CAMBRIDGE, MA–Legatum, a private firm that invests in the global financial markets and in initiatives that support sustainable development, today announced a structured gift of $50 million to create a new center at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (â€œMITâ€). The establishment of the Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship (â€œLCDEâ€) will support aspiring entrepreneurs from the developing world, who have a strong commitment to development entrepreneurship, helping them to acquire the knowledge and skills required for successful business development and civic leadership around the world.
Iqbal Quadir will serve as the Executive Director of the Center. He founded GrameenPhone, a profitable venture which provides universal telecommunications access in Bangladesh. Before joining MIT, Mr. Quadir taught at Harvard University.
â€œWe seek a balance in the debate on what constitutes effective development, which has traditionally been overwhelmingly out of balance in favor of top-down thinking. By focusing on emerging entrepreneurs, and leveraging technological innovation, the Legatum Center at MIT will spawn a plethora of new business ventures in the developing world,â€ commented Quadir. â€œOur ambition is to advance the principle that it is entrepreneurs who most effectively drive organic economic growth.â€
Iqbal Quadir is Founder Director of the Program in Developmental Entrepreneurship at MIT. During 2001-2005, Quadir has been a fellow and lecturer at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, teaching graduate classes on how technologies can effect change in developing countries. Quadir develops economically sustainable ways for common people to adopt technologies so that they can produce, distribute and consume the benefits of such technologies. Quadir is currently involved in projects of this nature with regard to electricity, potable water, and market information. During 1993-1999, Quadir conceived, designed and organized GrameenPhone (www.grameenphone.com) which has provided virtually universal access to telephony in his native Bangladesh and self-employment opportunities for its rural poor. After developing a vision for universal access to mobile phones in Bangladesh while working in Wall Street. Today, GrameenPhone has more than twelve million subscribers and has created self-employment opportunities to more than 300,000 Grameen Bank borrowers. Quadirâ€™s work has been recognized as a successful development model by leaders and organizations around the world.