Inmates to Entrepreneurs: Scott Jennings

Scott Jennings started as an entrepreneur at a young age, buying candy for ten cents and selling it at school for twenty-five cents.

As he grew older, he kept selling, but it was no longer candy. “I have always had the entrepreneurial spirit,” explained Jennings, “but I have not always had guidance or mentoring.”

Ten years ago, the founder of Inmates to Entrepreneurs, Brian Hamilton, taught an entrepreneurship class in the prison where Jennings was serving time. ”

“While incarcerated, I was asking a lot of questions about life and what I was doing wrong, right, or not at all. I had time. I was doing a lot of thinking. And I was envisioning my future,” Jennings said, “Taking Brian Hamilton’s entrepreneurship class changed my approach.”

Upon his release, Jennings got a job repairing gym equipment. After he learned those skills, he started his own company — Fit Tech and Assembly –that provides maintenance, service, installation and repair for commercial exercise equipment.

“When I started in September 2011, I had maybe $75 in my pocket,” Jennings explained, “Now my business takes in more than half a million dollars in revenue annually.”

Building on his success, Jennings recently started a second business – a nutrition retail store. The store has become a gathering place in his community, hosting antique car shows, youth events, and more.

Jennings is now a member of the board of directors of Inmates to Entrepreneurs and teaches entrepreneurship in prisons and in city classes for returned citizens. In November 2019, Jennings spoke alongside Congresswoman Velazquez (D-NY) and Congressman Jeffries (D-NY) at the announcement of the U.S. House of Representative’s Prison to Proprietorship Act legislation.

“It is hard for people with records to get jobs,” Jennings said, “If people cannot earn a living to support themselves, they will end up back in prison. We can teach them how to be their own boss. And we should start while they are in prison, with time to start preparing for their return.”

Inmates to Entrepreneur’s free video course, “Starter U: How to Start, Run & Grow a Business,” is on Edovo tablets in prisons and jails in 30+ states. It is available to general public, and returning citizens, online at: https:/ /inmatestoentrepreneurs.org/programs/online-course/.

Legislation to provide entrepreneurship education for people who are incarcerated, and for returning citizens, currently is before the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. There are numerous entrepreneurship programs throughout the United States for returning citizens, including Defy Ventures (CA, NY, WA, CO, IL), Prison Entrepreneurship Program (TX), Determination Incorporated (MO, KS), Refoundry (CA, NY), Georgetown Pivot Program (DC, MD, VA), Unlocked Doors (accelerator supported by John Legend), and Inmates to Entrepreneurs (NC and online).

For more info. about Inmate to Entrepreneurs: www.inmatestoentrepreneurs.org info@inmatestoentrepreneurs.org

“I didn’t know what an entrepreneur was but the[n] when Mr. Hamilton came to West Wilkes Middle School it changed my perspective on business careers.”

Caleb Huffman Student West Wilkes Middle School

Being an instructor… allows me to empower aspiring entrepreneurs with the business tools that they need to be successful in our society.

Monica Russell Instructor Inmates to Entrepreneurs

We believe that entrepreneurship unlocks the door to economic opportunity in the United States.

Margaret Froneberger Chief Executive Officer Brian Hamilton Foundation

Having your own company is for everyone, not just those born into privilege.

Brian Hamilton Founder Brian Hamilton Foundation