Daymond John attends the 2023 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted By Radhika Jones at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, California, on March 12, 2023.
Leon Bennett | Filmmagic | Getty Images
“Shark Tank” star Daymond John is looking to give Black business owners a boost for the fourth year running.
The FUBU CEO’s Black Entrepreneurs Day, billed as a celebration of Black business, will return Nov. 1. The event will feature a lineup of celebrity guests such as Whoopi Goldberg and Shaquille O’Neal and insights from top Black business leaders.
Eight winners of a $25,000 entrepreneurship grant will also get the opportunity to appear alongside John during the event. The event will take place at the Apollo Theater in Manhattan and will also be broadcast online via livestream.
This year marks the fourth year of the event, which was first created in part to address “frustration over injustice” after the murder of George Floyd in 2020. Black Entrepreneurs Day was launched later that year to “celebrate” Black business owners amid a focus on systemic racism and economic inequities.
“I remember when Rodney King happened,” John told CNBC. “I did not go and burn businesses — I built one.”
Early support wanes
As the event enters its fourth year, enthusiasm among corporate sponsors has not matched what it was in 2020, when it launched on the heels of the Covid-19 pandemic and widespread Black Lives Matter protests pushing for racial equity.
“It was very easy [to get corporations on board] the first year,” John said. “I said, ‘Will you stand by me and say that you are on the right side of this discussion?'”
Many of the companies standing behind Black Entrepreneurs Day have launched initiatives to support the Black community. Chase allocated $30 billion as part of a racial equity commitment in 2020, which has since been used to deploy 15,000 small business loans, among other initiatives.
John said companies need to show continued support for Black businesses beyond a one-time commitment.
“If you don’t have people in your organization that look like the ones you are serving, then you’re going to chase what’s shinier every day,” John said. “You may think that the systemic issues were solved” by the donation you gave.
John lauded brands including Chase, T-Mobile, The General Insurance and Shopify, which he said have stayed on the “right side” of the issue. He said the companies don’t just hand over money, but also go the extra mile to invest in the Black community.
This year, Black Entrepreneurs Day will feature a star-studded guest list including Goldberg, O’Neal, Cedric the Entertainer, Anthony Anderson and Rick Ross, to discuss their journey as Black entertainers and entrepreneurs.
“People want to know what they did at their lowest point and how they got out of circumstances that many of us have been in or are currently in,” John said.
Grants up for grabs
Black Entrepreneurs Day will partner with the NAACP to give eight entrepreneurs $25,000 issued through the NAACP Powershift Entrepreneur Grant. Business owners who apply and win one of the eight grants will be able to get mentorship from John and join him during the event broadcast.
The grant gets tens of thousands of applications, even outpacing the entries submitted to “Shark Tank,” a globally recognized show, John told CNBC.
The Shopify Pitch Competition will return to this year’s Black Entrepreneurs Day. Current Shopify merchants will have the chance to pitch to three judges live during the broadcast. Winners will be awarded $25,000 and mentorship from John.
Black-owned businesses were hit especially hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, and when federal assistance became available, Black business owners saw less of that money than their white counterparts.
“When the money was issued throughout Covid, a lot of Black farmers and African American businesses got a very small percentage of it and it took them much longer to get it,” John said.
Paycheck Protection Program loans largely failed to reach areas with the highest concentrations of Black-owned businesses, CNBC reported in 2020.
Several businesses have flourished with the money and mentorship provided by the grant, John said, and some business owners are now able to keep their businesses open due in part to the grant funds.
Programming note: John will appear on CNBC’s “Mad Money” at 6 p.m. ET on Tuesday.