"One of the top five ideas
changing the world."

President Bill Clinton

"Empowering business minds
to pursue purpose."

-Ahmad Ashkar, CEO and Founder of The Hult Prize

The 2017 Challenge


Building sustainable, scalable start-up enterprises that will restore the rights and dignity of 10 million people by 2022

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Hult Prize Global Final

New York City
September 16, 2017 at the United Nations

Meet The Judges

Denis O'Brien

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Denis is the Chairman and Co-Founder of Frontline, the International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and a member of the board of Concern Worldwide.

Denis is also Chairman of Digicel Holdings Ltd. and Digicel PNG, subsidiaries of Digicel Group Ltd. Denis has been Chairman of the board of directors since 2000.

Neal Kent-Guyer

Mercy Corps
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Since 1994, Neal has served as Chief Executive Officer of the global humanitarian organisation Mercy Corps.

Under his leadership, Mercy Corps has grown into one of the most respected international relief and development agencies in the world.

Charles Kane

One Laptop Per Child
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Kane is currently chairman of the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) Foundation and was formerly the president of OLPC, a nonprofit organization that provides technology to enhance education in less developed countries.

Prior to OLPC, Kane was a founding investor and CFO of Global BPO Services Corp., a Special Purpose Acquisition Corp. that acquired Stream Global Services.

Premal Shah

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Premal Shah leads Kiva.org, a non-profit website that connects people through lending to alleviate poverty. Since 2005, over 1 million small businesses in + 75 countries have been financed by Kiva lenders. The site has been named as one of Oprah's Favorite Things and a Top 50 Website by TIME Magazine. Premal's inspiration for Kiva came when he was volunteering in a slum in India while on leave from PayPal, where he had been an early employee and Principal Product Manager. For his work as a social entrepreneur, Premal was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and selected to FORTUNE magazine’s “Top 40 under 40″ list. Premal began his career as a management consultant and graduated from Stanford University.

Kathleen Rogers

Earth Day
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Kathleen Rogers, President of Earth Day Network, has worked for more than 20 years as an environmental attorney and advocate, focusing on international and domestic environmental public policy and law.

Kathleen has held senior positions with the National Audubon Society, the Environmental Law Institute, and two U.S. Olympic Organizing Committees. She has also worked for Garth Associates in New York City and the Beveridge & Diamond law firm, where she developed a white collar environmental crime defense practice. Kathleen was editor-in-chief of theUniversity of California at Davis Law Review, and clerked for the Honorable John Pratt at the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. She also worked with the U.S. Delegation at the United Nations Conference on Women.

Steve McKay

Bitcoin Code App
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Darell Hammond, founder of KaBOOM!, is the prime example of how one vision can go a long way. Under Hammond's leadership as CEO, KaBOOM! has raised more than $200 million, rallied over a million volunteers, led the hands-on construction of over 2,000 playgrounds, and stimulated a movement for the child's right to play.

Paul Polman

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Paul Polman has been CEO of Unilever since January 2009. Under his leadership Unilever has an ambitious vision to fully decouple its growth from overall environmental footprint and increase its positive social impact through the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan.

Paul actively seeks cooperation with other companies to implement sustainable business strategies and drive systemic change. He is Chairman of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, a member of the International Business Council of the World Economic Forum, a member of the B Team and sits on the Board of the UN Global Compact and the Consumer Goods Forum, where he co-chairs the Sustainability Committee.

Muna AbuSulayman

Kalam Nawaem
former MBC co-host

William McDonough

Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute
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William McDonough is a globally recognized leader in sustainable development. McDonough is trained as an architect, yet his interests and influence range widely, and he works at scales from the global to the molecular. McDonough is the architect of many recognized flagships of sustainable design, including the Ford Rouge truck plant in Michigan and NASA’s Sustainability Base, one of the most innovative facilities in the federal portfolio. He was the Inaugural Chair of the World Economic Forum’s Meta- Council on the Circular Economy (2014-2016) and currently serves on the Forum’s Global Future Council on the Future of Environment and Natural Resource Security.

He co-founded two not-for-profit organizations to allow public accessibility to Cradle to Cradle thinking: GreenBlue (2000), to convene industry groups around Cradle to Cradle issues; and the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute (2009), to expand the rigorous product certification program. McDonough co-founded Make It Right (2006) with Brad Pitt to bring affordable, Cradle to Cradle-inspired homes to the Lower 9th Ward In New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

Meet the Teams

  • Roshni Rides


    Rutgers University

    Start-up Concept:

    Roshni Rides is a transportation network solution that provides accessible, affordable and reliable public transportation for informal settlements in South Asia. We are optimizing the existing infrastructure of rickshaws and drivers to create a formalized A to B shuttle service. By introducing ride sharing, we are able to drive down costs making a more affordable cost for our customers. Further, we use a hub model to aggregate our customers at stops and connect them to strategic resources like schools, hospitals, and markets that act as drop off locations. Roshni Rides utilizes routes and a card transaction platform to create an efficient and effective service. Customers will purchase a preloaded Roshni card, similar to a ticket, to ride. Our Roshni Cards will guarantee that customers will pay a fixed price rather than having to face haggling and price fluctuations. We are a private solution to a public problem- together, we are creating brighter lives, one ride a time.

