Research Assistant, MIT Innovation Initiative
Bio: Anna is a Masters student in MIT’s Technology Policy Program, and a research assistant at the Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship– where she’s investigating the viability of local manufacturing and how entrepreneurs make manufacturing decisions. A co-founder of the Ghana-based Practical Education Network, Anna has also worked with Autodesk, the Fab Lab network, international policy-makers, and grassroots innovators across 50+ countries to foster creative problem-solving and sustainable development. She is a Fulbright fellow and holds Bachelors of Science in Physics and Writing And Humanistic Studies from MIT.
Director of Partnerships and Programs, Emerging Worlds, Media Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Bio: Beth Zonis, Director of Partnerships and Programs for the Emerging Worlds SIG at the Media Lab, has over 25 years of experience in strategy, innovation, and communications. She has worked for several IT startups, IBM, and MIT. She founded and ran her own consulting firm, Eco Marketing. Prior to working with the Emerging Worlds team, she helped build the Center of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Skoltech in Moscow, and she led communications for the Office of Digital Learning at MIT. She is strengthening the Emerging Worlds platform in India, enabling innovation hubs in new regions, and engaging new members. Beth is a mentor with the Cleantech Open and a Board Member of ACTION, an association of cleantech and other incubators. Beth holds a B.A. from Wellesley College, cum laude, in Political Science and French, and an MBA from Boston University. She speaks French and Spanish.
Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu
managing director, soleRebels
Bio: Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu is a globally acclaimed serial entrepreneur. Ethiopian born and raised, she is the founder and CEO of soleRebels, the world's fastest-growing African footwear brand and the only WFTO Fair Trade footwear company in the world with tens of thousands of pairs of shoes produced in their factory every year. soleRebels has been expanding rapidly and today exports to no fewer than 45 countries and is targeting 500 soleRebels retail stores worldwide by 2022. She is also the founder of Republic of Leather, a company that is changing the way people buy and love luxury leatherwear. Just as she changed the way the world enjoys shoes and leather she is about to do the same for another beloved Ethiopian gift to the world, coffee, via her newest brand - Garden of Coffee - which launched in July 2016. Bethlehem is also the founder of Perimeter Consulting, which launched and leads Made By Ethiopia, a public-private partnership that is transforming the entire dynamic of Ethiopia’s footwear and leather export sectors, creating over 100,000 new job opportunities and over $1 billion USD in export revenue.
Founder/CEO, TechPreneur Africa
Bio: Bolaji Finnih is the founder of Technpreneur Africa, an organisation focused on harnessing innovation, technology and entrepreneurship for real economic impact across Africa. As the Team Champion for the Lagos MIT REAP cohort for 2016 and convener/co-founder of Impacthub Lagos, he is dedicated to the development of the African entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Bolaji is a graduate of the Sloan Fellow’s program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a fellow of the MIT Legatum Centre for Development and Entrepreneurship, a MasterCard Foundation Fellow and recipient of both the Sloan School of Management Deans’ Fellowship and Sloan Fellows Program Global Scholars Scholarship awards. He is also a member of the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council. A member of the faculty of the Enterprise Development Center of the Pan African University and a member of the FATE Foundation Faculty, Bolaji is also a professional business coach and mentor. He is dedicated to enabling the achievement of innate entrepreneurial potential particularly in developing economies.
Founder at Soko, Soko
Bio: Ella Peinovich is CEO of Soko, which employs technology to provide equal access to opportunity for marginalized artisans. Ella's work in supply chain innovation has been celebrated for its novel approach and high social and economic impact by the World Bank, DEMO, Vodafone and USAID.
A venture-backed social entrepreneur, Ella has over eight years of experience leading teams and projects working at the intersection of design, technology, and social entrepreneurship. Her work in fashion supply chain innovation has been celebrated for its novel approach and measurably high social and economic impact by the World Bank, DEMO, Vodafone and USAID. As CEO of Soko, Ella relocated to Kenya over five years ago.
