Grants For Felons To Start A Business

Last Updated on September 1, 2023 by Lori Pace

Ex-felons face unique challenges as they attempt to make a living while in prison. It’s not surprising that many in this situation are interested in starting their own business. Many felons looking for a fresh start face difficult challenges in being entrepreneurs, particularly when it comes to funding. Ex-felons may be able to turn their dreams into reality by using resources such as grants or small business funding to start their own business.

Can Felons Get Federal Grants?

The answer is yes. That is why we write this article to provide information about these grants.

So, most federal grant programs do not exclude companies that are owned by felons. However, the application process may still be intense and competitive. But in general, there is no law prohibit business owners with a criminal history from applying.

So, below are some business grants for felons.

Small Business Grants For Felons To Start With

Small Business Grants for Felons to Start With

Access to capital is crucial for small businesses. It takes a lot of work and hard work. Small business owners often rely on the cash they have in savings or from another job to fund their new ventures. However, former felons often don’t have such resources.

Small business grants from the government for ex-felons could be a solution to help you get the capital you need to start or grow your business. Grants have the greatest benefit: you don’t have to pay them back. However, you might face lots of competition when applying for grants. can be used to help small business owners, whether they are felons or not, find grant opportunities through more than 1,000 federal grant programs. You can create a Workspace account by entering your information. You can then search for grants that meet your eligibility and submit an online application.


GrantWatch, another grant database that helps ex-felons business owners (and other people) find funding opportunities, is also available. This database contains details about nearly 28,000 grant programs, as well as almost 1,200 small-business grants.

To access the entire database, subscribers will be required. A membership costs $18 per week or $199 per annum. There is an option for a free membership that will provide limited information about grants.

FedEx Grant Competition for Felons to Start A Business

Ten small businesses are eligible for grants up to $50,000 in FedEx Office print or small business services. Other recipients may also be eligible for smaller grants, up to $20,000, and other perks.

This year’s contest entry window has now closed. To prepare for the next round, you can still review eligibility requirements online. FedEx reserves the right to conduct background checks on finalists.

Small Business Grants from the State and Region for Felons

Small business grants may be available in your state, county, or city. Searching for resources at organizations like:

  • Economic development centers
  • Local churches and religious groups
  • Websites of the state, county and local governments

New Mexico, for example, offers several recovery and stimulus programs. The state’s Business Recovery Grant Program offers grants up to $100,000 to help with rent, mortgage or lease payments. Many small business grants programs are available throughout the United States.

Federal Grants for Felons to Start A Business

Federal grant funds are generally not available to anyone who has been convicted of a felony in the past. However, you won’t find many federal grant programs that can help ex-felons get another chance.

The Pell grant is a federal student aid program that can help you. A Pell Grant could be used to pay for school, trade-related training or tuition to get the certification that you need to start your business.

Loans For Felons To Start Small Business

felons get back to life?
It’s hard for ex-felons to get back to their normal lives.

A small-business loan may be an option to help you achieve your business goals. 

U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Microloans

SBA loans are an affordable way to get funding for your small company. The loans are notorious for having strict eligibility requirements and being slow and tedious. SBA Microloans could be a good option if you’re looking for small business funding. SBA-approved lenders can offer qualified borrowers loans up to $50,000.

Online Small Business Loans

You have many options for achieving your goals with online small-business loans. Online loans can offer you flexibility and lower interest rates than traditional financial institutions. Ex-felons may face difficulties in obtaining financing for their businesses. You may be able, depending on your circumstances, to get an online small-business loan that suits you.

Business Credit Cards

Former felons can also benefit from business credit cards. To be eligible for many business credit cards, one doesn’t have to have a good business credit score. Business credit cards are more flexible than business loans, and have lower revenue requirements.

However, credit card issuers will still require that your credit score and personal credit history meet minimum standards. If you don’t have the best credit, it may be necessary to raise your credit score before applying for business credit cards that require stricter credit scores.

Other Resources Besides Grants For Felons To Start Small Business

There are other programs than small business loans, credit cards and loans that can help you start your own business.

Help For Felons is an organization that helps former felons in many ways. The website offers many resources that can help you navigate life after imprisonment, including information about small business grants and loans and housing opportunities.

Inmates to Entrepreneurs

Inmates to Entrepreneurs, a non-profit organization, aims to assist ex-felons in creating a better future for their families and themselves. This organization provides many resources including free online and in-person entrepreneurship classes and an eight-week entrepreneurial series.

Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs)

The SBA offers small business loans to eligible entrepreneurs. Through its Small Business Development Centers, the SBA provides counseling and training to owners of small businesses (felons included) through its Small Business Development Centers.

Both established entrepreneurs and budding entrepreneurs can access these programs. An SBDC can offer guidance in areas like business development, accessing capital, and financial management.


Crowdfunding can be used to raise funds for your business. In some cases it can even make a difference in your life. You can share your story on platforms like Kickstarter, GoFundMe or IndieGoGo and ask for donations to help fund a new venture.

Angel Investors

An angel investor offers private financing to a startup. In exchange for financial backing, the angel investor often requires some form of compensation–perhaps equity in your business or future royalties. To attract angel investors, you will need to show that your business idea is attractive and has a high chance of success in the market.

Lori Pace
Lori Pace

Lori Pace is a single mother of three daughters ages 7 and under. As a working mom from home, she balances kids, work and two crazy dogs with humor and love. Follow Lori as she honestly gives tips and advice based on her own experiences as a single mom!