Center for Development & Entrepreneurship


CDE 15-Year Impact Report

Executive Summary

The Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was founded in 2007 with its vision and mission centered on the belief that entrepreneurs and their innovation-driven solutions are key to advancing global prosperity.

Our co-founder, Legatum, a global investment partnership whose mission is to generate and allocate the capital and ideas that can help others prosper, envisioned a place that would not only educate, but would also lead the conversation on how the success of entrepreneurs globally would mean greater prosperity for all members of society.

Since our establishment, the Legatum Center at MIT has carried that vision by delivering programs and research that demonstrate the transformative power of entrepreneurship on global growth markets. Through our work, we have helped shift the narrative about these markets from one of lack and stagnation to one

of abundance and opportunity. In the time that the Legatum Center has thrived at MIT, the recognition of the importance of entrepreneurship in achieving global peace and prosperity has grown; and the center and its extraordinarycommunity of alumni have been essential to that change.

At MIT, our work has long been anchored in our flagship Legatum Student Fellowship, which provides a tuition subsidy and a tailored curriculum focused on how to effectively launch and grow impactful ventures in growth markets alongside like-minded peers and with the support of world-class professors and advisors. Fellows come with ambition and commitment and leave MIT deeply embedded in a community of principled entrepreneurs who support and amplify their goals with an understanding of the particular challenges of building startup ventures in growth markets.


In tuition support to 326 Student Fellows as of 2023

In our first 15 years, the Legatum Center provided US$10,335,294 in tuition support for 326 Legatum StudentFellows from 57  countries. These fellows have raised an estimated $932 million in funding and created at least 17,000 direct jobs. Their work has changed the lives of countless others as they serve more than 17  million customers across 170 countries.

While the impact of the Legatum Student Fellows on their focus markets is evident in what they have achieved to date, their future impact as entrepreneurial leaders is inestimable. Despite the pressures of family obligations, expectations to pursue traditional career paths, and student loans post-graduation, a full 56% of fellows are pursuing careers focused on entrepreneurship.

As we examine the impact that the center’s programming and support has had on our fellows as individuals and as leaders, we clearly see the path to continue building from this strong foundation. We have listened to our community, and we have learned what factors have contributed to offering the right kind of support at the right time. For our Legatum Student Fellows, the unique value of our support came in the form of:

  1. Community: The majority of surveyed student fellows (85%) feel the fellowship helped improve their overall experience at MIT, and 80% believe that a key aspect of the fellowship was the space to meet like-minded people; 59% felt that the fellowship created a safe environment for honest conversations; 66% are still in contact with their cohort, and a substantial majority (86%) would like even more connection with the Legatum Center community in the future.
  2. The Right Kind of Support: 98% of surveyed student fellows strongly believe that the fellowship was avaluable experience in terms of: financial support, an expanded ability to start a venture, the decision to pursueor proceed with an entrepreneurial path, and an ability to move away from corporate or consulting jobs. The fellowship had a significant impact on their confidence and capacity to pursue entrepreneurship and innovation-driven venture-building in growth markets.
  3. Ties to Emerging (Growth) Markets: 96% of surveyed student fellows believe that the fellowship helped them gain useful skills, knowledge, and insights; and 88% believe that the fellowship helped them better understand the problem they are tackling on the ground and how to refine their solution. They valued gaining a better understanding of venture- building in growth markets, and access to connections, mentorship, and in some cases venture capital.
  4. Unique Value Proposition: The emphasis on the cohort experience and values-based leadership, and the focus on growth markets, are perceived by student fellows from all cohorts as differentiators of the LegatumCenter, with several of the interviewed fellows noting that they did not experience this anywhere else on campus at MIT. A remarkable 90% of surveyed student fellows believe that the fellowship helped them identify and define their core values as entrepreneurs. It made them more thoughtful about their work, better connected to their ‘why’ and the values that drive their work, and able to work on a venture that they are passionate about.
  5. Emphasis on Venture Creation: The venture-creation results of the center—with 286 ventures created, 75% of which still exist today—compare favorably with other entrepreneurship programs, including at MIT. Half of all fellows created and registered a venture within two years of their fellowship, with some creating more than one venture. Of the ventures that were created within two years of the fellowship and still exist, they have survived for an average of nine years as of 2023. Moreover, our off-campus fellowships and global initiatives have succeeded in creating a path for MIT to go out to the world, with an initial focus on Africa. We offer non-student entrepreneurs the opportunity to access tailored programming from MITfaculty and global experts, while also bringing their perspectives back to MIT. Our Foundry Fellowship, supported by theMastercard Foundation, has secured MIT’s presence in vibrant innovation ecosystems across Africa by supportingleading entrepreneurs who serve as role models for the next generation of leaders.

As of 2023, in addition to supporting the 326 Legatum Student Fellows, the Legatum Center:

  • Engaged 23 experienced entrepreneurs from ten diverse markets across Africa in the Foundry Fellowship, a transformational experience focused on leadership skills to strengthen Africa’s innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems;
  • Delivered bootcamps on market-creating innovations and commercialization of deep technologies to over 225 entrepreneurs from Africa;
  • Produced research and disseminated insights on entrepreneurship in growth markets through events, case studies, blogs, white papers, conferences, global immersion experiences, and other influential avenues; and
  • Raised over $40 million from donors to support our mission.

Our unique approach—and the center’s position as an important bridge between MIT and global growth markets—make the Legatum Center uniquely able to innovate on its offerings and expand its global impact in future years.

Read out 15-Year Impact Report