Program Components | Eligibility | Selection CriteriaApplication Process | Key Dates

Current Fellows | Alumni Fellows 

The 2016 Legatum Fellowship Application is now closed. Applications closed on April 15, 2016.

Please familiarize yourself with the application process and review the sample application and conditions of eligibility before applying. For frequently asked questions see our Fellowship FAQ. For updates on the Fellowship program and application notices, please join our mailing list.



Every year, the Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship at MIT builds a cohort of ~20 highly motivated entrepreneurial leaders from MIT who are accelerating progress in the developing world through their innovation-driven ventures. During this 1-year fellowship, students focus on building and scaling their innovative product or service “on the ground” as well as building the necessary knowledge, capabilities, mindset and networks to ensure maximum impact and a sustainable future. Through this process, we create strong entrepreneurial leaders who not only drive economic and social progress through their ventures but also become change agents and global role models for future generations of high impact entrepreneurs. 


Staying true to our MIT motto, our fellowship programming incorporates elements of both Mens (Mind) and Manus (Hand), including:

  • Specialized Leadership Curriculum: We are working with MIT faculty and experienced entrepreneurs to design a curriculum that will help our Fellows reach their personal and professional goals and advance as entrepreneurial leaders in the developing world. Through our customized training, students will develop practical skills for navigating complex business environments, setting and reaching venture milestones, and leading teams of people on the ground in the developing world. We also work with our students to map their curricular and extra-curricular journey at MIT so they can leverage the best that MIT has to offer.
  • High-Touch Mentorship: We recognize that each student has unique venture and personal development needs, depending on the geography, industry and stage of their entrepreneurial journey. To accommodate these needs, we have built a network of domain experts and mentors to provide guidance, encouragement or specialized advice on an as-needed basis.
  • Strong Community: Students who are accepted into the Fellowship become part of a special cohort of change agents whose support and networks they can leverage for the rest of their lives. Through the center, students are also immersed in an extensive entrepreneurial ecosystem of aspiring and experienced entrepreneurs, investors, potential partners, and new technologies.
  • Financial Support: Each Fellow will be awarded with funding that can be used to support their school tuition and stipend. Fellows are also provided with seed grants to enable travel to the field so they can continue their primary market research (PMR), build relationships and run pilots.


In order to be eligible for the Fellowship, applicants must either be a:

  • Current MIT Student
    • Currently enrolled as a student at MIT
    • Enrolled as an MIT student for the duration of the one-year fellowship
    • Committed to being an entrepreneurial leader in a developing country
  • Future MIT Student
    • Admitted to begin a degree program at MIT next academic year 
    • Enrolled as an MIT student for the duration of the one-year fellowship
    • Committed to being an entrepreneurial leader in a developing country



We are looking to build a cohort of highly-motivated entrepreneurial leaders who are not only committed to driving economic and social progress in the developing world through their innovation-driven ventures but also have the potential to become change agents and global role models for future generations of high impact entrepreneurs. This fellowship is intensely action-oriented and only students who are fully committed to embracing the Fellowship experience and becoming an entrepreneurial leader in the developing world will be considered.

Successful candidates must have the following personal and professional characteristics: 


  • Action-Oriented Entrepreneurial Leadership:  We are looking for principled innovative leaders who have a track record for leading change and, though action, have demonstrated their leadership capabilities and commitment to fostering growth in developing world.
  • Competitive Advantage: We are looking for individuals who bring a deep level of know-how to their venture (whether related to a technical field, geographic area and/or industry sector) and thus have a competitive edge to lead their venture to success.
  • Innovation-Driven Entrepreneurship (IDE) Mindset: We are looking for self-motivated visionaries who embody our mission to accelerate social and economic progress across the developing world. We are looking for students who have the drive to pursue global markets and achieve exponential growth (in terms of revenue, jobs and impact) and also contribute to the community as change agents and global role models for future generations of high impact entrepreneurs across the developing world. 


  • Beyond Ideation: We are looking for ventures that are ready to be deployed (if not already!) and scaled on the ground. We want our Fellows to be beyond the ideation/ exploration phase and beyond theorizing about a problem or challenge they “think” exists. We want our Fellows to know their customer’s pain points (and ideally have a paying customer!) and be confident in their ability to solve customer needs through their product or service. Considerable primary market research (PMR) and/ or pilot highly desirable before applying. 
  • Progress-Driven: We are looking for ventures focused in developing world markets that not only have the potential to accelerate economic progress (by creating jobs and increasing the average income per person) but also to accelerate social progress. Whether the venture enables increased life expectancy, provides better education or provides access to financial tools that significantly improve an individual’s productivity at home or in the workplace, Legatum Center ventures give people the prospect of being able to build a better life. We have a preference for for-profit ventures but are open to all business models that have the potential for considerable scale, impact and sustainability.
  • Innovation-Driven: We are looking for venture concepts centered on building competitive advantage through an innovative product, process or business model. Often untried ideas, innovation-driven ventures push the boundaries of industry norms. IDE entrepreneurs face great risk– but the payoff for the entrepreneurs and region can be much greater, achieving exponential growth (in terms of revenue, jobs and impact), if successful. 



