In September, over 200 business founders/owners from across Africa and India gathered in Nairobi, Kenya, for the inaugural Seed Transformation Network Global Summit. Each business leader in attendance completed the Seed Transformation Program, a one-year certificate program delivered by Stanford University through Stanford Graduate School of Business.
The inaugural event provided an opportunity for some of the most promising business leaders in Africa and India to continue their learning and to network with the goal of scaling their businesses, creating jobs, and, ultimately, expanding the impact their businesses have on their communities and countries. The event included industry expert panels, company tours to Kenyan participants’ businesses, and learning sessions, facilitated by Seed Faculty Director Jesper Sørensen and organizational behavior professor Sarah Soule.
“We have found that 58% of Seed participants conduct business together after completing the program. I am continually amazed at their level of commitment to each other and their local communities,” said Darius Teter, Seed Executive Director. “This Summit builds on the idea that a lasting sustainable solution to poverty relies on entrepreneurs' initiative, perseverance, and willingness to take risks. The global network of entrepreneurs that is gathered here is united by a shared mission: to grow their organizations and bring prosperity to their regional economies.”
Company tours included visits to vibrant businesses such as FunKidz, the first global children’s furniture brand in Africa; Vivo Activewear, an 11-store business providing the largest range of locally designed and manufactured women’s clothing and activewear in Kenya; and Magana Flowers, a floriculture farm that produces and exports flowers to Russia, Japan, Australia, Europe, and the Middle East.
“Since completing the Seed Transformation Program, we’ve grown from six stores to 11. We’ve doubled our revenue. We’ve doubled our staff,” said Wandia Gichuru, CEO of Vivo Activewear. “I think what is so special about Seed is not just what happens in the classroom, but also what happens outside the classroom. The network is perhaps as valuable as the coursework and the other resources the program offers. I think we have just begun to scratch the surface on how powerful a network like this can be.”
The Seed Transformation Program first launched in West Africa in 2013, expanded to East Africa in 2016 and to India and South Africa in 2017. Stanford faculty members travel to each region to share Silicon Valley insights into entrepreneurship to business owners/founders with the goal of spurring business growth and, as a result, global prosperity.
Recent surveys indicate the majority of Seed participants who completed the program grow their businesses overall. Findings include: 62 percent hire new full-time employees; 63 percent increase revenue; and 86 percent increase their overall customers after completing the program. Past participants have raised over $25 million in capital for the growth of their companies.