Overview

MIT Global Startup Labs is a multidisciplinary group of MISTI (MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives) that promotes development in emerging regions by cultivating young technology entrepreneurs. We develop curriculum materials, software technologies, platforms, and networks that enable undergraduate students in emerging regions to innovate in the area of information and communication technologies (ICTs).

Until 2013, MIT Global Startup Labs was known as MIT AITI. See our history for more information.

Most directly, MIT Global Startup Labs partners with universities in emerging regions and organizes advanced courses taught by MIT student/instructors. Our courses focus on mobile and Internet technologies, and are structured so that our students are awakened to the commercial possibilities of the technologies. Components of the course include detailed technical curriculum, funded business competitions, guest lectures, and networking events, all to help our students develop and realize their ideas.

Concurrent to its courses, MIT Global Startup Labs scales its impact by transferring teaching expertise to our partner universities so that they can incorporate components of our courses with little intervention. Furthermore, we create online course material so that we can reach students across the globe.

Since 2000, MIT Global Startup Labs has sent over 150 MIT instructors to teach over 2000 students in 14 countries, resulting in the creation of businesses and the addition of course offerings at our partner universities.

Leadership

Dr. Michael Gordon | Program Director

Research Scientist, MIT CSAIL

Michael Gordon is a Research Scientist at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and the Director of MIT Global Startup Labs. His academic research interests focus on applying program analysis techniques to the areas of mobile application security and parallelization. He received his PhD from MIT in 2010 in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. Michael is one of the original creators of the StreamIt programming language, employed throughout the world for research of high-performance data-streaming applications. Michael co-organized MIT's nextlab course, MIT's first incubator course focused on mobile technologies in emerging regions. Since 2007, Michael has organized and delivered mobile technologies incubator courses at universities across the world including Kenya, India, South Africa, Nigeria, and Rwanda. Michael also works as an independent mobile technologies consultant focused on developing countries, and he sits on the board of multiple African mobile startups.

Julia Reynolds | Program Manager

Africa Program Manager, MIT - MISTI

Julia Reynolds is the Africa Program Manager for MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI) which manages Global Startup Labs. Julia recently returned to the US from a four year position in Rwanda as Country Manager and Field Learning & Development Coordinator for One Laptop per Child (OLPC). She worked along side the Ministry of Education in numerous African countries as well as South America and the US, to improve the educational conditions of teachers, children, schools, and communities through the use of the XO laptop. During this time, she became passionate about empowering communities to use innovative approaches and technologies to address their local needs. Prior to her work at OLPC, Julia founded Girls Preparing to Succeed (GPS) a state-renowned organization to empower young women through her alma-mater Simmons College.

Danny Castonguay | Board Member

MBA Candidate, MIT Sloan School of Management

Danny Castonguay has an undergrad and Masters in Computer Engineering from McGill University. He spent 3 years as a management consultant at McKinsey before co-founding AntPortal, and small software company based in Montreal, Canada. He is currently an MBA 2013 student at MIT Sloan and a Legatum Fellow. Danny also has a long term interest in the Philippines. He is currently involved in SMART Coops, a project to bring a marketplace and mobile payment to farming cooperatives (for more info see our profile page on my homepage).

Sriram Emani | Board Member

MBA Candidate, MIT Sloan School of Management

Born and brought up in Mumbai, Sriram completed his undergraduate studies at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay, where he was the co-president of India’s largest student festival, Mood Indigo. He has also been a core member of the Mumbai chapter of SPICMACAY, India’s largest non-profit arts organization that promotes Indian classical music amongst youth, for over 6 years. After graduating from IIT Bombay, Sriram worked in strategy management consulting in India and USA, and then worked for over 2 years with India’s premier performing arts centre, the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA), Mumbai, as its first Manager – Marketing and Business Development. Sriram is the Co-Founder and CEO of IndianRaga, an early-stage venture for providing aspiring Indian musicians a technology platform to build sustainable careers. Sriram has been the lead vocalist for original compositions released under the Sonore Unison online record label. Sriram is currently a first year MBA student at MIT Sloan School of Management, and the Co-President of the MIT Sloan Entertainment, Media and Sports (EMS) Club. He shall be interning with Lincoln Center for the first half of summer, working with President Reynold Levy on digital initiatives and international market expansion opportunities. He is then launching the MIT Global Startup Labs initiative in India to enable unique technology-based solutions for the Indian market.

Martin Mbaya | Board Member

Co-Founder and Director, Nairobi Capital

Martin Mbaya is one of the Co-Founders of AITI (the precursor to MIT Global Startup Labs). He currently focuses on the long term financial and organizational sustainability of GSL in collaboration with various partners. He also works closely with university partners, corporate partners, students, alumni and emerging entrepreneurs with a focus on developing the IT, innovation and capital clusters in the respective countries and regions where GSL is involved. Martin is a Co-Founder and Director of Nairobi Capital, Inc. a global mobile money financial intermediary with operations in Kenya offering working capital solutions and business know how to small businesses and individuals in Africa. He also serves as an advisor to Maurice + Fischer and the BeeClan Group. He holds degrees in engineering from MIT and public policy with a concentration in international trade and finance from Harvard. He is also a member of the MOC (Microeconomics of Competitiveness) network based at Harvard's Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness. Over the past decade and a half, Martin has worked in strategy, operations, technology consulting, higher education and finance primarily in Africa, America and Asia.

