Legatum Center at MIT Announces IAP 2010 Seed Grant Recipients
Dec 30, 2009
Cambridge, MA – The Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is pleased to announce the recipients of its seed grant program for MIT’s 2010 January Independent Activities Period (IAP).
Teams of MIT students submitted proposals for innovative projects on energy, health, water, information and data collection, mobile services, and a host of other enterprise solutions to development challenges in low-income countries. The Legatum Center competitively selected fourteen teams to receive funding, with projects in Honduras, Paraguay, Tanzania, Ghana, India, Kenya, Peru, and China. Teams will use these grants to fund market research, project scoping, and pilot studies during IAP.
"MIT students are passionate and creative problem-solvers, and through these grants, they can advance projects that have as their aim the creation of a sustainable enterprise in a low-income country,” said Iqbal Z. Quadir, founder and director of the Legatum Center.
Grantee teams include MIT undergraduate students, graduate students, PhD candidates, and professors, and come from across schools and departments. Shayna Harris, an MBA candidate, is working with political science student Gustavo Setrini on team Karu Pyahu, which aims to create a mission-based trading company that supports local farmers and promotes sustainable agriculture in Paraguay. Harris and Setrini will use their IAP seed grant to build connections with Paraguayan farmers and government officials. “Winning the seed grant is our opportunity to decisively start down a path towards sustainable agriculture in Paraguay that [Setrini and I have] both envisioned for a long time. It is a chance to begin putting our values and our training into practice,” Harris writes.
Fellow grantee team Sanergy, made up of Sloan School of Management students David Auerbach, Ani Vallabhaneni, and Jeff Zira, has developed an innovative model that utilizes local entrepreneurs to create access to sanitation and generate both energy and fertilizer. “Our long-term goal at Sanergy is to build a profitable business that combats the challenges of sanitation, energy, and food production while generating local employment and improving living conditions in the communities we work,” explains Vallabhaneni. The team will use their IAP seed grant to conduct crucial hands-on research in Kenya, following months of extensive research and development at MIT.
About the Legatum Center
The Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship at MIT was founded in 2007 with a gift from Legatum, a global investment firm. Led by Iqbal Z. Quadir, founder of GrameenPhone, the Center administers programs and convenes events that promote and shape discourse on entrepreneurial, bottom-up solutions to development. The Center runs a highly competitive fellowship program for MIT graduate students who intend to launch enterprises in low-income countries, convenes an annual conference, hosts lectures, and supports teams of enterprising MIT students who are passionate about starting viable businesses in the developing world. For more information about the Center and its programming, please visit: http://legatum.mit.edu.