Defy Ventures | Entrepreneurship Training for People with Criminal Histories





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Published on Feb 7, 2019


While touring a Texas state prison, Defy Ventures founder Catherine Hoke learned that 70% of the children of incarcerated people end up in prison, too. Struck by that statistic, she created Defy Ventures to help ensure inmates don’t return to prison—and that their kids never end up there.

Defy Ventures harnesses the entrepreneurial aptitude many inmates have and redirects them toward legal businesses with executive mentoring, intense MBA-like training, character and leadership development, and even financial investment.

The centerpiece of the program is a business plan competition. The entrepreneurs-in-training pitch their idea in the hopes of having their startup incubated, funded, and ultimately scaled.

Defy Ventures' programs aim to break generational cycles of violence, poverty, and welfare dependence and shatter the damaging perceptions that cling to formerly incarcerated people, so they can have a legitimate first chance at a new life.


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