(Daily Beast) Defy Ventures brings the gospel of entrepreneurship to an unlikely place: prisons.
The nonprofit company founded by Catherine Hoke says it is dedicated to helping formerly incarcerated people start their own businesses and stay out of prison. “Transform the hustle,” the company’s tagline encourages.
Defy has received grants from Google and the conservative Koch brothers. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg wrote a foreword to Hoke’s new memoir. Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara called Hoke’s work “incredibly inspiring” on his podcast. Hoke’s project even has White House interest: She had a call with Jared Kushner’s office in January to discuss a visit about prison reform.
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But while Defy woos Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C., scandal has rocked the company’s leadership. Last month, Defy fired its president after he blew the whistle on allegations of sexual harassment by Hoke and fraudulent statistics exaggerating the program’s successes.