2020 Summer Catalyst Startup Profile: Mai Soli Foundation
Inspired by her mother’s own life and experience with arranged marriage, Mai Soli Foundation Founder Aria Mustary ’21 set out to find a solution to the cycle of gender inequality. She had the genesis of an idea, when two fellow Babson students and friends, Aaron Wendell ’20 and Glen Ged ’21, joined her team. Together, they took research trips to Bangladesh and began to refine their intentions and plans.
Today, Mai Soli Foundation seeks to break the cycle by intervening with education. The foundation delivers a co-curriuclar program, covering entrepreneurship, financial literacy, and leadership and confidence, to young girls. Aria, Aaron, and Nipa, their director of logistics on the ground in Bangladesh, are currently working with five schools and about 200 students, with plans to add more schools and mentors soon.
This summer, the Mai Soli team grew. Aria and Aaron hired a five person marketing team and built an onboarding process from soup to nuts. This new team covers film, PR, social media, donor engagement, general marketing strategy, and brand design strategy. It was a significant undertaking to interview, hire, and develop onboarding – not to mention, it all had to take place on Zoom!
Fortunately, Summer Catalyst advisor Beth Goldstein was there to provide expert advice every step of the way. As the team planned onboarding activities, it was Beth’s suggestion to “Try to get employees to find mission and vision on their own” that made a difference. Through collaborative activities, the new employees were able to engage with and then articulate Mai Soli’s mission in their own words and to build a sense of team.
Beth was also helpful as the Mai Soli team prepared to apply for The Greater Sum’s incubation program. Aria and Aaron were thrilled when they were accepted into the program and know that they will benefit from working closely and connecting with a cohort of nonprofits.
Looking to the future, Aria and Aaron are motivated. They are putting together an advisory board and pinpointing what they need to do from a legal perspective to secure their intellectual property. As they move forward, they are doing so strategically and deliberately. Their biggest takeaway from Summer Catalyst is a change in mindset. Rather than putting in place bandaid solutions for today, they are defining their long term vision and the steps they need to take to get there. As Aaron explains, “Summer Catalyst put us in the long game.”
What’s ahead for Mai Soli Foundation? Aria and Aaron hope to work with more schools and to add a program that connects girls with vocational opportunities. At the core of everything they do is a focus on empowering the girls, unlocking their potential, and encouraging them to see possibility.