By Victor Ochieng
Entrepreneurs mostly start businesses with the aim of solving a problem. Some people just sit and look at the communities where they live and come up with ideas, while others get theirs based on personal experiences. That was the case with Kristal Bush of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her business idea, however, came from a very unlikely source; her many trips to prison to visit her father.
From the time she was around six years old, Kristal made several 300 mile trips to visit her father and her other relatives in prison. This became so normal to her, especially because she also used to see some of her classmates visiting their relatives. Interestingly, Kristal is visiting prisons to date, except that she’s now doing it in a different way.
In spite of the fact that Kristal didn’t have a father, she managed to graduate from Temple University. After her graduation, she decided to pursue a career in social work. Remembering her days traveling to and from prison, she decided to start a business that helps people travel to prison to visit their relatives. She founded Bridging the Gap Transportation, a licensed and insured transportation company that provides door-to-door services at affordable rates of between $25 and $70. The company takes customers from Philadelphia city to 17 different prisons located across Pennsylvania.
Kristal’s business is more than just transportation. She understands that prisoners who are visited by family members have lower rates of recidivism and better post-release outcomes. It’s true that when a person spends time in prison and isn’t visited by friends and family, they get emotionally weighed down. That’s why the role her business is playing is quite indispensable, especially because many former prisoners find it a challenge blending back into the society.
Being a former social worker plus her experience visiting people in prison, she offers her business customers the much needed emotional support and advice. Kristal does her best to maintain a positive link between families and their relatives doing prison time.
She says, “We offer our customers a sense of hospitality during challenging times. We strongly believe by helping our customers maintain positive relationships with loved ones during incarceration that we help contribute to the reduction of recidivism while strengthening families in our communities.”
For more information about Bridging the Gap Transportation, visit www.bridgingthegapllc.org.