Social entrepreneurs need many things in order to be successful—vision, good people skills, creativity (and the list goes on)...
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The CrowdSolve


ELIZA BERG | Officer, Learning Community, MIT Solve

Social entrepreneurs need many things in order to be successful—vision, good people skills, creativity (and the list goes on). The startups and nonprofits that these leaders build also require a long list of supports. Funding often tops this list, which is why many social entrepreneurs are laser-focused on finding and securing grants and investments. The teams that we work with at Solve are not immune to this reality, as many of them know that finding sustainable funding opportunities will be critical to grow their solutions and reach their target customers.
Navigating this space can be difficult, even for the most experienced leaders. That’s why the list of supports for any social entrepreneur should always include access to a great mentor. Indeed, some recent studies have argued that mentors are the “secret weapons” of success for startups. But good mentorship is about more than networking and introductions to potential investors—it’s about creating a relationship through which both the mentor and mentee can grow and learn.


So how does one become a good mentor—and what’s the most effective approach for mentees? Here are some of my favorite tips:

  1. As a mentor, ask open and generous questions to make sure you fully understand your mentee’s needs and that your mentee is prioritizing areas where you’ll be able to help.
  2. As a mentee, come prepared with specific goals and a clear overview of what you’re trying to accomplish. 
  3. Practice humility. Studies have shown that social entrepreneurs who understand their weaknesses and are honest about not knowing everything will get more out of their mentorship experience. Mentors also likely have a lot to learn from their mentees, who may have experience in a new context, market, or geography.
  4. Celebrate! Take time to update one another and reflect on progress that has been made.
Interested in mentoring a Solver team? Learn more about membership at Solve.

Featured Solver

Ada Health (Hila Azadzoy, Managing Director)
More than 4 billion people lack access to basic healthcare services, and there is a global shortage of healthcare workers, particularly in rural areas. Through its AI-powered platform, Ada Health provides individuals with credible, personalized symptom assessments in real-time. Ada also equips semi-skilled health workers (such as community health workers, pharmacists, nurses, and midwives) with clinical decision support tools tailored to support the delivery of primary care. Ada currently has over 5 million users worldwide and was rated the #1 medical app in more than 130 countries.
Learn More

Words of Wisdom

"Our network has grown to 1,000 harvesters in five years, 85 percent of whom are women. Local communities used to call water hyacinth 'Togblé,' meaning 'the country is screwed up.' Now, harvesters are calling it 'Tognon,' meaning 'the country is good!'"

—Fohla Mouftaou, co-founder of Green Keeper Africa (Coastal Communities Solver). Read more



| Rice cultivation in delta and coastal areas is vulnerable to sea-level rise, with repercussions for countries around the world. That’s part of what makes solutions like Green and Seed (Coastal Communities Solver) so important for a more sustainable future.

| Solve is looking for native-led tech solutions that empower economic development and opportunity in US indigenous communities. Apply by March 1

| Marauder Robotics (Coastal Communities Solver) was recently profiled in Forbes. The team is developing an underwater robot predator to automate sea urchin management and restore the loss of more than 3.3 million acres of kelp forest on six continents.

| "Cities can create in new ways, through open challenges that mobilize public creativity. And they can decide in new ways, as cities like Madrid and Barcelona have done with online platforms that let citizens propose policies and deliberate. . . I’m interested in seeing how we can use this new kind of collective intelligence to solve problems like climate change and disease." Read more

| If we want AI systems to reflect our standards and values, how do we create AI systems that take culturally influenced reasoning into account?

| UK greenhouse gas emissions are down 43 percent since 1990, and have declined faster than nearly any other country in the past 30 years. Find out how

| Researchers are examining how AI can predict behavioral biases among judges and help nudge them towards fairer decisions.

| Register for the second MIT Social Entrepreneurship Alumni Group (SEAG) webinar on March 7, 2019 at 12:00pm ET (open to anyone who registers, not just MIT alums!). MIT D-Lab founding director and MIT alumna Amy Smith will discuss her personal journey through design and development and D-Lab's work to promote small-scale social entrepreneurship and inclusive innovation.


To help current and future Solver teams, donate to MIT Solve.
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