DayDateSession ThemeGuest Speaker(s)Required ReadingsDiscussion QuestionsOptional ReadingsRecommended Listening
Part 1: Key Challenges
Thursday13-Jan1. Introduction• Lazarow, A. (2020). "Beyond Silicon Valley." Harvard Business Review.
• Breznitz, D. (2021). Innovation in Real Places: Strategies for Prosperity in an Unforgiving World. Oxford University Press, USA. (Chapter 1: “The New Globlization of Innovation.”)
• Contrast the approaches to global innovation found in the Breznitz and Lazarow readings. Which piece resonated more with you?
• Consider a city or region you know well. Is it an innovation center? Which of the four stages of innovation describes it best?
• What are some of the unifying features that distinguish the environments of entrepreneurs operating in emerging economies from those in more mature economies?
• What global forces are likely to shift the geography of innovation in 2022 and beyond?
• Habiby, Anne S., and Deirdre M. Coyle. "The High-Intensity Entrepreneur." Harvard Business Review 88.9 (2010): 74-78.
• Florida, Richard and Ian Hathaway. “How the Geography of Startups and Innovation Is Changing.” Harvard Business Review (2018).
• “How Entrepreneurs Succeed Outside Silicon Valley,” HBR IdeaCast, <>
• “Silicon Valley is Not Normal — What Innovation Looks Like in the Real World,” The Essential Podcast, <>
Tuesday18-JanInnovation in Context2. Ecosystems• “A Note on Entrepreneurial Ecosystems in Developing Economies.” Stanford GSB Case Note (2016).• Evaluate the eight pillars framework given by the Stanford case note. Is there anything you would change, add, or subtract if you were creating your own taxonomy of an entrepreneurial ecosystem?
• How would you rank the eight pillars in importance? Does this vary by the industry, goals, stage, etc. of a startup?
• Do you think dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystems can be deliberately engineered by public or private actors? If yes, how? If not, why not?
• Using the eight pillars, evaluate Philadelphia or another ecosystem you know well. What are the strongest and weakest aspects of the ecosystem?
• How does this framework intersect with the four stages of innovation discussed in the reading from Innovation in Real Places from the previous class? Are they compatible?
• Isenberg, Daniel J. "How to Start an Entrepreneurial Revolution." Harvard Business Review 88.6 (2010): 40-50. • Episodes of The Ecosystem Show, <>
Thursday20-Jan3. Incubators, Accelerators, and HubsMary Abiodun and Andrew Miracle, Entrepreneur-in-Training alumni, MEST Africa (Ghana)• Gonzalez-Uribe, Juanita, and Michael Leatherbee. "The effects of business accelerators on venture performance: Evidence from start-up Chile." The Review of Financial Studies 31.4 (2018): 1566-1603. [Please read Introduction, Discussion, & Conclusion sections and skim the rest]
• “Homes for Africa’s Tech Entrepreneurs.” The Economist (2015).
• Hubs and coworking spaces are an aggregate of several functions: how do they provide value to emerging firms? What do you view as the most important function?
• How do these benefits differ between developing and developed economies?
• The study of Start-Up Chile found that entrepreneurship schooling improved venture performance, but basic services like coworking space didn’t have much impact. Why do you think this might be? Do you think this generalizes to other countries and contexts?
• Roberts, Peter and Randall Kempner. “Startup Accelerators Have Become More Popular in Emerging Markets – and They’re Working.” Harvard Business Review (2017).• “Innovation Hubs (CcHub, iHub & others),” Afrobility, <>
Tuesday25-Jan4. Talent• Khanna, Tarun, Nancy Hua Dai, and Shu Lin. "Talent@Tencent." Harvard Business School Case 717-500, May 2017. (Revised November 2018.)• Discuss the ecosystem in Shenzhen and how it shaped Tencent’s recruitment strategy in its early years of operation.
• How did Tencent’s corporate culture interact with recruitment?
• What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of high-investment internal training programs such as Tencent Academy?
• How does risk tolerance impact the ability of emerging firm founders to recruit talent?
