The Beginning of the Journey

unnamed-2Name: Maysoun Ibrahim

Origin: Palestine

Year: 2018

Hult Prize Challenge: Harnessing the power of energy to transform the lives of 10 million people.

I recently interviewed Maysoun Ibrahim, a judge in the 2018 Hult Prize competition. She just finished the first ever Hult Prize National Finals in Ramallah, and I had the opportunity to learn about her amazing story and her experience in the competition.

Quote: “Not making it through the competition is not the end of the journey; it is only the start of the birth of persevered entrepreneurs.”

How did you hear about Hult Prize?

From Social Media.

I was contacted by its management team to participate as a judge in the first national program in Palestine. Afterwards, I looked for information about the prize and was impressed by what is written about it on social media.

32349143_2086572678298231_4585459393339850752_oWinningTeam_WestBank,BirzeitUWhy is Hult Prize important to your Country?

The Hult Prize provides promising opportunities to youth in Palestine to introduce change to their communities through social services and businesses by turning their social and development ideas into reality. At the national level, participating in the 2018 Hult Prize for the first time gives Palestine a valuable international exposure that sheds light on the innovative potentials of Palestinians in creating solutions that respond to the national developmental needs. The winner national teams, from West Bank and Gaza, will be visiting the Hult Prize Castle in the United Kingdom during July for a period of eight weeks during which they will enrich their knowledge and acquire new skills needed to plan for their solutions, develop adequate business strategies and implement their solutions accordingly. It is important to mention that the winning team of the US$1M will be present during the final ceremony planned to be held at the United Nations in New York. During this ceremony, the winning team will be exposed to the global ecosystem aimed at implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the global, regional and national levels.

You have an interesting international background. How did your experience prepare you to be a judge?

My national and international professional experience widened my horizons, enriched my knowledge. It strengthened my skills and empowered me with skills that are transferable to my workplace, such as leadership, team building and negotiation. It exposed me to different cultures and backgrounds needed for one to understand the differences in contexts and the relative importance of initiatives and solutions accordingly. All of this, added to my education, previous involvement in major activities related to government, Academia, private sector and/ or the civil society added to my continuous willing to step out of my comfort zone to learn and grow at the personal and professional levels prepared me to be a judge.

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After a full day with the other judges, what did you learn?

I admired the passion and thirst of the young entrepreneurs to develop their societies and foster change in their communities. The students from all participating universities in Palestine, from both the West Bank and Gaza, were notably innovative in providing sustainable solutions to harnessing the power of energy, which is the 2018 Hult Prize theme. It was heartwarming to see that, despite the hard-living conditions and instability in Palestine, the young generation still has the dedication to change the World for the better and make Palestine a better place to live in.

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What impressed you most about the competition?

At the level of the students, what impressed me the most is their enthusiasm, maturity and dedication as they came up with well-defined ideas that are ready for implementation. Actually, selected ideas did not even need further details. They were only lacking the funding opportunity to proceed with the actual implementation. At the level of the prize management, I was impressed by the decision made to exceptionally consider two teams for the prize, one from the West Bank and another from Gaza given the special case of Palestine. This enabled two teams to win the national prize and spend eight weeks in the Hult Prize Castle in the UK.

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Did you learn anything new about student competitors?

Most of the students’ competitors are international ones. Some students were clever enough and studied their competitors well, learnt from them how to get better at what they are doing and then proposed an innovative solution that can compete other existing ones.    32350006_2086572894964876_6131908178385829888_o.jpg

What advice to you have for the student teams that didn’t make it through the competition?

Not winning does not mean losing in this case. All teams competed and listened to each other and to the comments of the judges. This by itself should be rewarding as the students can build on the comments provided, detail their projects and submit them again to the competition. So, in summary, not making it through the competition is not the end of the journey; it is only the start of the birth of persevered entrepreneurs.

Is there anything else that you would like to share?

It was a fruitful experience being a judge at the Hult Prize National Finals in Palestine. I was honored to meet the management of the prize, different judges and students. I also got re-assured of the potential of the Palestinian people and have my hopes high that the young generation will introduce positive change to our beloved Palestine.

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