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Giving entrepreneurs experience and opportunity

Roberto OliveiraRoberto Oliveira, MBA ’10

Roberto Oliveira, MBA ’10, remembers visiting his grandfather's factory in São Paulo, Brazil, as a small boy. His grandfather, though not formally educated, started his own company making water pumps, and grew it to become the largest supplier of those pumps in Latin America.

That same entrepreneurial drive runs through Oliveira's veins as well. But it was not until a summer internship while at MIT Sloan that Oliveira was able to focus his desire to start companies. That internship helped Oliveira realize how fulfilling he found the work of starting a business.

Oliveira's summer internship was supported in part by a gift from Brad Feld, SM ’88, and Amy Batchelor to the MIT Sloan Entrepreneurship Center (E-Center). Edward Roberts, the David Sarnoff Professor of Management of Technology, founded the E-Center in 1990. Since then, the E-Center has been a hub for myriad entrepreneurial activities on the MIT campus, offering educational programs to inspire, train, and coach new generations of entrepreneurs. It also provides networking opportunities, technologies, and resources to entrepreneurs at MIT and globally. Donor support for the E-Center has a direct impact on entrepreneurship.

“Having alumni support us with gifts, as well as their expertise and their networks, is extremely helpful,” says Senior Lecturer William Aulet, acting managing director of the E-Center. “They enable us to provide students with the skills, the experience, and the networks to be successful entrepreneurs. As a student, you're investing, and such gifts allow our students to take the long-term view of their investments, and build the skills of an entrepreneur.”

The E-Center has created a powerful global network of entrepreneurs who advise and assist each other in the starting of new ventures. A recent report by Professor Roberts and Charles Eesley, PhD ’09, “Entrepreneurial Impact: The Role of MIT,” highlighted the dramatic effect of MIT's entrepreneurial activities. Based on a 2003 alumni survey, the report shows that MIT alumni have founded 25,800 companies that are currently active. Those companies employ about 3.3 million people and generate annual world sales of $2 trillion, making them the equivalent of the 11th-largest economy in the world. The report was published by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

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