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Goldman Sachs’ One Million Black Women announces first investment

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The logo for Goldman Sachs is seen on the trading floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, November 17, 2021.

Andrew Kelly | Reuters

Goldman Sachs is investing more than $2.1 billion into Black women-owned businesses and nonprofits via the investment bank’s One Million Black Women program — and leaders say it’s only the first chapter.

“Goldman Sachs is sending a powerful signal into the marketplace around Black women and saying there has been a misalignment of capital, in terms of capital dedicated to this group. We’re seeking to change that by putting our capital where our mouth is,” Asahi Pompey, global head of corporate engagement and president of the Goldman Sachs Foundation, told CNBC.

One Million Black Women launched in March 2021 with the bigger goal of having a positive impact on the lives of 1 million Black women by 2030. Goldman Sachs has committed $10 billion in investment capital and $100 million in philanthropic capital with a focus on access to capital, affordable housing, health care, education, job creation, workforce advancement, digital connectivity and financial health.

“Turbo boosting Black women entrepreneurs is a key part of the work that we do,” Pompey said. “We know they create jobs. When a Black woman entrepreneur is able to grow her business, she employs Black people in the community, she’s a leader in that community, she mentors individuals in that community. The ripple effect of investing in a Black woman entrepreneur is tremendous.”

On Monday the group held a meeting of its advisory council — which includes Obama Foundation CEO Valerie Jarrett, Walgreens Boots Alliance CEO Roz Brewer, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, actress and producer Issa Rae and National Urban League President Marc Morial — where it announced the $2.1 billion milestone in addition to the deployment of $23 million in philanthropic capital that will assist an estimated 215,000 Black women.

Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon, Obama Foundation CEO Valerie Jarrett (to his right in purple), and National Urban League President Marc Morial (far left) at a meeting of the bank’s One Million Black Women program.

Frank Holland | CNBC

“When Black women succeed, America succeeds,” Jarrett, a founding member council, told CNBC. “You bet on Black women, that is a good bet. Goldman Sachs recognizes that and that Black Women have a track record of delivering.”

Jarrett said the initiative isn’t “just about the investment capital.”

“It’s a holistic approach,” she said. “What we are able to do uniquely is first to listen, meet people where they are, figure out what those needs are and then provide the resources and the expertise to help women thrive.”

Economists at the global investment bank have found the most efficient way to close the racial wealth gap is by investing in Black women. The racial wealth gap describes the disparity in wealth between Black and white households in the United States and is estimated to be at least $14 trillion, according to William Darity Jr., director of the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University.

Closing the gender pay gap for Black Women could increase gross domestic product by $300 billion to $450 billion and create between 1.2 million and 1.7 million jobs in the U.S., according to Goldman Sachs economists.

“The past two years have confirmed a key insight of our research. By investing in businesses that help Black women advance we can build a strong economy for everyone,” Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon said during the One Million Black Women advisory meeting. “Our firm has a long history of supporting economic empowerment and we’re proud that One Million Black Women is already making a difference.” 

New York City Mayor Eric Adams also attended the meeting Monday to hear updates on One Million Black Women initiatives that the city has partnered on, including a $75 million investment in the NYC Small Business Opportunity Fund, designed to provide funding for Black female entrepreneurs.

“We get this right, we will stop feeding the other issues,” Adams told CNBC. “Sometime we stay in crisis mode instead of planning mode. What these women are doing about child-care issues, health-care issues, support to build businesses will prevent things from turning into a crisis. That’s why we wanted to be here.”

Still, launching One Million Black Women during the height of the Covid pandemic has created a unique challenge, according to Dina Powell McCormick, global head of sustainability and inclusive growth at Goldman Sachs.

“You are seeing a huge focus now on using the lessons learned from the digital divide and turning that into a huge opportunity,” said McCormick, who also previously led Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses and 10,000 Women initiatives. “We see what we learned all these years reaching a critical mass now to invest in this program.”

Goldman Sachs is now launching “OMBW: Black in Business,” a program providing support and resources specifically to Black female sole entrepreneurs. Applications for the fall 2023 cohort are open until April 23.

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