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Enterprise Feature: REMOTE

By Becky Darling 

REMOTE (Rein­te­gra­tion, Edu­ca­tion, Men­tor­ing, Oppor­tu­nity Through Entre­pre­neur­ship) is a social busi­ness focused on the entre­pre­neur­ial edu­ca­tion of mar­gin­al­ized pop­u­la­tions: incar­cer­ated per­sons, those tran­si­tion­ing out of prison, and per­sons tran­si­tion­ing out of home­less­ness. The pro­gram con­sists of a six-month entre­pre­neur­ial edu­ca­tion pro­gram, fol­lowed by a 2–3 month incu­ba­tor pro­gram to get busi­nesses off the ground, and finally a Micro­fi­nance insti­tu­tion to pro­vide loans to the suc­cess­ful indi­vid­u­als of the program.

Armaan Bhutani founded REMOTE in the sum­mer of 2013. Armaan is a third year busi­ness major, with con­cen­tra­tions in finance and entre­pre­neur­ship and a minor in eco­nom­ics. He first became inter­ested in Social Entre­pre­neur­ship while liv­ing in India, but didn’t nec­es­sar­ily under­stand the con­cept until com­ing to North­east­ern and tak­ing Social Entre­pre­neur­ship with Pro­fes­sor Shaugh­nessy. Armaan was par­tic­u­larly inter­ested in rein­te­gra­tion due to his stud­ies of the prison sys­tem dur­ing his debate career in high school. He dis­cov­ered that most of the orga­ni­za­tions deal­ing with this issue were focused on help­ing “trou­bled youths”, but very few thought it was per­ti­nent to work with older gen­er­a­tions. With his back­ground and expe­ri­ence in entre­pre­neur­ship, Armaan decided to use that knowl­edge to address this prob­lem.  Armaan described that, “It was obvi­ous to me that peo­ple com­ing out of prison and those who were home­less had trou­ble find­ing jobs and I fig­ured that the best way to cir­cum­vent this issue was to help indi­vid­u­als cre­ate their own jobs and in turn jobs for oth­ers like them in the community.”

With the Social Enter­prise Institute’s help, Armaan was led to Haley House where he met with Daniel Cor­don, the head of the Tran­si­tional Employ­ment Pro­gram, and the part­ner­ship began. Armaan explained that, ” Danny warned me of the issues that I might come across work­ing with this pop­u­la­tion as he spent 20 years in prison and under­stood the psy­chol­ogy behind it. After speak­ing with Danny, I adjusted some aspects of the busi­ness model and I was then intro­duced to a group of 12 peo­ple who were for­merly incar­cer­ated. I told them about REMOTE and they all seemed hope­ful, yet skep­ti­cal about the organization.”

Armaan began his first round of classes in June of 2013, and will com­plete the classes next month. Although the pro­gram started with 12 stu­dents, only 4 will be grad­u­at­ing from the class. “I feel like indi­vid­u­als in the class are now just friends of mine and are some of the nicest peo­ple I know. I have learned from the first cycle, that I need to put more empha­sis on writ­ten and ver­bal com­mu­ni­ca­tion. It is extremely impor­tant to build a rela­tion­ship with every­one in the class and make sure that they feel com­fort­able through­out the pro­gram.” Over the course of the ini­tial cycle of classes Armaan has learned a lot and hopes to apply this new knowl­edge and expe­ri­ence to his next cycle, which will begin in a few months.

When asked what advice he would give to bud­ding social entre­pre­neurs, Armaan replied, ” Don’t be afraid. Every­thing you do comes with chal­lenges and obsta­cles, but when you are able to over­come these chal­lenges, the reward is price­less. I encour­age all young entre­pre­neurs to be con­fi­dent, no mat­ter what peo­ple tell you. If you believe in some­thing, regard­less of whether it works or not, you will gain from the expe­ri­ence and per­haps stum­ble upon some­thing big­ger and bet­ter. When I first began think­ing about REMOTE, var­i­ous friends and fam­ily mem­bers seemed to be wor­ried that I would get hurt work­ing with this pop­u­la­tion. They thought that it was impos­si­ble for this pop­u­la­tion to change and that there was no point in try­ing. I decided to power through and in the process, I’ve become friends with these peo­ple and helped them while doing it. I hope that the suc­cess of REMOTE will not only solve the prob­lems of the stu­dents, but also help open the eyes of the rest of us and remove the neg­a­tive stig­mas asso­ci­ated with these mar­gin­al­ized populations.”

Learn more about REMOTE by vis­it­ing their website.