Since 2000, MIT Global Startup Labs has sent over 200 MIT instructors to teach over 2400 students in 25 countries, resulting in the creation of businesses and the addition of course offerings at our partner universities.
MIT Global Startup Labs is a program 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 students in emerging regions to innovate in the area of information and communication technologies (ICTs).
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, 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.
MIT Global Startup Labs, known as Africa Internet Technology Initiative (AITI) up until 2013, 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 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 renamed into MIT Global Startup Labs to reflect our geographical expansion.