Solving the refugee crisis

Dhaka,  Thu,  24 August 2017
Published : 23 Nov 2016, 20:58:37
HULT Prize Challenge 2017

Solving the refugee crisis

Nadia Imtiaz

The Hult Prize, organised by Hult Prize Foundation--a startup accelerator, is an annual competition which encourages university students to come up with innovative, sustainable and scalable social business ideas to solve one of the current pressing global social problems. Winners get the opportunity to turn their ideas to reality with the prize of USD 1 million  as seed capital as well as mentorship and advice from the international business community.

The Hult Prize @ BUET is a quarterfinal programme organised locally in Bangladesh University of Engineering and Professionals (BUET) and giving its winners the opportunity to bypass the traditional application process and advance through one of five regional final rounds of competition. BUET has been organising the event for the third time this year, with the 2017 HultPrize challenge being "Refugees - Reawakening Human Potential" and focuses on restoring the rights and dignity of people and societies forced into motion due to various social complications, such as war.

After a preliminary briefing in the inauguration on October 27, the 179 registered teams, each with 3-4 members had to go through an extensive focused group discussion round, where individuals of each team were judged on how well they flared in group discussions aiming to solve a local refugee problem. Selected 96 teams had to submit their business idea abstract by  November  5.   By November 7, 30 teams out of them were screened out by a panel of expert judges. These 30 teams had to present their business solutions in the 'pitch perfect round' held on November 11 in BUET. This writer, being a participant and member of one of the selected teams 'Fist of Four', believes  that this is an opportunity of using  our wisdom to try and solve the global problems while being funded and mentored is truly empowering.  The panel of 10 judges including NSU Faculty Shahed Mahmud and Head of planning at Airtel BD (Now Robi) Moneruz Zaman selected  6 capable teams after thoroughly scrutinising the teams with questions targeting their venture's practicability.

Diptha Saha of team 'Sanctum', on being selected said, "I am truly happy since Hult is giving me an amazing opportunity to hone my entrepreneurial skills for my future career".  Each of these 6 teams  will  receive a mentor and will get a month to test their prototype before the final pitch presentation round in BUET on  December 6. The one team selected in this round will get a sponsored trip to one of the five regional finals--Boston, San Francisco, London, Dubai and Shanghai. Selected teams will proceed to the incubation programme, Hult Prize Accelerator to be held in Boston and then the Global Finals hosted by the Clinton Foundation in New York.

The writer is currently studying in Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET),
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