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Small business grants and loans for criminals


Convicted felons, like everyone else, often want to change their lives for the better by starting a business after they’ve served their sentence. And yet, they can have more difficult times, because there is prejudice against ex-convicts.

You might be wondering: can I even start my own business? Can I benefit from grants or loans? Is it even worth it?

Let’s explore your options as an ex-convict looking to turn the page.

Can you own a business if you are convicted of a felony?

Before we talk about small business grants and loans for criminals, let’s first determine if a criminal is qualified to start a business.

The good news is that there are no laws against an ex-con who owns a business! This means that you are only limited by your own imagination when it comes to running a business.

That being said, starting a business takes money, and you might not have the kind of capital you need to make your dreams come true. Fortunately, there are options to help you secure that money.

Small business grants for criminals

Our first step on this journey to find funds for your business is an overview of small business grants. Grants provide free money that does not have to be repaid like business loans do.

Grants are offered by city and state governments, as well as by the federal government. In addition, private companies, non-profit organizations and foundations offer grants.

Each grant will target a specific audience. Some are aimed at small businesses in general, while others may target a specific type of business owner, such as a minority, a woman, or a veteran. Some are intended for companies in specific sectors. Be aware that grants are often subject to stiff competition, so you will need to carefully consider the requirements before applying and be sure to tick all of the boxes with your application.

Here are a few grants you might want to consider.

Small Business Nav Grant

Each quarter, Nav’s Small Business Grant offers up to $ 10,000 to businesses looking to take on a challenge.

FedEx Small Business Grant Competition

FedEx offers $ 25,000 in grants to businesses each year. You will need to capture your business story via video to apply.

National Association of Self-Employed (NASE) Growth Grants

NASE Growth Grants are offered to members of the National Association of Self-Employed Workers who wish to take their business to the next level. These grants are worth up to $ 4,000 and can be used for all types of activities, such as purchasing new equipment, hiring help, and creating promotional material.

Can Criminals Qualify For Federal Grants?

In addition to grants offered by private companies like the ones above, local and federal governments also offer grant programs, and your past felony conviction is not a barrier to eligibility.

You can search for federal government grants at Grants.gov. You can also check with your local government if there are other programs you are eligible for.

Can Criminals Get Small Business Loans?

If you are interested in small business loans, know that your criminal record is not necessarily a barrier to obtaining the funds you are looking for.

There is a wide variety of small business loans that you can qualify for, whether you are starting a startup or looking to start an existing business. Even if your credit rating is low, there are lenders with whom you may be eligible for loans.

Small business loans for criminals

Taking out a loan for your financial needs can ensure you have the capital you need for your business.

If you have excellent credit, you might consider a Small Business Administration loan (such as the SBA Microcredit Program). There are no eligibility restrictions on having a criminal record, and the loans have some of the lowest interest rates of all the financing options available.

Here are some ready to consider.

SBA microloans

Eligible businesses can borrow up to $ 50,000 with the SBA microcredit program. Some may require a background check of ex-convicts.

Kapitus short term loans

Kapitus has a variety of loan options, from equipment financing to income-based financing. Borrow up to $ 500,000.

Newtek long term loans

Newtek offers loan programs suitable for all types of businesses. You can borrow from $ 1,000 to $ 15 million.

Other Resources For Small Business Owners With A Crime

Beyond the resources we’ve listed above that offer small business loans and grants that former inmates may be eligible for, here are some other resources to help you start or grow your business.

From prisoners to entrepreneurs

From prisoners to entrepreneurs offers entrepreneurship programs to people with a criminal record. There are several in-person and online courses to help you decide what type of business you want and learn how to find clients.


HelpforFelons.org provides a variety of resources to give criminals a second chance, including reintegration programs and listings of grant and loan opportunities. Whether you want to start a business or go back to school, there are a variety of financial aid options, from federal student loans to small business grants.

Small Business Development Centers

Another useful resource for your business is your Small Business Development Center (SBDC). These centers provide free access to mentoring, workshops, and help creating a business plan, developing your business idea, and getting inspired to start your own business. You can also get advice on where to look for financing for a business.


Another option for raising funds for your business is crowdfunding. You create a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for your business or for a specific project or product. Anyone interested can contribute. Crowdfunding markets include Indiegogo, GoFundMe, and


How will you achieve your entrepreneurial dreams?

If you’re up for a second chance, starting your own business might be the way to go. Research your financing options carefully and choose the one that best suits your needs.

And don’t forget: anything, absolutely anything is possible!

This article was originally written on October 5, 2021.

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