Although its dubious bonus levels are causing some concern across the media, what hasn’t been discussed so much is the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses programme which has apparently been designed to offer business support to growth-orientated owners and managers of established small businesses and social enterprises.
The programme, which in the UK is focused on four main areas of the country (London, Midlands, North West of England and Yorkshire), has some interesting elibility criteria which include that applicants should not have “extensive recent management education (e.g. MBA)”, and that all social enterprise applicants must be looking to reach their goals “primarily through trading”. The criteria also state that applications “are particularly welcomed from businesses operating in or on behalf of disadvantaged communities or regeneration areas”.
Operating at a much larger scale in the US, GS is said to have earmarked $500m overall to this philanthropy – some say to pay back some of its dues on the $10m it was loaned by the US state (which, incidentally, it has paid back with interest…).
It’s not clear what GS gets anything else out of it apart from some tiny levels of redemption after the past few years of iniquity, but whatever the motivation there does seem to be some sense in the model. Whereas Government money thrown at SME support (£200m in the upcoming round has been quoted) has no need to generate a return, you have to assume that GS may have a slightly more sanguine view. So perhaps the Government is barking up the wrong tree and should instead be helping larger companies to support business growth – the sharper view on ROI might just make the support process a little more rigorous!
Going one step further, maybe in our current economic situation all businesses of a certain size should be allocating part of their cost structure to developing new companies using their experience, connections and infrastructure to provide them with a much better foundation than any Government scheme could do.
And if all this caring capitalism hasn’t made you feel all warm and cuddly about a huge investment bank then take a look at their sister (!) scheme called 10,000 women.
Now could we have just got the banks all wrong…