The South African Entrepreneurship Centre For Ex-Offenders ( SAECEO) is the first of its kind in the country, providing customized entrepreneurship, technology, and business training to former inmates. The centre focuses particularly on technology-related ventures, targeting at fulfilling new markets that continue to arise online. The centre also provides courses in coding and programming.
The stigma of being an ex-con is rife in the society, finding employment with criminal record is almost impossible. SAECEO aims to build tomorrow’s entrepreneurs and business people who will go back to their respective communities and become good citizen who create jobs for their people.
Founded by Xolane Ndhlove, executive charmain of UMEH Group of companies and a reformed offender who made his first million dollars behind bars and now own several businesses. It was this entrepreneurial skills that enabled him to legally becoming a dollar millionaire in prison that he intend to pass to ex offenders who are ready for change.
Apart from training, mentoring and funding ex-offenders (SAECEO) will boost, library , recording studio, computer room, gym and sport ground which will enable us to offer our members sufficient skill they need to earn honest living. We’e hoping to produce entrepreneurs, inventors , artists, sport stars among others from this centre” says head of researcher Prof. Marco Matoli.
The centre also plan on securing a TV slot on MNet channel for it talent competition program where former inmates will submit business ideas , strategy for possible ground prize of R500 000 startup from UMEH Group. The program is set to run annually and will have prominent business coaches and mentors being part of it judging panel.
Statistics by the Department of Correctional Services show that 80% of released offenders in South Africa tend to re-offend within the first year of release. One of the reasons that ex-offenders struggle with integrating back into society is the social stigma of being an ex-offender, as well as poverty and joblessness, the rejection of family members, and lack of skill resources.