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Starting a Nonprofit Business If you have a passion for a cause, starting a nonprofit could be for you.

By Carol Tice Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Catherine Rohr was a 27-year-old UC Berkeley graduate with a thriving career in venture capital when, at a reception in 2004, she heard an ex-convict speak about the successful construction business he started after leaving prison.

For Rohr, it was a life-changing moment. She realized former drug dealers and gang leaders had entrepreneurial skills: They knew how to manage people, make a profit and handle competition. Using her finance-world connections, she could recruit CEOs to teach ex-convicts to use those skills to start legitimate businesses.

That same year, Rohr started Prison Entrepreneurship Program, and today, it has a $700,000 budget funded primarily with donations from CEOs and foundations. Nearly 100 percent of the 250 convicts that have participated in PEP are employed on release. Less than 5 percent of participants have returned to prison.

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