Magic Johnson Says EquiTrust Loaning $100M to Minority, Women Business Owners

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorMay 20, 2020

FILE - In this April 9, 2019, file photo, Magic Johnson speaks to reporters prior to an NBA basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Portland Trail Blazer in Los Angeles. Johnson might actually miss the Lakers if he was not always checking up on them. Johnson quit as the team's president of basketball operations at the end of the last season, leaving him out of a gym, but not out of the loop, as Los Angeles opened training camp. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer and entrepreneur Magic Johnson announced that EquiTrust Life Insurance Co., of which his Magic Johnson Enterprises owns a controlling interest, will partner with MBE Capital Partners to loan $100 million through the Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program, per Amara Omeokwe of the Wall Street Journal.

Omeokwe further reported that MBE Capital Partners specializes in lending money to minority- and women-owned companies.

Per CNN's Harmeet Kaur, the loans are specifically directed toward minority- and women-owned companies that have been most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"These are incredible businesses, small businesses, that have been the pillar of our community that also employ a lot of black and brown people in our community," Johnson said during an appearance on MSNBC.

"... We wanted to make sure that minority-owned businesses got small business loans through the PPP program."

MBE Capital Partners CEO Rafael Martinez said on the MSNBC segment that the goal is to help 100,000 businesses.

Johnson has made numerous contributions in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in addition to his work with MBE Capital Partners.

The five-time NBA champion took part in the All In Challenge, which has raised over $44.7 million for COVID-19 relief through auctions and sweepstakes.

The Olympic gold medalist is one of 401 celebrities and athletes who have participated, and a package that included a game of HORSE and a day spent with the ex-Los Angeles Laker sold for $220,000.

Johnson has also been vocal about the disparities among racial and ethnic groups in response to COVID-19, speaking with CNN on the topic on April 10 while also calling for increased testing:

"The problem is people want us to drive to suburban America to get that test. Why can't you have that testing done right in urban America, right in the inner cities?"

He added:

"When you think about, first of all African Americans, we deal with a lot of health issues already. So we talk about HIV and AIDS, but obesity, when you think about diabetes, high blood pressure, so all these things we already deal with, then you add coronavirus on top of that, that's a tough situation. And then the lack of access to health care, that's just an unbeatable situation."

Johnson, who is HIV positive, further made the case for increased testing by noting that an early detection "saved my life."

"The reason why I'm still living is because (of) early detection. I had a test, I had a physical. It came up that I had HIV and that saved my life. So people want to get tested. Until they get tested, people won't be comfortable because that's going to tell them whether they have this virus or not."

The ex-Lakers president of basketball operations also gave a public service announcement in mid-March, imploring people to take the proper precautions in light of the pandemic.