Entrepreneurial program for those with criminal convictions begins this week

An incubator for entrepreneurs with criminal records will begin its fifth cohort since coming to the Triad in 2018.

Inmates to Entrepreneurs, a program started by founder Brian Hamilton in Raleigh in 2008, has branched out to other cities across the state.

The program, which made its Greensboro debut two years ago at the Nussbaum Center for Entrepreneurship, helps would-be business owners start low-capital businesses where a criminal record is less of a hinderance.

“Inmates to Entrepreneurs has gotten a tremendous response in the Triad area, both from students and partner organizations in the community, like Winston Starts. Even as we expand nationally, we intend to maintain our roots in providing courses in the Triad and across our home state of North Carolina as a result of the demand we’ve seen for the program,” said Hamilton.

Since 2018, 76 Triad entrepreneurs have graduated the course.

This Wednesday, the eight-week program will launch a new cohort inside Winston Starts, the Winston-Salem startup/growth accelerator located in the office tower at 500 W. Fifth St.

The upcoming cohort will run August 19 through October 7, meeting Wednesday nights from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Participants will will begin to learn the ins and outs of building a business, including finding customers, registering a business, getting an employment ID number (EIN), taxes, and  marketing and finance.

The program is free and open to anyone with a criminal record whether or not he or she was incarcerated.

For a limited time, Winston Starts is offering free mentoring to graduates of the program.

Inmates to Entrepreneurs began in N.C. but plans to continue to expand as more awareness grows around its model.

“We started right here, but our mission is to increase business ownership across the world because it is the most reliable way for people to work themselves up from where they are to where they want to be in society,” Hamilton said.