Stanford, De Beers launch $3m African entrepreneurs initiative

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The Stanford Graduate School of Business and De Beers Group have announced a three-year, US$3 million partnership aimed at empowering young entrepreneurs and owners of established businesses in Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa through two new educational programmes.

Stanford will expand two of its programmes to Southern Africa in 2018: the Seed Transformation Program of the Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies, known as Stanford Seed, and the Stanford Go-to-Market programme for accelerating business ventures to market.

Stanford Seed is a one-year programme of intensive sessions on topics such as leadership, strategy, business ethics, accounting, marketing, and value chain innovations, which will be open to owners of established businesses in Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa. Applications are being accepted until October 6.

The Stanford Go-to-Market Programme is an intensive, one-week entrepreneurship bootcamp, taught by Stanford GSB faculty, held in cities around the globe. Botswana will host the first Stanford Go-to-Market programme in Africa, but the bootcamp may expand to include participants from other Southern African countries once fully established. Applications for the Stanford Go-to-Market programme in Botswana will be accepted this fall and the cohort will convene in March 2018.

“We are excited to work with the young and established entrepreneurs in the Southern African region. As with our experiences in East and West Africa, we are coming to learn as much as we are to teach,” said Jesper Sørensen, professor of organisational behavior at Stanford GSB and faculty director of Stanford Seed.

“If the business and job growth that follows matches what we are seeing in our other locations, I anticipate this collaboration will be a very impactful initiative.”  

The Seed Transformation Programme launched in West Africa in 2013 and expanded to East Africa in 2016. Faculty, staff, and coaches have trained more than 500 business leaders with the goal of promoting prosperity in these regions.

Both programmes will be headquartered at the Botswana Innovation Hub, a science and technology park in Gaborone. The initiative will be supported by a range of government entities in Botswana, including the Botswana Innovation Hub, the Botswana Ministry of Tertiary Education, and the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent’s most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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