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Botswana Innovation Hub to host US$3 million development programme

Botswana Innovation Hub to host US$3 million development programme

Mining company De Beers Group and Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB) have announced a new US$3 million, three-year partnership to empower young entrepreneurs and established business owners in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa which will be headquartered at Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH).

BIH is a 57 hectare science and technology park in Gaborone built by the government to support innovation in local cleantech, ICT and ICT-enabled services, among others.

The new De Beers Group funded programme is supported by several government department's including Botswana's Ministry of Tertiary Education and the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport & Culture Development.

Dr Alfred Madigele, Minister of Tertiary Education for the Government of the Republic of Botswana has lauded the launch of the new programme.

"We welcome the private sector's support in developing programmes that will enhance diversity and have a positive socio-economic impact for the youth. Through The Botswana Innovation Hub, Government will provide the facilities, infrastructure, operational and technical support for the programme which has the potential to have an important impact on our economic future."

De Beers, BIH and GSB say the programme will be rolled out in two parts starting in 2018.

The first part will be a year-long leadership programme for entrepreneurs in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa called the Stanford Seed Transformation Program which will be taught by Stanford GSB faculty and Seed-trained local facilitators.

The second part of the programme is an intensive, one-week entrepreneurship boot camp, taught by Stanford GSB faculty named Stanford Go to Market. This part of the programme will initially run exclusively in Botswana, although organisers say it may expand to include participants from other southern African countries once fully established.

Bruce Cleaver, CEO De Beers Group says economic diversification and youth employment opportunities are priorities shared by the government partners and De Beers Group as well.

"We believe these two programmes, in partnership with a world renowned education entity, have excellent potential to help accelerate diversification and stimulate more opportunities for young and ambitious southern Africans."

Jesper Sorensen, Professor of Organisational Behaviour at Stanford Graduate School of Business and Faculty Director of Stanford Seed says his colleagues are excited to work with the young and established entrepreneurs in the Southern African region through this collaboration.

"As with our experiences in East and West Africa, we are coming to learn as much as we are to teach. If the business and job growth that follows matches what we are seeing in our other locations, I anticipate this will be a very impactful initiative."

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