Many ex-offenders believe they are marginalized and shut out from real opportunities and this is 100% not true. In fact, ex-convicts do not face the same kind of felony disenfranchisement they used to a result of paradigm shifts to urban economics and information services. In some ways, ex-offenders have a level playing field with college-degreed cornballs and in most cases an advantage to seize opportunities in urban renewal efforts and make big plays. In this article, we are talking to the brothas and sistas who feel they are marginalized and disenfranchised and help show them the opportunities and strategies they can pursue to do for self, their people but most important, make right back to the hood and people they did wrong. The first thing an ex-offender has to face up to is not the parole board and parole officer stuff or the court-ordered stuff but all ex-offenders have to look inside themselves and face the fact they did their people wrong and the community wrong. Ex-offenders hurt black families, hurt black communities, hurt black economics all over some stupid stuff or chump change money – there is no money worth the price of harming the black community and culture. So ex-offenders need to have the genuine effort inside themselves to make right by their people and their community if they want to rise above marginalization and disenfranchisement. The government can forgive an ex-felon but the black community should never forgive them – it is that ex-offender job to make right for things they done against their people and community. With that said, let’s talk about how former felons can create a new direction and path for self in the 21st century and make right by their people and community. Understanding the Opportunity In the 21st century there has been a paradigm shift that reset how to get the money up. The old days, we were taught to go to school and get a good job and stay out of trouble. This is all an individualistic American hero approach to living the American Dream. You also saw the African-American community adopted this nonsense and garbage like Black Enterprise magazine pushed this propaganda down to the black community and American black folks bought that Earl Graves BS all up talking about some Top 100 black folks elitist list like the cosmopolitan clowns they are. Meanwhile in other places in the world in emerging nations, there are no silly ass Top 100 list, there are just 100 cats who decided to get together and take jobs and take money and they worked collectively as a crew to make the end justify the means. They setup outsourcing, they found cheaper ways to get something done, they divided up the task and they taught each other how to do the work so they can work non-stop 24/7 to produce results. I’m talking China and how cats made it easier for Wal-Mart and Apple to have products made 24/7 a day living in housing similar to a prison/halfway house while workers here in America with degrees just want to work 8 hours and look at their individual performance review. We now live in sharing economy and renewal economy paradigm and this is the opportunity that make it easier now for ex-felons to put in the same kind of work as any American and work towards making that money and getting a business operation up that help others and provide a product or service. So let’s talk about the two types of paradigms for cats to look at: Sharing Economy. This is renting goods and services so for example, instead of buying accounting software, you pay monthly to use a web site that offer accounting service. Instead of buying a car, you rent a car from a car-sharing service to do a grocery run or you get Uber to take you somewhere. You leverage the sharing economy in the hood to offer services for cats. Those rip-off furniture and TV rental places is the worst example but you create services that does not rip off cats but is designed for everybody to share resources instead of buying up materialistic things. They can rent a suit for court, they can rent space to start a business or host family, a lot of things can now become rentable that blacks folks used to be stupid enough to pay full price for and it just sit around depreciating. Renewal Economy. This is recycling goods and services for repurpose. For example, take an Oldsmobile and put 24 inch rims and a new undercarriage underneath it is renewal and cats always done this in the hood. Now take it further, let’s say you sell used 2-year old tablets at a cheap price – what you do is now offer them trade-in two years later for another 2-year old tablet. While cats laugh at this, your customers got tablets that are extremely cheaper and just 2 years old and none of yall have to pay full price for new tablets to do your work – that is the concept of renewal economics. But most important is repurpose – this is taking an empty lot and transforming it into a productive space for that urban community like a dog park. By understanding these two types of economic models, ex-felons can leverage opportunities in African-American and Hispanic urban communities and create new types of business. For example and we talked about it, instead of pawn shops that are actually obsolete business models, a person can rent out unused items and we wrote an article on how to do this called a Personal Service System in this blog several times covering this topic. Cats don’t need to have degrees or featured in some uppity garbage like Black Enterprise magazine – all they need is an urban environment full of cats who see the benefits of sharing and renewal economic models. Strategic Approach The first thing an ex-felon want to do is look up and get a list of business they can and cannot get into. This can be researched on the Internet and for example, an ex-felon cannot launch an accounting firm or have a license to be a CPA for example. Just get a list together and work with other felons to get a list of what kind of business can be done and not done and narrow down the options to what career cats can just get good at. The second thing is be honest – let cats know you are a former convicted felon and you are trying to make right. Own up to what you did, explain that you know what you did harmed people around you and this is not