Warren Buffett Gets his Batteries Charged by LaGuardia’s 10,000 Small Business Program

January 11, 2021

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett recently spoke on CNBC’s Squawk Box about his involvement with the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program since it first launched at LaGuardia Community College in 2010. The program now serving its 40th cohort, helps entrepreneurs grow their businesses and in turn, create jobs and economic opportunity, by providing access to business education, capital and technical assistance.

As Buffett, Chairman & CEO of Berkshire Hathaway said according to CNBC transcript of the discussion:

“[T]he Small Business Program… has been a huge success and due to Goldman Sachs, it’s, it’s just something special.

“I went to the first graduation at LaGuardia Community College about 10 years ago and there were probably 300 or 400 people in an auditorium and there were less than 30 graduates I think maybe there was 27 or something like that but these people who are working 50 or 60-hour jobs on top of that work nights on the curriculum, attended classes on Saturday, they learned all kinds of skills that were helpful to them probably a lot of them better than what I learned in business school myself.

“But they sacrificed and, and in that crowd, there would be mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, cousins, in-laws and all those people who would help. And there was, I don’t know what percent of the 300 were crying but, I was one of them, and it was, it was just amazing to see and, you know, out of that program where we’re that first class there.

“I’ve been to New Orleans, I’ve been to Chicago, I’ve been to Detroit, I’ve been to Baltimore and then back to LaGuardia again. Every time I’ve seen the graduates, I mean my batteries get charged. It’s just a remarkable group, these are people that well you had one on earlier today that I watched… but they plug away against odds that I never faced.

“And, you know, they learn things in the curriculum like negotiations. Well, you know, how many business schools really teach negotiations and a lot of them, lot of us learned about that through our parents but, you know, if you haven’t been in the game or haven’t had friends in the game or relatives, you start out with an enormous disadvantage if you don’t know something about a subject like that. Well, this group learned about one item like that, after another… I just watched them grow and prosper and lives would get changed by it, 97% of the people that started the school and they stuck with it, you know the, but we’ve got 10,800 or so alumni now and the number grows, you know, by the week.”

Buffett, who has served as co-chair of the 10,000 Small Business Program’s advisory council, spoke at LaGuardia during the graduation for the first cohort, saying, “The 23 students graduating today are going to serve as examples to the 9,977 students coming down the road. It is important that their stories get out, the potential within them and what they can do.”

At the 20th graduation of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program at LaGuardia Community College in 2016, Buffett spoke about what he gains from his involvement with the business programs in the program, “I learn something every time I listen to them.”

He also shared advice with the aspiring entrepreneurs, “Any business that has delighted customers has a sales force out there. You don’t have to pay them, you don’t need to see them but they’re talking to people all the time.”

Data points to the program’s success. A recent report by 10,000 Small Businesses national academic partner Babson College found that just six months after graduating the program, 67% of participants report increased revenues, 47% report net new jobs and 88% have worked or are working together with other program participants. The program maintains a 98.5% graduation rate.

Based on success of the program at LaGuardia Community College, Goldman Sachs expanded the program to all 50 U.S. states, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C.

For more information and to apply to LaGuardia’s program, visit http://www.LaGuardia.edu/10KSB.

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About Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses
Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses is an initiative to unlock the growth and job creation potential of 10,000 small businesses across the United States through greater access to business education, financial capital, and business support services. The program operates through a national network of public and private partner organizations including community colleges, business schools and Community Development Financial Institutions. The initiative is currently active in New York, Chicago, Cleveland, Houston, Long Beach, Los Angeles, New Orleans, and Salt Lake City and will continue to expand to communities across the country. Community partners in New York City include The City of New York, LaGuardia Community College and Seedco Financial Services.

LaGuardia Community College (LAGCC), located in Long Island City, Queens, educates thousands of New Yorkers annually through degree, certificate, and continuing education programs . LaGuardia is a national voice on behalf of community colleges, where half of all U.S. college students study. Part of the City University of New York (CUNY), the College reflects the legacy of our namesake, Fiorello H. LaGuardia, the former NYC mayor beloved for his championing the underserved. Since our doors opened in 1971, our programs regularly become national models for pushing boundaries to give people of all backgrounds access to a high quality, affordable college education.



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