Illumine8 completes coveted Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program

By |

In 2018, small businesses accounted for almost 30 million companies in the U.S. Illumine8 joins just 167 businesses to be chosen from the Baltimore area since 2017, according to Aaron Moore, alumni manager of the 10,000 Small Businesses program at Johns Hopkins University.

The Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Baltimore program provides practical business education, support services, and access to capital to help businesses create jobs and increase revenue. More than 581,000 of these small businesses are owned and operated in Maryland.

“This program is extremely impactful to small businesses,” said Christina May, CEO of Illumine8. “10,000 Small Businesses gives us the tools and resources to further our mission and allows us to make a tangible difference for our clients and community."

Illumine8 completed the program in Q4 of 2018 and in 2019, went on to implement a strategic repositioning of the brand as a result of GS10KSB. Formal acceptance of the company's strategic growth plan and graduation took place on November 26 at Morgan State University. In 2020 Illumine8 will add two formalized services: sales enablement and customer experience management. This program has enabled Illumine8 to capitalize on growth opportunity and provide further economic value to our community.


According to Goldman Sachs, small businesses are the engines of job creation and economic success in America. Small businesses are defined as a sole proprietor, LLC, partnership, or corporation with less than 500 employees, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Goldman Sachs recognized that small businesses employ “nearly half of America’s private workforce” (58 million workers), and according to Moore, Maryland businesses from this program “employ over 3,000 people across the state.”

In fact, with our growing staff, we’re a part of the top 2 percent of small businesses (5.7 million) in the U.S. in terms of employment — and even higher in Maryland.

That’s why Goldman Sachs created this philanthropic program: To empower bold entrepreneurs with the tools and resources they need to create more jobs and to continue increasing local economic opportunity.

Launched in 2009, this prestigious program “is a $500 million investment to help entrepreneurs create jobs and economic opportunity by providing access to education, capital, and business support services,” according to the program's latest progress report, developed by Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

The 10,000 Small Businesses program (also known as 10KSB) is funded by Goldman Sachs, the Goldman Sachs Foundation.

Christina May GS10KSB Graduation

Illumine8 CEO Christina May was one of 114 small business owners recognized in Baltimore on November 26 as a graduate of the coveted Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program.

For Maryland small businesses, Goldman Sachs partners with Babson College; Bloomberg Philanthropies; and Baltimore-based higher education organizations, including Community College of Baltimore County, Johns Hopkins University, and Morgan State University.

"The Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program and the now 167 alumni of the Baltimore site are without parallel," Kylie Patterson, director of economic inclusion at Johns Hopkins University, said.


“Designed by Babson College — the nation’s top-ranked entrepreneurship school — the 10,000 Small Businesses curriculum focuses on practical business skills that can immediately be applied by small business owners,” according to the program’s website.

The curriculum is organized into nine modules and four clinics geared toward small business management training. Each includes classroom discussion, peer learning exercises, skills building, and experiential applications at a local community college partner.

“This program is often compared to a mini master’s program in 4 months,” said May. “What’s so unique about this program is they frame it for where your business is. It’s like getting an MBA for your small business.”


10,000 Small Businesses fosters economic development by providing growth-oriented entrepreneurs with the tools they need to take their businesses to the next level.

“The 10,000 Small Businesses program shows small business owners how to become more bankable and position themselves to access small business funding and capital through partnerships with local, regional, and national community development financial institutions and other mission-driven small business lenders,” according to the website.

David M. Solomon, Chairman and CEO, Goldman Sachs

"If communities create opportunities to support entrepreneurs and support economic vitality and innovation in their communities, I think that brings in capital, it creates jobs and it creates a virtuous ecosystem that is very positive for the city and the community." - David M. Solomon, Chairman and CEO, Goldman Sachs

Business Support

10,000 Small Businesses allows us to embrace the professional support from business organizations, executive leaders of Goldman Sachs, and a network of 10,000 Small Businesses alumni. This support helps us develop a strategic and customized business growth plan for long-term, sustainable goals.

“Participants ... receive one-on-one business advising and the opportunity to learn from other like-minded business owners,” according to the website. “The 10,000 Small Businesses program provides this expert advice and technical assistance through partnerships with national and local business organizations and professional services firms.”

“It’s a great sense of community,” said May. “I’m thrilled to be an alumni of this group. Being in a space with other talented business owners is empowering.”

Thanks to this prestigious program, we’ll have the ability to use these tools and resources to take on a bigger role in the small to midsize business community.

"I'm most excited about Maryland business owners because they're not only working hard each and every day in their businesses, but many are engaged in meaningful ways outside of their business — to mentor young people, clean the Chesapeake, and raise their families," Patterson said. "Small businesses are integral to our economy, our community, and our future.”

About The Author

Connect with Illumine8