Hope is rising up and spiritual chains are being broken in our first ever, Message Entrepreneurship Program (MEP) at Drakenstein Prison. It has been 6 months since the 27-men of our first MEP class were moved into a cell together for the program.  Since then they have grown from merely cellmates, to classmates, to brothers, to the “Future Leaders” of South Africa as they have named themselves.  The men have absorbed an incredible amount of information in a short amount of time and have developed strong leadership skills. Most importantly, they have learned their value, purpose and identity in God and their ability to be released not as offenders but as urban heroes, who will start a movement of change across South Africa. 

On July the 22nd, we held our first ever Department of Correctional Services (DCS) Pitch Day.  The challenge was for each team to pitch a concept that would not only generate revenue but further the rehabilitation process of offenders. Five teams presented a full length PowerPoint and creative pitch before the DCS panel of judges. The nerves were high as it was the first time for most of the men to speak publicly. The DCS panel of judges gave the men confidence in their abilities while at the same time offering firm feedback to help strengthen their ideas. The men gained invaluable experience responding to challenging questions and learning to think on their toes. Most importantly, they learned how to think creatively and work together in a team. 

Cheers erupted as the top winners were announced. For most, it was a confidence-builder to be able to speak publicly as well as learn how to present an idea before potential investors. We are excited to see some of their ideas implemented that will reduce gangsterism amongst youth and contribute to a safer South Africa.  We invite you to attend our Business Model Competition on September 26th and meet the MEP Future Leaders yourself. 

If you would like to come and visit MEP or learn more about our work in prisons please contact info@message.org.za

Report written by Jennifer Belcher: MEP Development Officer