Editor’s note: Coverage of the 2013 Hult Prize Winner here and more links below.
The Power and Promise of Social Entrepreneurship
Tonight, the 2013 annual meeting of Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) will literally set the stage for the final presentations and announcement of the Hult Prize winner. One team will walk away with one million dollars for their winning idea. Wow.
CEO Ahmad Ashkar envisioned the Hult Prize in 2009 while he was completing his MBA at Hult International Business School. His vision turned reality, including a serious financial commitment from the Hult family, and a partnership with the Clinton Global Initiative. Using a global call to action, their mission is to encourage ‘the next wave of social entrepreneurs’ to solve the world’s most pressing issues.
To put this in perspective, 10,000 students entered the competition, 250 teams competed in the global ‘regional’ semifinals, and six finalist teams moved forward. Comprised of students from across the globe, the teams have been counting down to today, September 23, to make their final pitch before a panel of judges. With held breath, many of us are waiting for the announcement of the 2013 Hult Prize winner tonight.
I arrived in Cambridge, Massachusetts in late June to cover the six finalist teams in a six-week accelerator program, expertly designed by the Center for Innovation, Excellence and Leadership, or IXL Center. I can tell you that everyone involved — the teams, teachers, staff, mentors, coaches and judges — are very smart and deeply engaged in the challenge to solve food insecurity for 20 million urban slum dwellers.
As a journalist, I’ve been keen to learn about their work, but also what goes into, and what evolves from, an accelerator program? I sat down with Dr. Hitendra Patel on the final day of their program and asked him “What’s next?” Patel is Co-founder and Managing Director at the IXL Center. His partners and co-founders, Ron Jonash and Pamela McNamara founded the Innovation Practice at Arthur D. Little, the Innovation Management Institute, and the innovation practice at Monitor group.
Their knowledge, expertise and breadth of professional experience is completely evident across their teaching, coaching, observations, comments and conversations. The Hult Prize Accelerator program, which they create and host, is a powerful invitation to the finalists (and myself) to step into their world class innovation consultancy. This group of competing social entrepreneurs understand this.
What have I witnessed inside the Accelerator process? A six week immersion to prepare them as individuals and teams — to fine tune and improve their winning idea for their final presentations at CGI on Sept 26th.
This is accomplished how? With a focused approach offering internal and external coaches; and scheduled time with serial entrepreneurs who share their successes and failures; and time with venture capital, legal, and other professional networks; and an opportunity to practice, practice, practice, learn, and answer the tough questions…
Can you answer these: Is it innovative? Is it game changing? Can you get a room full of people excited about it?! Can you make it as simple and as eloquent as possible? Can you make every detail count? Can you make your idea actionable and profitable moving forward (as the Hult Prize winner, or not)?
How did Dr. Patel answer my question “What’s next?” Convincingly, he replies: “We’ve given them our tools, the rest now is up to them.” Tonight we will learn just that…and the winner is…
I wish to thank the individual teams, their coaches, judges, mentors, and the IXL innovation team for the access and inclusion they provided me — and also our global community at innovation excellence and beyond. I would also like to thank the hundreds of schools and their communities – all those who participated and are committed to education and social entrepreneurship and enterprise. The finalist teams represent six schools:
image credits: mari anixter, hultprize.org
More writing and photos: the 2013 winner, the Accelerator Program, Hult Prize Community and the IXL Center. Fellow documentarian, Guy Viner, has also covered the teams for Grasp.dk and you can find his great reporting here.
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Mari Anixter is Managing Editor for Innovation Excellence. She is a communications professional living in the Boston area.