Pitch for Inclusion

Congratulations to our winner, Takachar!

Congratulations to our first runner-up and “Audience Choice” Award Winner, NJabini, Inc!

Finalist Teams

Congratulations to the five finalist teams who presented their product or service ideas at The Fletcher School’s Extreme Inclusion conference on May 2nd, 2013. The teams competed to pitch their start-ups, which all address the needs of traditionally marginalized populations in the US and abroad, to the full conference audience. The competition was judged by Anarge Frangos, Walter Frick, Ron Hynes, Ben Knelman, and Victoria Slingerland.


Student Team:
John Ikeda, Harvard Kennedy School
Manoah Koletty, Harvard Kennedy School & MIT Sloan
Blaize WallaceMustafa Khalifeh; MIT Sloan
Hoda Eydgahi, MIT


Student Team:
Aleem Ahmed, MIT Sloan and Harvard Kennedy School
Caroline Mauldin, MIT Sloan and Harvard Kennedy School
Kaia Lai, MIT Sloan


Student Team:
Michael BehanNatalie Audelo, Northeastern University
Tom Eliuz Mwangi, Moi University (Nairobi, Kenya)
Erin O’Malley, Providence College


Student Team:
Kevin KungAli KamilDavid Lee, MIT
Mohit Kansal, MIT Sloan
Maria Davydenko, Harvard Kennedy School


Student Team:
Shruti RamaswamiKate FedosovaGautham RavichanderQasim Hasnain, The Fletcher School
Social Problem Addressed:

For hundreds of millions of households around the world who lack access to credit cards and bank accounts, making a large purchase requires either an expensive loan with cripplingly high interest rates or a long struggle to save up at home.

Product or Service Description:

Bluelight is an SMS-­based consumer finance platform that draws on traditional informal savings tools, cutting-­edge behavioral economics research and innovative use of mobile technology to help households in the developing world save up for the things they need. It does this by partnering with large retailers to offer an affordable, convenient layaway savings product and leveraging an extensive distribution network of local agents (including microfinance institutions and neighborhood corner stores) to sell and market savings scratch cards. These scratch cards allow consumers to make micro-­deposits toward gift cards redeemable at our retail partners, helping them save up for things that would be very difficult for them to purchase otherwise.

Love Grain:

Social Problem Addressed:

The challenge for 6 million Ethiopia farmers is limited credit and market access. At planting time, farmers lack cash and credit to purchase improved seed and fertilizer that could more than double their yield. At harvest, they are cash-strapped and have no option but to sell their crops to traders who purchase teff at 26% below retail prices.

Product or Service Description:

Love Grain’s products are new gluten-free foods including breakfast baking mixes, package desserts, savory snacks, cereals and pastas. The primary ingredient is an ancient grain called “teff”—the next super food. In addition to being 100% gluten-free, teff is also rich in vitamins and minerals, and boasts 50% more protein, five times more fiber, and 25 times more calcium than brown rice.

Njabini Inc:

Social Problem Addressed: 

Njabini, Inc. is a social enterprise that enables smallholder farmers in East Africa to sustainably increase the productivity and profitability of their farms through innovative cooperative models.

Product or Service Description:

Njabini, Inc. is a hybrid social enterprise currently operating in Central Kenya. Our flagship project, Wakulima Pamoja, is a cooperative, which organizes potato farmers into producer groups and provides three core services. First, we provide each farmer with a $125 in-kind input loan repaid after harvest enabling smallholder farmers to access high quality inputs. Most importantly we provide disease free potato seedlings, which are inaccessible in East Africa (learn more here). Secondly, each group receives weekly crop management trainings from our partner extension officers. Lastly, each group brings their harvest to wholesale markets collectively, bypassing the first broker and earning a higher price for their potatoes.


Social Problem Addressed:

Takachar is a waste-to-charcoal venture sourcing and transforming urban organic disposables into clean, affordable, and environmentally friendly household cooking fuel starting in Kenya. Two almost universal problems in developing cities are unmanaged waste and fuel shortage.

Product or Service Description:

We have pioneered a low-cost process for converting municipal solid waste into charcoal briquettes. We sell this process as a business-in-a-box package that targets the waste-picker cooperatives. With the minimal investment of $20, the waste-pickers can own and operate a kiln to process the organic waste that they already collect into a valuable fuel, which they can sell to increase their incomes. Our environmental impacts include saving trees, reducing greenhouse emissions, and putting unmanaged organic waste to use.


Social Problem Addressed: 

In Africa, only 1 in 5 people have access to formal banking. Credit history and identification requirements, inflexible financial products, and accessibility constraints restrict this access, leading many poor and rural families to rely on self-­‐forming savings clubs, often supported by NGOs. While these clubs and groups provide strong vehicles for savings, loan and investment, they lack flexible financial choices and access to funds beyond their internal capacity.

Product or Service Description:

YanguBook is a data analytics solution that leverages a mobile application to allow savings groups the ability to track records and build a credit history at the group and user levels. Data collected by savings groups will be aggregated and analyzed to produce three key outputs: individual credit histories generated through voluntary opt-­‐in features, aggregate data on debt and financial capacity for groups, and regional information for banks seeking to expand their services. YanguBook allows saving groups to generate credit histories to seek formal loans; provides data analytics to NGOs to evaluate their services; and enables banks to target credit-­‐worthy clients and to design financial products suited to their needs.