Respect Equality

Brooklyn Nets owners offer loans to local Black business owners

Joe Tsai (R), his wife Clara Wu (L) and children Dash Tsai, Jacob Tsai and Alex Tsai arrive for the 2019 NBA Awards at Barker Hangar on June 24, 2019 in Santa Monica, California.
 Joe Tsai (R), his wife Clara Wu (L) and children Dash Tsai, Jacob Tsai and Alex Tsai arrive for the 2019 NBA Awards in Santa Monica, California.

Story at a glance

  • Black Americans and businesses were disproportionately hurt by the coronavirus pandemic and its economic consequences.
  • As more Americans are vaccinated, the economy is beginning to open up, presenting an opportunity for Black businesses.
  • A new program is working to ensure that this growth is equitable and actively combats systemic racism and historic disadvantages.

Basketball is a team sport, and the Brooklyn Nets owners are pitching in to help Black businesses grow even better than before the coronavirus pandemic.  

“As the City comes back from the pandemic, we have an opportunity to do it better than we did before, to address some of the longstanding barriers preventing the accumulation of Black wealth and ensure that everyone can equally benefit from the capital that is coming into our city anew,” said Gregg Bishop, Executive Director of the Social Justice Fund, in a release.


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Even before the coronavirus pandemic, Black Americans faced systemic racism in the country’s economy, which was built on their stolen labor and wealth. More than half of all Black entrepreneurs do not apply for credit for fear of not being approved, according to a 2014 study cited in the press release; that fear is not unfounded. Last summer, a study found that white applicants looking to secure Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans were treated more fairly than Black applicants in two major cities. 

While activists have been fighting for reparations and economic justice for decades, the death of George Floyd reignited Black Lives Matter protests and conversations about racial justice in the summer of 2020. At the same time, Black business owners were closing their doors at more than twice the rate of white business owners, and Black patients were disproportionately dying of COVID-19


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Through EXCELerate, the program funded by the Joe and Clara Tsai Foundation and run by Bishop in partnership with two community organizations, Black, Indigenous and other business owners of color who were able to stay open through the pandemic can get up to $15,000 in loans without interest. Those who closed temporarily or reduced hours and services can obtain loans of $15,000 to $100,000 at 2 percent interest. These loans will not rely on credit scores, which the release called “deeply-complicated and often discriminatory,” instead using references to offer “character-based” loans. 

“Brooklyn is coming back, but there is no recovery without the equitable recovery of the borough’s small BIPOC businesses,” said Randy Peers, President and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, in the release. “We are grateful to the Foundation for its leadership and creative philanthropy with the BIPOC loan program, which does much more than providing needed funding; it helps repair credits and set entrepreneurs on the path to success at this crucial time.”


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