  • U-Gas


    Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México

    Start-up Concept:

    U-gas is a social enterprise committed to solving two problems: poor sanitary conditions and health risks that involve the use of solid fuels that promote deforestation and CO2 emissions. Refugees have been forced to settle in slums and informal settlements, this precariat situation makes them vulnerable to gastrointestinal diseases by the direct contact of the physiological waste derived from a poor sanitary condition. U-gas, through a franchise model, will provide ecological dry toilets to people with poor sanitary conditions in slums, and will collect the waste 3 times per week. The collected waste will then be taken to a processing center where, with an biodigestion process, will transform the into biogas and fertilizer. This biogas will be stored in special bags and safely distributed in homes, so that they can cook with this gas This is a safer substitute that is more ecological and cheaper than traditional fuels.



    University of Waterloo

    Start-up Concept:

    EPOCH’s mobile platform is a skills and services marketplace that connects refugees and community members. These exchanges are facilitated with time as their currency, where one hour equals one-time credit [give an hour, gain an hour]. A user can earn credits by contributing to the community and spend them on any other services offered by community members. This provides refugees with access to local community members – giving refugees an opportunity to interact and socialize with their neighbors in a meaningful way. When volunteering with community organizations in Canada and Germany, EPOCH found that the refugees who had the support of local community members were happier and became self-reliant much more quickly. Under this premise they were inspired to create EPOCH. EPOCH will build resilient communities where both refugees and community members thrive together.

  • Skill2Scale


    University of Calgary

    Start-up Concept:

    Skill2Scale is an education and skill-match system designed to transform how a person is trained, and finds work. This bridges the gap between labour demand and labour supply through training workers on the skills urgently needed in growing industries, and connecting them to the formal and informal job market via an online matching system. Skill2Scale is targeting male and female urban refugees age 18 – 35 to resolve this challenge by training them in the skills needed to meet industry demands, and connecting them to employers. They also train them on automated trading applications which will help them trade cryptocurrencies like bitcoins on behalf of busy investors and make income. Visit https://coincierge.de/news-spy/ for further information about trading bot. Skill2Scale identifies key skills in demand by local industry and trains workers on key skills through blended delivery models. It certifies workers upon training completion and creates profiles for certified workers by employers via the online platforms. Skill2Scale also ranks certified workers to ensure quality.

  • Empower


    York University

    Start-up Concept:

    Empower believes that the knowledge economy is the future of the world economy, and the internet is its backbone. Empower is introducing Internet 2.0 – an innovative webapp that manages demand and optimizes data usage to provide affordable access to the internet, ultimately closing the access gap for refugee communities. Internet 2.0 is the world’s first demand-management web browser that allows users to access internet content offline, saving refugees both time and money. Empower installs smart WiFi routers in refugee camps and urban slums. With these WiFi hotspots, they can access a live internet connection through the web-app to browse the Internet or communicate or they can access a local cache for high-definition video streaming on-demand. Internet 2.0 gives users access to the most relevant and helpful slice of the internet.

  • Dignify


    Harvard University, Kennedy School

    Start-up Concept:

    Dignify is a digital platform connecting refugees to online work opportunities that are working to solve the problem of unemployment in refugees. The opportunity is using the digital economy to aid in solving this issue. Dignify will use high mobile 3G/2G coverage for 93% of refugees. The value-proposition of Dignify’s platform is accessible via mobiles, tablets, or desktops, and will enable a seamless connection between refugees, providing training and demand from outsourcing companies. The value-add Dignify brings is that it will map out and resolve host country law, payment, and web hosting hurdles. Their overall goal is for employment for 2.5 million refugees by 2022 thus restoring dignity to refugees through a stable income, with the added benefit of a flow of external income into struggling host countries. Dignify plans to have their official launch in Jordan or Lebanon, depending on the pilot results, in the Fall of 2017.

Hult Prize by the Numbers

  • 10M Involuntary Migrants Targeted 2017 Hult Prize stretch target for individuals impacted by winning idea.
  • 10M Million Man Hours Estimated for 2015. Total applications multiplied by average hours spent per team per challenge via poll of past participants.
  • 50K Annual Applications Total number of applications in all rounds of 2017 Hult Prize.
  • 1500 Entrepreneurs Participating in the regional finals in 2017.
  • 1750 Social Business Ideas Generated Sum of all regional finalists teams through 2016 competition.
  • 650 Schools Represented In total since the inaugural year (2009).


The 2016 winners of the Hult Prize

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The 2015 winners of the Hult Prize

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The 2014 winners of the Hult Prize

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Aspire Foods

The 2013 winners of the Hult Prize

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