Did you know that more than 100 million children under the age of six in developing countries currently fail to reach their potential in cognitive development? Can we be part of the solution and find innovative ways to deliver quality early education to millions of underprivileged children who desperately need to get education at the earliest ages in or near the world’s cities? This was the challenge put forth by President Clinton and Hult Prize to students from around the world.
Hult Prize and Clinton Global Initiative
President Bill Clinton – Hult Prize Finals NYC
The Hult Prize competition is a response to President Bill Clinton’s call to action for the world’s brightest minds to tackle the world’s most pressing issues. In the past, the Hult Prize Challenge tackled housing, energy, education, food security, and healthcare challenges on a global level, and the competition has yielded teams with powerful and transforming ideas. Winning teams managed to not only develop these ideas but also implement them in serving the greater good. In its 6th year, the Hult Prize challenge asks global university teams to find new sustainable social enterprise approaches to promote and increase early childhood development and help the not so privileged children access quality education. Student teams compete in five cities around the world for a chance to secure $1 million in start-up funding to launch a sustainable social venture. This year 20,000 applications were received from more than 500 colleges and universities in over 150 countries.
Hult Prize Judges
A key element of the story, and the power of Hult Prize, is answering the social enterprise challenge each year impacting the world. Another equally important part of the story is about the opportunity and gratification of being a judge. The judges are a diverse group of people from the ranks of corporate CXOs, non-profit leaders, and social entrepreneurs. When they participate as judges they join an extensive community established by Hult Prize and their partners: Hult International Business School, Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), and IXL Center. Many of us have never met before, yet we come together as a working team at the regional championships. Each of us is changed forever by being instrumental in helping to launch the next wave of social entrepreneurs.
This is my 3rd year as a Hult Prize judge. I will be working with Ahmad Ashkar, Founder and CEO of Hult Prize, to create an alumni group of judges providing a unique opportunity to continue the experience and impact of being a judge, in addition to building a foundation upon which past and current judges can collaborate on providing a platform for extending the impact of social entrepreneurship. More to come in the next few months on this topic.
Hult Prize Regional Competition
An international rolling judging process follows the sun starting at Hult campuses in Dubai, Shanghai, London, Boston, and finishes in San Francisco. At my location in San Francisco we had 4 groups, 4 judges for each group, and a morning and afternoon pitch contest, 7 in each session. One difference in the process this year was having peer group students listening to the pitch and providing feedback to the judges prior to the deliberation process. I facilitated the discussion between the students and my fellow judges and found that, while the day was longer than it had been in prior years, interacting with the students provided additional insight supporting the decision making process.
Selecting the San Francisco Regional Winner
After hearing the presentations of the final 8 teams, the 16 judges convened in a tent at Levi Center to vote on the San Francisco regional winner. You would think that after a long day of judging (over 10 hours) that we would exhausted from the long day. Instead, each of us came to the room initially voting for the team we had brought to the final selection process. Via deep discussion about the winning criteria, which included innovative idea, clear business plan, partnerships, and a line of sight to execute against their vision, we concluded and selected Athollo, University of Tampa, to move to the New York finals. Their tag line – Maximizing Human Potential Through Education. Their vision, provide top quality early childhood education for children living in urban slums of developing nations through the utilization of mobile phones of female micro-entrepreneurs. In doing so, they endeavor to alleviate the inaccessibility of education around the world. It will be interesting to see how their idea matures through the summer Hult Prize accelerator program.
Call to Action
So, how are you going to change the world? Is the time right for you to work with the students and help them on this amazing journey? I invite you to join our community committed to social innovation and entrepreneurship. This year Hult Prize brought back the online challenge round, which gives all of the entries a second chance to make it to NYC as our “sixth” regional winner. The online round runs from March 16 – May 8. Join us there http://www.hultprize.org/en/compete/online-challenge-2015/overview/
Together, I am confident we can make a difference.
Kicking off the San Francisco regionals was Amanda Boyek, 2014 finalist and after graduating SF Regional Director, Hult Prize. She was on Team Monterey, the team my group of judges selected. We are now connected forever with our shared passion for social entrepreneurship and the Hult Prize. For me Amanda, young, bright and passionate is already showcasing the impact of her leader’s legacy.