Stanford University will open an institution with the sole purpose of alleviating poverty in developing nations, thanks to a $150 million gift donated by a Silicon Valley businessman and his wife.
“More than a billion people live on less than $1.25 a day,” said Robert E. King with his wife, Dorothy, in a video. “That’s just not right.”
Called the Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies (known informally as “SEED”), it will draw from the school’s world-class MBA program and suite of courses in entrepreneurship to stimulate business ideas that can empower the people receiving food aid today so they can become self-sufficient and not need the aid in the future.
The Institute’s work is based on the belief that a powerful way to help alleviate poverty is through the stimulation of new entrepreneurial ventures and by scaling existing ones.
“Today’s students aspire to achieve a global impact that will change people’s lives for the better with everything from businesses that create employment and income sources to creating access to better education, health care, and governance,” said Garth Saloner, Dean of the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
The idea for the gift came out of home stays that founding donors Dottie and Bob King have offered to international students at Stanford for more than four decades. They witnessed first-hand the impact that education and entrepreneurship can have on a wider community back home. One student, Andreata Muforo from Zimbabwe, brought peers from her global study trip to Africa to the King home for dinner. “We heard how those first-hand experiences compelled some of the MBAs to return for internships in Africa,” said Dottie King. “We saw the direct connection between the learning experience and the motivation to make change.”
“We believe that innovation and entrepreneurship are the engines of growth to lift people out of poverty,” said Bob King, who with his wife also founded the Thrive Foundation for Youth. “And we believe Stanford’s tradition of innovation coupled with a forward-thinking global bias as well as its multidisciplinary resources will make a real impact.”
The Kings have made a $100 million gift to fund the Institute. They have committed an additional $50 million in matching funds to inspire other donors to fuel Stanford University’s commitment to alleviating poverty, bringing the total philanthropic investment to potentially $200 million.
To amplify its impact, SEED will partner with organizations such as Endeavor, which mentors and accelerates the work of high-impact entrepreneurs; the Skoll Foundation, which drives change by investing in social entrepreneurs; and the global social enterprise investor Acumen Fund. All have established operations abroad.