NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Goldman Sachs ( GS) has launched a $500 million program to assist small businesses.

The advisory board that will oversee the initiative includes billionaire investor Warren Buffett, Goldman's largest shareholder.

The initiative, termed "10,000 Small Businesses," is aimed at tapping the growth and job creation potential of 10,000 small businesses across the United States. The program plans to provide $200 million for investor education and $50 million in grants to support community-development financial institutions. The remaining $250 million will be used to help finance small businesses, Goldman said.

Goldman's move comes at a time when it has been criticized for its role in the credit crisis. CEO Lloyd Blankfein, at a conference in New York, said, "We participated in things that were clearly wrong and have reason to regret. We apologize."

Goldman said the first loans under the program will be made in early 2010.

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