• Kempner, Randall. “Help Wanted: Solving the Talent Challenge for Emerging Market Entrepreneurs.” Financial Times (2015).• “Smart People Should Build Things – On Recruiting and the Global Competition for Top Talent,” The Flip, <>
• “Tencent: The Ultimate Outsider,” Not Boring, <>
Thursday27-Jan5. Economic and Social Institutions• “Entrepreneurship in a Harsh Business Climate: Reform-Era Vietnam.” Stanford GSB Case (2003). • How did the three Vietnamese entrepreneurs in the case navigate the market reform transition period?
• Dispute resolution is a key theme in each of the three entrepreneurs’ stories. How do they approach disputes in the absence of reliable courts?
• How do intermediaries and credibility-enhancing organizations impact the trust environment in a given market?
• How does economic inequality within a country interact with its institutional environment?
• Levy, Brian, et al. "South Africa: When Strong Institutions and Massive Inequalities Collide." (2021). Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. <>.• “The Story of Vietnam’s Economic Revolution,” Dollar & Sense, <>
Tuesday1-Feb6. Political Risk• Bayrasli, Elmira. From the Other Side of the World: Extraordinary Entrepreneurs, Unlikely Places (2015). Public Affairs, New York, NY. (Chapter 6: “Order in the Court.”)
• How can firms prepare differently for local political risk (e.g. the Arab Spring) versus global political risk (e.g. the 2008 crisis)?
• Discuss the importance of on-the-ground knowledge with respect to assessing local political risk.
• What are some of the most important political risks (local or global) that you anticipate facing firms in 2022 and beyond? Discuss one or two of these in detail.
• Bounds, Andy. “Entrepreneurs Weigh Effects of Geopolitical Upheaval.” Financial Times (2019).• “What Global Political Risk Consulting is All About w/ Ian Bremmer, Eurasia Group,” Time4Coffee, <>
Thursday3-FebSecuring Resources7. Early-Stage Financing• “A Note on Financing Entrepreneurial Ventures in Developing Economies.” Stanford GSB Case Note (2020).• Consider the different funding sources discussed in the Stanford case note. How would you organize them into categories? What do you see as the strongest advantage of each category?
• How does business informality affect the early stage financing gap?
• Discuss some of the benefits and drawbacks of bootstrapping in the early stages of growth.
• How do legal regimes and country of incorporation affect a firm’s ability to raise funding?
• Runde, Daniel F. et al. “The New Missing Middle in Development Finance.” CSIS Brief (2019). <>
• Arditti, Guillaume. “How to Close Africa’s Financing Gap.” World Economic Forum (2019). <>
• “Yele Bademosi – On people, startups and funding in Africa, pt 1,” Building the Future, <>
• “Seedstars World in Asia with Karen Mok,” Analyze Asia, <>
o Gilson, Ronald J. "Engineering a Venture Capital Market: Lessons from the American Experience." Stanford Law Review 55 (2002): 1067.
o Lerner, Josh, and Joacim Tåg. "Institutions and Venture Capital." Industrial and Corporate Change 22.1 (2013): 153-182.
• Both readings pertain to the importance of the institutional environment for supporting venture capital. Discuss one or two of what you view as the most important institutional factors (e.g. tax policies, labor market regulations, stock markets) and how they impact the venture capital industry.
• What makes it difficult for the government or other players to engineer a dynamic venture capital market?
• How does staged financing assist in managing uncertainty?
• Is traditional venture capital investment the best funding structure for firms in developing and emerging economies? What aspects could be changed to better suit these contexts?
• Duhigg, Charles. "How Venture Capitalists are Deforming Capitalism." The New Yorker (2020).• “A Vision of Venture Capital in Latin America Amid the Pandemic,” Latin America News, <>
• “VC Investment Booming in Africa,” The Moneypot, <>
• “Building at VC Scale in Southeast Asia,” The AWS Startup Podcast, <>
Thursday10-Feb9. Investor PerspectivesAfsane Jetha (W ’01), Alta Semper• “Scaling ALLVP in Latin America.” Stanford GSB Case (2020).• From the perspective of local investors such as ALLVP, what are some of the advantages and disadvantages of prominent international investors (e.g. SoftBank) gaining interest in a region?
• Discuss interregional competition between markets (e.g. Brazil versus the rest of Latin America) and how investors might weigh domestic versus regional opportunities.
• What do you view as some of the greatest risks and opportunities for a firm like ALLVP?
• The case ends with the two founders discussing bringing on more senior level talent, which they seem to have found in Antonia Rojas (see Recommending Listening). What value does her expertise and experience bring to the firm?
• “Private Equity Valuation in Emerging Markets.” HBS Case Note (2017).• “Becoming the youngest female VC partner in LatAm: Antonia Rojas, ALLVP,” Latitud Podcast, <>
Tuesday15-Feb10. ImpactLucy Xu (W ’13), Founder and CEO, The Port (Greece)• Addy, Chris, et al. "Calculating the Value of Impact Investing: An Evidence-Based Way to Estimate Social and Environmental Returns." Harvard Business Review 97.1 (2019): 102-109.• How can investors estimate the value of social or environmental returns? What are some of the associated practical and moral issues?
• What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of trying to simultaneously maximize financial and social returns (i.e., the double- or triple-bottom line approach)?
• How should entrepreneurs in emerging markets think about approaching an impact investor versus a more traditional funding source?
• How does a firm’s legal status affect its ability to raise funding?
• Chen, Jane. “Should Your Business Be Nonprofit or For-Profit?” Harvard Business Review (2013).• “Jane Chen – Embrace the Entrepreneurial Journey,” Stanford eCorner, <>
Thursday17-Feb11. Born-Global FirmsEvan Johnson, Formerly Director of Data at Andela• “Andela: Africa's AWS for Talent.” Harvard Business School Case (2021).• What are some of the key risks facing enterprises that seek to be global from the outset? What competencies do born-global founders need to master?
• Discuss the importance of diaspora networks in supporting born-global firms.
• What future do you see for a firm like Andela in a post-Covid-19 world? What adjustments would you make to their business model?
• Isenberg, Daniel J. "The Global Entrepreneur." Harvard Business Review 86.12 (2008): 107-111.
• Kerr, William R. "Entrepreneurship Reading: Launching Global Ventures." Harvard Business Publishing 5277 (2015).
• “Investing in Future Africa with Iyinoluwa Aboyeji,” Glocal Citizens, <>
Tuesday22-FebGlobalization12. Interactions with Multinationals• Prashantham, Shameen, and George S. Yip. "Engaging with Startups in Emerging Markets." MIT Sloan Management Review (2016).• What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of being an “intrapreneur” inside a large organization, versus an independent entrepreneur?
• Why do you think some large multinationals choose to have a high level of startup engagement?
• What role can multinationals play in an entrepreneurial ecosystem? What factors might affect the role that they play?
• Lang, Nikolaus et al. “Why MNCs are Winning Big in Emerging Markets.” Boston Consulting Group (2018).• “African Corporate VCs & Softbank - Why African Corporates are Not Investing in Tech Startups,” Afrobility, <>
Thursday24-Feb13. Globalization of the Silicon Valley Ethos• Polymath Ventures: Building an International Incubator.” USC Marshall Case SCG-521 (2016).• Should it be the goal of emerging ecosystems to become a “Silicon-Hyphen”? Why or why not?
• What standard Silicon Valley practices and norms do you think are most easily exported? Which are most difficult to export?
• How do the layouts of physical work spaces translate across different cultural contexts?
• How has Covid-19 impacted the prominence of Silicon Valley, both culturally and economically? What dynamics have shifted in the wake of the pandemic?
• Andrews, Edmund. “Lost in Translation: Can Silicon Valley Export Its Best Practices?” Stanford Engineering Magazine (2016).• “Startup Corporate Structures for Latin America and Silicon Valley,” Crossing Borders Podcast, <>
Tuesday1-Mar14. Founding Teams / Internal Networking Session• “Embrace (A).” Ivey Publishing 9B13M005 (2013).
• Reinert, Sophus A. "Case Study: Pursue Your Dream or Move On?" Harvard Business Review (2020).
• Discuss some of the advantages/disadvantages of having a multinational founding team.
• In the Embrace case, how would you allocate each of the teams to the different proposed projects and why?
• How do Team A’s diverse backgrounds and experiences shape their strategy with respect to the infant warming device?
• Which step would you recommend for Sonia (in the HBR article) and why?
• Molinsky, Andy, and Ernest Gundling. "How to Build Trust on Your Cross-Cultural Team." Harvard Business Review 87.2 (2016): 43-49.• “Mira Mehta – The Tenacious Founder of Nigeria’s Tomato Jos”, Young African Entrepreneur, <>
Thursday3-Mar15. Midterm Working Session (Midterm paper due Friday, March 4)
Part 2: Areas of Innovation
Tuesday15-Mar16. Context-Specific Innovation• “ZipDial: Reaching the Next Three Billion Consumers.” Stanford GSB Case IDE07.• What role does experimentation play in the development of products for local markets?
