How Community College, Goldman Sachs are helping Philly small businesses become ‘bankable’

Lily Fischer co-owns Cake Life Bake Shop in Fishtown, but she had no formal business education.Then she signed up for the joint program between Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses and the Community College of Philadelphia, a 14-week accelerated business training seminar that’s free to those who earn a spot. “There’s no class for being a boss. I want to be a successful job creator, and I needed help," she said. "This has been exactly what I needed.”Since Goldman Sachs launched the 10,000 Small Businesses program in Philadelphia in 2013, CCP has churned out over 500 graduates through 20 cohorts, billed as a mini-MBA Two-thirds of graduates of the program report revenue growth within six months, according to Nicole Pullen Ross, managing director at Goldman Sachs in the firm’s Philadelphia office.“We also have Goldman employees come over to do mock interviews and what we call ‘rocket pitches,' as if they were pitching to a bank or a group of financial investors,” Ross said.“All our graduates are bankable when they finish our program,” said Joan Chrestay, executive director of the program at CCP, meaning the business owners have a solid view of their revenue and strategy, and can borrow money for future growth. Each grad was asked to stand up and speak about their business and what they learned from the program.Cara Frank, founder of Six Fishes acupuncture, told the graduating class that she “developed leadership skills and how to be filled with positive.” The scholars spoke fondly of each other and their time at CCP.