Coming Full Circle: Where Miller Center’s Entrepreneur Alumni Network is headed in 2024


As a way to celebrate and wrap up the year in review, Miller Center counted down the end of 2023 by releasing our top 10 highlights of the year. Check out our year-end wrap-up HERE. It should come as no surprise that many of those highlights revolved around our entrepreneur alumni community.

We first announced a commitment to doubling down on our alumni strategy as a key part of Miller Center’s larger 2025 Strategy back in 2021, and it was exciting to see how much of that strategy came into fruition last year. One banner example was the 2023 Fall In-Residence, in which the entire cohort was composed of 12 stellar Miller Center alumni. It was also the first time leaders from other alumni enterprises were invited to support the In-Residence cohort in meaningful ways. Miller Center hosted its inaugural In-Residence at Santa Clara University in 2003, making the 2023 event our 20th anniversary. It’s remarkable to see how much the Miller Center alumni community has grown and scaled over the last 20 years. It’s also incredibly gratifying that the entrepreneurs in this network have chosen to stay connected and support each other in their journeys.

A Critical Juncture for Santa Clara University & Miller Center

As we begin 2024, we are gearing up to build upon the successes of our 2025 strategy. This comes at a particularly serendipitous time, as Santa Clara University, under the leadership of President Julie Sullivan, looks toward the future with Impact 2028. This is the university’s strategic plan for building greater impact in pursuit of a more just, humane, and sustainable world.

This will serve as a critical roadmap as we navigate a complex higher education landscape, and continue our progress as a leading Jesuit university.

President Julie Sullivan

There is significant alignment between President Sullivan’s strategic priorities and Miller Center, particularly as it relates to focusing efforts to support our highest potential enterprise alumni. Two key priorities for Santa Clara University are to take a human-centered approach toward solving some of our world’s most critical issues and position the university as a globally engaged Jesuit university. Miller Center sees tremendous potential to leverage the work we do with our entrepreneur alumni community in translating these priorities into actions. We specifically work with enterprises from all over the world in the areas of climate resilience and women’s economic power. After an enterprise completes an initial Miller Center program, we continue to support them as an alum in scaling their positive social and environmental impact.

Investing in High-potential Enterprise Alumni

Let’s take a step back and define what we mean by high-potential enterprise alumni. And how does supporting this subset of the alumni community coordinate with SCU’s strategic priorities? Miller Center takes a 360-degree view when it comes to evaluating social enterprises for our alumni programs. First and foremost, we prioritize enterprises that have both a robust impact model and business model that are interwoven. In other words, the enterprise has sustainable revenue AND makes a positive impact in the community it serves, without comprising either. Other evaluation parameters that we look at when gauging a high-potential alum are its efficiency to growth capacity ratio and investment readiness.

Last year Miller Center officially launched our own fund, Miller Center Capital, which enables us to invest in the alumni community. For a Miller Center alum to qualify as investment-ready and a candidate for the fund, we look closely at the enterprise’s diligence materials, amount of capital raised, and their legal structure. In 2023, we made five new investments in, Deevabits Green Energy, VITALITE Malawi, Someone Somewhere, and WARC Africa. These investments are driving real and growing impact in helping them advance innovative and human-centered solutions.

Expanding the Alumni Suite of Services

In addition to establishing a fund, we’ve expanded our suite of services that bring value to alumni social enterprises through personalized mentorship, coaching, and original curricula. Our alumni services continue to build on the enterprise’s capacity to design and track key metrics and develop high-quality fundraising materials and skills. What’s more, we create safe spaces where entrepreneurs can access peer support and best practices. Recognizing the importance of serving the entire organization, our services are not just limited to the CEOs or founders of participating social enterprises. Miller Center also works to contribute meaningfully to the development of alumni organizations’ senior and middle management which are critical to the enterprises’ ability to successfully scale.

Determining the Most Effective Way to Scale

A huge component of our work to support our alumni is creating bespoke engagements that will best enable the enterprise to scale. These types of customized engagements are critical in helping the enterprise identify what effective scaling looks like for their business.

