Bringing Silicon Valley mentality to Africa

Africa, Stanford, Silicon Valley

Stanford is now training business leaders in Africa  to adapt the mindset needed to grow and scale their companies globally. And Mark Zuckerberg is finding and training top tech talents for the benefit of the continent. Further to what I wrote last week about the need of Africans getting a better life I think it’s laudable and would like to share the short video about Stanford’s launch with you:

Making successful African business leaders think like Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and look at working on a global scale has the potential of making African businesses create more jobs and hence giving more Africans an opportunity to get a life worth having on the continent.

Targeting senior leaders of for-profit companies

Founders and senior leaders of all types of industries with an annual revenue of minimum $150,000 can apply. The courses are held in Kenya and the focus is, simply put, to enable them to contribute to bringing greater prosperity to the region. By getting trained by Stanford Graduate School of Business during a year they will get an insight into the innovative thinking that has shaped some of the world’s most successful companies. They will also learn to create action plans to grow and scale their businesses. And, maybe not least, grow a peer-to-peer network with like-minded leaders in the region.

Personally am really pleased that a top US university is giving business courses in Africa which is different from some African students going to the US to study at such universities. Sometimes on scholarships. To give courses in Africa shows a commitment to the continent which, as far as I know, is unusual for a world class university. Stanford is ranked number 3 in the world by The Times Higher Education ranking this year.

West Africa next 

The same program will be available for top West African business leaders this autumn. After Nairobi and Accra, Stanford aims to bring their leadership program to developing economies all over the world. Personally am delighted that it started in Africa because there  really is a need to build up first class businesses there to give Africans a better life. China succeeded and so can Africa.

Finding and training tech talent 

In line with Stanford’s initiative Sillicon Valley giant Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan has invested $24 million to develop the largest untapped pool of technical talents in the world. Andela is so far training 200 engineers in Nigeria and Kenya. The idea is to make African countries benefit from hiring top tech talent and hence grow and become more profitable.

Do you agree with me that it’s great that one of the top universities in the world is teaching high potential business leaders in Africa how to get a Silicon Valley mindset? Do you think the programs will lead to growth and create new jobs? What impact do you believe the peer-to-peer network of like-minded leaders in the region will have? Are you also of the opinion that Stanford’s initiative to hold a course in Africa shows a commitment to the continent which is laudable. Do you  like the fact that Stanford will branch out to West Africa this autumn and plans to start their courses in developing economies world-wide? Will  Mark Zuckerberg’s initiative benefit African businesses and enable them to turn to e-commerce for the benefit of the continent? It’s so refreshing to come across initiatives that aims to decrease global  inequality, isn’t it?

Video: Stanford Graduate School of Business

28 thoughts on “Bringing Silicon Valley mentality to Africa

  1. At one time I might have agreed with William’s comment (above). I do understand his concern about a colonial rip-’em-off, etc., kind of mindset. It’s appalling the kind of rapacious Western capitalist “undertakings” that have caused such horrible damage to African nations.

    The key, I believe, is education combined with an inclusive “WE” mentality; also, the desire of African people themselves to receive empowering support. I trust there are no ugly strings attached that might be part and parcel of a superiority trip by Stanford? Somehow I think not, or at least sure hope not!

    I visited Tanzania earlier this year, with other Canadians, to work alongside local Maasai people to build a school they wanted more than anything. Education, they recognize, is critical in the creation of a future for their kids and their country. With no government support, it’s been their desire combined with practical and emotional support from us. The belief we Canadians have had in these folks and the practical support we’ve offered is what’s fostered their self-belief and remarkable determination.

    Their increasing belief in themselves is inspiring to them and to us! The long term plans these Maasai have formulated for a sustainable future are tremendous, and the really exciting thing is they are bringing their dreams to fruition! (A piggery for sustainability is currently in the works.)

    While travelling in Tanzania (including Zanzibar), I saw too much poverty! Intelligent people, both well-to-do and not, told me about political short-sightedness and corrupt ways that inhibit some of their best efforts. Sometimes it takes support from the outside to promote real change, better yet, transformation. Not knowing a whole lot about Stanford’s initiative, I’d venture to imagine that a highly credible Western university working WITH hard-working, ambitious people in Africa is a laudable thing. I hope so!

