Subscribe to Inc. magazine
WORK-LIFE BALANCE

CEO Passions: Teaching Prisoners

Brian Hamilton, co-founder and CEO of Sageworks, teaches entrepreneurship to prisoners.

Students in Brian Hamilton's
entrepreneurship class face a bigger challenge than a lack of funding: They are serving time in prison for crimes such as robbery and drug dealing. Hamilton, co-founder and CEO of Sageworks, a financial software company in Raleigh, North Carolina, taught inmates when he was in graduate school two decades ago. He took it up again in 2007, when a friend committed suicide in jail. Since then, he has held his one-day course, Inmates to Entrepreneurs, at 20 state prisons in North Carolina, visiting one each month. Students, who learn about sales, marketing, and customer service, are recommended by prison officials and usually have fewer than six months left to serve. "There's not a big support group for these guys," Hamilton says. "It makes me grateful for what I have."

Start-up 101
Hamilton advises students to focus on service businesses with low overhead.

Distinguished alumni
In the past three years, nearly 1,000 inmates have attended Hamilton's entrepreneurship class. Alumni have gone on to found a landscaping service, a T-shirt company, and other businesses.

What's next
Hamilton is establishing a mentorship program to connect ex-prisoners with entrepreneurs in North Carolina and Virginia. "I can teach them basic things about starting a business, but they need somebody they can call on throughout the challenges in their lives," he says.

More:



Register on Inc.com today to get full access to:
All articles  |  Magazine archives | Livestream events | Comments
EMAIL
PASSWORD
EMAIL
FIRST NAME
LAST NAME
EMAIL
PASSWORD

Or sign up using: