Entrepreneur program to offer training, microloans to 50 ex-inmates in Detroit

The federal agency tasked with helping small-business owners opted last year to make it easier for convicted felons to take part in its microloan lending program, a rule change that will open new options for former prisoners previously excluded from such financing.

That decision by the U.S. Small Business Administration in 2015 laid the groundwork for a new pilot project that will roll out in Detroit in coming months. Roughly 50 ex-offenders in the city will be eligible to receive up to $50,000 in microloans through the agency and entrepreneurship training designed to help them start and grow a business.

Called the Aspire Entrepreneurship Initiative, the $2.1 million program is the latest in a series of efforts to help connect convicted felons with employment opportunities.