The objective of the EPEP program is to develop a training for inmates and ex-inmates who wish to become entrepreneurs. Indeed, for ex-inmates, the creation of a company may be the best way to reach a successful professional reintegration.

 In order to offer the most suitable support, the EPEP consortium needed to understand the real needs of this target group. To do so, a survey (composed of qualitative and quantitative tools) was carried out in Belgium, France and Italy to understand the reality, barriers and needs of inmates, ex-inmates and associations (or training centers) working with them.

 A report has been produced and will be used as a basis to create appropriate methodologies and tools for inmates, ex-inmates and associations working with them. Indeed, the ambition of the project is that any active associations (or training centers) working with inmates and ex-inmates could use the content of the EPEP program to improve their support toward prisoners and ex-prisoners with a company creation project.

 Here are some key conclusions from this report: 

  • Motivations: Company creation appeals to inmates and ex-inmates. Desire for independence has been highlighted as the most common motivation.
  • Barriers: Funding has been identified by all players as a big barrier to company creation for ex-inmates. Dealing with administrative tasks linked to company creation also seems to be an obstacle for them. The third element hindering their approach to company creation is the lack of skills (basis skills or professional skills). Let us notice that the lack of self-confidence may represent a serious problem as well: prison often destroys self-esteem and autonomy but these features are crucial to become an entrepreneur. Most associations met during the survey believe that company creation is possible for ex-inmates but that time is needed for rehabilitation before entering into this process. 
  • Training format: Mixed training (collective sessions and individual work) is the best format for this target group. More generally, the presence of a trainer/coach is essential (especially if there is a lot of individual work to be done) for matters of motivation, help and support.
  • Entrepreneurship training: the demand is present for this type of courses but sometimes company creation won’t be possible if other professional skills are not acquired by inmates. The definition of a clear project is necessary to be efficient.
  • Involvement of associations and training centers: The interviewed associations are enthusiastic about the project but their skills are very heterogenous and they are not always familiar with entrepreneurial topics. Consequently, the EPEP partners will have to specify the profile of the trainers within associations and training centers.
  • IT infrastructures: The situation regarding IT infrastructures is very heterogenous from one country to another and even from one prison to another. The use of an e-learning tool can be compromised for inmates.

The next step of the project will be to specify the target group that the project will address (inmates or ex-inmates with a company creation project, inmates with no idea of business…) and to analyze the existing methodologies regarding entrepreneurship training for inmates.