Editor’s note: It’s a million dollar prize and it’s hard earned. As business students, passionate about innovation and social impact, begin the Hult Prize Accelerator 6-week program at the IXL Center in Boston, Guy Viner explores what it takes to solve urban hunger and redefine business and academia.
Hult Business School Impact: The Push to Extinguish Food Insecurity
Social enterprise is emerging, bringing together networks of capable change makers to chip away at the gap between basic social services and those provided by the private sector. The discipline of business education is rebounding, arming a generation with skills to solve pressing social problems in ways that government and traditional charities cannot.
Harnessing the Potential of Students
At the forefront of this momentum are students – passionate about world issues and inspired to tackle the challenges they present. The promise of students to generate solutions to issues faced by billions at the bottom of the pyramid is unprecedented.
Former Hult Business School MBA, management consultant, banker, and real estate executive Ahmad Ashkar began investing in student social entrepreneurship and its positive impact when he formed the Hult Prize in 2011. Encouraging budding social entrepreneurs to seek support in teams, keeping barriers to entry low, and providing tools and networks of enablers became integral parts of the inspirational challenge as it evolved to where it is today. Along the way, The Hult Prize has become a ‘Noble Prize of the b school arena,’ recognized by U.S. President Bill Clinton and Time Magazine as one of the top five ideas changing the world.
Education, Energy, and Housing
Last year, the prize saw teams of five from over 130 countries compete to take home $1 million in start-up capital to launch new initiates addressing education, energy, and housing. Inspired by the successes of One Laptop per Child, Solar Aid, and Habitat for humanity, teams from NYU Abu Dhabi, Hult Boston, and Carnegie Mellon beat out finalists from across the globe with their plans to support and maintain networks of efficient solar lamps, leverage knowledge at the bottom of the pyramid on housing issues, and streamline laptop deployment and open-source software branding. Their efforts were green-lighted by judges Bill Clinton, Muhammad Yunus, and Steve Andrews, Rodrigo Arboleda Halaby, and Jonathan Reckford (CEOs of Solar Aid, One Laptop per Child, and Habitat for Humanity).
Beyond Traditional Business Models
This year, teams from McGill, Hult San Francisco, University of Cape Town, ESADE Business School, London School of Economics, and the Asian Institute of Management will again go beyond traditional business models and look to leverage local know-how, unused assets and resources, existing channels and influencers, and behavioral patterns at the bottom of the pyramid. Their aim: generate the most promising solutions to end urban food insecurity by 2018.
Judges and mentors from Accenture to Unilever, McKinsey & Co, IBM, Saatchi & Saatchi and more will assist this cohort of finalists as they build plans to make food insecurity history, opening opportunities for the urban poor to boost productivity by engaging in other activities. Their proposals range from inexpensive cricket producing kits, to active saving plans, and seed kits that supplant traditional gardening with simpler urban forms of food production. But their end goal is the same: address the needs of almost 1 billion people who lack the most basic food security, of which 200 million are in slums.
New Ways of Understanding Business
To paint a picture of emerging social business and enterprise as it is, Grasp is covering the The Hult Prize the progress of finalist teams from participation in the Hult Accelerator to implementation of initiatives after the prize is awarded in September.
Grasp will spend July and August on the ground in Boston, engaging with teams and mentors in the accelerator as they perfect their business strategies. Our staff writers will participate, engage, and inquire at every step, providing readers with a deep understanding of the emerging ideas and trends that develop in the space.
In September, we will join the investment ready companies at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York as they pitch their proposals for start-up capital.
Our sincerest intention is that our time following and covering the Hult Prize will generate enthusiasm and curiosity from students and practitioners in the field as they explore new ideas, face challenges, and work to redefine the reach and impact of business.
image credits: hult.edu; ixl-center.com
Guy Viner is a writer, photographer and project leader for GRASP Magazine.
This article is part of a media collaboration between Grasp Magazine and Hult Prize. Grasp Magazine will cover the progress of finalist teams from participation in the Hult Accelerator to implementation of initiatives after the prize is awarded in September. You can find all the articles under Hult Prize section and follow Grasp Magazine on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to get the latest updates.