Stanford University, which has a long history of fostering innovation and has been described as nothing more than a giant glorified startup accelerator is keen on expanding its reach to international markets. In pursuit of that goal, the California institution is piloting an international accelerator program in the West African nation of Ghana. Funded by the Stanford Institute for Innovation for Developing Economies, or SEED, the program aims to stimulate local economic activity and job growth as well as furthering Stanford’s international reach and reputation.
Beginning next week, the initial batch of 30 entrepreneurs will receive mentorship from Stanford professors, alumni, and volunteers.
Each of these startups already have yearly revenues in excess of 150K, but are poised to grow by leaps and bounds with a little training and access to resources. Once a week, instructors will fly out to Ghana and teach a variety of business concepts including rapid prototyping, supply chain management, and design thinking. These in-person sessions will be supplemented by Stanford’s usually exemplary online courses.
If this new regional innovation center is successful, SEED plans to expand the concept into other developing markets and nations. SEED aims to “transform the lives of people in poverty on a massive scale through entrepreneurship and innovation and the growth and scaling of businesses.” If the Ghana initiative is successful, expect to see a gold-rush type flood of accelerators and incubators opening in Africa and elsewhere. The accelerator bubble might be popping in developed countries, but it is just getting started in the 3rd world.
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