• Ezinne Uzo-Okoro (standing, center) is developing a venture that aims to grow fresh and affordable food everywhere.

    Ezinne Uzo-Okoro (standing, center) is developing a venture that aims to grow fresh and affordable food everywhere.

    Photo courtesy of Ezinne Uzo-Okoro

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  • Sergio Medina (right) heads to the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya, where his venture is using technology solutions to accelerate the delivery of humanitarian aid.

    Sergio Medina (right) heads to the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya, where his venture is using technology solutions to accelerate the delivery of humanitarian aid.

    Photo courtesy of Sergio Medina

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  • Chinh Bui (left) is leveraging automation and AI to revolutionize the way English is taught and learned in emerging markets like Vietnam.

    Chinh Bui (left) is leveraging automation and AI to revolutionize the way English is taught and learned in emerging markets like Vietnam.

    Photo courtesy of Chinh Bui

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  • Pulkit Shamshery’s venture uses solar mini-grids to provide access to water, cold storage, and electricity in underdeveloped communities in Kenya.

    Pulkit Shamshery’s venture uses solar mini-grids to provide access to water, cold storage, and electricity in underdeveloped communities in Kenya.

    Photo courtesy of Pulkit Shamshery

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  • Luis Torres displays an MIT Fintech prize for his venture DUO (cofounded with Hugo Lopez), which is developing a management dashboard and corporate card for small and medium businesses in Mexico.

    Luis Torres displays an MIT Fintech prize for his venture DUO (cofounded with Hugo Lopez), which is developing a management dashboard and corporate card for small and medium businesses in Mexico.

    Photo courtesy of Luis Torres

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  • This “Firefly Pen” was developed by Quadri Oguntade’s startup, Bright Future, which seeks to aid education for off-grid Nigerian students by providing an innovative light source.

    This “Firefly Pen” was developed by Quadri Oguntade’s startup, Bright Future, which seeks to aid education for off-grid Nigerian students by providing an innovative light source.

    Photo courtesy of Quadri Oguntade

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  • Sumit Sharma’s India-based venture, i^4, is developing portable incubators that will minimize neonatal deaths caused hypothermia.

    Sumit Sharma’s India-based venture, i^4, is developing portable incubators that will minimize neonatal deaths caused hypothermia.

    Photo courtesy of Sumit Sharma

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Legatum Center announces 2019-20 fellowship class

Ezinne Uzo-Okoro (standing, center) is developing a venture that aims to grow fresh and affordable food everywhere.

The fellowship is MIT’s capstone program for student-entrepreneurs seeking high impact in emerging markets.


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The Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship at MIT announced its fellowship class for the 2019-20 academic year. These 23 student-entrepreneurs are developing innovative business solutions for emerging markets across the globe, including 10 in Africa, six in Latin America, and seven in Asia. Solutions range from portable devices that protect newborns from hypothermia in India, to enhanced preservation of perishable products being shipped internationally from Colombia, to technology solutions that improve delivery of humanitarian aid for refugees in Kenya.

The Legatum Center operates on the belief that entrepreneurial innovators and their market-driven solutions are critical to advancing a more inclusive, global prosperity. The center offers a range of programs for students, but its fellowship is reserved for those most committed to building and scaling ventures in the developing world. Besides tuition, travel, and prototyping support, fellows receive access to mentors and advisors, a targeted for-credit curriculum, and the peer support of an incubator-like community.

Fellowships within the Legatum Center are supported by the Mastercard Foundation, as well as the Legatum Group and the Jacobs Foundation. Since its founding in 2007, the Legatum Center has supported 272 fellows, many of whom continue to lead and grow impactful ventures across the globe, while others have gone on to support the entrepreneurial ecosystem in their roles as investors, corporate/non-governmental organization executives, academics, and policymakers.

“As always, our fellows represent the next generation of impact-driven entrepreneurial leaders, and we can’t wait to begin working with them,” says Megan Mitchell, director of fellowship and student programs. “And, of course, every cohort is unique. This year, many of our fellows are developing innovative solutions for education and financial services, but we also have ventures in health care, agriculture, media, consumer goods, energy, transportation, and more.”

The 2019-20 fellows within the Legatum Center are:

Larissa Bezerra Abreu is an MBA student in the MIT Sloan School of Management. Abreu’s business, mxnMEDIA, is an above-the-line media platform which enables Brazilian companies of all sizes to get verifiable mass reach without significant advertising budgets.

Nafees Ahmed is an MBA student in MIT Sloan. Ahmed’s business, Usawa Investments, is a digital platform that cultivates the Pakistani startup ecosystem by connecting investors to entrepreneurs.

