Last Tuesday I had the amazing opportunity of being introduced to Defy Ventures. If you’ve never heard of this organization then you’re missing out on helping with an amazing mission. Defy helps formally incarcerated inmates take the skills they learned while being street entrepreneurs and harnesses those traits to help them build thriving legal businesses. These street entrepreneurs are turned into Entrepreneurs in Training (EIT) at Defy. Most of the stories that we heard were about people being put away for drug related actively stemming from hard life circumstances that most people find hard to even fathom.
The night started off with me uncomfortably entering and not knowing what to expect besides people pitching their business ideas. After getting settled the staff quickly corralled us into another room to finish getting the room set up. When we re-entered we went through a human tunnel only to be greeted with bear hugs at the end. Before the evening even got started you could feel the love and passion for the work that was being done throughout the room.
We also participated in a “Step to the Line” exercise that really helped people understand the difference (and quite a few similarities) between those that had been incarcerated and those of us who were lucky enough to be on the other side of the line.
After getting to know one another that’s when the pitching got started. What I liked was that most of the business pitches weren’t huge, difficult, and/or expensive ideas. They ranged from industrial kitchen cleaning, dog walking/board, personal training, and so forth. All of these sounded achievable, and these people just need a little more business and marketing mentoring.
I’m glad to say that I’m not the only one who thinks that this organization is amazing. There were probably more volunteers then EIT’s at the event. It was a very packed (both with people and love) room. Also, famous folks can see the impact Defy is making. Just take a look at Sir Richard Branson’s blog post about them.
Okay enough with me gushing about this organization. Be sure to check them out for yourself and follow my blog to hear more about my experiences with this group, because that event isn’t the end of it.
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