‘Beyond Bars’ initiative gives ex-cons a chance to start over

The bar industry is known for attracting unconventional souls, those who reject the formal white-collar world in favor of an atmosphere that’s more sociable. Forgiving, even.

Stephanie Simbo – a French entrepreneur and former bartender living in Cape Town, South Africa – knew this, and decided that bars might offer the perfect working environment for former inmates looking for a new start. She liked the idea so much that she started Beyond Bars Akademia, a non-profit that aims to facilitate the placement of ex-convicts within the South African bar industry.

The concept

“South Africa is suffering from an endemic of unemployment among the young. That’s one of the main reasons for the high rate of crime and recidivism,” Simbo says. “Female former inmates are the segment of the population most affected by poverty. So, as part of our program called Beyond Bars Project, we will offer the chance for 10 women [per year] to be enrolled as apprentices, and subsequently be granted job placements.”

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