CFE to launch prison entrepreneurship programme with National Offender Management Grant Funding

The Centre for Entrepreneurs has won funding from the Ministry of Justice to deliver a prison entrepreneurship programme at HMP Ranby in Nottinghamshire. This follows the publication of a report by the Centre which suggested that entrepreneurship programmes made available to all pre-release prisoners could save the government over £1 billion annually.

The Centre for Entrepreneurs – the leading think tank on entrepreneurship – has signed a contract with the Ministry of Justice to deliver a prison entrepreneurship programme (PEP) at HMP Ranby, Nottinghamshire, which has been designated as one of the government’s six reform prisons.

The programme will be delivered in partnership with NBV Enterprise Solutions, a locally based enterprise agency with over thirty years experience teaching entrepreneurship to marginalised groups – including in prisons.

The Centre’s successful grant funding bid comes off the back of its recent report on prison entrepreneurship – From inmates to entrepreneurs which will inform the design of the programme. The Centre’s research found that many prisoners are well-suited for entrepreneurship, possessing the necessary personality traits. Furthermore, existing PEPs in the US, Germany and the UK have been highly successful in reducing reoffending, reporting recidivism rates of 5% to 11% – compared to national averages of around 50%. As such, the report suggested that introducing PEPs to all interested pre-release prisoners could save the government over £1 billion annually.

“We are delighted to be signing the prison entrepreneurship programme contract with the Ministry of Justice and look forward to working with NBV Enterprise Solutions to deliver the project in HMP Ranby,” says Matt Smith, director at the Centre. “Our report released earlier this year recommended that self-employment should be recognised a key tool in reducing reoffending, and that the government should create a ring-fenced fund for prison entrepreneurship programmes. We believe that such efforts will make a significant difference to our society and are thrilled that we can build on the existing evidence with this new programme.”

The programme will prepare a select group of prisoners to start businesses that will support them financially after their release and prevent them from reoffending. The first part of the programme will take place over approximately 12 weeks, with weekly sessions held by a professional NBV business coach. The second part will take place after release, with participants supported with advice, equipment or collateral as they launch and grow their businesses.

Furthermore, the programme will be comprehensively evaluated upon completion to determine its impact on prisoner outcomes, with successful results used to inform the establishment of further PEPs.

“The widespread uptake of prison entrepreneurship programmes will help reduce recidivism across the UK – potentially saving the government billions every year,” says Luke Johnson, chairman of the Centre. “Not every prisoner is necessarily a born entrepreneur. But among those that are interested and capable of working for themselves, ensuring they get the support they need is a sure route to reducing reoffending.”

Working with Neil Richards, executive governor of HMP Ranby, the Centre will also form a local business advisory group that brings together business support organisations and service companies to offer in-kind or reduced price support services for participants both in prison and upon release.

The programme will be guided by a national steering group of experts on prison entrepreneurship and criminal justice more widely, comprising:

  • Chris Stacey, co-director, Unlock
  • Rod Clark, chief executive, Prisoners’ Education Trust
  • Phil Ashford, co-founder, Enterprise Exchange (a prison entrepreneurship programme)
  • Sheena Leaf, founder, The Entrepreneur Inside (a prison entrepreneurship programme)
  • Duane Jackson, founder, Kashflow and Supdate (an ex-offender entrepreneur)
  • Jacob Hill, founder, Lazy Camper and Offploy (an ex-offender entrepreneur)