PROBLEM: Dana sells inexpensive jewelry in the market in the center of Amman, Jordan. Her income goes up and down frequently, and sometimes there’s not quite enough to make ends meet.
Dana wants to buy a new smartphone for her business so she can find better sources of wholesale jewelry, but she can’t afford. The nearest bank is a 30-minute walk, hardly worth it to save 5 dinar; she doesn’t have a credit card, and loans have interest rates of over %200; and every time she tries to save at home, she or her husband just end up spending the money.
CONTEXT: Bluelight serves the community of low and moderate households at the base of the pyramid. They have highly variable incomes and lack access to convenient, affordable financial tools. Because of this, they are unable to effectively manage their income volatility and cycle in and out of poverty, becoming trapped in a cycle of debt or trying to save.
SOLUTION: Bluelight is an SMS-based consumer finance platform that draws on traditional informal savings tools and cutting-edge behavioral economics research 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 by leveraging an extensive distribution network of local agents (including neighborhood corner stores and microfinance institutions) to sell and market savings scratch cards.
We create financial services options for low-income consumers in developing countries.
BLAIZE WALLACE – MIT MBA ‘13, is a former consultant and experienced entrepreneur with ex-pertise in product management, technology strategy, development, early-stage marketing, business development, and product launch with local merchant-facing products. Early in his career Wallace worked in technology consulting for Deloitte, specializing in custom software design and integration. Following Deloitte, Wallace has founded and worked with a series of early-stage startups in a variety of roles.
Wallace is currently pursuing an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management with a focus in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Wallace received his BS in Cognitive Science from the Uni-versity of California, Los Angeles in 2007.
HODA EYDGAHI – MIT PhD Electrical Engineering and Computer Science ‘13, has extensive expe-rience in inventing and deploying technologies that form the basis of successful startup compa-nies. Her inventions have been referred to as "revolutionary" by several experts in the field. Among them is the world's first ever low-noise, low-power, wireless wrist-based set of sensors that enables around-the-clock, continuous physiological monitoring. She also has experience working at startup companies in the developing nations, such as in Tanzania, and has served as an MIT entrepreneurship representative to Skolkovo Tech in Russia.
Eydgahi is currently a Ph.D. candidate in MIT's Department of Electrical Engineering and Com-puter Science (EECS), where she is an MIT Presidential Fellow and NSF Graduate Research Fel-low. Her thesis focuses on the application of inference and machine learning algorithms for parameter estimation and topology discrimination in large-scale networks. She also holds an M.S. from MIT EECS and a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Virginia Commonwealth Univer-sity, where she graduated as the class valedictorian.
JOHN IKEDA – Harvard MPA/ID '13, is an expert in savings and consumer finance in the develop-ing world who has advised some of the world's leading microfinance institutions on strategies for developing savings programs. Ikeda has nearly a decade of international management expe-rience across five continents, working with two of the world’s leading microfinance networks (Grameen Foundation and World Council of Credit Unions) as well as the World Bank and Abt Associates, a leading international development consulting firm.
Ikeda is currently an MPA/ID candidate at Harvard Kennedy School – a unique degree that com-bines doctoral-level economics training with coursework in advanced public sector manage-ment. He also holds an MBA in international business and finance from the University of Wis-consin – Madison, where he was a Rath Foundation Distinguished Fellow, as well as a BA in journalism from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill.
MUSTAFA KHALIFEH –MIT MBA ‘13, is an experienced consultant and serial entrepreneur from Jordan who has founded three successful startups in the MENA region. Early in his career, Kha-lifeh worked as a financial consultant for Ernst & Young in Amman, Jordan. During his tenure with the firm he worked on valuations, feasibility studies and due diligence projects in diverse sectors.
After leaving Ernst & Young, Khalifeh embarked on an entrepreneurial career, cofounding three different start-ups. He cofounded the first facilities management company in Jordan via a joint venture with an internationally recognized firm. Khalifeh is currently pursuing his MBA degree at MIT Sloan School of Management. He received his BA in Economics from the American University of Beirut (AUB) and is also Certified Valuation Analyst (CVA) candidate.
MANOAH KOLETTY – MIT MBA ‘14 and Harvard MPA/ID ‘14, is an expert in the provision of early stage finance to new enterprises in the developing world, with five years of investment experi-ence in both Latin America and Asia. Early in his career, Koletty worked with a World Bank team managing the vast Urban Poverty Project in Indonesia. After leaving the World Bank, Koletty worked with a series of boutique private equity funds investing in new ventures in emerging markets, including Middle East and Asia Capital Partners and Castalia Capital. Most recently, Koletty worked with InfraCo Asia, a Singapore-based infrastructure developer investing seed equity to take control of and build early stage projects in countries with systemically low levels of private sector investment.
Koletty is concurrently pursuing an MBA from MIT Sloan School of Management and an MPA/ID from Harvard Kennedy School. Koletty received his AB in Environmental Science and Public Poli-cy from Harvard University in 2005.
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