Legatum Center at MIT Announces 2009-2010 Legatum Fellows

Fellows To Be Formally Introduced on October 2nd at the 2009 Legatum Center at MIT Annual Conference: "Progress Through Innovation"

Sep 28, 2009, 11:57 ET from Legatum Center at MIT

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Sept. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- The Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which is focused on promoting entrepreneurship in low-income countries, has announced the 2009-2010 class of Legatum Fellows.

The incoming class of eight women and eight men spans geography and industry, from a Vietnamese entrepreneur creating a graphic design agency to an orthopedic surgeon from India who will be working to create joint replacement manufacturing centers, to a Zimbabwean who intends to launch a technology consulting firm for women-owned businesses in Southern Africa.

"We are delighted with our new class of Fellows who bring a host of exciting new ideas about possible enterprises in Africa, Asia and Latin America," noted Iqbal Z. Quadir, Founder and Director of the Legatum Center at MIT. "Our worldwide network and family of Fellows are expanding rapidly."

The Legatum Center will welcome the second class of Legatum Fellows, along with the Legatum Center Advisory Board, at its annual conference at Morss Hall on the campus of MIT, to be held on October 2nd, 2009. The day-long event will feature over 25 speakers and panelists, including Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, and Esko Aho, former prime minister of Finland, and will focus on how innovation and bottom-up entrepreneurship can improve the lives of ordinary citizens in low-income countries.

The Fellowship Selection Committee, composed of senior faculty members across MIT as well thought-leaders in venture capital and entrepreneurship, selected 16 Fellows from 79 applications. To be eligible, applicants must be current or incoming students in a graduate degree program at MIT and demonstrate the interest and ability to create a for-profit company in a low-income country after they graduate from the Center.

"In addition to funding, Legatum Fellows are provided with a unique entrepreneurial ecology, where they can engage with entrepreneurs, innovators, investors and international development experts," said Michael F. Maltese, managing director of the Legatum Center. "Our goal is to provide a solid platform from which they can launch their enterprises."

Within a cross-faculty program, the Legatum Fellows benefit from business planning seminars, mentoring and access to the Advisory Board of the Center, which includes Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web; Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, chairman of Biocon, India's largest biotechnology enterprise; Dr. Mo Ibrahim, founder of Celltel International; Karim Khoja, CEO of Roshan, Afghanistan's leading mobile phone company; Jacqueline Novogratz, founder of the Acumen Fund; and Edmund Phelps, 2006 Nobel Prize winning economist.

Legatum Fellow Erica Dhawan, whose project will aim to expand access to education in India, notes: "What drew me to the Legatum Center fellowship is the chance to receive support to start a sustainable for-profit enterprise, but more importantly, to interact and learn from socially conscious leaders across sectors and build a community of like-minded individuals."

Five of the 2008-2009 Fellows have been renewed as Fellows for 2009-2010, to continue their work on projects ranging from bringing clean water to Rwanda to providing medical services in Saudi Arabia and ICT services to farmers in Colombia.


*Indicates a 2008-2009 returning Fellow

Oladapo Bakare

Citizenship: Nigeria/US

Country of Intended Project: Nigeria

Program: MBA, Sloan; SM, School of Engineering

Oladapo's venture will capitalize on the power of technology to promote entrepreneurship in Nigeria. In this nation of 146 million, high IT costs and infrastructure deficiencies prevent entrepreneurs from accessing global innovations. To overcome these barriers, Oladapo will create affordable network devices and a web portal where entrepreneurs will use collaborative online software services to form networks better able to tackle social problems.

Caroline Brun

Citizenship: France

Country of Intended Project: North Africa

Program: SM, Technology and Policy Program

Caroline will focus on developing a clean-technology photovoltaic installation business in North Africa, furthering rural development by creating energy independence and increased access to energy. Great opportunity exists in the solar sector in North Africa where only 65% of the population possesses access to the grid and where 93% of fuel production comes from fossil fuels.

Racheal Chimbghandah

Citizenship: Zimbabwe

Country of Intended Project: Zimbabwe

Program: MBA

Racheal will launch a technology consulting firm for women-owned businesses in Southern Africa. Noting that many African women are not formally educated and thus resort to entrepreneurial activities rather than seeking formal-sector jobs, Racheal will advise women on how to incorporate basic technological tools in entrepreneurial business development to make their businesses more profitable and more efficient.

Erica Dhawan

Citizenship: US

Country of Intended Project: India

Program: MBA

Erica's project will focus on providing increased access to high-quality education across India where 142 million of 361 million school-aged children do not attend classes. Erica will partner with the developers of E-Tutor, a proven e-learning system, and draw on the successful model of the UK's Newton Schools, to develop a standardized curriculum, customized to the needs and realities of developing world students.

Christy Diep Kieu Le

Citizenship: Vietnam

Country of Intended Project: Vietnam

Program: MBA

Christy intends to develop a Vietnamese graphic design agency to help Vietnamese artists enter global design markets and command higher prices for their skills. With the growth of consumer products marketing, the internet, and electronic media, Christy recognizes an escalating demand for graphic and web design, labor-intensive services which have become expensive in the developed world.

