Businessman Xolane Ndhlovu has founded the first private entrepreneurial rehabilitation centre for former prisoners in South Africa.
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.
According to the institution, SAECEO’s objective is to allow former offenders to use their potentials to systematically become integrated into the economy.
“Our case studies show that ex-offenders often have particular strong skills that can be well suited to starting a business. With proper guidance, our objective is to show them how to use those skills to benefit themselves as well as society. The objective of our programs is to help ex-offenders identify business opportunities, assess possible markets and demands, raise capital and gain investors, and how to organize and operate a business”, said an institution spokesperson.
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.
“We are finding a lot of positive results in giving ex-offenders a chance at gaining some kind of purpose, a chance to work towards something that will benefit themselves as well as society” said Xolane Ndhlovu.
“They are great risk takers, they have exceptional determination and drive, and they can also be highly creative. However, they can also be naïve when it comes to starting a business, which is what we’re primarily focusing on at this time.” added Ndhlovu.
Ndhlovu, also from South Africa and an entrepreneur himself, founded the South African Entrepreneurship Centre For Ex- Offenders (SAECEO) in March 2019.
Ndhlovu also founded a number of major companies in South Africa including the UMEH Group, and runs several charities such as the FundKidsLikeSuccess.