10,000 Women and Goldman Sachs

“Ten jobs may not sound much in America, but in India that is ten lives transformed,” says Anagha Kulkarni. The Indian entrepreneur is speaking in Manhattan’s Central Park on July 20th, at an event honouring the women and non-profits that are taking part in the 10,000 Women initiative launched last year by Goldman Sachs.

The investment bank is paying for, yes, 10,000 women over five years, mostly from developing countries, to receive a business/management education. Typically, each woman will receive around 200 hours of tuition. Anagha Kulkarni says that, as a result of what she has learned – about human resources and cashflow management, in particular – her family-run packaging firm has been able to create the ten jobs she mentioned.

Today it is almost obligatory to be cynical about Goldman Sachs – especially now, with help from the taxpayer, it has bounced back from the financial crisis with bumper profits, rather than doing the decent thing and going bust. Articles have poured scorn on the firm, from Rolling Stone to the New Yorker. No doubt these cynics will view the 10,000 Women initiative as nothing more than a marketing ploy, putting lipstick on a pig.

What is clear is that Goldman Sachs is doing a superb job with this initiative, and that there is a lot more to it than lipstick. It has forged partnerships with leading business schools and non-profits to deliver a terrific education in many different countries, each tailored to local needs (including full-time study in some cases and weekend study in others). In the spirit of philanthrocapitalism, it is serious about measuring the effectiveness and impact of its giving. Moreover, whilst some other troubled firms slashed their giving during the financial crisis, Goldman Sachs continued full-steam ahead with this initiative.

As we write in Philanthrocapitalism, no financial institution has a deeper tradition of giving back than Goldman Sachs, whose early leaders helped support causes ranging from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to Albert Einstein. Cynical or not, you have to marvel at the company’s genius: if you are going to earn extraordinary amounts of profit, what better cause to associate yourself with than philanthropically investing some of that money in the most promising job creators from the under-served half of the population in the developing world? This is an initiative that certainly deserves to succeed – indeed, as we have written before, to grow far bigger – and Goldman Sachs deserves credit for making it happen.