__”Seed” for African entrepreneurs…
Whenever boards of directors of really progressive organizations meet, they always set aside time to learn about new things in their field. We call this agenda item “board learning.” When the AGRA board went to hold its meeting at one of the world’s finest universities, it was a great opportunity to learn things. Yes, we literally attended “class” like students. It was great!
One of the most exciting things we learnt about was a program called Stanford Seed (the Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies). You can find out more at: https://
Now let me confess immediately that I had not yet heard of Seed, which launched in 2011 and had its first training in Ghana in 2013 then Kenya in 2015. Clearly some of you already know of it, because you are part of the hundreds of established African business owners involved with this program.
I was just blown away, guys!
Stanford University has an endowment of $22,4bn and an annual research budget of over $1,6bn. That’s almost the budget of many small countries!
Stanford Seed participants from Africa have so far been drawn from Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, and Uganda.
I reviewed the curriculum and the materials, and saw what the entrepreneurs are being taught, and I really could not add more to it. This is exactly what we need to help small and medium-sized businesses grow.
So let’s talk: Are you an established CEO and/or entrepreneur leading a small or medium-sized business? Have you already opened your doors and now you’re ready to…
Let me tell you, if I were running a business that met their criteria, I would be joining. And just imagine, they charge only $5 000 per year! For that you get (among many things you can to find out about on the website):
# Access to Stanford’s education resources (some of the world’s greatest professors) through a series of one-week immersion sessions that take place throughout the year in Accra, Gaborone, Nairobi, Chennai (India) and other fast-growing cities.
# One-on-one mentoring from experienced senior business executives who volunteer with Seed from around the world! (If you are an interested senior executive, definitely check out the website.)
# Brilliant Stanford University undergraduates, post-graduates, and MBA students can also volunteer to work as interns at your company over an 8-10 week period, to share their fresh innovative ideas.
“Did you say $5000 per year for all this”?! we all asked in wonder. “How can this be?”
The answer was simple: An American entrepreneur and his wife decided they wanted to do something to help entrepreneurs in our beloved Africa, for no reason other than a “love for humanity,” as they did not make their money in Africa.
__So they decided to sponsor the Seed program with a gift of $150m.
“I want to meet this couple,” I begged. And sure enough I got to see them that evening, and I thanked them for their efforts.
Dottie and Robert King are a beautiful humble couple, who are very low key but passionate to help entrepreneurs like those who you see on the Seed website.
# Entrepreneurs empowered in this way can build companies that will totally transform Africa, creating both wealth and jobs.
I would love to see a program like the one at Seed be franchised to all African universities in every city. The day that happens… well, it’s up to us now!
I believe one day some Seed alumni will get together and share with others what have they learnt by taking up this vision themselves… becoming the next generation of (Robert and Dottie) Kings of Africa, and the world!
Ndatenda, Dottie and Robert King.
You have done good. May God bless you and your family always.