Daymond John to pick Black entrepreneurs for $25,000 grants: 'We need to be building businesses, not burning them'

Daymond John, founder of apparel line FUBU and investor on ABC's "Shark Tank," announced on Tuesday his launch of Black Entrepreneurs Day, a virtual event to support Black-owned businesses, on Oct. 24.

John has invested much of his time helping Black-owned businesses, which have been hit the hardest amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Only 4.3% of America's business owners are Black, according to a February report from the Brookings Institute.

Black business-owners launch with about "a third less capital than their White peers and have difficulties raising private investments from mainstream investment systems," reported Brookings. While 7% of white business owners get a loan in their first year of business, only 1% of Black business owners do so.

"We need to be building businesses, not burning them," John tells CNBC Make It. "And I am going to tell anyone who will listen that."

As part of the event, John will help in picking seven Black entrepreneurs, each of whom will receive a $25,000 grant funded by the event's partners: Chase for Business, The General Insurance, Pepsi, Cisco Webex, Quickbooks, Robinhood and Yappa.  

In total, $175,000 will be given to Black-owned businesses.

The grants, called the "NAACP Powershift Entrepreneur Grant," will be administered through the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Applications are now open until Oct. 12 on the Black Entrepreneurs Day website.

The types of businesses encouraged to apply include food and beverage, technology, finance, beauty and wellness and retail.

"We are looking for people who need these grants," John said. "Entrepreneurs who are as passionate about their business as I was when I started."

John himself has achieved mega-success in business, but the road wasn't easy. At 23, he started FUBU with only $40 — selling his hats on the street-corners of Queens, New York. He paid the bills by working at Red Lobster as a waiter on the side. Ultimately, John grew his brand into a fashion empire worth $6 billion.

In addition to receiving the grant, winners will get mentorship from John and $1,000 in Facebook ad credits.

Along with John, celebrity entrepreneurs Shaquille O'Neal, Gabrielle Union, Jamie Foxx, Robert Johnson, LL Cool J, Arlan Hamilton, Brian Lamb and Elicia Azali will speak at the event to share their stories, which will be "the biggest value of the event," John says. 

"It is going to give our audience a first hand reminder that none of us were knighted in finding success. We found it through failures, struggles, missteps and a passion to learn from those mistakes."

"We created this event because we all want to do more. When we reached into our rolodexes to find out who could be involved, we wanted to make sure it extended beyond relationships," John said.

Although "writing a check is great," being able to associate with a cause and make a difference "carries an equal amount of weight," he said. "And that's what we wanted. We wanted our partners to stand up and say, 'If you are doing something like this, you are doing it with us.'"

Disclosure: CNBC owns the exclusive off-network cable rights to "Shark Tank."

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