Former inmate Malik Wade launched a successful business called Malik Wade Ventures LLC, an umbrella company that houses a publishing and consulting business.
Wade, a 46-year-old author and mentor, is one of the success stories, according to a Black Enterprise article.
Wade is a San Francisco native who started selling crack during his teenage years.
“I started selling drugs at 15, and by the time I graduated from high school, I was already being investigated by the FBI,” Wade said. “At the age of 21, I was actually indicted by the FBI, and they were seeking a life sentence, so I fled the country…and I remained a fugitive for the next several years.”
Wade was placed on the FBI’s most wanted list for his role in narcotics distribution in San Francisco.
Arrested at age 29 and facing a life sentence, Wade pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine and gun possession. He received a 14-year sentence in federal prison.
“When I went off to prison, I completely shifted my paradigm,” Wade said. “I started to change my thought process. I started to educate myself.”
He said he spent 10 to 12 hours a day studying.
Wade’s transformation from drug dealer to legitimate entrepreneur came from his spiritual introspection and the mentoring he received from other men in prison, according to the article.
“If a young person committed a heinous crime at the age of 14 or 15 and they spend the last 25 to 30 years in prison, they’re not the same person,” he said. “A person can redeem themself. A person can transform themself.”
Regarding his own transformation, Wade said, “There were a lot of different challenges because I never had a job before, so I had to teach myself a lot of things.”
He realized he had learned some lessons as an entrepreneur on the streets. “In the drug game, I learned how to do a SWOT analysis, which is to analyze your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.”
Now a successful businessman, he has started a nonprofit that helps at-risk youth. In the past few years, he has taken 15 young men on an all-expenses paid college tour and chaperoned young inner-city students on a trip to Ghana in Africa.
Wade has guest-lectured at U.C. Berkeley’s African American Studies and Criminal Justice departments. He also attended Stanford Law School’s Project ReMADE program, a training program that gives the formerly incarcerated the tools to become successful business owners.
Recently he documented his life story in a memoir titled Pressure: From FBI Fugitive to Freedom.
“When I got out, I knew that I wanted to make a difference in my community,” Wade said.