Entrepreneurship as a Necessity

Photo by Crystal

Photo by Crystal

When I was 38 years old, I had an advanced degree, a decade of corporate experience, and $300,000 set aside to start a business. I saw entrepreneurship as the next challenge. I had no idea how good I had it.

Fast forward to today. If you think this economy is tough, try being over 50. Or consider the job-hunting challenge for an ex-felon. Both groups need jobs, and some of them are turning to entrepreneurship as their solution. Two of Peer Insight’s admired collaborators are stepping up to support them.

Adam Sohn of AARP is spearheading a job-making solution for Americans 50+. Under Adam’s direction, AARP is partnering with LinkedIn on a project called Work Reimagined. It is a unique resource that links millions of AARP members with the power and reach of LinkedIn’s network algorithms.

A second AARP program, Life Reimagined helps Americans 50+ connect to peers and mentors to help navigate their “what’s next?” moments. Featured in this community are many entrepreneurship support tools. That’s right, entrepreneurship isn’t just for twenty-somethings. Indeed, The Kaufman Foundation reports that over 21% of new business creation is by people age 55 to 64. It’s hard to say how much of this entrepreneurial activity is by choice vs. necessity. But AARP is stepping up with tools that are very Web 2.0.

Equally ambitious is a Darden School project to teach entrepreneurial skills to felons. Each day, over 1,000 ex-felons are released back to society, and they face tough job prospects. Darden professor Greg Fairchild took up this challenge by teaching a version of his MBA-level entrepreneurship course to inmates in a Virginia prison. When they are released, their next job application will include two items prospective employers may not be expecting: a felony conviction, and a certificate in entrepreneurship from UVA’s Darden School.

Maybe the Darden certificate will help that employer see their potential. And maybe some of those newly-released workers will create their own jobs using the skills they’ve learned.