  2. I think it is marvelous that the Zuckerbergs have this program for Africa and are giving them an opportunity for a better life. But have to wonder, as did Ken, will they take that knowledge and stay in Africa to improve conditions there or use the training as a stepping stone to move elsewhere. Hopefully the former.

  3. It's great, Catarina, but I have to say this sort of thing has been happening for a while in South Africa. ICL used South Africa as a test bed for its latest technology as far back as the 70s, for example. Today, there are many innovation hubs around the country encouraging new ideas, helping turn them into businesses and mentoring them through the early years. In Cape Town, two that spring to mind are the Cape IT Initiative (CITI) and Workshop17. Pretoria has The Innovation Hub (TIH) among others, while The JoziHub in Jo'burg does similar work. Then there are the top universities here (UCT, Stellenbosh, Wits, Tukkes…) all of which have sections driving innovation and start-ups to help commercialise the efforts.

    1. Glad you think it's great, Guy, and that so many initiatives are, or have, taken place in South Africa. As much as I love my Alma Mater in Sweden neither that university nor the ones you mention are ranked as high as Stanford:-).

      1. I wasn't suggesting the local universities rank with Stanford – just illustrating that we have a number of (non-governmental!) backed initiatives here, which is great 🙂

        1. Agree with you. Wish Lund University, my Alma Mater, was on par with the top US universities but it isn't. Honestly think it would be great if top US universities started projects such as the Stanford one in Kenya in Sweden as well.

  4. I have to disagree with all the information about sending technology, education and business practices to Africa. Who are we, as in the west, to say that our business practices, and technology is any better than what they have there.
    The poverty you see in Africa, is caused by the west moving into that area and removing all the natural resources, and trying to convert them into a western style society. So now the solution to a problem the west caused, is to give them more of the west.
    Every people's culture and society is as valuable as any others. If we had respected theirs in the first place, poverty would not of been rampant there as it is today.

  5. I do agree that it is great that Stanford is leading such an initiative. This isn't really my area of expertise, but I feel that the whole world would benefit from Africa being able to have more of a presence in the global market. I think that its admirable when any big business takes initiatives to do their part in helping those who are emerging really grown and shine.

  6. It’s great to see programs such as this be initiated by people like Zuckerberg who can help fund such things. And of course, they all use Facebook, so win-win for the top dog as well 😉

  7. Hopefully, the fact that these programs are taking place in Africa will mean that the people who are trained will stay in Africa and apply what they have learned there.

    1. Maybe some of them will leave but most likely the majority will not. Don't forget that the majority of migrants don't want to leave their home but feel they have to for whatever reason.

  8. Wow, Catarina! That is such a great topic! Thanks for sharing. I truly admire all these current movements when leader of the developed world go to the third-world countries trying to share their knowledge and help them grow faster. I even thought about participating in a similar project by myself, maybe will do in some time

  9. What an admirable task for Mark and his wife to take on. I applaud them. Yes, the people of Africa do need to be given opportunities to excel in their homeland. Too often the most ambitious flee Africa and utilise their skills in other countries. This way they can contribute to the business development in their homeland.

    1. Yes, it's important to enable Africans to support themselves back home. The majority of people who flee are people with drive who want to create a financial future for themselves. The majority want to come to Sweden and unfortunately many of them are illiterate. Their future in Northern Europe is bleak, if they get asylum. So the more jobs are created in Africa the better.

  10. I never heard of this. What a great service Stanford and CEOs are doing for the Africa people. I agree that this is a great opportunity to help Africa. Thank you for spreading the word.

  11. Catarina, I appreciate that Stanford is teaching entrepreneurs in Africa. This to me feels like a greater commitment to Africa since what they are learning can be applied right there, rather than adapting American learning to African methods.
    Reading this I did hope that those African business leaders of companies with annual revenue of $150,000.00 or greater would now carry it forward and share some of what they have learned with smaller businesses so that they too can become more successful. Great concept and hats off to Stanford and to Mark Zuckenberg for training Africans in Africa.

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