MIT Solve names Hala Hanna as the new executive director


MIT Solve has reported Hala Hanna as its new executive director. Solve is a marketplace for social crash innovation with a mission to drive revolution to solve world challenges.
Hanna has more than 15 years of occurrence working across the public, private, and humane sectors to create a more equitable and viable world. She consumes the last six years at MIT Solve, where she assists in building the enterprise into a global community.
Solve uses open alteration challenges to find the most promising tech-based social entrepreneurs worldwide, focusing on underserved communities. Solve then supports them to scale their impact. Within the Solve community, an ecosystem of nearly 100 organizations across industries and sectors, MIT Solve has run more than 60 global and traditional challenges. Solve’s challenges have received almost 16,000 submissions from innovators in over 180 countries. Solve has selected over 260 Solver teams that widely reach over 170 million lives and facilitated over $60 million in finance to help innovators scale and drive lasting impact.

A Key Leadership Position

Before joining MIT Solve, Hanna was manager of strategy and crash at the World Economic Forum. Her incident includes working with the World Bank and the United Nations and counselling senior officials on better donor engagement. Her work spans the Middle East, North America, Europe, and Africa. Hanna has also held numerous advise roles, including with U.N. Women and U.N. enterprise and the Brussels-based Women Political Leaders. Hanna holds a master’s point in public policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, a master’s in global evolution from American University, and a bachelor’s degree in business from the American University of Beirut.
“Hala’s appointment as executive manager is a testament to her passion for bear innovators from all over the world, her dedication to generate a better planet, and her capability to inspire those throughout her,” says Cynthia Barnhart, MIT supervisor and Solve Steering Committee president. “Under Hala’s leadership, I am assured that Solve will extend new heights in driving innovation to solve our world’s most urgent challenges.”

Hala Hanna’s Background and Expertise

“At the core of MIT Solve’s work is the faith that complex global challenges can be addressed by unlocking and supporting human inventiveness everywhere,” says Hanna. “This mission is both inspiring and essential. I am admired for serving as executive director and thrilled to harness the power of Solve’s global community to produce a more sustainable and inclusive world for future generations.”
The most significant hurdle women entrepreneurs face is their unequal access to finance. Despite being ready and able to receive funding of all types, companies started or cofounded by women receive, on average, less than half the amount of investment capital as male-founded companies. According to a BCG study, U.S. women founders receive only 4.4 per cent of venture capital deals and a negligible 2 per cent of all capital. This enormous gap was narrowing until the pandemic. In 2020, funding to female founders was down 31 per cent from 2019, while financing for all-male teams only dropped by 16 per cent.
Investors should remember that women-founded and cofounded company outperform their peers: BCG puts outperformance at 10 per cent more of additional cumulative revenue over five years. Female founders and CEOs continue to exit faster and at higher values.

Looking Ahead with Hala Hanna at the Helm

While federal relief may be coming in the short term, state policymakers should include micro and small businesses in bailouts and support measures — as women entrepreneurs are relatively more represented in those. To ensure private sector financial support and access to credit is equally available to women and men, track it by gender and other diversity metrics to hold lenders accountable.
And women with wealth should consider targeted investing in addition to philanthropic activities. Women venture capital decision-makers improve the odds of female founders getting funding by as much as 70 per cent.
Research by the International Labour Organization, Brookings, and Village Capital has found that support programs that combine financing (a mix of grants and investments) with mentorship, peer-to-peer networking opportunities, and targeted training have the soundest track record of supporting women-led start-ups and the growth of existing female entrepreneurs.
Naturally, this has to start with selecting enough women for these programs and offering them a conducive environment to succeed. Many programs still suffer from bias in the recruitment process, one-size-fits-all programming, and bro culture. These barriers to diversity can all be corrected by:
Working with diverse partners, judges, mentors and trainers.
Expanding recruitment networks to diversify the pipeline.
Designing curriculums intentionally tailored to more varied needs.
Fixing the program’s culture — from marketing and messaging to staff.
Those funding support programs such as accelerators and incubators must insist on meaningful diversity metrics for recruitment and adequate programming and networking.

About the author

Olivia Wilson

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