Ella leverages her knowledge of systems design and social entrepreneurship to develop and manage the company’s innovative supply chain solution and emerging markets business development. Ella is an Entrepreneur in Residence at INSEAD Business School, a Fellow of the social innovation network Ashoka, is a member of Forbes' Young Entrepreneurship Council, was awarded the TIAW 'World of Difference’ Award in 2013, and was recognized by the BidNetwork as the Female Social Entrepreneur of the year in 2012. Ella holds a masters degree from MIT in Architecture, System Design, and Human Interaction.
Fernanda de Velasco
Co-founder and CFO, Play Business
Bio: Fernanda is a co-founder of Play Business, a unique equity crowd-funding model that incentivizes the growth of innovative enterprises. Fernanda’s ultimate objective is to create an ecosystem in which makers build businesses, players invest in new enterprises, co-founders form teams, and mentors advise entrepreneurs. The Play Business community is catalyzing the culture of entrepreneurship in Mexico and Latin America.
Having always lived In Mexico, Fernanda realizes that entrepreneurs with great ideas and investors need a platform to connect and share information. Before coming to MIT Sloan, she analyzed large companies in Mexico, Peru, Colombia, and Chile as a Corporate Banking Associate at Bank of America, Merrill Lynch and HSBC. She customized financing structures and products to suit clients’ needs. This experience has been key to advising entrepreneurs in planning and making decisions that promote sustainable growth and satisfy investors.
Fernanda holds a Bachelor’s in Financial Management from the Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey in Mexico. Fernanda is an MBA candidate at the Sloan School of Management.
VilCap Communities Global Lead, Village Capital
Bio: Heather is the Operations Manager of Emerging Markets for Village Capital, where she supports entrepreneurs in Mexico, India, and Sub-Saharan Africa. She was previously the Global Lead for VilCap Communities, where she traveled throughout Asia, Africa, and Central America in 2016, teaching local entrepreneur support organizations how to use peer review to cultivate innovators in their communities. Prior to joining the team, Heather was a Presidential Management Fellow and later an attorney advisor at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Heather holds a J.D. from SUNY at Buffalo Law School, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude and a B.A. in International Studies from Virginia Commonwealth University.
Managing Director, U.S. Trust
Bio: Jackie VanderBrug is a managing director and investment strategist at U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management within the Global Wealth & Investment Management division of Bank of America. She is a regular contributor of the thought leadership reports – IMPACT FORUM– with topics on sustainability, millennials and corporate strategy that align with investment strategies for high net worth individuals, families and foundations. She speaks frequently, representing U.S. Trust at conferences including the Nantucket Project, Clinton Global Initiative, Aspen Ideas Festival, and Social Capital Media (SOCAP).
Jackie received her M.B.A from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan and her B.S. in Mathematics from Calvin College. She is an Aspen Institute First Mover Fellow and serves on the Board of the Trustees of the Donations. She also serves on the board of directors for US SIF (The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment). She has co-authored the book Gender Lens Investing: Uncovering Opportunities for Growth, Returns, and Impact.
Founder and Director, MIT Humanitarian Response Lab, MIT
Bio: Jarrod is the Founder and Director of the MIT Humanitarian Response Lab, a Research Director in the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics, and for the Comprehensive Initiative on Technology Evaluationi. Jarrod’s research focuses on meeting human needs in resource-constrained settings through better supply chain management, information systems and decision support technology. Jarrod has 20 years of industry experience and has worked with humanitarian and international development organizations such as World Food Programme, UNICEF, Oxfam, International Rescue Committee, Partners In Health, the International Red Cross, and Red Crescent Movement.
Founder and CEO, Global Cycle Solutions
Bio: Jodie Wu is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Global Cycle Solutions (GCS), a company focused on providing access to transformative technologies through a last-mile distribution network of over 200 village entrepreneurs. Fluent in Swahili, an engineer by background, and an entrepreneur who dove straight into social enterprise at 22 years old, Wu brings unique expertise to the field having lived and worked in Tanzania since 2009. Her 30-person Tanzanian team has delivered life-improving solar lanterns, clean cookstoves, and agricultural tools to over 75,000 families. As a champion of collaboration, Wu has facilitated small-scale manufacturing of 15,000 sheet metal agricultural tools in developing markets, advised dozens of fellow entrepreneurs entering the Tanzanian market, and consulted for various international energy companies to bring new services to rural villages. Jodie holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Co-Founder & CEO, mSurvey
Bio: Kenfield is CEO and Co-Founder of mSurvey; a mobile survey technology company. mSurvey is a mobile-first platform using mobile messaging to enable scalable conversations to improve the relationship between businesses and their customers. mSurvey's products are used by a range of businesses across emerging markets; from Safaricom, the creators of M-PESA; Java, the Starbucks of Africa; and Harvard to conduct adherence research on the continent. mSurvey activates the voices of the offline, ‘invisible’ consumer. Kenfield received his PhD from MIT where he studied Design and Computation. Kenfield focuses on designing better businesses, services, and products utilizing methodologies for high-quality (data) feedback loops. Using case studies in Africa and LATAM, Kenfield developed an end to end technology while at MIT to provide highquality data to businesses through structured conversations with consumers, to drive business growth in emerging markets.
Research Scientist, MIT Media Lab
Bio: Kipp Bradford is a Research Scientist at the MIT Media Lab. His research focuses on reinventing heat. He also explores the innovation, manufacturing supply chains, and programming languages. He is a founder of start-ups in the fields of transportation, consumer products, HVAC, and medical devices, and holds numerous patents for his inventions. Some of his more interesting projects have turned into kippkitts.
Kipp is the author of Distributed Network Data (hardware hacking for Data Scientists, with Alasdair Allan) and contributed a chapter to Building Open Source Hardware. He is one of the cofounders of the Data Sensing Lab, an advisor to Highway1 (a leading hardware start-up accelerator), and founded the Innovation Institute, an NSF-funded project that teaches innovation to underserved youth in New York City. Kipp also co-founded Revolution By Design, a non-profit education and research organization dedicated to empowerment through technology. He founded and co-organizes the first ever community-run Maker Faire, what is now the Rhode Island Mini Maker Faire and founded the Washington, DC Mini Maker Faire, which is now the National Maker Faire. He serves on the board of The Nation Of Makers, which he helped the White House launch in 2016. He served on the technical advisory board of MAKE Magazine, is a Fellow at the College of Design, Engineering and Commerce at Philadelphia University, and served as an Adjunct Critic at the Rhode Island School of Design.
Co-founder & CEO MoringaConnect Co. Ltd., MoringaConnect
Bio: Kwami was born and raised in Ghana and immigrated to the United States at the age of eight. His passion for science and innate curiosity led him to pursue a degree in Aerospace Engineering at MIT and to work with NASA. He first returned to Ghana with an MIT D-Lab course, and his encounter with rural poverty in the region led him to restructure his Aerospace Engineering degree and create the first Global Development concentration in the department. In 2012, he co-founded MoringaConnect with Emily Cunningham. MoringaConnect, for which he serves as CEO, is a vertically integrated supply chain, turning nutritious moringa leaves into moringa-powered superfood snacks under the Minga Foods brand, and Moringa oil seeds into clean beauty products under theTrue Moringa brand. MoringaConnect has provided over $400k of income to 2,300 farming families growing the Moringa tree across Ghana. Kwami studied Aerospace Engineering and Global Development at MIT. He is a D-Lab Scale-Ups Fellow, Forbes 30 Under 30, Echoing Green Fellow, Harambe Entrepreneur Associate, MassChallenge Alumnus, and Black Engineer of the Year Awardee.
Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning Manager, MIT D-Lab
Bio: Laura Budzyna has consulted on monitoring and evaluation initiatives in 18 countries, and she has delivered impact measurement workshops to hundreds of students, social entrepreneurs, and development professionals. She holds an MPA in Development Practice from Columbia University and a BA in Latin American Studies from Middlebury College.
Study Abroad Coordinator, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) / MIT D-Lab
Bio: Libby graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and received master's degrees in structural engineering and building technology from MIT. She became involved with D-Lab by taking the D-Lab: Schools class and traveling to Cambodia to work on alternative concretes. Now she co-teaches D-Lab: Energy and D-Lab: Development, coordinates D-Lab's student work in El Salvador, trains D-Lab trip leaders who are taking students to the field, and supports instructors and students in the D-Lab ecosystem. Additionally, Libby has been part of MIT's Mind+Hand+Heart Initiative since 2015, as part of the Increase Help Seeking working group. She speaks German and Spanish, and works as a freelance technical editor. In short, Libby strives to facilitate great communication for successful global and local collaborations. She also reads voraciously, knits, plays the piano, and talks about sanitation rights and toilet designs with anyone who will humor her.
Managing Director, One Acre Fund USA, One Acre Fund
Bio: Matthew Forti is the U.S. Managing Director of One Acre Fund, now the largest nonprofit social enterprise working exclusively to improve the yields and incomes of Africa’s smallholder farmers. Matt played an instrumental role in One Acre Fund’s founding, helping to raise the seed capital and becoming its inaugural Board Chair. He is now Vice Chair of the governing board and helps coordinate the organization’s global operations, including partnership and business development, corporate finance, and monitoring & evaluation. Prior, Matt was a Manager at the Bridgespan Group and received an MBA with distinction from the Kellogg School of Management.
Co-Founder & Chief Innovation Officer, umati capital
Bio: Munyutu Waigi is the Co-Founder and Chief Customer Officer of Umati Capital, the winner of the 2015 Zambezi Prize and a financial service startup that aims to revolutionize access to finance through the consistent and innovative use of technology, with a focus on agri-business supply chain. Prior to launching Umati Capital, Munyutu was the co-founder of Rupu, an Internet venture that was included in Forbes Africa’s 2012 Top Tech Startups. He also worked as a Consultant at Accenture where he undertook long term client engagements with HSBC and British Telecom. Munyutu attributes his achievements to his experience working for large and diverse multinationals such as Ringier AG (Switzerland), Accenture (UK), Williams Formula 1 Team (UK, Grove), HSBC Bank (UK) & British Telecom (BT, UK).
Research Assistant at the Personal Robots Group @ MIT Media Lab, MIT Media Lab
Bio: Pedro Reynolds-Cuéllar is a Research Assistant at the Personal Robots Group. He received his Bachelor’s of Sciences in Linguistics and Language Philosophy from the National University of Colombia. His research focuses on exploring mechanisms through which intelligent agents such as robots can engage humans in self-reflective activities. His approach draws from principles of Affective Computing, Cultural Evolution, Cognitive Sciences, Linguistics, and Philosophy. He also contributes to the group on projects related to human-robot storytelling interactions and self-driven learning in the context of literacy. Prior to Personal Robots, he worked as part of the Learning Team at One Laptop per Child. He led numerous deployments in Colombia and Argentina and was the Head of Learning and Country Manager for OLPC Rwanda. He worked for several years at the MIT D-Lab as an Instructor and Researcher in the areas of intersection between low-cost technology, education, and waste management.
Chief Engineer, Whirlwind Wheelchair International
Bio: Ralf Hotchkiss is an inventor and the lead designer of the Whirlwind Wheelchair International, a non-profit located in Berkeley. Its mission is "to make it possible for every person in the developing world who needs a wheelchair to obtain one that will lead to maximum personal independence and integration into society". Ralf taught a SFSU class, Engineering 620: Wheelchair Design and Construction, in which students built a complete wheelchair in a Third World appropriate shop. Ralf is a graduate of Oberlin College and a 1989 MacArthur Foundation Fellow.
IDDS Program Manager, MIT D-Lab
Bio: Sher Vogel is the IDDS Program Manager for the International Development Innovation Network (IDIN) based at MIT D-Lab, where she oversees and supports local organizing teams in the designing, implementation, and evaluation of all International Development Design Summits. IDDS is intense, catalytic hands-on design experience that brings together a diverse group of participants (including local community members) to understand local development challenges and co-create appropriate solutions in two to four weeks. This year, there are 3 summits happening around the globe. All summits are run by volunteer local organizers in tandem with international organizers who have all been former IDDS participants. Sher has a passion for inviting community voices and local context to the design process and has experience team building, community building, and facilitating a variety of cross-cultural and participatory trainings across Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia. She is also a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer from Ethiopia (’09-’13) where a majority of her work focused on women’s empowerment, HIV/AIDS education, and peer support.
Co-Founder & CEO, Unreasonable Institute
Bio: Teju Ravilochan is co-founder and CEO of Unreasonable Institute, which runs mentorship and training programs for entrepreneurs tackling social and environmental problems around the world. Participating entrepreneurs go through intensive 5-day or 5-week bootcamps to learn to fundraise, build teams, prototype, design for impact, and learn how to scale both through peer learning, interactive curriculum, and extensive interaction with mentors like Paul Polak, who's helped over 20 million farmers move out of poverty; Hunter Lovins, a Time Magazine Hero of the Planet; Tom Chi, the former UX Lead at Google X (and designer of Google Glasses); and John Elstrott, Chairman of the Board at Whole Foods. Unreasonable Institute has powered 40 programs in 26 countries. They have data on the first 148 startups they've supported, who have raised over $160 million and benefited 16 million lives. Teju is also a Forbes 30 Under 30 Entrepreneur, an Inc. Magazine 30 Under 30 Entrepreneur, and a TEDx speaker. He graduated from CU Boulder in 2008 with a degree in international affairs.
Co-Founder, dot Learn Inc.
Bio: Tunde Alawode is co-founder and chief operating officer of dot Learn, Africa's MOOC platform. Leveraging their MIT-developed video-vectorization technology, which makes video learning as accessible and affordable as SMS, dot Learn offers online courses to help students in Sub-Saharan Africa study for exams and get into college. Tuned is currently a student at MIT pursuing a PhD in Mechanical Engineering. His specialty is in the material science of clean energy. His past work has focused on delivering sustainable energy to communities and helping to figure out operational strategies in the African energy sector.
Bio: Mr. Obaseki is a Vice President in Proterra Investment Partners’ London office, with a focus on agribusiness/food and beverage private equity investments in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Prior to Proterra, Mr. Obaseki worked for Black River Asset Management, a division of Cargill, where he also focused on food sector investments in Sub-Saharan Africa. Prior to Black River, Mr. Obaseki worked at the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector investment arm of the World Bank Group, where he served in the Global Infrastructure & Natural Resources Group, focusing on Sub-Saharan Africa growth equity and debt investments in the oil and gas sector. Mr. Obaseki began his career at Tradewinds Global Investors, a subsidiary of Nuveen (~$230bn in AUM), where he focused on global natural resource investments. In his personal capacity, Mr. Obaseki serves on the Board of Directors of Stawi Foods and Fruits, an ALN Ventures investee company, and is on the Board of Advisors of Growth Capital, Nigeria’s first social innovation fund, focused on supporting high potential, early stage businesses building technology-enabled next generation infrastructure in Nigeria.
Mr. Obaseki received his Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from Dartmouth College and his MBA from the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.), where he was a Fellow at the Legatum Center for Entrepreneurship & Development.
Bio: Ella Gudwin heads up global operations to accelerate the uptake of eyeglasses in emerging and frontier markets for consumers who earn less than $4 a day. Under her leadership, VisionSpring is working to sell 10 million pairs of radically affordable eyeglasses by 2020, creating $2.16 billion in economic impact at the household level. Ella is a seasoned global health executive and strategist. She previously served as Senior Vice President of Strategy and Program Development at AmeriCares. In prior roles, Ella led humanitarian operations as Vice President of Emergency Response, and managed health related interventions in ten countries as Director of Asia and Eurasia partnerships. She earned an MA with distinction in international economics at Johns Hopkins University, and a BA with honors from Vassar College. Ella is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Bio: Prof. Fiona Murray is the William Porter (1967) Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship, and the faculty director at both the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship and the Legatum Center. She is also the associate dean for Innovation, co-director of the Innovation Initiative, and has most recently been appointed a member of the UK Prime Minister's Council for Science and Technology (CST). Fiona is an international expert on the transformation of investments in scientific and technical innovation into innovation-based entrepreneurship that drives jobs, wealth creation, and regional prosperity. She has a special interest in how policies, programs, and relationships between academia and industry can be designed to accelerate the productive role of universities in their local entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Bio: Joost Paul Bonsen, Lecturer, Media Arts & Sciences, created and has co-taught Development Ventures, a course in the MIT D-Lab family of courses, annually since Fall 2001, helping students from throughout the MIT community start and grow dozens of ventures in emerging markets. Bonsen has also served as Founding Program Director for the MIT Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship and co-founded or launched many international development activities at MIT including the Scaling Development Ventures conference.
