Stanford Seed programme, a growth catalyst for entrepreneurs

Staff Writer

The Stanford Seed Transformation initiative, is a programme which partners with entrepreneurs in emerging markets to build successful enterprises that transform lives.

It has returned at a timely opportunity for Namibian entrepreneurs to expand their capacity to succeed.

The programme, a collaboration between the Stanford Graduate School of Business and the De Beers Group, allows leaders to gain critical skills to grow their companies and create jobs which in turn will lead their regions to greater prosperity.

With applications for the 2021/22 Southern Africa Seed Transformation Program (STP) now open, entrepreneurs with a mind-set to grow their businesses have an opportunity to be part of an unconventional, online learning experience that goes beyond acquiring business skills, but provides practical hands-on tools to support business growth.

This year, the programme is designed to not only capacitate the business owner, but up to 5 members of the senior management team, in order to ensure implementation and continuity.

With applications set close on 15 April 2021, a breakfast engagement with the business community has been arranged for March 25.

In essence, the programme targets CEOs or founders of for-profit companies or for-profit social enterprises who want to grow and scale their companies as well as companies with annual revenue between US$300,000 and US$15 million based in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa.

Since inception, the program has trained 628 business leaders and 2378 managers from 19 countries and expects 20 companies from Namibia, Botswana and South Africa to participate each year.

Companies from Namibia that have already participated in the programme include Cospharm, Vulkan Ruine Tours and Transfers, Anticor (Pty) Ltd, International Training College-Lingua, PowerCom and Brumar Construction.

During the seed transformation, participants will undertake a 12-months’ intensive leadership programme which includes sessions on strategy and finance, business ethics and design thinking. Stanford’s world-renowned faculty and a dedicated team of experts, work with leaders and their team throughout their transformational journey.

In addition, a series of four full-day workshops delivered at the participating company and its management team, will take place at various intervals throughout the programme.

By challenging business leaders to assess their company’s vision, to redefine strategies, and to make ambitious changes to their businesses, transformation is realised even before completion of the training.

As an overarching goal, the programme provides management training, leadership team workshops and networking support to assist southern African leaders to grow their businesses, create jobs and help lead their regions to greater economic diversity and prosperity. Ultimately, it is also primed to create and activate a detailed action plan to help businesses grow and scale their companies. Throughout the year-long experience, participants will work in small peer groups called leadership labs to share experiences, resources, ideas and support.

The participants are also be able to take advantage of a world-class curriculum from Stanford GSB and the innovative thinking that has shaped some of the most successful companies in Silicon Valley.

Notably, surveys on the programme indicate that 64% of past participants increased their revenues by 58%, expanded into new geographies and cumulatively all past cohorts have raised over US$224 million in capital, following their training.

Stanford University, founded in 1891 in Palo Alto, California (ISA) ,is one of the world’s leading teaching universities. Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, Stanford graduates have founded established global entities such as Nike, eBay, Snapchat, Yahoo, Cisco and numerous others.

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