The self-proclaimed “Christian Genius Billionaire" Kanye West’s apparel brand, Yeezy, applied for government assistance in order to face the coronavirus crisis.
Yeezy received a loan worth at least $2 million through the Paycheck Protection Program, the economic relief fund signed by President Trump, designed to help small businesses survive and avoid laying off employees. This week, the Small Business Administration disclosed the list of companies that received more than $150,000.
Yeezy, West’s $3 billion streetwear company, is one of the several companies owned by wealthy and well-connected people that received loans from the program.
When compared to the number of non-famous owners that we're unable to collect the money they needed to weather the crisis, millionaire-owned companies getting help doesn’t look good. However, these companies were eligible for the aid program, including potentially forgivable loans, so it’s only natural they pursued it.
Many small companies said that early in the process, they struggled to access the SBA money. Others still fear that the program won’t be adequate to ensure their survival as the pandemic continues.
Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize-winning economics professor at Columbia University and author of “People, Power and Profits: Progressive Capitalism for an Age of Discontent” said: “Right at the beginning, I flagged that I didn't think it was going to go well for obvious reasons: They put the banks as the intermediaries.”
While PPP funding was managed by the SBA, it was up to banks to disburse the loans, so it makes sense that they’d want to help well-off customers from whom they’ve made a lot of money or had prior relationships, said Stiglitz.