Institute for Business in the Global Context

Where the World of Business Meets the World

Category: Entrepreneurship

Menghan Li, ComeOnGirls, Win 2017 Fletcher D-Prize

Menghan Li (F18) first realized she wanted to fight poverty while she was working with rural children. These children had been abandoned, not only because their parents needed to find employment, but also because they were female. “I started to think about how a special group of people — rural girls — suffer from dual disadvantages from the society —  one from their background, the other from their gender,” Li recalls.

When she heard about The Fletcher School and The Institute for Business in the Global Context’s (IBGC) partnership with D-Prize, which awards up to $20,000 to fund new ventures that fight poverty in Africa, Asia or other developing regions, Li knew what her project would be: women’s education. Li won over the judges with her ComeOnGirls scholarship platform, and was recently announced as the 2017 Fletcher D-Prize winner.

Menghan Li (middle) receives the Fletcher D-Prize award from (left to right) Dean James Stavridis, Dorothy Orszulak, Bhaskar Chakravorti, and Marilyn Davison (and her dog, Chili!)

ComeOnGirls is a nonprofit that works to alleviate poverty by improving women’s education. The pilot program will launch in Western China —where Li says two-thirds of female students drop out of school — and she hopes to expand to other countries like Brazil and India. “We want to help remove the financial barrier and gender discrimination in secondary education by awarding scholarships,” she says. “The girls we select must demonstrate outstanding academic performance or special talents, and the drive to change their own lives as well as to contribute to the long-term development of the local community.”

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The Fletcher D-Prize: Ready to Work Yourself into an Internship/Job that has Real Impact?

Interested in taking a proven poverty solution and bringing it the last mile to people who really need it?
Want a summer experience which tests your sustainable development skills in an emerging market?
Ready to work yourself into an internship/job that has real impact with little downside risk?

The Fletcher D-Prize is all that and more.  You can use the summer to tackle some of the world’s greatest development challenges with a proven poverty solution AND potentially create your next job, all while having a great learning experience.  The deadline to apply is midnight, MONDAY, NOVEMBER 7th.

Learn more about the Fletcher D-Prize

All it takes is……

  1. Pick a challenge – and a corresponding proven poverty solution
  2. Enroll a Fletcher/Tufts/other student(s)/alumni to be on your team
  3. Download your application packet here
  4. Submit your 2 page concept note and resumes here by midnight, Monday, Nov 7th

***To help, Rocky Weitz, The Fletcher School entrepreneur coach in residence, has set aside all day Friday, November 4th  from 10:00am – 5:00pm  to meet and help brainstorm your application.
Email him at  with “D-PRIZE – Office Hours Request” in the subject line, and you will get priority! Rocky can also help match you up to other team members. ***


Charles Dokmo (F14) Co-Founds Kumwe: The Future of African Freight

What’s it like to launch a social venture in a low-income country and have real world impact?

Picture this: 10 tons of maize grown by 8000 different smallholder farms in Rwanda, all trying to get to market in Kigali. The challenge? The crops are here; the markets are there. Lack of access to reliable, efficient, and transparent transportation means farmers struggle to get their goods to customers. Spoilage, delays, and lost shipments all come at great costs.

That’s where Kumwe comes in.

Co-founded by Fletcher alumnus Charles Dokmo (F’14) as part of a team of supply chain engineers from MIT, Kumwe aims to create a ground transportation brokerage to serve as “the connective tissue” between shippers, including farmers and transporters. The brokerage is intended to ensure professional, reliable and affordable freight transportation, all while lowering costs and improving efficiency in getting goods to markets for small farmers and other shippers.

Back in the summer of 2013, Dokmo completed a Blakeley-funded summer internship in Chad following his first year as a MALD student. “This is where I experienced first-hand the challenge of last-mile distribution,” said Dokmo. “I was helping a small biomass charcoal and cookstove pilot project become financially sustainable when I discovered the largest barrier to profitability was a lack of predictable, affordable transportation.”  This sparked the idea of Kumwe, which turned into a reality after Dokmo graduated from Fletcher.

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What Is Entrepreneurship? Fletcher Entrepreneur in Residence, Rockford Weitz, Has the Answer

With the 3rd Annual Fletcher D-Prize Poverty Solutions Venture Competition launching on September 28th, the entrepreneurial ecosystem at Fletcher is on full display. With so many great opportunities available, we first have to answer one question: What exactly do we mean when we say entrepreneurship?

Luckily, The Fletcher School’s Entrepreneurship Coach (and Entrepreneur in Residence), Rockford Weitz, has the answer.

What is Entrepreneurship?

Good question.  Entrepreneurship means different things to different people.  I define entrepreneurship as “problem solving with limited resources and an unclear path forward.”  By my definition, most of you will likely be entrepreneurs at some point during your career.

The entrepreneurial approach works well in many Fletcher career trajectories, including social entrepreneurship, tech-driven entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship (using entrepreneurship techniques to succeed as a change agent in large organizations in the private, public, non-profit, intergovernmental and academic sectors).

Fletcher students and alumni have launched and scaled numerous enterprises, including non-profits, technology startups and new offices within larger organizations, such as the United Nations or the U.S. State Department.

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SponsorHer!: Improving Access to Education for Teenage Girls in Ethiopia

What’s it like to launch a social venture in a low-income country and have real world impact?

Fourteen-year-old Senait lives in a one-room house in Gondar with her mother, father and seven siblings. Currently in the eighth grade, she dreams of one day becoming a doctor to help others throughout Ethiopia, and is ready to accept and challenge any difficulties that stand in her way.


Throughout Ethiopia, young girls like Senait struggle in a system where failure far outpaces success. Poverty rates are sky high, while access to education is among the worst in the world. Just 18 percent of women over 15 are literate and less than five percent graduate secondary school. Out of 127 countries in UNESCO’s “Education for All” Index, Ethiopia ranks 126th.

As stark a picture as the numbers paint, solutions to pull girls out of poverty do exist; the problem is finding a way to bring them to those who need it most. Fletcher alumna Viola Csordas (F09) saw the problems and the solutions, but needed a push to help bring them together.

That’s where the Fletcher D-Prize came in.

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