parole board crap, this is you being honest and owning up. You don’t have to say what you did, but be open and let cats know you are making right by your people and community for the remainder of your life to atone for what you got caught up in. Honesty and truth and open disclosure is always the best policy. Don’t give other cats the opportunity to tear you down on their terms trying to reveal you did dirt – always own up to things you done in your life. The most important thing you have to do is make sure everything is right and also realize your advantages. You need to work with cats and collective resources and don’t try to start on your own. I get tired of morons in the black community acting like they got patent-secrets or copyright original works when they got lame stuff at best. The business reality is you do not need to be “original” and just need to offer a benefit to a customer and be effective at it and profitable – that is it. So tell other cats what you are trying to do and work with cats who have expertise and learn the ropes and just get it done so you don’t get caught up missing paperwork or other stuff doing it your own way. What is a good strategy for former felons is to target the micro-industrial movement in urban communities. Micro-Manufacturing Micro-manufacturing is the ability for a one-person or two-person operation to create and sell products. Most of you guys are doing handmade soap for example and that is a good example. But one thing I want cats to think about is gathering a list of micro-manufacturing opportunities for ex-felons and sharing that list. I would break that list down to consumer products and commercial products. Consumer products are the things I mention like hand soap but here is another strategy – straight bling out and upgrade things. The same way cats used to customize cars putting rag tops on them and paint white walls on tires and lower the suspension or redo the upholstery, cats can do the same kind of upgrade work on mobile phone cases, tablet cases and other products and everyday items. Upgrading means capturing the 3D specs and create after-market parts that can be made out of nice wood grain or brushed steel or use gems – they used to do this with those “pimp cups” if you cats remember back in the day. Commercial products is the real opportunity though – this is creating things like canopies, carts to sell food and products as a vendor, tablet holders to make stationary to process payments and lounge furniture that works for hotel spaces and hospitality spaces and clubs and stuff like that. Those are big opportunities and ex-felons with woodworks skills can definitely get to work and make original products. Micro-Engineering Opportunities Micro-engineering is the development and redeveloping spaces and processes. For example, taking an empty lot in the hood filled with used condoms and needles and broken bottles and cleaning it up and turn it into a place for cats in the hood to sell fruits and other stuff from a vendor cart to make money on the side. Engineering processes such as growing a fish farm or a vegetable farm and food engineering such as making BBQ or mild sauce and selling it. BTW, Dr. Claud Anderson is selling fish farming knowing he cannot compete with Costa Rica and China on production while actual black folks are making money selling BBQ sauce like Sweet Baby Rays that can be distributed everywhere and longer shelf life than dead fish meat – use your common sense and don’t follow other cats hustle blindly. So that means services like canning fruits and vegetables and sell it locally during the winter. Creating a parking lot in the hood so cats can host a bike show or car show during the summer or rent it as a staging ground for urban running clubs to exercise and warmup – let’s explore that concept. What I stated was take an empty lot on a busy street and just make it a place for various running clubs in the hood to meet there and do stretching and warming up exercises. Vendors can sell water, fruits and other stuff to support the runners and even USB power banks. Not just running but old cats who want to walk that lot is a staging point. You being an ex-con took space in your hood and using renewal economics, just repurposed an empty lot in the hood to promote urban wellness, active lifestyle and get money at the same damn time. Making Right In 2015, it is all of our responsibility to make right and make better the hood we came from. It does not matter if you are a degreed professional or an ex-convict, all of us have the power and capability in the sharing and circular economy to create betterment for ourselves and our people. There should be no more ignorant Root Top 100 or Black Enterprise 100 but instead, just 100 brothas and sistas working together regardless of background doing for ourselves, our people, our community and our future. The world is yours by first recognizing the hood is yours – you can create a lot of solutions and new business operations happen in your own hood creating jobs and making people lives better in your own hood. The black and Hispanic community are an urban cluster and very unique in America and is the only neighborhood model on par with the rest of the world growing economies through urbanization. These suburban Wal-Mart Home Depot SUV driving bigoted and sellout folks want to undermine you cats in the hood because they ran away but want to come back into your hood and take over the advantages you hood cats got in your urban communities. Don’t let them back in and you go and get yours. Let’s stop letting others tell us we are disenfranchised and marginalized and stop listening to these sissy non-hood black identity opportunist cornballs talk like a bunch of whiny cats. Instead, recognize that we urban cats are hustlers and go-getters that play the cards dealt to us and make things work in spite of adversity. I rather our people look at all of the exciting things going on in the global economy due to urbanization worldwide and let’s adopt the things that work and apply it to our hoods. It does not matter if you are on paper, what matters is you being able to deliver a solution that provide a benefit and it does not cost a lot of money to make it happen nowadays.