Comeback Industries

Comeback Industries: Creating jobs for former gang members through entrepreneurship

Copenhagen, DenmarkCopenhagen, Denmark
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$1 million - $5 million
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Comeback Industries (CBI) help former gang members and other marginalized and radicalized youth create meaningful jobs through entrepreneurship. Through business coaching and partial funding, we build strong businesses that in turn can help employ more young unemployed people.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if former radicalized gang members were actually very talented entrepreneurs?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Each active gang member cost society approximately € 200.000 per active year, and the biggest barrier for them to break through is employment. Denmark has ca. 1800 registered gang members, and most of them are on social benefits. Most are unemployed, uneducated and have a long and track record of crime behind them and carry a hopeless debt to society for former crimes – not counting the possible debt they might have in the criminal community.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

We work with alternative communities that empower the youth to take responsibility and assume leadership over their own life and future. CBI helps qualify and find funding for initial testing and launch of businesses. Entrepreneurship functions as a meaningful and transparent vessel for creating understanding between the world they have grown up in and the rest of society and we use this to show the relevance of social and professional competence development. CBI makes intellectual and monetary investments in entrepreneurs and takes in return a percentage ownership in the companies. The plan is to generate surplus to be able to invest in new entrepreneurs and thereby expand the community.


Join Our Core 2014, Ben & Jerry’s social innovation competition. Afsnit I, international innovation festival and competition.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

FruitDoctor (FD) started last year. FD is an exclusive juice shop that produces fresh juices, smoothies and herbal shots from select, fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs. Through the last year Jacub has been growing his business into a healthy running business that now employ one person and is searching for more to train in the juice making business. Jacub used to be a very active gang member, now he's serving fresh healthy juices and smoothies all over Copenhagen from his food truck and in "City 2" shopping mall in Taastrup. Jacub's integrity and self perception has grown at exponential rates compared to conventional efforts on this area, and his life has improved for good.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

CBI has helped start up two companies this year and intend to start up at least one more in 2016. The two companies (FruitDoctor and Comeback Cleaning) both employ one person each aside from the owners themselves. That’s 4 people in total. We are creating jobs first and foremost, but we are also creating awareness about the resourcefulness of one of the most difficult communities to work with and mapping a new and effective method of inclusion into society. We are increasingly being called upon to help diversify the conversation around radicalized youth in national media, and our target group is gathering behind us in opposition to the fear mongering political movements in parliament. We are in the early start-up phase of this project and are already seeing our entrepreneurs inspiring a lot of their friends who are now considering entrepreneurship as a way of breaking social heritage.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

CBI aim to start up two new enterprises every year in our current form and capacity. Depending on our success rate and interest from external investors we expect to grow our cooperative network by two new healthy companies every year for the next five years. We expect that each enterprise will be able to average 3 employees (4 incl. owner) within the first couple of years of business. This will result in a saving for society of € 29.440.000 (saving € 160.000/year for all employed. See file attachment).

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

We take ownership of our enterprises, and get paid if the owner sells or takes out profit from the company (average deal is 20/80 division with 20% ownership for CBI). We aim to hit an annual operating budget of € 300.000, so we need our companies to profit € 1.500.000/year. Until we reach that critical mass we will still be dependent on external support. We aim to reach this goal by 2020.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Homeboy Industries. This organisation is the inspiration for our project, but we wish to operate differently from them. We have a good relationship to Homeboys and will be visiting them soon, but their model is mainly revolving around employment, whereas we focus more on entrepreneurship.

Founding Story

Through years of working with the target group, we came upon Homeboy Industries, and thought that they were in fact realising the ideas of young gang members in LA. This, however was not true. We found that they mainly employ former members, but also teaches them about management, leadership and other things – but they did not start up companies with their clients. We know that these boys have great skills within entrepreneurship and that they perform quite well under pressure. We also knew that they are very creative and are in fact quite resourceful when it comes to creative problem solving. That combined with one of our boys having a business idea started the process of establishing CBI.


Daniel Saroori: KaosPilot and project manager. I make creative connections and help structure the organisation in a beneficial way to be able to embrace a chaotic environment. Part of the coaching team. Poul Kellberg: Former boxer and founder of Comeback Program (rehabilitation centre). Poul is the social professional who creates access to the communities where our target group lives. He is also part of the coaching team. Mette Brask: Cand. Comm. and systematic thinker. She is structuring our method and keeping our partners informed of our work.
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:

Received a mail from Ashoka that encouraged me to apply.

Please confirm your role in the initiative (eg Founder/co-Founder) and your organisational title:

Co-founder (other co-founders: Poul Kellberg and Mette Brask)

Which of the 8 UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) pre-selected for this competition does your solution relate most closely to? [select all that apply]

Decent Work and Economic Growth.

Leadership and the Unilever Awards
Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

Galore Urban Art Festival 2013-2015: Head of Festival, helped scale from 2.500 guests to 15.000 active guests within two years.
Creature 2011-2013: Established a social innovation consultancy in Copenhagen with 3 partners.

My focus is on organisational development and social innovation of this project. This is what I have always worked with through my entire carreer, and I feel confident that we can apply our already proved methodology to the world of business and entrepreneurship.

Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?

Bikuben Foundation
Merkur Bank
Den Sociale Kapitalfond
Taastrup Municipality
Ballerup Municipality
Copenhagen Municipality
Ringsted Municipality
Greve Municipality