Business Training Programs Give Former Prisoners a Fresh Start

August 15, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. acumen [uh-KYOO-muhn, AK-yuh-] (n.) – the ability to think quickly and clearly to make good decisions, especially in a particular field (e.g. business, politics, etc.)
ExampleSasha's business acumen enabled her to grow her small store into a retail chain.

2. bearing [BAIR-ing] (n.) – a connection or relevance towards something
ExampleAn applicant's educational background has no bearing on whether he will be accepted into the program or not.

3. reoffend [ree uh-FEND] (v.) to commit another offense or crime and return to prison
ExampleMelanie had just been released from prison when she reoffended for stealing a necklace.

4. entrepreneur [ahn-truh-pruh-NUR] (n.) – a person who engages in business and takes risks in order to make money
Example: Like most successful entrepreneurs, Richard is not afraid to take risks and come up with new, innovative ideas.

5. accommodate [uh-KOM-uh-deyt] (v.) – to do a favor; to give service
ExampleThe program accommodates and gives support to women.


Read the text below.
Non-profit organizations in the US and the UK are helping former prisoners restart their lives by providing training and funds for future business plans.

Startup, a UK-based charity established in 2006, picks four female inmates from selected prisons to participate in weekly business workshops for one year. The charity chooses the women based on their business acumen while assuring that the crime they have committed does not have any bearing to the charity’s decisions.

Out of the four, two will receive help in writing a business plan. Ultimately, one will be awarded £2,500 to start her business when she is released.

According to Juliet Hope, founder and chief executive of Startup, 700 women have joined the program so far and only one had reoffended within the year.

Similarly, a scheme called Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP) in Texas, USA has helped over 1,500 former prisoners. Founded in 2004, PEP is open to male prisoners who have graduated from high school.

Only around 300 are selected from over 6,000 applicants to participate in business classes for one year. After which, they will receive an entrepreneur's certificate from Baylor University.

Jeremy Gregg, chief development officer of PEP says that the 120 businesses they support are doing well, with at least two earning over a million dollars each year. He adds that only 5% of the men who joined PEP have reoffended.

Despite good intentions, both programs face problems in funding. PEP does not receive government funding and instead relies only on donations. On the other hand, Startup's current funding from the Big Lottery Fund can only accommodate female prisoners.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Why do you think programs like that of Startup and PEP help reduce the number reoffenders?
·         What other kinds of programs do you think can help former prisoners start over? Please explain your answer.

Discussion B

·         Do you agree that entrepreneurs who come from poor or difficult backgrounds often succeed in business? Why or why not?
·         What qualities should a person have in order to be a successful entrepreneur? Why do you say so?


August 15, 2013