MIT D-Lab Scale-Ups Fellowship Program

The MIT D-Lab Scale-Ups Fellowship offers one year of support to social entrepreneurs bringing poverty-alleviating products and services to market at scale. Scale-Ups Fellows receive a $20,000 grant, tailored mentorship, skills-building, and networking opportunities. Alumni of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the International Development Design Summit (IDDS) are eligible to apply

Fellows enter the program with a compelling proof-of-concept, and a few to thousands of units tested or sold. During the 12-month fellowship, entrepreneurs work to retire risk in technical feasibility and market viability, thereby positioning their ventures for investment, partnership, and growth.

Now in its sixth year, the D-Lab Scale-Ups program has provided fellowships to 33 social entrepreneurs working on four continents in sectors including agriculture, energy, water, health care, housing, livelihoods, mobility, recycling, education, and personal finance.

At the close of last year’s cycle, Scale-Ups fellows, fellows had raised $11.4 million, created over 343 direct and 3,278 indirect full-time equivalent jobs; and, through their product and service offerings, directly improve the lives of nearly 700,000 people living in low-income settings. 

Applications for 2017 are now closed.

2017 D-Lab Scale-Ups Fellows

TUNDE ALAWODE, CO-FOUNDER & CEO, DOT LEARN - NIGERIA

dot Learn, is working with his team to make video-based online education accessible and affordable on cheap smartphones and 2G connections, the devices and connections most commonly used in Africa. By encoding chalkboard-style learning videos, such as those created by Khan Academy, in a text-based vector format, dot Learn is able to put an hour-long video into a tiny one-MB file and a student can access five hours of video for the cost of sending a single text message. Read more.

HONEY BAJAJ, CO-FOUNDER & CEO, AVIR TECHNOLOGIES - INDIA

Avir Technologies is currently developing Swas, a mobile solution that uses proprietary, clinically validated technologies to accurately diagnose the most common types of pulmonary disease. Swas is specifically designed for rural health workers and low-income patients who lack familiarity with pulmonary disease and the use of sophisticated medical technology. Requiring only a mobile app and a complementary device to diagnose pulmonary symptoms, Swas is both low-cost and easy-to-use. Read more.

REBECCA HUI, CO-FOUNDER & CEO, ROOTS STUDIO - INDIA & EXPANDING

Roots Studio, is creating a digital marketplace enabling isolated rural artists, living on less than $1,000 per household per year, to do business with buyers around the world. Through Roots Studio, artists who previously had little opportunity to profit from their work in the global marketplace are able to digitize and license their work, and benefit from long-term royalty streams, while protecting their intellectual property rights. Read more.

CHEBET LESAN, FOUNDER & CEO BRIGHTGREEN RENEWABLE ENERGY - KENYA

BrightGreen Renewable Energy is a woman-led social enterprise, whose mission is to provide affordable, clean, safe and eco-friendly charcoal briquettes for low income earning households in Kenya. They design, produce and sell innovative charcoal briquettes from recycled waste including char fines, carbonized sawdust from lumber industries, and waste flour from local flourmills. Read more.

SEBASTIAN RODRIGUEZ, CO-FOUNDER & CEO, KOPAGAS - TANZANIA

Through a proprietary smart meter that can be attached to refillable Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) cylinder and mobile money technology, Sebastian Rodriguez and the team at KopaGas are digitalizing LPG distribution in order to accelerate access to clean cooking for millions of households. This technology enables a pay-as-you-go business model that unlocks the health and environmental benefits of switching to LPG and the convenience of small digital payments via mobile phones. Read more.

ABRAHAM SALOMON, FOUNDER & CHAIRMAN, AGRIWORKS UGANDA

Agriworks Uganda, is addressing the need of smallhoder farmers for affordable irrigation by reducing the capital cost of irrigation systems through modular, easy-to-use, and easy-to-maintain mobile systems that can be shared by multiple farmers. Known as the Agriworks Mobile Irrigation System (AMIS), the system is sized and designed to operate at small-commercial scale, targeting commercial smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa, a neglected and substantial market. Read more.

Founded in 2012 at MIT D-Lab with support from Community Jameel, the Scale-Ups Fellowship Program has received additional funding from the International Development Innovation Network — funded by USAID’s Global Development Lab. D-Lab Scale-Ups also receives generous support from Newman’s Own Foundation and other anonymous donors.