As told to The Wall Street Journal, Magic Johnson says his life insurance company, EquiTrust Life Insurance Co., will help women and minority-owned small businesses secure up to $100 million in Paycheck Protection Program loans to help them survive the COVID-19 pandemic.
This effort will be made through the Small Business Administration PPP program, and is part of a partnership with MBE Capital Partners (a New Jersey-based firm that specializes in loans to businesses owned by women and minorities), according to Forbes.
As such, the ex-Laker star/president of basketball operations will put up an investment that will reportedly help to get funds to up to 5,000 businesses.
Johnson stated that he had heard through news reports about the struggles small businesses were going through to get PPP loads, perhaps including this one about how the Lakers applied for one and then returned it to avoid bad PR.
“We knew why the money was gone and couldn’t trickle down to small businesses, especially small minority businesses, because they didn’t have those great relationships with the banks," Johnson told WSJ. “So this was easy for us to understand.”
Due to state's shuttering "non-essential businesses" in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus, small business owners have been pressed to keep their businesses afloat. In an effort to prevent mass closures, the PPP was passed by Congress as part of a trillion dollar stimulus funding package.
However, reports quickly surfaced that larger businesses, like Ruth's Chris Steak House and Shake Shack (and, again, the Lakers), were receiving loans. Resulting public anger led them to return these. Additionally, the launch was reportedly inefficient, and led to several businesses not getting funds. In late April, a new round of funding, worth $310 billion, was approved.