Vladimir Ramirez | Board Member

Global Senior Executive, MIT - Sloan

Zachary Stauber | Board Member

Undergraduate, MIT

Zachary Stauber is an undergraduate at MIT hoping to double major in Materials Science and Engineering and Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. He sees a lot of potential in developing nations and sees Global Startup Labs as an important part of helping the rest of the world realize this potential. He loves traveling and is very interested in entrepreneurship, especially global and developmental entrepreneurship. He has combined these two passions at MIT, traveling to China for the month of January, meeting with universities, start-up CEOs, and VCs and by being an organizer for the MIT Global Startup Workshop, an annual summit bringing together entrepreneurs from all around the world. He traveled to GSW 2009, which was held in Cape Town, South Africa, with a very fitting theme "Sustainability through Entrepreneurship".

Professor Saman Amarasinghe | Advisor

Professor, MIT

Saman P. Amarasinghe is a Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a member of the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory . He received his BS in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from Cornell University in 1988, and his MSEE and Ph.D from Stanford University in 1990 and 1997, respectively. His research interests are in discovering novel approaches to improve the performance of modern computer systems without unduly increasing the complexity faced by either application developers, compiler writers, or computer architects. He is also interested in creating appropriate information technologies for emerging countries. In that, he co-founded Lanka Internet Services (the first ISP in Sri Lanka), developed the TEK low bandwidth search engine and is involved with the Swara voice portal for citizen news journalism project.

Professor Akintunde Ibitayo Akinwande | Advisor

Professor, MIT

Professor Akinwande is a Professor in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA. Professor Akinwande received a B.Sc. (1978) in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from the University of Ife, Nigeria, a MS (1981) and Ph.D. (1986) in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University, Stanford, California. Professor Akinwande joined MIT's Microsystems Technology Laboratories (MTL) in January 1995 where his research focuses on micro-fabrication and electronic devices with particular emphasis on smart sensors and actuators, intelligent displays, large area electronics (macro-electronics), field emission & field ionization devices, mass spectrometry and electric propulsion. Prof. Akinwande is a recipient of the 1996 National Science Foundation (NSF) Career Award.

Paul Njoroge | Advisor

PhD, MIT

Paul recently received his PhD from MIT in Electrical Engineering specializing in the area of network economics. He is one of the co-founders of AITI (the precursor to Global Startup Labs). He has a general interest in the application of ICT and mobile technology in developing countries. In particular, he sees network technologies as one of the cornerstones in aiding local communities develop both from a technological point of view as well as as economically.

Professor Paul Gray | Advisor

Professor, MIT

Professor Paul Gray was the fourteenth president of MIT (1980-1990), chairman of the MIT Corporation (1990-1997), and dean of MIT's School of Engineering (1970-1971). His public service includes four years on the White House Science Council and membership on the Council's Panel on the Health of Universities; he was chairman of the Task Force on Educational Opportunity. His field of research is semiconductor electronics and circuit theory.

History

MIT's Africa Internet Technology Initiative (AITI) was first envisioned by Paul Njoroge while attending the 1998 MIT Leadershape summer program after his sophomore year at MIT. Paul teamed up with fellow classmates Martin Mbaya and Solomon Assefa (also graduates of MIT Leadershape) to plan and launch the inaugural MIT AITI session (initial proposal). The founders of AITI realized that information and communication technologies can aid development. However, many African students are not exposed to a curriculum that focused on technologies appropriate to their environment. The founders had a vision that saw MIT students/instructors traveling to Africa to teach technology and promote development in African schools. Both parties would be benefit from the program. The MIT student/instructors would be enriched by a unique and challenging international experience, and the African students would be exposed to appropriate technologies that would help them to solve local problems and take advantage of local opportunities.

The founders developed the idea with the help of Professor Paul Gray (MIT EECS), President Emeritus of MIT. AITI was largely modeled on the successful MIT-CETI program in China and customized for Africa. In the summer of 2000, the program was piloted at Strathmore College in Kenya. Four MIT student/instructors (Paul Njoroge, Martin Mbaya, Andrew Nevins and Eric Traub) were part of the inaugural team. Each played an important role in taking the program from concept to reality. In 2000, tele-centers (Internet Cafes) were the dominant accessible form of ICT technology for most Africans. Thus, the team's curriculum centered on Java programming, HTML and the basics of UNIX. In addition, to promote entrepreneurship, leading executives from the computer industry in Kenya delivered guest lectures. Furthermore, students were required to work on a group project applying their newly acquired skills.

AITI was originally known as the Africa Internet Technology Initiative. In 2008, we changed our name to the Africa Information Technology Initiative. In 2011, AITI has organized courses in South Asia. To reflect our geographical expansion, AITI has again rebranded.