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MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY Legatum Center for Development & Entrepreneurship


Legatum Center – About

The Legatum Center was founded on the belief that entrepreneurs and their market-driven solutions are critical to advancing economic and social progress in the developing world. While global prosperity has increased in recent decades, the progress is uneven, with the worst deprivations concentrated in specific parts of the globe. The Center drives more inclusive prosperity by building pathways for the next generation of change agents who, through principled entrepreneurial leadership, will create good jobs, transform systems, and improve lives. Our supporters include the Legatum Group, the Mastercard Foundation, HRH Princess Moudi Bint Khalid, and the Jacobs Foundation.

We’re a global community that is based at MIT, drawing on the Institute’s talent, networks, presence, and expertise to inspire and equip those who want to move their ideas toward scalable impact. Our Principles of Operation build on the principles of the broader MIT entrepreneurship community. We build inclusive pathways within MIT and also between MIT and emerging market ecosystems. These not only support entrepreneurs on the ground, they also fuel research and thought leadership.

Building Student Pathways

We offer a portfolio of programs that support students at every stage of their entrepreneurial journey, from those still discovering their path, to those exploring specific market opportunities, to those executing a plan that transforms opportunity into an innovative venture.

Discovery – For students that seek inspiration, we run a series of events including discovery sessions and ideation workshops. For example, we host faculty-led panels around topics like the UN Sustainable Development Goals and how emerging technologies are impacting frontier markets, as well as the opportunities and obstacles facing entrepreneurs who tackle these complex social challenges.

Exploration – For students exploring a specific idea for impact we offer travel grants so they can test their customer and product assumptions in the field. We also offer mentorship services through our Entrepreneur in Residence and professional advisory network. We encourage students to participate in student-led club activities as well as any activities we support as part of the entrepreneurial ecosystem, like the “Get Good Stuff Done” workshops.

Execution – Our capstone program—a competitive Fellowship—is reserved for our most promising and committed students. Each year we build a cohort of 20-25 students who are dedicated to building and scaling ventures in the developing world. We provide them with tuition, travel, and prototyping support, as well as access to mentors, special seminars, and other cross-campus resources.

Building Global Pathways

The Legatum Center provides channels for entrepreneurs across the world to access MIT resources and contribute to our community. Open Mic Africa, for example, is a unique Pan-African tour organized to support local entrepreneurs addressing the continent’s greatest challenges. The MIT Zambezi Prize for Innovation in Financial Inclusion, established in collaboration with The Mastercard Foundation, awards $200K in cash prizes to finalists as well as a tuition-free seat in a weeklong leadership boot camp at MIT Sloan.

We also provide opportunities for Legatum Center alumni to engage in our on-campus activities and global recruitment efforts. These programs enable students, alumni, and faculty to build and strengthen international partnerships and seek new research and business opportunities.

Advancing Research and Thought Leadership

We learn much from our students and alumni as well as from the global entrepreneurship community. Leveraging this valuable knowledge allows us to advance research and thought leadership that can influence entrepreneurs, investors, policymakers, and other stakeholders.

Our research agenda has three elements: case studies highlighting the experiences of our alumni; support for and coalescence of existing MIT research efforts to understand the impact of innovation and entrepreneurship in the developing world; and financial resources to translate evidence-based insights into actionable recommendations. Also, the Research Assistantship program supports students and faculty who want to develop, share, and implement business and policy tools.

10+ Years of Impact

In the Legatum Center’s first 10 years (2007-2017) we supported 213 Fellows across industries—including agriculture, IT/telecom, financial services, and healthcare—and awarded $7 million in funding. Fellowship alumni with active ventures in frontier markets have reported collectively raising $79 million and creating 14,700 jobs. They have also impacted 600,000 consumers, 300,000 farmers, 230,000 patients, and 37,000 business owners and entrepreneurs. Learn more by reading our 10-year Impact Report.

Read our Principles of Operation


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