Marcus Lemonis Launches Lemon-Aid Foundation, Pledges $50 Million of His Own Money to Help Others
When Marcus Lemonis was a kid, he promised his mom one thing.
The host of CNBC's The Profit and CEO of Camping World spent the first year of his life in an orphanage in Lebanon before being adopted by a family in Florida.
"My mom would say to me, 'Your job in life is to kick down the door for people that can't kick the door down themselves. That is all you owe me for saving you from the orphanage,'" Lemonis tells PEOPLE.
On Wednesday Lemonis is making good on his promise to his mom by launching The Lemon-Aid Foundation and pledging $50 million of his own money to help underserved small businesses, communities and organizations.
"The sole purpose of the foundation is to provide grants, loans, and equity investments to underserved communities, individuals, and small businesses that otherwise haven't been given the opportunity," says Lemonis. "This year has been extremely challenging for small business owners, and it's so important that now, more than ever, we show our support and help these entrepreneurs not only survive, but thrive."
To prepare the recipients for their grants, Lemonis is also launching the Business Learning Center, which provides free business tools and guidance resources for entrepreneurs. It will include the Business of Life section, which will help people understand how to make the best use of their money – from applying for student loans to buying your first car or house.
"In order to receive a grant, a loan, or an investment, regardless of what your current status is, you need to have gone through some of the curriculum," says Lemonis on the Learning Center. "Much like getting a driver's license. I'll get you a car, but you have to pass the test."
When asked why he chose the Lemon-Aid Foundation as his way of giving back, Lemonis says his answer is simple.
"I want to bet on people that other people choose not to," he says. "My single biggest hope is that I give people an opportunity who deserved it, but they may not have been at the right place at the right time. I hope they achieve a level of success that's greater than mine, with a little spark that I give them."
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