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Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, NBA legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson has put the focus on supporting Black-owned businesses that have been significantly impacted by the public health crisis. According to Black Enterprise, Johnson teamed up with Carver Federal Savings Bank and MBE Partners for the creation of a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) designed for minority and women-owned businesses.

Black business owners have experienced several barriers when it comes to receiving federal aid. A report compiled by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York revealed that a mere 20 percent of PPP loans went to areas that had a high concertation of Black-owned businesses. Between the months of February and April, nearly 41 percent of Black-owned businesses shuttered due to financial woes that stemmed from the pandemic. Johnson hopes to reverse the trend. His company EquiTrust Life Insurance Co., MBE Partners and Carver Federal Savings Bank have secured a total of $325 million to provide loans for women and minority-led businesses, nonprofits and religious organizations.

“When we launched the EquiTrust MBE PPP loan program in May, we anticipated funding $100 million in loans. Not only did we exceed that threshold, but we received over 21,000 applications from small businesses proving a need for the $325 million,” Johnson said in a statement, according to the news outlet. “These businesses are a vital part of our economy and essential to the economic growth necessary for recovery from the pandemic. We have a responsibility to ensure an equitable distribution of federally backed capital to minority-owned small businesses.”

There have been concerted efforts to support Black-owned businesses amid uncertain times. Through her BeyGOOD Foundation, Beyoncé teamed up with the NAACP for the creation of a grant campaign dubbed the Black-Owned Small Business Impact Fund. Through the campaign, $10,000 grants will be awarded to Black-owned businesses in Houston, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Minneapolis and New York that are on the verge of shuttering.

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