Scale-Ups Fellowship

D-Lab Scale-Ups Fellows and staff, April 2018 retreat.
D-Lab Scale-Ups Fellows and staff, April 2018 retreat.
A global accelerator working with local entrepreneurs bringing poverty-alleviating products and services to emerging markets at scale.


2021 Scale-Ups Accelerator

This year, the MIT D-Lab Scale-Ups Program has teamed up with the Upaya Accelerator Program to join the strengths of the two programs to reduce barriers to investment in women-led enterprises in India.

MIT D-Lab and Upaya both believe in empowering women entrepreneurs to raise capital, grow their businesses, and create jobs that lift families out of extreme poverty. But research shows that female founders only receive 11% of seed financing. This cohort will explore issues around the gender financing gap and work together to tackle the barriers women entrepreneurs face in their fundraising journey.

The program is designed to bring together women entrepreneurs, spanning sectors and regions across India, to build skills such as fundraising, investment readiness, and leadership – all with a gender lens that exposes and addresses unique barriers to women’s success.

Joint Program Focus Areas

This collaboration between the D-Lab Scale-Ups and Upaya’s Accelerator Program will offer essential knowledge, capacity, and networks to women entrepreneurs, equipping them with the tools to access investment and grow your venture. As part of this joint accelerator cohort, fellows will become part of the Upaya Entrepreneur Network as well as the global network of MIT D-Lab Scale-Ups Fellows with dual access to expertise and opportunities that each organization provides.

Taking place over the course of six months, the program will include:

  • Three immersive workshops designed to equip you with the knowledge and connections to grow your business.
  • Technical training and one-on-one consulting support from Upaya’s experienced team.
  • Weekly learning labs focused on tackling the unique challenges female founders encounter while fundraising.
  • Opportunity to meet and network with industry experts, investors, and peer entrepreneurs, and have the opportunity to pitch your business to Upaya and other investors for funding.

Program offerings graphic

In addition to the program support, Upaya will select up to three businesses for USD 50,000 investment, and you will have an opportunity to participate in the Co-Design Sprint hosted by MIT D-Lab.

Calling Women Entrepreneurs from India to Apply

We're seeking passionate women entrepreneurs from India, who want to build and scale their businesses to create jobs and livelihood opportunities for those in extereme poverty.


Eligibility Criteria

Scale-Ups Accelerator 2021 applicant criteria


Application Process

Round One Application
12 Oct - 6 Nov, 2020
We invite all entrepreneurs who meet our selection criteria above to submit a first round application!

Round 2 Application
16-27 Nov, 2020
Shortlisted entrepreneurs will be invited to submit a detailed second round application.

Dec 2020
Upaya and MIT D-Lab will review your application and may follow-up for additional details.

Virtual Interviews
15-22 Dec, 2020
Upaya and MIT D-Lab will conduct interviews with shortlisted entrepreneurs to know more about you and your business.

Cohort Selection
13 Jan, 2021
Upaya will contact the entrepreneurs selected for the cohort.

The D-Lab Scale-Ups Fellowship Story

From 2012 through 2019, the D-Lab Scale-Ups Fellowship was a one-year program, providing a $20K grant to each fellow and tailored mentoring, capacity building and inclusive design training, and networking.

The program has supported 39 Fellows working on four continents in sectors including agriculture, energy, water, health care, housing, livelihoods, mobility, recycling, education, and personal finance. Fellows supported between 2012 and 2020 raised $21.5 million in investments; have created over 536 full-time, 155 part-time jobs, and 8,226 indirect jobs; and, through their product and service offerings, have directly improved the lives of over 2.25million people living in low-income settings.

MIT D-Lab Scale-Ups Fellowship Impact Infographic 2012-2020

Initially open to MIT alumni and International Development Innovation Network members, the program underwent a redesign in 2018 and is now focused exclusively on local founders.


Jona Repishti, Social Entrepreneurship Manager