"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.

Darell Hammond

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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.

Meet the Teams

  • Roshni Rides


    Rutgers University

    Start-up Concept:

    Roshni Rides is a solar powered eRickshaw service that acts as a public transportation system for refugee communities. The eRickshaws run on batteries that are charged by solar energy cultivated in Roshni Hubs, and provide consistent transportation that’s affordable, convenient, and safe. Our Roshni Hubs also act as a location for storage, repair, maintenance, and community space. With the excess electricity, Roshni Rides will be shedding light through our hub on to the surrounding community. Our unique service was inspired by the New York City subway system as we operate on a systematic route that has been strategically mapped out to create accessibility to critical resources like education, healthcare and employment.

  • U-Gas


    Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México

    Start-up Concept:

    Due to overpopulation and poor hygienic conditions in refugee camps, outbreak of diseases associated with poor sanitation and contact with human waste are common, and sometimes fatal. In order to prevent this, U-gas’ solution is to set up ecological dry toilets and urinals in camps, provide each toilet with antibacterial gel, clean them daily and collect the biowaste every week. To scale, the urine will be used to make gas with a biogas generator that produces 1 liter of gas per 500 ml of urine in 30 seconds. The gas will be sold at a wholesale price to gas businesses in the area that will distribute it. The biogas is for domestic use, the cheapest in the market, and also eco-friendly.



    University of Waterloo

    Start-up Concept:

    EPOCH is a mobile platform that brings refugees and community members together through the exchange of skills, talents, and services. Time will be the means of exchange, where money is not required. With EPOCH, refugees are able to receive support from the community, expand their trusted networks, and share their talents and cultures. EPOCH aims to build resilient communities where refugees and community members can reach reach their full potential.

  • Skill2Scale


    University of Calgary

    Start-up Concept:

    Skill2Scale leverages gamification and a smartphone application to promote integration by teaching language and cultural skills to refugees. The target market ranges from refugees living in camps in Africa, to refugees resettling in a new country, and the team has piloted the project in both settings with good results.

  • Empower


    York University

    Start-up Concept:

    Empower is a connectivity solution that provides refugees with stable and affordable internet access through a WiFi bracelet. The WiFi bracelet is also a charging power bank powered by solar panels. Empower uses a subscription model that is 50% cheaper on average that what refugees currently pay. Empower unlocks information so refugees can access employment opportunities, stay up to date with their education and monitor their health.

  • 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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