The pilot initiative, delivered by Jahangir Wasim from Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University and overseen by independent research and former professor of entrepreneurship Rob Smith, took place at HMP Grampian in Aberdeenshire. It provided those in custody with a series of tailored sessions designed to equip them with a range of new skills that can help them take steps towards establishing their own business upon release. The three-day course covered essential business skills, such as marketing, taxation and how to sell services and products.
With attendees chosen to attend the pilot based on their upcoming release date, the business ideas proposed included a food and drink company, house painting and pet care. Funding is now being sought to extend the programme.
Wasim, head of business and management at Heriot-Watt University, said: “People in custody face numerous barriers to employment when they finish their sentence. The stigma of a criminal conviction means many opportunities, regardless of their ability, experience and even qualifications, are closed. We know that this can cause challenges to an individual’s sense of personal value, belonging and the role they play within their community - all of which can contribute to the likelihood that they may offend again.
“This pilot set out to equip participants with a broad range of practical and entrepreneurial skills, providing them with hope and a renewed passion for how their life could look when they are released.”