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Meet Hala Hanna of MIT Solve

Today we’d like to introduce you to Hala Hanna.

Hala, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.

I grew up in Lebanon, home schooled and internally displaced for a few years due to the civil war, but with a paradoxically happy childhood full of love, art, and sun. As I grew older, the injustices around me became much clearer, and with two socially minded doctors as parents, it was impossible not to care about fixing those inequalities.

My career has been an impatient quest for that kind of social impact, and I’ve had many lucky breaks along the way. I’ve worked hard to get to where I am today, but it wouldn’t have happened without people believing in me and giving me a chance. 15-year-old me could never have imagined that I’d travel the world with the World Bank; make the smartest, kindest friends while studying at Harvard; work with presidents and luminaries at the World Economic Forum in Geneva; and help build an MIT initiative that carries all the values I believe in.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Bumpy roads are formative; it’s how you ride them that matters. I’m very grateful for how lucky I’ve been and am excited for what lies ahead.

Please tell us about MIT Solve. What do you do, what do you specialize in, what are you known for, etc. What are you most proud of as a company? What sets you apart from others?
MIT Solve is a marketplace connecting innovators with resources to solve the world’s most pressing problems. Each year Solve issues four Challenges across its pillars—Economic Prosperity, Health, Learning, and Sustainability—to find the most promising Solver class to drive transformational change. Solve then deploys its global community of private, public, and nonprofit leaders to form partnerships these Solver teams need to scale their impact. 

Building these partnerships is as much an art as it is a science. It’s an exercise in trust that cannot be coded. Solve brokers partnerships for Solver teams by providing them with a curated community, dedicated support, and opportunities to convene in working groups to further their ideas. That’s what makes Solve unique.

I am most proud of our Solver teams, who are tech-powered, human-centered entrepreneurs making the world a better place.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I would not have done anything different. With a mind of my own and an interest in politics, writing, and crafts. I was a feminist at 10, contributed to a play about feminism in the Arab world at 20 – which was so controversial the theater was shut down by the government.


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