• Discuss some of the ways that ZipDial leveraged understanding of local consumer behavior in designing their campaigns.
• What is the value in being able to connect offline to online behaviors?
• Christensen, Clayton M., Efosa Ojomo, and Karen Dillon. "Cracking Frontier Markets." Harvard Business Review (2019).
• Netessine, Serguei and Ioana Popescu. “A Lean Startup Approach to International Development.” Harvard Business Review (2014).
• “Sanjay Swamy, Prime Venture Partners,” 100x Entrepreneur, <>
Thursday17-Mar17. AI• “TikTok's AI Strategy: ByteDance's Global Ambitions.” INSEAD Case (2020).• What makes a company an “AI company”? Is the term overused?
• What role does AI play in ByteDance’s TikTok, and how does it differ from previous-gen recommendation systems?
• How can potential investors evaluate a firm’s AI offering?
• Discuss the ecosystems that support AI innovation in the US and China.
• Strusani, Davide and Georges Vivien Houngbonon. “The Role of Artificial Intelligence in Supporting Development in Emerging Markets.” IFC Note (2019).• “Voyc: Artifical Intelligence from Africa to the world”, Built in Africa Podcast, <>
Tuesday22-Mar18. Healthcare
• Khanna, Tarun. Trust: Creating the Foundation for Entrepreneurship in Developing Countries. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2018. (Chapter 2: “The Mindset Change.”)
• What are some of the unique challenges inherent in the provision of healthcare versus other types of goods?
• Narayana Health’s model does not rely on any particular breakthrough technologies. What are the keys to its success?
• What are some of the ways in which healthcare innovations can piggyback on existing technology and infrastructure to lower costs?
• Ehrbeck, Tilman, Nicolaus Henke and Thomas Kibasi. “The Emerging Market in Health Care Innovation.” McKinsey Insights (2010).
• Beck, Melinda. “The Challenge of Health-Care Innovation in Developing Nations.” The Wall Street Journal (2016).
• “High Tech Health”, Disrupt Podcast, <>
Thursday24-Mar19. Energy and AgribusinessKavaneet Dhami (W ’12), Co-Founder, KHDI Agriculture (Ghana)• “A Green Bubble? We Discuss the Investment Boom.” The Economist (2021).
• “Follow the Sun: Solar Power is Reshaping Energy Production in the Developing World.” The Economist (2016).
• Do you think the recent increase in climate-conscious investing is a bubble? If yes, why? If not, what’s different this time?
• What are some of the infrastructure challenges inherent to electrifying rural areas in developing countries?
• Discuss the centrality of pay-as-you-go (PAYG) systems to solar offerings like M-Kopa.
• Aglionby, John. “Lightbulb Moment for M-Kopa.” Financial Times (2016).• “Unpacking Africa's Solar Power Revolution With Chad Larson Of M-KOPA Solar,” African Tech Roundup, <>
Tuesday29-Mar20. Fintech• Suri, T., & Jack, W. (2016). The long-run poverty and gender impacts of mobile money. Science, 354(6317), 1288-1292. [Please read the introduction and conclusions of the article; you may skim the empirical results]
• Wheatley, Jonathan, and Adrienne Klasa.“Cryptocurrencies: Developing Countries Provide Fertile Ground.” Financial Times (2021).
• How can local institutions and government policies affect the diffusion of innovations like mobile money?
• Discuss some of the creative ways in which unbanked consumers have used existing technology to mimic the functions of traditional financial products.
• What are some of the factors that prevent widespread adoption of financial products like microinsurance in emerging markets?
• What kinds of data can substitute for prior financial history when providing financial products to people without such histories? Are you optimistic or pessimistic about these approaches?
• “How Mobile Money is Spreading.” The Economist (2018).
• Piper, Kelsey. “What Kenya can teach its neighbors — and the US — about improving the lives of the ‘unbanked’”. Vox (2020).
