The investment bank Goldman Sachs has pledged $500-million to help develop small businesses and train entrepreneurs across the country.
In addition, the New York company has recruited a high-profile team of advisers, including financier Warren Buffett, to guide the philanthropic effort.
The so-called 10,000 Small Businesses Initiative comes as the financial-services company faces withering criticism for the billions of dollars in compensation it is expected to pay its employees this year. Some have characterized Goldman Sachs’s philanthropy as a way to quell the public anger.
However, the company says the small-business program has been in development for almost a year and is modeled after its 10,000 Women Initiative, which helps educate female entrepreneurs in 18 countries.
As part of the new effort, Goldman will provide $300-million in grants and loans to nonprofit groups, known as community-development financial institutions, that provide capital and noncash-assistance to businesses in neighborhoods often not served by banks.
The rest of the massive commitment will support scholarships for small-business owners to attend classes at community colleges, universities, and other educational institutions.
Initial grant recipients include the LaGuardia Community College and Seedco Financial Services, both in New York. Their Goldman Sachs-supported efforts will start next year.
Goldman Sachs has organized an advisory panel to operate and evaluate the charitable venture. Aside from Mr. Buffett, the group includes Michael Porter, of the Harvard Business School; Hilary Pennington, of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; and Margaret Spellings, former secretary of education during the George W. Bush administration.
In a statement, Mr. Buffett said: “Our recovery is dependent on hard-working small-business owners across America who will create the jobs that America needs. I’m proud to be a part of this innovative program, which provides greater access to know-how and capital — two ingredients critical to success.”