Shaquille O’Neal on partnering with American Express to announce a $10 million grant program for Black-owned small businesses

American Express Shaq

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Shaquille O’Neal spoke to Business Insider in an interview tied to the announcement of a new American Express grant program for Black-owned small businesses.
In partnership with a coalition of business groups and collectives, American Express is dedicating $10 million in grants over the next four years to support Black small business owners in the US. 

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NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal partnered with American Express this week to announce a new grant program benefiting Black-owned small businesses in the US. 

In partnership with the US Black Chambers, Inc., National Business League, National Black Chamber of Commerce, and Walker’s Legacy, American Express will dedicate $10 million in grants over the next four years to Black small business owners through an initiative called the “Coalition to Back Black Businesses.”

280 Black business owners who employ between three to 20 people will each receive a $5,000 grant through the program this year. The application for the grant program has a submission deadline of September 21, and those who apply have to meet a list of eligibility criteria outlined on the program’s website.  

O’Neal spoke to Business Insider in a phone interview this week to discuss the grant program and his history of partnering with American Express for various entrepreneurial and philanthropic efforts. He also reflected on his relationships with small businesses at large and the recent NBA players’ strike, which called for action on social justice issues in the wake of the police shooting of Jacob Blake. 

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity. 

How did your partnership with this program come together?

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. 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.

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How can the program assist on the ground level for small businesses, in the economic fallout of the pandemic?

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.

How does your history of entrepreneurism inform the work you’re doing with Amex here?

I mean, Amex has helped me out a lot. Just recently, a couple of schools in my hometown needed laptops. American Express pitched in, and I pitched in, and we were able to get, I think, two or three schools outfitted with laptops so they could do the online schooling. But listen, American Express, we’ve been partnering for a long time, and they’ve supported me in all my stuff. “Shaq’s Fun House.” “Shaq’s Mama Said Knock You Out”; you …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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