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Stanford Seed Announces Expansion in India, Celebrates Five Years of Success

A Stanford University initiative Stanford Seed, led by the Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB), announced its expansion to India. The institute aims to build upon the success it has achieved since its inception in 2011. The Seed Transformation Program through which faculty, staff and coaches have trained more than 500 business leaders with the goal of promoting prosperity in their regions, first launched in 2013 in West Africa and subsequently expanded in 2016 to East Africa.

Jesper Sørensen, Robert A. and Elizabeth R. Jeffe Professor of Organizational Behavior at the GSB and executive director of Seed said that “The impact of Seed in West and East Africa has been astounding, with nearly two-thirds of participants reporting increased revenue and job creation. We are five years into our journey, and just getting started. We believe and seen that this unique model can help some of the most dynamic business leaders in these regions drive the kinds of firm growth that underlies sustainable regional prosperity. We are very eager to see its impact in India.”

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Seed is working with partners from across Stanford to empower business leaders to lead their regions to greater prosperity. Seed consists of three distinct yet complementary programs:

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  • Seed Transformation Program – a yearlong, on-the-ground leadership program for the founders and leaders of small and medium-sized enterprises.
  • Seed Student Program –  providing educational opportunities and summer internships at participating companies.
  • Seed Research – which provides funding for critical research to discover breakthrough solutions to promote prosperity throughout the developing world.

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Stanford Seed Transformation Program

The Seed Transformation Program provides unique value for participants by combining immersive class sessions in each region, taught by Stanford GSB faculty, with ongoing support and leadership development delivered by trained local Seed staff. Participants engage in four intensive, week-long sessions over the course of nine months on topics such as leadership, strategy, business ethics, accounting, marketing and value chain innovations.

In the intervening weeks, skilled facilitators assist participants in applying insights from the classroom, developing their leadership teams and formulating a detailed plan for organizational transformation and growth. In addition, Seed facilitators work with participants in carefully constructed leadership peer groups, offering networking opportunities, resources and ideas to help implement the participants’ transformation plans.


Following completion of the Seed Transformation Program, participants may apply to receive high-touch coaching as well as access to Stanford student interns and Seed consultants.

Flourishing from West to East Africa

After Seed’s founding in 2011, the first Seed Transformation Program launched in Accra, Ghana, in 2013 and expanded to Nairobi, Kenya, in 2016. Since then, the Seed Transformation Program has trained and mentored 565 entrepreneurs and senior staff members, leading to increased revenue and new job creation throughout the region. In addition, participating companies have raised almost $11 million in funding and 79 percent have grown their customer base.

Femi Oye, owner of GoSolar Africa, based in Nigeria said, “With Seed, I learned to use simple solutions to address a complex problem. It gave me the knowledge to experiment, attempt the unthinkable and make great things happen.”

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GoSolar Africa is an international energy company that focuses on developing solutions for individuals with limited access to electricity. When Femi was nine, his grandmother was diagnosed with respiratory problems, an illness that impacts many women, as well as their children resulting from cooking indoors. Femi created a unique stove that is very simple and inexpensive, which burns ethanol gel, a fuel produced from biomass. Since completing the Seed Transformation Program in 2014, Femi has received a $1 million investment from Acumen and sold more than 400,000 stoves and over 1.6 million liters of biofuel, impacting the lives of more than 3 million individuals.

Stanford Seed in India

Building on its success in Africa, Seed is expanding the program into India through its new location in Chennai, which will serve entrepreneurs from across the country. The first annual program will run from August 2017 to August 2018 and will be held at the state of the art Infosys corporate campus.

Broad Range of Stanford GSB’s Programs

In addition to Seed, Stanford GSB has a broad range of programs supporting its significant momentum throughout India and Africa as it reaches the world’s most promising entrepreneurs and transforms the global economy.

This year, Stanford GSB is celebrating the fifth anniversary of the Africa MBA Fellowship and the 8th anniversary of the Reliance Dhirubhai Fellowship, both of which provide assistance for international students with financial needs who wish to obtain an MBA at Stanford GSB. In 2016, the school celebrated the 10thanniversary of Stanford Ignite, a certificate program that teaches innovators to formulate, develop, and commercialize their ideas. Stanford Ignite has programs around the world, including in Bangalore, Beijing, Sao Paulo, London and Stanford’s home campus.

The application period is now open for the Seed Transformation Program, with applications in India due May 26, and applications in East and West Africa due June 30.

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