In the world of social entrepreneurship, there are many ways in which to scale — including extending the reach of solutions to new customer segments, markets, or geographies. Miller Center’s alumni programs take a broad lens of scaling options through which our alumni can grow the impact that they are already enabling through their products or services.

The common thread through all of these scaling approaches is taking the time to discover and fully understand the problems the business is solving. In other words, involving the end-user from the very beginning by placing their needs at the center of the social enterprise’s business model. What is equally important is recognizing the inherent benefit of forging deeper connections between an enterprise’s customers, funders, and other ecosystem partners. It is this interconnectedness that Miller Center’s Alumni Network helps harness and foster and where our enterprise alumni can get the most value when they continue to stay engaged with us.

Coming Full Circle With Alumni

Many Miller Center alumni, such as our 2022 and 2023 Impact Excellence Award recipients, have gone on to scale by orders of magnitude since initially participating in a Miller Center program. These types of social enterprises are at a stage of growth in which they may not necessarily need the support offered by our alumni programs. Nonetheless, they keep coming back and Miller Center has developed deeper partnerships with this subset of our enterprise alumni, reinforcing the value of interconnectedness and wanting to stay connected.

One shining example is Jibu. Established in 2012, Jibu first participated in a Miller Center accelerator program in 2014 to build foundational business practices that then enabled them to secure a critical initial investment. Since 2014, Jibu has gone on to scale across 8 countries in Africa and has securely established itself as a premier water franchise entity. They have grown to a stage of operation in which they are now able to give back and support their social enterprise peers by sharing their own learnings. We are excited to announce that this year, Jibu Co-founder Randy Welsch will co-facilitate and lead Miller Center’s newest Leadership Circle, focused on developing emerging leaders from our alumni organizations’ senior and middle management.

Another excellent example is IluMéxico. Established in 2010, IluMéxico first participated in our accelerator in 2013 to help solidify their last-mile distribution model, delivering affordable solar energy solutions to rural communities in Latin America. They’ve now expanded by launching a new initiative called Popular Power from the core IluMéxico team that focuses on creating digital solutions for solar companies so that they can scale more quickly. IluMéxico CEO and Co-Founder Manuel Wiechers helped facilitate a human resources workshop during our 2023 Fall In-Residence. It was so well received, that we are excited to continue to partner with him in delivering a similar in-person workshop in Nairobi in March.

It is alumni like Randy and Manuel that show how much the Miller Center alumni community has grown and, quite literally, grown up. We’ve come to a beautiful full circle where our entrepreneur alumni are able to give back and support other Miller Center enterprises by leveraging their own industry and sector expertise.

What’s in store for 2024

In addition to our flagship Fall In-Residence, Miller Center has several events and activities lined up for our alumni community in 2024. We are thrilled to host a number of in-person alumni workshops and receptions across Africa, Latin America, and India this year. Members of our team will also participate in the Latin America Impact Investing Forum (FLII) in Mexico, Sankalp Africa Summit in Kenya, and AVPN in the United Arab Emirates.

We will continue to deliver bespoke mentorship and investments through Miller Center Capital. Additionally, this year we are excited to partner with 12 Santa Clara University professors offering undergraduate and graduate coursework that’s specifically designed to help our alumni scale and also integrates social entrepreneurship into courses across several departments to create a multidisciplinary framework of learning. All of which is in perfect alignment with Santa Clara University and Miller Center’s strategic vision of being globally engaged and creating human-centered solutions to our world’s most pressing social and environmental challenges.

Miller Center is heading into 2024 with a shared commitment to make a difference through deep and meaningful engagements with our entrepreneur alumni community. Here’s to a year of creating ripples of positivity together!



  1. Co-founder and CEO Neil Patel (center) with Miller Center Alumni Programs Director Karen Runde and Impact Investing Director Paul Belknap
  2. 2023 In-Residence cohort backstage at SOCAP23
  3. IluMéxico Co-founder and CEO Manuel Wiechers (far right) and Chief Innovation Officer Morgan Babbs receive our Impact Excellence Award from Miller Center Advisory Board member Manoj Jain and Executive Director Brigit Helms