Though they may have been working from home, many Stanford GSB students forged relationships globally while interning for startups in emerging markets.
In a partnership between the MBA program, MSx program, and Stanford Seed, internships in various industries such as medical, education, and fintech served as learning opportunities for students who signed on from across the world. But they weren’t the only ones learning: The companies in emerging markets benefited from students’ insights and skills. This year, 54 Stanford GSB students interned at Seed companies, an increase of nearly 700% from 2019.
Stanford Seed was created in 2013 to help combat poverty in emerging markets by boosting entrepreneurship. The program’s participants are established small and medium enterprises.
“In some ways the global pandemic intensified Seed’s appeal to MBA students,” says Daniel Zussman, assistant director of program delivery. “Seed typically attracts students interested in social impact and eager to shadow entrepreneurs in emerging markets. Now there was a chance to make an even more immediate, tangible impact on partnering companies in underserved markets by helping lead them through crisis and transform lives.”
Here are a few of the students who worked for Seed companies last summer.
Juanita Duque, MBA ’21
Duque spent the summer interning at Almond House, a gourmet food company in India. Her work involved helping to create a go-to-market strategy to expand the company globally.
“I wanted to learn about the food industry in India. I also wanted to help other developing countries such as my own.”
Jovanna Alvarez, MBA ’21
Alvarez worked with Supari Studios, a video content company in India, to get their investors ready and help them through the fundraising process.
“When I was living in Nairobi last year, I met Harold Zagunis, a Seed coach in East Africa. He inspired me to develop a stronger relationship with my own portfolio companies in Kenya and I felt like I had a real impact in the lives of my entrepreneurs. I wanted to give back to an emerging market where I can make an impact, just as Harold did as a coach.”
Bruno Bueno Corrêa Martins, MBA ’22
Bueno Corrêa Martins interned at Frubana, a B2B platform of agri-products and packed goods for restaurants and small retailers in Latin America, developing a pricing model to increase both farmers’ value and Frubana’s profit in Columbia.
“Seed allowed me to pursue my passion, it gave me the financial resources as well as the knowledge of how and where I should look for a high-impact venture.”
Ilana Walder-Biesanz, MBA ’20
Walder-Biesanz spent the summer working with CreditRegistry, Nigeria’s largest credit bureau, to analyze data for insights to share with consumers, lenders, and media.
“I see my MBA as a time to explore different fields and career paths. Seed let me try out working for a company based in an emerging country and in an industry that was new to me! It also aligned with my desire for social impact — a goal I’d previously channeled primarily by working with U.S.-based nonprofits.”
Eugene Awori, MBA ’21
Awori spent the summer supporting consulting firm Terragon in identifying investment areas and developing entry strategies into markets such as Kenya and Ghana.
“This internship provided exposure to Africa’s largest economy and largest venture capital destination. It is extremely useful as I transition into the African investment space after business school.”
Kerry Omughelli, MBA ’21, MS ’21
Omughelli spent the summer with Doksta Medical Education Limited, a Nigerian company that supports students in their journey through medical school. He performed market analysis on the health care industry and identified logical adjacencies for Doksta to explore.
“As someone who is keen on starting and growing a business in the African continent, Seed offered a unique opportunity to gain insights into the key challenges that come with operating a business in an unpredictable market and to test out a few assumptions I have developed during my time at the GSB.”
Stephan Spazier, MSx ’20
Spazier designed South African investing firm CrossBoundary’s go-to-market and regional-impact strategy for its market in Southeast Asia.
“As I’m contemplating a pivot into impact investing, I wanted to explore the impact-investing space in a day-to-day setting before making a final decision.”
Erick Fuks, MBA ’20
Fuks spent his internship developing a growth strategy for West African Rice Company, an organization aimed at helping subsistence farmers move out of poverty.
“Being from an emerging country, I also understand the challenges of doing business in unstable economic environments. Seed gave me the opportunity to learn more about doing business in West Africa and the opportunities that lie ahead, especially in times of a global pandemic that is threatening the livelihood of millions of people worldwide.”
CJ Berstein, MBA ’20
Berstein worked on organizational design at AC Group, an IT company that works closely with the government in Rwanda.
“I spent last summer working in Kigali, and felt a meaningful connection to Rwanda. I furthered that connection, even if I couldn’t be there. I gained additional understanding of the myriad of ways that impact-driven entrepreneurs run their ventures.”
Hannah Ringel, MBA ’20
Ringel, helped communications company Vivo Activewear launch a new brand that will serve a younger Kenyan demographic.
“I have only worked for large American entities; I wanted to dabble in an international startup. I believe in the company’s mission and growth potential.”
Yohanna Maldonado, MBA ’20
Maldonado, interned at Eposak in Venezuela, a sustainable tourism nonprofit. Yohanna focused on building a growth strategy that includes a potential expansion in Latin America.
“Through this internship, I gained insight into the nonprofits world in Venezuela and developed skills to be resourceful and creative amidst adversity.”
— Jenny Luna