With 10,000 Small Businesses, Goldman Sachs Helps to Fuel the Engines of US Job Creation

ThemeS: Culture | Service

Goldman Sachs launches a US$500 million initiative in 2009 to help small businesses create jobs and drive economic growth through greater access to education, financial capital and business support services. 

In November 2009, Goldman Sachs announced it would spend US$500 million to fund a program to help small businesses in the United States through a combination of education, mentoring, and access to capital.

10,000 Small Businesses was launched on the heels of the global financial crisis of 2008 and at a time when the Obama administration was heavily emphasizing the importance of small businesses to job creation and economic growth. The program was founded on the positive results achieved through the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women initiative, a global platform targeted to women business owners in developing and emerging markets introduced the prior year. 10,000 Small Businesses would be guided by an Advisory Council co-chaired by Goldman Sachs’ CEO Lloyd Blankfein, legendary investor Warren Buffett, and Dr. Michael Porter of Harvard Business School.

Goldman Sachs established criteria around longevity, number of employees, and revenues to qualify 10,000 Small Businesses participants, seeking to identify young businesses poised for growth. By contributing US$300 million to community development financial institutions, the firm sought to facilitate much-needed access to financing for small business owners. The other US$200 million was earmarked for business and management education programs through local community colleges.

The 10,000 Small Businesses curriculum focuses on skills that applicants can immediately apply, including accounting, marketing, negotiating, and human resources management. By 2013, Goldman Sachs had trained 200 community college professors and helped to establish entrepreneurship centers at community colleges around the country. By that time, 10,000 Small Businesses was operating in 15 markets across the United States. Seeking to be more geographically inclusive, the program expanded in 2013 to allow entrepreneurs from all around the country to apply. The selected participants would be flown to Boston for intensive educational sessions at Babson College.

Since its inception, a core component of 10,000 Small Businesses has been measuring its impact. A 2015 study by Babson College found that within 18 months of completing the program, approximately three-quarters of participants increased revenues at their companies, and more than half created new jobs. With a 99 percent graduation rate, 10,000 Small Businesses has also proven to be a vibrant network for entrepreneurs: the Babson study found that 84 percent of graduates went on to do business together. By that point in time, the program had reached small business owners in all 50 states, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico.

In 2018, nearly ten years after the US launch of 10,000 Small Businesses, more than 2,200 US graduates of the program convened in Washington, DC for the 10,000 Small Businesses Summit—the largest-ever gathering of small business owners and executives. In a landmark “Day on the Hill,” participants met with representatives from their respective districts to advocate for policies that support the continued ability of small businesses to grow, thrive, and compete.

10,000 Small Businesses and 10,000 Small Businesses UK (launched in 2010) are tangible examples of Goldman Sachs’ historic commitment to supporting entrepreneurs, and to using its intellectual and financial capital and convening power to support economic growth, social mobility, and innovation.