling’s parting words of wisdom were, “Have a plan, stay in your lane, and execute all the way through.”
In summary, the Inmates to Entrepreneurs conference introduced another path to returning citizens to help get them to return to firm financial ground after incarceration. In addition, it allowed local entrepreneurs who have a common thread, incarceration, to have an opportunity to network and offer mutual support to individuals similar to themselves.