Michael Joseph Bautista is an MBA student in MIT Sloan. Bautista’s venture, TOCA, seeks to provide job opportunities in the Philippines while supplying technology firms with cheaper machine-learning data.

Chinh Bui is a master’s student in engineering and management within the Integrated Design and Management program. Bui’s venture, Learn-In-Context, leverages automation and artificial intelligence to revolutionize the way English is taught and learned in emerging markets like Vietnam.

Fatima Diallo is a master’s and MBA student in the interdisciplinary Leaders for Global Operations program within MIT Sloan and the School of Engineering. Diallo’s venture, Cadi, seeks to enhance the student learning experience in Guinea by providing primary school teachers access to curated curricula.

Efewongbe Gboneme is an MBA student in MIT Sloan. Gboneme’s venture, Sky High, is focused on reducing unemployment and underemployment in Nigeria by providing career exploration opportunities for students in secondary schools.

Sahil Joshi is an MBA student in MIT Sloan. Joshi’s venture RiskBoard, based in Mexico, uses machine learning to help multinational companies operate more sustainably.

Nithin Kantareddy is a PhD student in the Department of Mechnical Engineering. Kantareddy’s venture, Digilitics, helps factories in India reduce their monthly electricity bills and provides hospitals insights to better schedule their operations.

Hugo Lopez Velarde Martinez is an MBA student in MIT Sloan. Martinez’s venture DUO (cofounded with Fellow Luis Torres) is a challenger bank building the next generation of financial services, beginning with a management dashboard and corporate card, for small and medium businesses in Mexico.

Sergio Medina is an Executive MBA student in MIT Sloan. Medina’s venture, RISE, is deploying technology solutions to accelerate humanitarian aid for refugee children globally, starting in Kenya, with a particular focus on education, gender parity, and food security.

Anatole Menon-Johansson is an MBA student and Sloan Fellow in MIT Sloan. Menon-Johansson’s venture SXT, based in South Africa, is an anonymous and cost-effective way to inform sexual partners of their infection risk and digitally curate their journey to effective testing.

David Miranda is a PhD candidate in medical engineering within the Harvard-MIT Health Science and Technology Program. Miranda's venture, Floricola, aims to improve the quality of perishable products shipped from Colombia during long-range transport.

Michel Mosse is an MBA student in MIT Sloan. Mosse’s venture, Inlara, is an online marketplace for individuals and enterprises in Argentina to find the most convenient coaching experience to unlock their potential.

Mercy Ndambuki is an MBA student in MIT Sloan. Ndambuki’s venture, Mbavu, aims to help upskill local Kenyan talent in private mid-sized companies.

Quadri Oguntade is an MBA student in MIT Sloan. Oguntade’s venture, Bright Future, seeks to provide an alternative light source for Nigerian students who lack access to electricity.

Joshua Reed-Diawuoh is an MBA student in MIT Sloan. Reed-Diawuoh’s venture, GhanaMade Cashew Company, will focus on making and selling premium Ghanaian food and beverage products for specialty markets.

Sebie Salim is an Executive MBA student in MIT Sloan. Salim’s Kenya-based fintech venture, Tenakata, seeks to help small businesses keep better records and increase their borrowing power in order to grow their business.

Pulkit Shamshery is an MBA student in MIT Sloan. Shamshery’s venture, Illumina Africa, aims to use solar mini-grids to provide access to water, cold storage, and electricity in underdeveloped communities in Kenya.

Sumit Sharma is an MBA student in MIT Sloan. Sharma’s India-based venture, i^4, aims to develop a portable incubator that will minimize the more than two million neonatal deaths that occur annually due to hypothermia.

Rodrick Tan is an MBA student in MIT Sloan. Tan’s venture, Sakay, empowers lower- and middle-class Filipinos without a car to get around Metro Manila through information on their phones.

Yih Lin Teh is an MBA student in MIT Sloan. Teh’s venture, CapSphere, is Malaysia’s first asset-based financing peer-to-peer lending platform.

Luis Torres is an MBA student in MIT Sloan. Torres’ venture, DUO (cofounded with Fellow Hugo Lopez Velarde Martinez), is a challenger bank building the next generation of financial services, beginning with a management dashboard and corporate card, for small and medium businesses in Mexico.

Ezinne Uzo-Okoro is a master’s student in the Media Lab. Uzo-Okoro’s Nigeria-based venture, Terraformers, aims to grow fresh food everywhere.


Topics: Legatum Center, Sloan School of Management, School of Engineering, Health sciences and technology, School of Architecture and Planning, Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E), Developing countries, Students, International development, Media Lab, Awards, honors and fellowships, Business and management, Leaders for Global Operations (LGO)

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