Webinar: Prison to Proprietor: Entrepreneurship as a Re-entry Strategy

Sep 14, 2016

Asset Funders Network presented a national webinar highlighting the release of Prison to Proprietor: Entrepreneurship as a Re-entry Strategy; Narrowing the Racial Wealth Gapa just-released AFN Strategy Spotlight examining microenterprise strategies for the formerly incarcerated. 

Strategy Spotlight authors and experts from FIELD at the Aspen Institute showcase findings from the brief, and offered funders the opportunity to discuss how connecting individuals integrating back into the community to business ownership and entrepreneurship can provide a second chance at opportunity. 

Presenters shared research findings and highlighted several programs that serve former offenders while underscoring why grantmakers, particularly asset funders concerned with issues of racial equity, should take a closer look at these initiatives and act on the Spotlight's key recommendations. 

Presenters included:

 - Joyce Klein, FIELD at the Aspen Insitute 
 - Lavanya Mohan, FIELD at the Aspen Institute
 - Theresa Bedeau, Capital One 
 - Bert Smith, Prison Entrepreneurship Program
 - Abby Hughes Holsclaw, Asset Funders Network (moderator)



Brief: Prison to Proprietor: Entrepreneurship as a Re-entry Strategy; Narrowing the Racial Wealth Gap

Webinar Recording: Click here to access the recorded presentation from September 15, 2016  

Slideshow presentation: Click here to view or download a PDF of the slideshow presentation from September 15, 2016  

Learn more: FIELD at the Aspen Institute  |  http://fieldus.org 

Learn more: Prison Entrepreneurship Program  |  www.pep.org  |  Bert Smith, CEO  |  bsmith@pep.org | 



Joyce Klein is Director of the Aspen Institute Microenterprise Fund for Innovation, Effectiveness, Learning and Dissemination (FIELD). The mission of FIELD is to identify, develop and disseminate best practices, and to educate funders, policymakers and others about microenterprise as an anti-poverty strategy.

Ms. Klein has worked with FIELD for fifteen years, and has more than 20 years of experience studying and supporting microenterprise and entrepreneurial development programs in the United States. Her recent work has included the Scale Academy for Microenterprise Development, in which FIELD is helping leading microenterprise organizations in the U.S. to increase their scale; the Asset Building through Credit pilot, which is working with microenterprise programs to offer a secured credit card as a credit- and asset-building tool for entrepreneurs; and FIELD’s new leadership development program for the U.S. microenterprise field, ELM2.

Ms. Klein also has worked as a consultant in the microenterprise field, providing assistance to clients including the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, and CFED (formerly the Corporation for Enterprise Development). Prior to her work with FIELD, Ms. Klein led CFED’s work in microenterprise development. She holds a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from the University of California at Berkeley and a B.A. in Economics from Boston College.


Lavanya Mohan serves as a Research Associate for the microenterprise Fund for Innovation, Effectiveness, Learning and Dissemination (FIELD), an initiative of the Economic Opportunities Program at the Aspen Institute. In this role, Ms. Mohan conducts research on microenterprise, entrepreneurship, and self-employment of underserved and minority groups in the United States. In general, she supports planning, management and implementation of a variety of FIELD and EOP research projects and convenings.

Her previous experience includes serving as a Research Assistant at the Center for Law and Social Policy where she conducted research and data analysis; advocated for anti-poverty strategies and policy reform; and co-authored multiple policy briefs and reports in the areas of work supports, workforce development, and higher education. Additionally, she served as an AmeriCorps Volunteer and later, Program Associate at Henry Street Settlement’s Workforce Development Center, providing job readiness training, safety-net benefits access, tax and financial counseling services to low-income families, including English Language Learner (ELL) and youth clients.

She has also interned at ACCION USA, measuring the impact of the organization’s services to its clients. Lavanya holds a Bachelors of Business Administration from the University of Michigan and a Master’s in Education, Policy & Management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.


Bert Smith officially joined PEP as CEO in May 2010 and has been actively involved with PEP since 2005. He has served in a number of volunteer roles, including executive judge, Business Plan Advisor, teacher, mentor, donor and Chairman of the Houston Advisory Board.  In the 1980s, Bert served as Director, General Counsel, and Head of Corporate Development for a family owned engineering company that built and operated independent power plants.

Bert serves on the Board of Directors for a family foundation, is a past President of the Executives Association of Houston, and has served as an active board member and volunteer with a number of other nonprofit organizations. A volunteer visit to PEP led Bert in a new direction— one that included a passion for helping people who have been formerly incarcerated. 


Theresa Bedeau is a vice president of Community Development Banking at Capital One Bank, and is responsible for identifying, developing and implementing activities that promote economic development for Capital One Bank’s New York & New Jersey footprint.

Prior to joining Capital One Bank in 2012, Theresa was Director of Programs at the Business Outreach Center Network, a community-based non-profit dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs through small business training, counseling and small business financing.  

Theresa gained a passion for economic and small business development work during her years at Trickle Up where she managed a national network of small business technical assistance providers dedicated to supporting very-low income entrepreneurs to launch and grow small businesses across the U.S. Theresa is a graduate of Cornell University and has an MPA from NYU Wagner’s School of Public Service.