Profile of ventures and entrepreneurs D-Lab Scale-Ups seeks to support

Talent is universal, opportunity is not. MIT D-Lab is on a mission to level the playing field for local entrepreneurs working in emerging markets. For the D-Lab Scale-Ups Fellowship, we identify early-stage but high-growth indigenous entrepreneurs with solutions overlooked by others and we align our support to closely match and meet their unique needs on the ground. Here's what we're looking for:

The Venture

An early stage venture with momentum

Venture has developed a minimum viable product (MVP), conducted market tests, has a number of active users, and feels fast growing and dynamic. Average 1-3 years in operation. Small team with skills to execute.

Using an innovative model

Using a fresh approach, a new business model, or developing new technology.

Employing a market-based approach

Can be a for-profit, nonprofit, or hybrid but uses market-based approaches to test product and reach sustainability.

To achieve impact at the Base of the Pyramid

The venture is benefiting people living at the base of the pyramid (BoP) in emerging markets and has a clear sense of how it is creating opportunities and/or improving their lives. Ventures from any sector are eligible.

With potential and drive to reach scale

The venture is tackling a big, important problem and has the capacity and ambition to scale operations and to impact many lives.


The Entrepreneur

A local entrepreneur (Focus 2019: East Africa)

Applicant is from one of the following markets: Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda. Applicant is educated locally or abroad, but s/he is currently running a venture in East Africa.

In a top leadership position

Has critical decision-making authority in the venture and working full-time (as Executive Director, CEO, or Founder).

With skills and attitude to succeed

Purpose-driven, ambitious, collaborative, creative with a track record for getting things done. No specific level of education necessary.

Looking for deep engagement

Able to dedicate two to three hours per week to actively work with MIT D-Lab, cohort peers, and mentors to diagnose problems, set goals, build community, and solve critical challenges.

Not a past participant in a global accelerator

This is her/his first global accelerator experience; and s/he is  looking to join MIT D-Lab to connect to a global network.


Jona Repishti, MIT D-Lab Social Entrepreneurship Manager