Daymond John Launching Black Entrepreneurs Day, Providing $25K Grant to Select Business Owners
Daymond John is continuing to pay it forward.
The Shark Tank investor, author and FUBU founder — who has spent a large portion of his career mentoring hopeful business owners — is launching Black Entrepreneurs Day, a free and virtual livestream event that will celebrate and provide guidance for Black business and entrepreneurship.
Scheduled for Oct. 24, the event, which is presented by Chase for Business, will feature insightful conversations with top business leaders and celebrities, including Shaquille O'Neal, Gabrielle Union, Jamie Foxx, LL Cool J, BET's co-founder Robert Johnson, Chase Bank's Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion Brian Lamb and more.
John, who will be leading the conversations, tells PEOPLE that he hopes attendees leave the event feeling "inspired."
"I hope they see Bob Johnson, who created BET, who inspired LL Cool J to become who he is. I hope they also hear and see how Shaquille or Gabrielle have failed and how I have failed and overcame those obstacles," he says. "We're human beings, and you can be also greater than us if you take away some of these key things and just start applying yourself."
John, 51, says the concept came about after he and his team began pondering the question: "How do we make some change?"
"People are out there burning businesses instead of building them," he says of the many peaceful protests that became destructive following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody in May.
The businessman hopes to encourage people to channel their frustrations into something positive.
"As frustrated as people are, or as hurt or as upset, or people feel like they just don't have power — this is the opportune time," he says. "Maybe they don't have a job or they don't have to go to work ... they can now spend that extra time empowering themselves and doing what they want to do to create change."
With many feeling lost during these uncertain times, John says it has always been a goal of his to provide a space for Black people to feel uplifted and encouraged. "I always want to provide a space for that, but I've always wanted to provide it for everybody," he says. "I mean, we can all just have conversations that hopefully are constructive, but how many people are having conversations right now that are giving you piece-by-piece information on how to go out there and change your life right now?"
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In addition to the powerful words expected to come out of this event, attendees also have the opportunity to win a substantial amount of money for their own business ventures. In partnership with Chase for Business, The General Insurance, Pepsi, Cisco Webex, Quickbooks, Robinhood and Yappa, Black Entrepreneurs Day will be awarding $175,000 through six NAACP Powershift Entrepreneur Grants during the event. The grants will be broke up into seven $25,000 checks.
Applicants can apply for the grant between now and Oct. 12 on BlackEntrepreneursDay.com. The winners will be announced on the day of the event.
John's advice for hopeful recipients? "Work on your pitch, get it in now," he says. "I like to say that you should be able to put your pitch down on the back of a business card. You want to be able to hone in on that pitch and send it in. Keep practicing. Don't do some little video. Keep cutting that thing down and really understand how you're adding value to that pitch."
As for why he's so compelled to give back, John tells PEOPLE he's always been encouraged by motivational speakers
"I think because I did not got go college, because I didn't have any formal training in anything, and the way I received my knowledge was books and through authors Robert Kiyosaki, Napoleon Hill and Tony Robbins," he explains. "Ways that I got inspired is by motivational speakers. The same ways I have received knowledge and become who I am is the same things that I have done throughout my career."
Black Entrepreneurs Day will take place on Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. ET on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
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