Business start-up grants are one of the most frequently researched topics in search engines.
There are very few programs, whether funded by the government or by private foundations, that offer working capital to start a for-profit business.
Business start-up grants, if they are available in any form, are most likely to be available to minority and woman-owned businesses, and are often part of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s SBIC program.. These small business grants are not so much “free-money” grants as they are assistance in obtaining access to training and low-lost loans. They may be free to apply to, but the money will need to be paid back. In fact, the first sentence on the SBA’s website clearly states that the SBA does not make grants.
There is some business start-up grant funding available through the Indian Grant program, administered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, but the match is capped at 25% of the cost of starting the business, and there are many restrictions. These grants allow for-profit business development, but it must be for the economic benefit of the entire Indian Reservation.
One other source is the Minority Business Development Agency. The website is
http://www.mbda.gov/, and there are offices in several states. As the title indicates, there is a targeted population that can access funds through this avenue.
Very occasionally regional or local foundations may offer small grants, typically under conditions that require some matching funds. These are usually extremely localized in the area where the foundation is located.
For the general public, the short answer to “Can I get free money from a grant to start a business” is “No”. The prevailing thinking is that while you may have excellent, marketable skills or a great product, public money, whether it is collected as taxes or as donations, requires that the person or organization receiving the funds have accountability and a track record of business management experience. This pretty much precludes agencies from investing in business start-up grants.