  1. Online Application: All candidates for the Legatum Fellowship are required to submit an online application by the deadline of April 15th 2016. Online submissions include: an online survey, a 1-2 minute introductory video, two recommendation letters and your resume. We strongly encourage you to submit an online application. If you are unable to access the online application for technical reasons, you may request a hard copy application. 
    1. Online survey: See here for an overview of the questions and here for the online application.
    2. Introductory Video: The purpose of this video is to introduce yourself to your future Legatum cohort. We ask that you spend no more than 1-2 minutes telling us about yourself, your idea (i.e. the problem you are trying to solve and your solution) and  what you will contribute (both personally and professionally) to your Legatum cohort.
    3. Recommendation letters: We ask that you provide 2 recommendation letters. You will be able to upload these recommendations letters as part of the online survey. (1 page max)
    4. Resume/ CV: We ask that you provide the most up to date version of your resume or CV (1 page max).
  2. Review: Applications will be reviewed by a committee of MIT faculty and industry experts. Applicants who make it through to the final round will be called for interview.  
  3.  Interviews: Interviews are by invitation only. Whenever possible, Fellowship finalists are interviewed in person. For those finalists based outside of the United States or unable to visit campus, interviews will be conducted by phone or Skype.
  4. Notification: Successful applicants will be notified by May 20th, 2016.


Please note that re-applicants are required to complete this year's Fellowship application in full. Previous submissions will not be reviewed.



  • February 18, 2016, 8:00am EST - Fellowship Application Opens
  • April 15, 2016, 11:59pm EST – Fellowship Application Deadline
  • Feburary 22nd, 2016, 5:00pm EST – Legatum Center Information Session (an opportunity to learn about the fellowship and engage with our community in-person)
  • March, 2016 (date TBD): Legatum Open House/ Webinar (an opportunity to learn about the fellowship and engage with our community through an online portal)
  • April 1, 2016, 9:00am EST – 1-Day Scaling Development Ventures Conference (an opportunity to hear from and meet current and alumni Fellows)
  • May 20, 2016, 11:59pm EST – Fellowship Notification Deadline (all successful applicants will be notified by this date)
  • If you have any questions regarding the fellowship, please come to one of our information sessions or email: legatum-fellowship@ mit.edu


The Legatum Center provides a scholarship award to support Fellows’ studies at MIT. The scholarship amount awarded to each new Fellow is determined by several factors, including the number of new Fellows and the pool of funding available for that academic year. In general, funds awarded have ranged from $5,000 to $50,000 for the year of the Fellowship. We may under certain circumstances, provide funding to cover full tuition.

As funding is limited, we encourage applicants to explore external sources of funding. For more information on financial aid at MIT, please visit the Student Financial Services website.

The Legatum Fellowship financial award can only be applied towards MIT educational expenses, such as tuition, stipend and/or medical insurance. Funds from the Legatum Center may be received to supplement, but not to duplicate, financial awards from other MIT departments or from other foundations, institutions, or organizations. The combined financial award from all sources may not exceed the maximum limitation as prescribed by MIT's cost-of-attendance budget.  Seed grants are also available.


The Legatum Center Fellowships are enabled by the generous support of our Center partners. Please note that the application process is the same for all Legatum Fellowship applicants. Award amounts and funding sources will be determined internally.

The MasterCard Foundation Fellowships within the Legatum Center

A generous gift from The MasterCard Foundation has established The MasterCard Foundation Fellowships within the Legatum Center to support MIT students who wish to establish businesses in low-income countries. This grant will provide up to 200 fellowships over a period of ten years, an average of 20 fellowships per year, with a preference for students working on projects in Africa. Please note that the application process is the same for all Legatum Fellowship applicants.

The Legatum Fellowships within the Legatum Center

Legatum Limited seeded the Legatum Center at MIT with a multi-million dollar investment in 2007.  The Center was founded on the belief that entrepreneurship, rather than international aid, is the engine of growth in developing markets. Their continued support provides the Center with the resources to convene events, pursue research and develop the entrepreneurial leaders who will scale business ventures and generate prosperity in low-income countries.  Please note that the application process is the same for all Legatum Fellowship applicants.

HRH Princess Moudi bint Khalid Fellowships within the Legatum Center

The Legatum Center received a gift from the family of HRH Princess Moudi bint Khalid to support as Legatum Fellows those MIT students who are citizens or long-term residents of Saudi Arabia, and who wish to establish businesses that contribute to Saudi Arabia's economic and social progress. Please note that the application process is the same for all Legatum Fellowship applicants.

Browse current Legatum Fellows >>

Browse Legatum Fellow alumni >>

FAQ >>

Email questions to: legatum-fellowship@mit.edu


Other important links at MIT

MIT Sloan School of Management
Graduate Students Office
International Students Office
Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship