New MIT Center Seeks to Spark Entrepreneurship in the Developing World

Would-be entrepreneurs interested in creating new technologies and businesses for the developing world got a piece of good news today: International investment group Legatum is donating $50 million to MIT to establish a new center to support just that sort of entrepreneurship.

The new Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship will provide fellowships for graduate students, drawn from across MIT’s five schools, who are interested in grassroots approaches to technological and economic development in emerging nations. The center will also host a variety of competitions, seminars, workshops, and debates.

The new center’s executive director, Iqbal Quadir, says the organization will concentrate on “bottom-up technology-based entrepreneurial development.” Bottom-up is the way all entrepreneurial development really works, says Quadir, who founded Grameenphone, Bangladesh’s largest cellular operator. “Unfortunately, for whatever the reason, the policy world had done it the other way and economic development hadn’t really happened.” The new center was born because “we just want to bring some balance to that, and at the same time allow MIT students to create real businesses around the world,” Quadir says.

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