Shaq and AMEX Team Up to Launch $10 Million Grant for Small Black Businesses

Black businesses could score big time by gaining $10 million in grants from a fresh program financed by credit card giant American Express and supported by former NBA player Shaquille O’Neal.

A mega-successful entrepreneur himself, O’Neal, and American Express are teaming up on “Coalition to Back Black Businesses.” It is geared to help Black-owned small businesses recover and grow after COVID-19.

Some 280 Black business owners with three to 20 people employees that are eligible will each get a $5,000 grant from the program. Applications for the grants must be submitted by  Sept. 21. Applicants must meet eligibility requirements outlined here as well.

In an interview with Business Insider this week, O’Neal talked about the program and his history of partnering with American Express on entrepreneurial and philanthropic efforts.

“They’re giving $10 million over four years to small businesses, and I think it’s a great program,” O’Neal stated. “We’re not only giving money but also guiding them and helping them with what they need to get to the next level.”

The program was announced in June by American Express. It is a first-of-its-kind collaboration between four major Black chambers: the National Black Chamber of Commerce, the National Business League, the U.S. Black Chambers Inc., and Walker’s Legacy, according to a news release. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation is among the collaborators.

Details of how Black small businesses can pursue the grants as well as the extensive eligibility guidelines were not detailed initially.

‘”Small businesses play a crucial role in our communities, and when the pandemic hit, Black-owned small businesses were hit the hardest,” stated Anré Williams, Group President, Global Merchant & Network Services, American Express. “The Coalition is aimed to provide eligible Black-owned small businesses with much-needed capital to help recover from the devastating impacts of the pandemic and help them rebuild their businesses.”

Minority-owned small firms are more likely to report trying and failing to secure a loan to help survive the economic turmoil (13% vs. 8% of non-minority businesses) and, most recently, 66% of minority-owned small businesses reported concerns about having to permanently close their business, research from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and MetLife reveals.