How entrepreneurship changes the world

Opening the Branson Centre Caribbean

What if you invited a humble international student to stay at your home and, with your mentoring he created 10,000 jobs and a $50 billion business? One of the reasons I love Virgin Unite is because they attract crazy entrepreneurs who actually believe outrageous things like that can happen and change the world.

Last night that type of Richard Branson-esqe thinking took root here in Silicon Valley, California, when a fellow Stanford alumni Bob King committed $150 million to fight poverty with a new entrepreneurship centre. The gift is the biggest in Stanfords history and was inspired by home stays that Dottie and Bob King have offered to international students for more than 40 years.

They witnessed first-hand how education linked to entrepreneurship changes the world. One Stanford student, Xiangmin Cui, introduced Bob to his friend Eric Xu, who joined internet engineer Robin Li to launch a Chinese-language search engine. Bob, an investment partner at Peninsula Capital in Menlo Park, Calif., provided seed funding. He and Dottie were on hand in 2005 when the company, Baidu, made its debut on NASDAQ. Today it has a market capitalization of $50 billion and employs more than 10,000 people in China.

Another one of Bob and Dotties home stay students, Andreata Muforo, Stanford MBA 09, 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. 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 Universitys commitment to alleviating poverty, bringing the total philanthropic investment to potentially $200 million.

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