MIT Global Startup Labs Blog

This is our program-wide blog. We also have separate blogs for each program. Check out the links below.

MIT-AITI Alum makes 30 under 30 List

Julia Reynolds

March 10, 2013



Mark Kaigwa of MIT-AITI Kenya 2007, was just named one of Forbes 30 under 30!

Read the full article.

The AITI-MIT experience for me cemented some of the fundamental programming skills that have helped me manage projects, work and lead teams of technical and non technical people and improve my consulting knowlege for my clients. I'm elated at the chance to be part of a great group of entrepreneurs as listed by Forbes and to be an AITI alumni doing this is a boon for me as well. My thanks to my mentors and trainers who I still stay in touch with and to all who continue to support the program as it's developed to create some great minds in the African technology space.

--Mark Kaigwa

PesaTraker wins at Safaricom

Julia Reynolds

Dec. 12, 2012

Today we highlight the success of one of AITI's esteemed graduates Vincent Maraba from AITI Kenya, Summer 2011, whose app PesaTraker won the Financial Inclusion Category at Safaricom Appstar ( PesaTracker has received over 200 downloads in less than two weeks of publishing at Google's Play Store.


Please read more about PesaTracker and Vincent's AITI experience below:


About Safaricom Appstar and AITI’s Impact

Safaricom Appstar was a contest organized by Vodafone through its subsidiaries across several countries in Africa and Middle East including Kenya, Egypt, South Africa, Tanzania, Lesotho and Qatar.

The idea was to support local app developers in these countries and recognize their efforts in providing solutions in several sectors including Health, Education, Finance, Games/Entertainment, Productivity and Agriculture. Of the over 320 applications submitted in Africa, 215 of them came from Kenya.  This demonstrates the level of creativity and level of app development activity in Kenya which has been supported by several factors and a ready market that adapts to new technologies easily.

PesaTracker  was the winning app in the Financial Inclusion Category in Kenya and has been received quite well in the Kenyan market with over 200 downloads in less than 2 weeks of publishing at Google’s Play Store. I came up with the idea of PesaTracker courtesy of a strong knowledge of how to identify a need and develop a great application to meet such a need of which I gained from MIT’s AITI training. I thank the MIT instructors that were in Kenya Summer 2011 led by Oshani Seneviratne, Brian Sangudi and Maksim Kolysh.

During their time in Kenya, we got to learn very many aspects of developing technology solutions that are viable and sustainable. Some of these include entrepreneurship, communication skills, pitching and developing applications using Python and Django. Django has since been my default framework for developing web applications and Python my favorite language. The MIT’s AITI program cannot be compared to any other program since it targets to give its students with hands on experience on how to use technology to develop enterprises. It gives one exposure to industry leaders, how to prepare business plans, pitch to investors, negotiate, form great business teams and teaches the best technologies in the market today


About PesaTracker

PesaTracker is an application that tracks M-Pesa transactions for android phone owners and businesses that use M-Pesa' Paybill to accept payments. It is therefore a two-fold solution for both M-Pesa users and businesses. Both applications are available at 


PesaTracker Mobile App 

This android mobile application analyses successful M-Pesa transactions and categorizes them accordingly depending on the type of transaction. These include Money Sent, Money Received, Withdrawals, Bills Paid, Deposits, Airtime bought and prepares a financial statement. It also provides a guide for paying your various bills using M-Pesa.

Another interesting feature of this app is the ability to backup your transactions online at website. This means that even if you lose your phone, you can still access your M-Pesa transactions history and analysis. This could be important for budgeting, monitoring your financials and prove of a transaction in future if you paid some bills and they are not reflected.


PesaTracker Business Integration

This second part of the application is useful for businesses that use M-Pesa's PayBill service. It provides a seamless integration platform to a company's systems. Once a client pays a bill using M-Pesa's PayBill service, the application will instantly receive the information and store it in a database which integrates to other systems of the company. This provides timely reconciliation, analysis, tracking, manipulation of data and to obtain the contacts of your clients for future Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

‘It Is Tough To Identify Painkillers In Developed Markets’

Dec. 3, 2012

Interesting comment on developing vs. developed market opportunities

Report Back #2 from HeHe, Ltd., January 1, 2012

Diane Hendrix

Jan. 19, 2012


“Rwanda is a key telecom market with immense growth potential and will strengthen Bharti Airtel’s footprint in East Africa,” said Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman and Managing Director last December (12.28.11, C-P Africa).

The HeHe, Ltd. team are believers, having launched their mobile application business after attending AITI's Kigali bootcamp in 2010.  Clarisse Iribagiza and her team (Richard Mujyambere, Amiri Mugarura and Diane Ukwishaka) have been busy: teaching their own mini-AITI class, presenting lessons they’ve learned to students from across Rwanda, and rolling out new applications -- while keeping up with their classes! They just completed coursework in September and graduate from Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) in March, 2012.  

