Former NBA star Shaquille O'Neal and American Express have announced a $10 million grant program that aims toward benefiting Black-owned small businesses in the United States.
American Express, in partnership with the US Black Chambers, Inc., National Business League, National Black Chamber of Commerce, and Walker's Legacy, have agreed to dedicate $10 million in grants over the next four years to Black-owned small businesses through an initiative called the "Coalition to Back Black Businesses."
"I've been with American Express almost seven, eight years now. Small businesses need our support more than ever now, and Black business owners have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic," O'Neal said to Business Insider. "American Express asked me to do this, and of course I'm proud to partner with American Express as they're launching a first-ever "Coalition to Back Black Businesses" grant program. They're giving $10 million over four years to small businesses, and I think it's a great program."
The program will deliver $5,000 grants, in 2020, to at least 280 Black-owned small businesses.
"It helps owners with funding, and we also got a mentorship program to help them grow their businesses and recover from the effects. We're not only giving money but also guiding them and helping them with what they need to get to the next level," O'Neal said.
O'Neal went on to discussed his love for small businesses, especially the ones in the small town he lives in. He currently resides in McDonough, Georgia, which is a city around the southern part of the metro Atlanta area.
"And the businesses are so good to me and so beautiful out here, the only time I go to Atlanta is when I have to go to work," O'Neal said. "But they were struggling for a while. I probably kept them open personally, but you know, these places are struggling."
Black-owned small businesses that wish to apply for the grant program have until September 21 to submit their applications, which can be found on WeBackBlackBusinesses.com.