Bio: Matt McCambridge is excited to be teaching D-Lab: Mobility and D-Lab: Design after many years encountering the amazing work and people coming from D-Lab. In fall of 2016 he will also co-instruct the D-Lab course Design for Scale. A 1998 graduate of Stanford's Product Design program (a multidisciplinary program within the Mechanical Engineering department), Matt has designed and manufactured mobility technology for people with disabilities in the United States and in less resourced settings around the world. Matt has worked on teams creating sophisticated technologies (Dean Kamen's iBOT balancing wheelchair for Johnson and Johnson) and simple, robust ones (Whirlwind Wheelchair's RoughRider), and looks forward to working with students who are fired up to create excellent technology for people who live in challenging environments. In addition to teaching at D-Lab, Matt is working with the Comprehensive Initiative on Technology Evaluation (CITE) as a Research Engineer developing and carrying out innovative tests of wheelchairs in developing countries.
MIT Legatum Center
Bio: Megan Mitchell is the Director of Fellowship and Student Programs for the Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship. At the Legatum Center she oversees an array of programs including a fellowship program for 25 students annually who are committed to building and scaling ventures in emerging markets post-graduation.
Prior to joining MIT in January of 2017, Megan managed UBS Americas’ Elevating Entrepreneurs initiative, a portfolio of philanthropic partnerships and programs focused on driving toward a more inclusive entrepreneurial landscape. This included Project Entrepreneur, a collaboration with Rent the Runway Foundation to increase the pipeline of women building economically impactful companies.
Before UBS, Megan oversaw co-curricular and experiential learning activities for Wharton Entrepreneurship, including the annual business plan competition and global internship program. She also served as a member of the Venture Initiation Program management team, and led development of the department’s venture development programs at the school’s San Francisco campus.
Megan holds a BA in Economics and Public Policy Studies from Duke University and a MSEd from University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education.
Bio: Loessberg is an entrepreneur with particular experience in emerging market venture capital fund formation, entrepreneurship in emerging economies, and the evolving issues and standards of corporate governance in the United States and abroad. In the United States, she founded and runs Big World, a strategy firm focused on new ventures in new markets. She also co-founded Zeta Networks, an optical networking firm built on technology developed at MIT. In addition, Loessberg spent five years in Moscow, where she was a partner, director, and general counsel of Brunswick (now Brunswick UBS), a startup investment firm in the brutally entrepreneurial Russian equity market. Loessberg is a director-designate of Parkhead Group Ltd., a startup investment firm in the Vietnamese equity market; a director of National Financial Partners; chairman of the board of the International Institute of Boston; and chairman of the board of overseers of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Loessberg holds an AB from Georgetown University and a JD from the University of Texas.
Bio: Shruti Chandrasekhar has over a decade of private equity and venture capital experience identifying and evaluating businesses across multiple industries and geographies. She is currently a Senior Investment Officer covering venture capital investments for the IFC. At the IFC, she focused on startups across emerging markets such as Brazil, India, South Africa, etc. that have established proof-of-concept and are now looking to access growth. Prior to the IFC, she was responsible for private equity and venture capital investments (direct & indirect) for Premji Invest, a large Indian multi-strategy growth investor where she worked on private equity transactions in India as well as helped Premji Invest establish its global investment program based out of California. She has an undergraduate degree from MIT, an MBA from the Wharton School and some additional experience in consulting and investment banking. She loves travel and has moved her home-base every few years since 2000!