Since January 2011, I have been videotaping HeHe and other innovation teams in East Africa, to document their startup adventures. A natural networker, I alerted Clarisse to the Pivot25 conference in Nairobi last June: the team applied and won a place among just 25 slots for pitching their mobile apps in Kenya.  It was team member Richard Mujyambere’s first trip out of Rwanda, and jumping into the deep end brought benefits. Last fall he was invited again to Nairobi: to train for three months at iHub’s m:lab incubator there, honing his mobile technology skills. 

Before setting off to Nairobi last June, Clarisse presented a talk on teamwork (based on experience as CEO of HeHe, Ltd.) to a nationwide gathering of college students convened by Cambridge University (UK) at an enterprise weekend at KIST.  

After launch just 15 months ago, HeHe, Ltd. traveled with five other Rwandan ICT companies to represent Rwanda at the ITU Telecom World 2011 Summit in Geneva. [Three of those teams were born in AITI bootcamps, Clarisse says; she and HeHe team member Amiri were teaching assistants for last July’s class.] The Geneva summit was a vital platform to showcase applications HeHe has developed. While there, Clarisse reports, “Two of our apps caught the eye of Liberia's communications minister,” including a mobile business directory and M-Report Card, a mobile app for accessing university student test results.


The Liberian minister asked HeHe to develop another application offering price and product locations in Liberian food markets.  Networking note: Clarisse and Richard of HeHe met the “girl geek” founders of M-Farm in Nairobi at Pivot25 last June. M-Farm’s CTO, Susan Oguya, is also an AITI bootcamp graduate, and they develop farm price apps. The two teams must have cross-pollinated ideas at the Pivot 25 conference!

Despite rough patches during the past year -- technology snafus, losing a team member, juggling college and company demands -- last fall Clarisse started a Do-It-Yourself Incubation Circle in Kigali, with help from a Rwandan leadership team she gathered.  Now up to 40 young entrepreneurs meet weekly for peer learning on making technology startups sustainable.  A Rwandan ICT agency gives logistical support and plans a formal innovation hub in Rwanda, with help from venture capitalists who are already supporting the group. The  DIY incubators even skyped with mentors in New York City in November, for remote learning. From the outset, HeHe has been active in shared learning with peers.

Finally, last fall HeHe began work on a mobile/web project called the Girl Hub. Dubbed Ni Nymapinga (the perfect lady), this media project produces a magazine and a weekly radio show run by young female journalists in training in Rwanda; it’s supported by Nike, which funds The Girl Effect in several countries. 

Girl Hub has asked HeHe, Ltd. to design and implement innovative software for interactive public opinion gathering. Girl Hub wants to manage SMS feeback from girls wherever there’s an internet connection, and then respond to girls directly on their mobile phones. 

HeHe’s scope and action expand by the month, and the “growth potential” in telecom that Mital predicted for Airtel mentioned above is about far more than revenue. In Rwanda at least, it’s about empowering Rwandan teens, especially girls, in a region where women’s voices are not always heard.

~ Diane Hendrix [Director,]

* To see videos documenting the progress of HeHe, Ltd. and two other women owned teams, watch for new stories going up in January on YoungWorldInventors’ YouTube channel.  Videos show tips on teamwork troubles, sales strategies, distribution dealers, winning investors and more! More info: dhendrix 


Four AITI Rwanda Teams Traveling to Geneva

Michael Gordon

Oct. 18, 2011

Four student project groups from Rwanda are competing in the Young Innovators Conference in Geneva.  Two teams from AITI Rwanda 2010 and two teams from AITI Rwanda 2011 are participating.  We will keep you updated on their progress and status.

Incredible Buzz for Sri Lanka's Demo Day

Michael Gordon

Aug. 3, 2011

Today is the final day for our summer 2011 programs!  Today the Sri Lankan program is holding their Demo Day.  The team has worked very hard to put together an event that will showcase the student projects to a audience of potential investors and luminaries.  The buzz around the demo is huge as evidenced by this front page article in Sri Lanka's Daily FT.  Here is an image of the front page of the newspaper.  We look forward to more news of the event.

Welcome to the new (beta) site!

Michael Gordon

June 2, 2011

Welcome to AITI's new website.  The website is currently in beta, and has not yet replaced our old website infrastructure.  In the coming week, we will be transitioning over to this new website.  We will migrate all the information from our old site.  We look forward to all the content that will be generated on this site over the summer, and we hope that the features of this site will enable our participants to do things otherwise impossible.