Here are a few small business grants, loans, and resources available for felons

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According to The Sentencing Project, up to 100 million Americans (one in every three) have a criminal record. Because most employers conduct background checks as part of the hiring process, many of these individuals, particularly those with felony convictions, have difficulty finding work.

Over 60% of those who have previously served time in prison are unemployed for at least a year after release. Those who can find work earn about 40% less than the rest of the population. The stats become even more alarming when you consider that over half of those in state and federal prisons had little children.

When earning a living after jail, ex-felons confront unique hurdles. It’s no surprise that many people in this situation are interested in launching a business. According to the Rand Corporation, over 3.8 percent of small business owners in the United States have criminal convictions, with 1.5 percent having a felony record. These percentages represent more than one million small business owners.

Unfortunately, many convicts seeking a second chance confront unique hurdles as entrepreneurs, particularly when obtaining capital. However, there are resources available, including grants and small company funding, to assist ex-felons in realizing their entrepreneurial dreams.

Felons-Friendly Small Business Resources

Other options can help you start a business as an ex-felon, different from small business grants, loans, and credit cards.

Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) 

Through its Small Business Development Centers, the SBA provides training and counseling to small business owners, including convicts, and its small business financing programs (SBDCs).

You can look for an SBDC in your area by searching online. Existing small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs can both benefit from these programs. Business development, access to business finance, and financial management are all areas where an SBDC may help.

From Prisoners to Entrepreneurs

Inmates to Entrepreneurs is a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting ex-felons to regain control of their lives and their families. The group provides various services, such as free entrepreneurship classes (both in-person and online) and an eight-week entrepreneurship series.

Angel Investors

An angel investor is a person who invests in a business starting on a confidential basis. 

Angel investors frequently demand compensation in exchange for their financial support, such as shares in your company or future royalties. To attract such investors to your project, you’ll often need to show that you have a compelling company idea with a good chance of financial success (or market disruption).

There are also nonprofit angel investors who have a variety of goals. For example, Rising Tide Capital aims to help individuals and communities improve their lives through entrepreneurship.


Crowdfunding is an internet tool that you may use to raise funds for your business, and it can be life-changing in some circumstances. Platforms like Kickstarter, GoFundMe, and IndieGoGo allow you to share your story with others while also soliciting money to help support a new business venture. 

Help for Felons is a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting ex-felons in several ways. 

Many tools on the website can help you negotiate life after jail, from finding housing and job opportunities to offering information on small business grants and loans.

Felons-Friendly Small Business Loans

A small business loan and small business grants for criminals may be able to assist you in achieving your business objectives. Consider the following three possibilities:

Credit Cards for Businesses

For some ex-felons, business credit cards might be a valuable source of cash. To qualify for many company credit cards, you don’t need to have a business credit score. Compared to business loans and other small business financing options, revenue requirements for business credit cards are much more lenient.

Your personal credit history and credit score, on the other hand, must still meet the credit card issuer’s minimum requirements. If your credit isn’t in great shape, you may need to work on improving it before applying for business credit cards that have higher credit score requirements.

Small Business Loans Online

Online small business loans can give you various solutions to assist you in achieving your objectives. And while some internet loans may not have the lowest interest rates or the most favorable loan terms, they frequently provide flexibility that you won’t get with other funding options such as traditional financial institutions.

As a convicted criminal, you may confront challenges that make it challenging to obtain company funding. However, depending on your circumstances, you may be able to locate a suitable online small business loan, such as: 

  • Bad credit business loans
  • Business loans with no collateral
  • Startup business loans.

Microloans from the Small Business Administration (SBA) 

SBA loans can be a cost-effective option to fund your small business. On the other hand, the loans have a reputation for having stringent eligibility conditions and being laborious and time-consuming.

SBA Microloans may be one of your greatest options if you’re looking for this form of small business funding. Through SBA-approved lenders, the program provides qualified borrowers with loans of up to $50,000. The SBA does not reveal any qualifying limits relating to felony records with SBA Microloans. However, you should be prepared to provide collateral and a personal guarantee.

Small Business Grants for Felons

A lot of effort goes into starting a small business and having access to finance can help a lot. 

To help fund new business starts, many small business entrepreneurs rely on funds from personal savings or income from another work. On the other hand, former offenders are frequently denied access to such programs.

Small business grants are one option that could help you get the funding you need to establish or expand your company. The most significant advantage of grants is that you are not required to repay them. However, you may face stiff competition during the application process because of this advantage.

Small Business Grants Contest from FedEx

Ten small firms will win prizes of up to $50,000 and $4,000 in FedEx Office print and small business services as part of the FedEx Small Business Grant Contest. Other winners may be eligible for smaller company awards (up to $20,000) and other benefits.

This year’s competition entry period has ended. However, to prepare for the next round of grant applications, you can study eligibility conditions online. Finalists may be subjected to a background check by FedEx.


Another grant database that can assist ex-felon business owners (and others) in their search for funding is GrantWatch. Approximately 28,000 grant programs, including nearly 1,200 small company grants, are included.

To view the entire database, you must subscribe to the service. The cost of membership ranges from $18 per week to $199 per year. However, there is a free membership option that will offer you limited information about specific grants.

Small Business Grants from States and Regions

Small business subsidies may be offered to entrepreneurs in your state, county, or city of residence. By searching for resources through organizations such as: 

  • Local churches or religious organizations 
  • Economic development centers 
  • State, county, and city government websites, you may be able to find grant programs explicitly designed for ex-felons (or at least those that do not exclude people with felony records). New Mexico, for example, offers a variety of stimulus and recovery initiatives to its inhabitants. The state’s Business Recovery Grant Program offers up to $100,000 in grant funds to help people pay their rent, lease, or mortgage. Many small business award programs are offered in various locations across the United States. is a website that can assist small business owners, whether they are felons or not, in finding grant opportunities from over 1,000 government grant programs. To begin, create a Workspace account using your information. You can next look for grants that fit your qualifications and apply online.

Small Business Grants from the Federal Government

You will not be disqualified from receiving federal grant monies if you have previously been convicted of a crime. 

However, there aren’t many federal grant programs that help former offenders earn a second shot.

If you’re looking for federal business grants, start your search at 

Remember that you may be eligible for other types of government grant financing in addition to small business awards.

The Pell Grant, for example, is a need-based federal student aid program that may be of assistance to you. 

You might utilize a Pell Grant to help pay for standard college coursework or trade-related training that will help you get the certification you need to establish your own business.