TechInAfrica – The MIT D-Lab Scale-Ups is a one-year fellowship program that supports social entrepreneurs offering poverty-alleviating products to market at scale. Recently, it has announced six East African social entrepreneurs who will join this year’s program. They include founders of homegrown, high-impact ventures in underserved markets in three African countries including Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.
Each of the social entrepreneurs receives a $20,000 grant, tailored-mentoring, skills-building workshops, and networking opportunities. Moreover, they also have a chance to participate in a fellows’ retreat at D-Lab in May.
The D-Lab Scale-Ups fellowship program was launched in 2012 and since then, it has supported 39 fellows working on four continents in various sectors, such as agriculture, energy, water, healthcare, housing, mobility, recycling, education, and personal finance. At the close of last year’s cycle, it had raised $11.1 million of funding, generated $10.2 million of revenue, created more than 700 direct and 6,700 indirect full-time equivalent jobs, as well as reached 1.5 million people in low-income with their product and service offerings.
Jona Repishti of D-Lab Scale-Ups fellowship program, said: “We are excited to work with a vibrant cohort of East African entrepreneurs whose expertise is grounded in their lived reality. Working with local founders has certain advantages — they reflect the demographics of the markets they serve; their lived experience helps them identify unique, scalable, market-based solutions overlooked by outsiders. What’s more, they are more likely to commit for the long haul, developing local talent and infrastructure along the way.”
Repishti noted: “As individuals and as a cohort, these fellows have great change potential for their regional ecosystems. And by bringing them into D-Lab and the broader MIT community, we hope to advance not only their ventures but also the D-Lab and MIT approach to social entrepreneurship.”
He explained more, “Over the course of the 12-month fellowship we tackle the knowledge gap by putting fellows in the driver’s seat. Our entrepreneurs guide us to provide the support that is tailored to address their pain points, delivered fast, and focused on the essentials. Our curriculum is experiential, dynamic, and focused on transforming mindsets, just capabilities.”
The six East African social entrepreneurs who are selected for this year’s D-Lab Scale-Ups Fellows are:
- Winnie Gitau, Founder of Kwangu Kwako (Kenya)
- Dysmus Kisilu, Founder of Solar Freeze (Kenya)
- Christian Mwilage, Founder of EcoAct (Tanzania)
- Peter Mumo Nyamai, Founder of Expressions Global Group (Kenya)
- Chrispinus Onyancha, CEO of clinicPesa (Uganda)
- Prince Prosper Tillya, Founder and Managing Director of FixChap (Tanzania).