• “Amadou Sy: Fintech Breaking Down Barriers in Africa,” IMF Podcasts, <>
Part 3: Regional Spotlights
Thursday31-Mar21. AfricaWilglory Tanjong (WG ’22), Founder and CEO, Anima Iris (USA/Senegal)• Leke, Acha, and Saf Yeboah-Amankwah. "Africa: A Crucible for Creativity." Harvard Business Review (2018): 116-126.
• Hersman, Erik. "Mobilizing Tech Entrepreneurs in Africa." Innovations: Technology, Governance, Globalization 7.4 (2012): 59-67.
• Discuss some of the challenges and opportunities related to manufacturing and food production on the African continent.
• Consider the commonly cited hubs for innovation on the continent – e.g., Lagos, Nairobi, Johannesburg – and write about some of the advantages and disadvantages of these ecosystems.
• What are some of the differences and barriers between Anglophone and Francophone Africa?
• Discuss the complexities and importance of the Sino-African relationship.
• Albert, Eleanor. “Backgrounder: China in Africa.” Council on Foreign Relations <>• “Acha Leke: Chairman of McKinsey & Co Africa,” Africa State of Mind, <>
Tuesday5-Apr22. Southeast Asia• “Grab vs. Uber vs. Go-Jek: Digital Platform-based International Competition in South East Asia.” INSEAD Case (2018).• What is unique about the market in Southeast Asia, and what are some of the factors that have led to the rise of “super-apps” like the ones we see in the case?
• What role do large investors like SoftBank play in shaping competition between major regional players in a nascent industry like ridesharing?
• Discuss some of the ways in which Grab and Go-Jek instituted a tailored or “hyperlocal” strategy.
• Sender, Henny. “Southeast Asia Aims to Shed Shackles on Tech Start-Ups.” Financial Times (2016).
• Ruehl, Mercedes. “Foreign Investment Drives Surge in South-East Asia Tech Takeovers.” Financial Times (2019).
• “Gojek vs Grab - Dawn of the Super App with Jon Russell,” Analyze Asia with Bernard Leong, <>
Thursday7-Apr23. Latin AmericaMauricio Cordero (WG ’15), CEO and Co-Founder, Bankaya (Mexico)• “Nubank: Democratizing Financial Services.” HBS Case (2021).• Discuss Nubank’s founding team. How did their prior experience prime theme for Nubank’s development? What complementarities exist between the founders?
• What do you view as Nubank’s most promising pathways for expansion, both geographically in Latin America and into different financial products?
• How can “missing middles” hold back the productivity of a region?
• Webber, Jude and Federica Cocco. “Latin America Tested by Lack of Medium Companies and Middle Class.” Financial Times (2019).
• Remes, Jaana and Andres Cadena. “Latin America’s Digital Spring: Work in Progress.” Financial Times (2019).
• Episodes of Crossing Borders <>
• (For Spanish speakers): episodes of En Contxto <>
Tuesday12-Apr24. MENA• Momani, Bessma. “Entrepreneurship: An Engine for Job Creation and Inclusive Growth in the Arab World.” Brookings Policy Briefing (2017).
• Reed, John. “Israel: Start-Up Nation Comes of Age.” Financial Times (2016).
• How might regional economic integration affect entrepreneurship across the MENA region?
• What are some of the factors that have limited scaling in the Israeli technology sector? How are firms overcoming these challenges?
• Discuss the ways in which internet technology has provided new avenues for women entrepreneurs in the Muslim world.
• Zahidi, Saadia. “The Rise of the Muslim Woman Tech Entrepreneur.” The New York Times (2018).• “Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and the Gulf Region’s Startup Ecosystems,” The Global Startup Movement, <>
Thursday14-Apr25. South AsiaDhananjay Goel (WG ’22), Founder and CEO, Timble (India)• “Paytm: Building a Payments Network.” HBS Case (2019).• Discuss some of the opportunities and difficulties presented by the digital payments space in India. What are some of the challenges faced by Paytm as they move towards an IPO?
• Discuss the influence of local and national regulations on the founding of new firms.
• Why might a potential entrepreneur prefer a government job to starting a firm?
• Dang, Geetika. “Sustainable and Inclusive Growth in South Asia.” Brookings (2019). <>.
• Basu, Kaushik. “Why is Bangladesh Booming?” Brookings (2018). <>.
• “The Best Bits,” The Indian Startup Show, <>
Tuesday19-AprFinal Projects Working Session