Feb 28, 2024 - Business

Exclusive: Goldman Sachs reaches 15,000 small businesses

Illustration of a pattern of stacks of money.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

More than 15,000 small businesses have been helped though Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Small Businesses philanthropic program, the company tells Axios exclusively.

Why it matters: Entrepreneurship has boomed since the pandemic — as have obstacles to operate.

State of play: There was a record-breaking 5.5 million new business applications filed in 2023, according to government data.

  • Some of the highest growth have been in less densely populated states including Colorado, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Maine and Kentucky.

Simultaneously, small business owners are also being squeezed by higher borrowing costs and are struggling to find workers.

  • "A business owner on Friday said 'I had an open position [that] normally years ago I would have had 70, 80 applicants — I got three — and by the way, two of them want to work remotely,'" Asahi Pompey, president of the Goldman Sachs Foundation, tells Axios.

By the numbers: The more than 15,000 businesses — operating for at least two years with at least $75,000 in revenue in one of the years — span across a wide range of industries and employ more than 281,000 people.

  • The program, which aims to provide small businesses with access to education, capital and support services, hit the 10,000 mark in November 2020.
  • Goldman has set a new target to reach 20,000 small businesses with $750 million committed. It declined to comment on how much has been used to date.

Zoom in: Business owners most frequently want to learn more about how to understand the financials of their business, about negotiating interest rates on loans and new technologies, including AI.

  • "We've added more on AI to our curriculum," Pompey notes, as 56% of the program's small businesses are already using ChatGPT and other tools to help them automate tasks like data analysis.

The big picture: The goal of the program, Pompey says, is not to convert businesses into customers.

  • "We know that when small businesses thrive, that leads to broader economic growth — so that's our motivation."

Fun fact: Goldman Sachs says there are no plans as of now to change the name of its program.

What we're watching: A lack of access to childcare is becoming a bigger problem for growing the labor pool outside metropolitan areas.

  • When workers have to weigh driving back and forth for hours for daycare, it becomes a hindrance to hiring, Pompey adds.
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