Jonathan Fleischer Peicher

Citizenship: Venezuela

Country of Intended Project: Venezuela

Jonathan will continue work on his start-up company, QUIBOR, which produces wood handicrafts for export from a community in Northwestern Venezuela. QUIBOR assists the community in guarding against deforestation by negotiating donations of secondary wood products from licensed forest concessionaries, and helps the community receive a higher price for its crafts by promoting their export to Europe.

Murali Govindaswamy*

Citizenship: India

Country of Intended Project: India

Program: MBA

Murali's venture aims to provide rural villages in India with access to education, telemedicine, agriculture, rural cottage industry markets, and e-governance through increased Internet capabilities. By spreading these services to the rural areas of India, Murali hopes to mitigate the large-scale migration that has become increasingly frequent between rural and urban India.

Nada Hashmi*

Citizenship: Pakistan

Country of Intended Project: Saudi Arabia

Program: PhD, Technology Innovation Entrepreneurship, Sloan

Nada is developing telemedicine and remote diagnosis technologies to assist city hospitals in communicating with rural village clinics in the Middle East. Currently, villages in many developing countries do not have the resources to provide quality health care, but technology can be employed in these contexts to improve access to services and save lives.

Melanie Hoehl

Citizenship: Germany

Country of Intended Project: Panama, Haiti, Nigeria, South Africa and China

Program: PhD, Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology

Melanie has been developing a low-cost and simple detection method for (di-)ethylene glycol and other toxic substances in household products that have repeatedly caused lethal mass poisonings in developing countries. Melanie aspires to found a company to sell the detection device to government control centers, traders, companies and consumers in developing countries.

Ravi Inukonda*

Citizenship: India

Country of Intended Project: India

Program: MBA

Ravi is developing a for-profit model for bringing mobile value added services (VAS) to the estimated 200 million rural cell phone subscribers in India. For these rural subscribers, mobile phones are often the only form of digital access available. By equipping these phones with access to important informational services, Ravi aims to empower local farmers.

Ashish Kothari

Citizenship: India

Country of Intended Project: India

Program: BEP Program: MBA, Sloan Fellow; SM, Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology

Ashish intends to develop high-quality medical services in India, endeavoring to make India a net exporter both of health services and of medical devices and implants. Ashish's venture will hinge on building multiple centers for excellence in joint replacement across the country and will be made cost-effective through centralizing manufacturing and distribution of medical devices and implants.

Javier Lozano

Citizenship: Mexico

Country of Intended Project: Mexico

Program: MBA

Javier will focus on introducing cost-effective clinical medical trials and starting a network of low-cost health care clinics in Mexico. Despite increasing numbers of public hospitals, a large percentage of Mexico's population still lacks access to health care due to geographical isolation, lack of insurance and disparities of wealth.

Natalia Maya Ortiz*

Citizenship: Colombia

Country of Intended Project: Colombia

Program: SM, Engineering, Technology and Policy

Natalia is focusing on ways that Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) can increase agricultural production and expand access to markets in Colombia. Natalia's project, based in a region in Colombia characterized by ethnic, cultural and bio diversity -- but also by violence, internal displacement and poverty -- is an opportunity to address the region's problems and combat current obstacles to equality.

Arjun Nair

Citizenship: India

Country of Intended Project: India

Program: MBA

Arjun will capitalize on the unmet need for a public health information system in India to close the gap in the disparity of medical services available across classes. Under the existing system, India's Primary Health Centers (PHCs), the first point of contact for medical care in villages, do not have the means to keep electronic medical records.

Jean-Pierre Nshimyimana*

Citizenship: Rwanda

Country of Intended Project: Rwanda

Program: MS, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Jean Pierre is developing an environmental engineering consulting business to provide superior services, designs, knowledge, and water engineering solutions to community-based initiatives in Rwanda where nearly half of the population lacks access to clean water. Jean-Pierre has extensive experience working in the areas of sanitation and water filtration.

Reina Riemann

Citizenship: Venezuela/Germany

Country of Intended Project: South America

Program: PhD, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Reina will develop software tools to allow individuals to make simplified and secure commercial transactions in South America. Such an electronic payment system will allow Venezuelans to engage in commercial activities locally and gain access to global e-commerce activities.

About the Legatum Center at MIT

The Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was founded in 2007 with a structured gift from Legatum, a global investment firm. Led by Professor Iqbal Z. Quadir, founder of GrameenPhone and Emergence BioEnergy, the Center is focused on promoting entrepreneurship in low-income countries. The Center runs a highly competitive fellowship program for incoming or current graduate students at MIT. For more information about the Center and the fellowship, please visit: http://legatum.mit.edu.

About Legatum

Legatum is a privately owned international investment organization. Founded in 2006, Legatum draws on a twenty-year heritage of investment excellence in the global capital markets, allocating capital to support the development of companies, governments and markets across a wide range of sectors and geographies. In addition to investing in global capital markets, Legatum is also committed to promoting sustainable human development and the expansion of knowledge and best practice across the globe. The Legatum Group is composed of a number of divisions: Legatum Capital; Legatum Ventures; Legatum Institute, Legatum Center at MIT and the Legatum Foundation. For more information, please visit www.legatum.com .


    Elizabeth Henry
    Legatum Center at MIT

    Jonathan Robinson

SOURCE Legatum Center at MIT