It is natural for an ex-felon to want to start his own business. Many companies require background checks and may not want to have someone with a criminal record working for them. However, by starting his own business, an ex-felon finds himself in a position to earn a living unstigmatized and possibly even build his business to a point where he might be able to hire other ex-felons, giving them a chance to reintegrate into society.

Start Small

When an ex-felon gets a grant to start a business, the grant money typically is not going to be large enough to hire several people immediately. The start-up grant money usually assists the new business owner in getting the business off the ground but does not go further than that. An ex-felon looking to find the money necessary to start his own business might try IdeaCafe, which offers $1,000 in grant money and $1,500 in publicity to the applicant providing the most innovative business idea. This grant is open to any and all applicants, including ex-felons.


There is a Prison Entrepreneurship Program inmates can sign up for even while still incarcerated. The program connects inmates with business leaders who mentor the prisoners into effective ways to operate a business. These leaders give advice on day-to-day programs and solutions the prisoners might face when starting their own businesses. The success rate of the PEP program is seen in having a recidivism rate of less than 10 percent. This means fewer than 10 out of 100 prisoners go back to prison after going through the PEP program.


One of the grants providing help for ex-felons looking to start a business is the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program. This program gives grant money to nonprofit organizations dedicated to helping rural microentrepreneurs succeed. While the grant money is not given directly to an ex-felon, it is provided to agencies helping rural applicants, including ex-felons, looking to start their own businesses.

Angel Investors

Ex-felons can go outside the box for seed money and contact various "angel investors." Angel investors are private investors using private money in order to help out new businesses. In return for providing grant money for the start-up company, angel investors receive either a portion of eventual profits or shares of stock in the company. In addition, some angel investors receive grant money from different states, such as Missouri, providing additional incentives to invest their private funds.