An ESOP is also not an Employee Stock Option Plan. It is a defined contribution retirement plan established under section 401(a) rather than 401(k) and has two major differences. It must invest primarily in stock of the sponsoring company, and can borrow money to do so. The name is very misleading since the employees never own any of the company stock.
Business owners spend their life growing the family business, but their wealth is locked up in their business and the owner isn’t able to enjoy the fruits of his labor. An ESOP will allow him to sell part or all of the company, providing liquidity and diversification of his wealth while still remaining in control of the company.