The US currently holds the world’s highest incarceration rate. Unfortunately, these rates have been steadily rising for many years. Current and former prisoners accounted for 5.8% of adult US men in 2010, up from 1.8% in 1980, states Business Insider. One of the reasons behind this inclining number is due to high recidivism rates as ex-criminals often struggle to find work or adapt to the outside world when released.
However, change is on the horizon as there are a number of programs in place that can help ex-criminals adjust, allowing them to transition back into society to become model citizens. One of these programs is Defy Ventures, a nonprofit startup which aims to educate prisoners on business skills, using coaching from entrepreneurs so they have a better chance of obtaining jobs, starting a business and making a positive impact on society. Due to a national recidivism rate of 76%, most parolees are rearrested within a year. However, Defy Ventures has reduced recidivism to an outstanding 3% with entrepreneur training.
Evidently, there is hope for these ex-prisoners, and Defy venture is not the only organization that sees potential in these promising citizens. Telzio, a company that powers cloud phone systems for companies around the world, has recently partnered with Defy Ventures through their internship program. The program trains interns to think like a business owner and helps them gain professional experience to prepare them for their future careers.
“I first found out about Defy Ventures through a friend who works there. Peter and I both have strong feelings about the broken prison system here in the US, especially with Peter coming from a country like Denmark. So a few of them came by our office and introduced to us what they were doing, and we became very interested in getting involved personally,” states Diana Chu, Chief Operating Officer at Telzio.
The program aims to provide formerly incarcerated individuals with a platform to develop their business skills and to become successful employees and entrepreneurs. During the program, participants will engage in a number of classes and skills including Telzio’s sales training program, develop a unique sales plan, and most importantly, learn from execution.
“I came up with the idea for the internship program as a recruiting mechanism to help us build a strong sales team. As a growing startup, hiring is one of the biggest challenges. More important than experience, we value determination and cultural fit. I wasn’t finding much of that from “veterans” of the telecom industry. Through our internship program with Defy, our applicants have graduated from their training program and have been vetted by their program manager prior to applying to our program,” adds Chu.
Clearly, there is a lot of potential for everyone involved to gain something positive from this endeavor. What’s more, by participating in this program, Telzio can be considered a shining example of an up and coming business, while also making a difference in its local community, setting a fantastic example for other businesses to follow suit. Interviews for applicants have only just started, but Telzio hopes to bring the first intern(s) in this spring.