Stanford Receives $150 Million Gift Aimed at Reducing Poverty

The Stanford Graduate School of Business has established the Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies with a $150 million gift from Dorothy and Robert King, MBA ’60. The Institute’s aim is to stimulate, develop, and disseminate research and innovations that enable entrepreneurs, managers, and leaders to alleviate poverty in developing economies. The gift is among the largest ever to Stanford University.

“Entrepreneurship, innovation, and improved management are powerful ways to help alleviate poverty,” said Stanford University President John L. Hennessy in a statement. “With tremendous foresight and compassion, the Kings have made a seminal gift that leverages Stanford’s knowledge, resources, and human capital to make a real difference in the world for many years to come.”

“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.

Three Areas of Focus

The work of the Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies (SIIDE, pronounced and known informally as “SEED”) will span three pursuits: research, education, and applied on-the-ground work to support entrepreneurs and help growing enterprises to scale.

It will:

— Conduct multidisciplinary research in close cooperation with in-the-field managers that is focused on new and effective ways to both increase the impact of managed organizations and develop solutions to improve governance, education, and infrastructure.

— Educate Stanford students from around the world as well as entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs, managers, and leaders in developing economies to enable them to relieve poverty through effective leadership and problem-solving.

— Build capacity on the ground to support action by entrepreneurs, managers, and leaders to scale their organizations and spur innovation.

SEED will be a well-integrated series of activities, with each area of focus continuously reinforcing the others. Data collected on the ground, for example, will be used to fuel research that will shape new courses and drive new solutions to problems as diverse as transportation and supply chain logistics, health care needs, or mobile communications. Students, faculty, and alumni will work in the field to support local organizations solving real-world problems standing in the way of growth.

“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, the Philip H. Knight Professor and Dean of the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

“This initiative is an enormous opportunity for Stanford students, faculty, and on-the-ground entrepreneurs to collaborate on the design and incubation of new enterprises and solutions.”

With Stanford’s rich history, track record, and relationships as a backdrop, the Institute will strive to enable entrepreneurs and others in developing economies to create and scale their organizations. The objective is to help entrepreneurs change the lives of their employees, people within their communities, and those who purchase or use their products and services.

“There are very few settled solutions about how best to alleviate poverty in a wide range of contexts, which means there is plenty of opportunity to uncover, share, and apply new insights,” said Saloner.

The Institute will draw from the GSB’s MBA program and suite of courses in entrepreneurship, as well as research on supply chains, finance, funding, and other topics relevant to the needs of growing economies.

Going forward, the Institute expects to embrace resources, students, and faculty from across Stanford’s six other world-class schools at which approximately one in six MBA students already is working on a joint or dual degree.

To learn more about the Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies, please click here.

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