(Photo by LeAnne Matlach)
The announcement Wednesday followed the graduation of 59 business owners from the inaugural classes of the Baltimore chapter of the global program. At City Lab Baltimore, Michael Bloomberg discussed his love of the city and the investment.
“Helping small business succeed is one of the most important things we can do to help cities succeed and grow,” said the former NYC mayor and Johns Hopkins University graduate. “There are a lot that cities and mayors can do to help small businesses grow.”
Alex Menkes, CEO of Adashi Systems, graduated from the 10,000 Small Businesses Initiative program this week and said he feels like he almost has an MBA now from all of the information he learned.
“While this process was going on I applied for a bank loan and I knew what I was doing even though this was the first time I’d applied for this kind of loan because of the program,” he said. “I was able to put together a great program, and three of the four banks I applied to said yes and I was able to get an amazing loan.”
Adashi specializes in tech solutions for the public safety market. Menkes said he met people and companies he wouldn’t regularly come across and those connections have been invaluable. He recently partnered with one of his fellow graduates for a government contract that Adashi wouldn’t qualify alone, but together the two companies are stronger and hopeful.
While speaking at the Parkway Theatre, Bloomberg said he was inspired and invigorated by the work being done by program graduates.
“It was great to hear the ideas that the graduates are bringing to life,” Bloomberg said. “I’ve been in their shoes and I can tell you it’s not easy to bring a business to life.”
The businesses that are coming to life are also injecting Baltimore with life and vigor.
“There’s something about this program that gave me this incredible insight into what drives the city and makes people go,” Menkes said. “These are incredibly intelligent and amazing people and they just needed an environment change.”
The multi-million dollar investment by Goldman Sachs and Bloomberg Philanthropies means more Baltimore companies will get the same opportunity as Menkes and his fellow graduates.
“What these people are doing is creating an environment that no matter what socioeconomic status you’re at, you’re given the tools to not only improve yourself but also your environment,” Menkes said. “Every one of these companies will grow and hire people. Jobs will be invented in this area and that is an amazing way to use philanthropic funds and that’s what Goldman Sachs intended.”
Adashi is already growing: They’re hired three new team members in Baltimore in the last month.
So far 6,300 small business owners have participated in the program in 14 cities. 10,000 Small Businesses is currently accepting applications for the next cohort.