Pakistani-American students win $1 million award for transportation startup to empower refugees
A team of four Pakistani-American students have grabbed the top honors at this year’s Hult Prize Challenge and $1 million prize money for their social entrepreneurship business.
The inspiring idea of the team was to connect and empower refugees around the world with Roshni Rides which is a transportation startup.
The wining team consist four students Rutgers University graduates including Gia Farooqi, Hanaa Lakhani, Hasan Usmani, and Moneeb Mian.
The project envisions that Roshni Rides would help refugees stay better connected to all the essential daily services. The innovation their project was proposing to use solar powered rickshaws for connecting refugees.
Around 50,000 applicants from more than 100 countries were participating, where they were competing in several stages of the Hult Prize Challenge. The team Roshni Rides managed to secure a prize of $1 million in top six selected best team of the competition.
Former President Bill Clinton, a key Hult Prize partner, declared Roshni Rides the winner of this year’s challenge. “This is a private solution to a public problem that will have a big impact,” he said.
This year Hult Prize Challenge event was held at the United Nations HQ in New York but the participants started work about a year ago to develop a startup venture to restore the rights and dignity of 1 million refugees by 2022.
Team’s other contributions
Earlier this year, the same team launched Roshni Rides, a solar-powered rickshaw transport system which will run on a systematic route with stops along venue of employment, hospitals, schools and markets, according to a post on the Rutgers Business School webpage.
The student team made around $30,000 in a crowd funding campaign in May and then in the summer ran a pilot project in Karachi’s Orangi Town.
All four team members plan to relocate to southern Pakistan, so they can use their award money to bring their business idea to life. They intend to return to Orangi Town, where they conducted field research over the summer.
About Hult Prize Challenge
Hult Prize Challenge is an entrepreneurship competition started by the Hult Prize Foundation, a nonprofit organization for social enterprise, last year presented students with its eighth annual goal-oriented contest to develop a startup venture to restore the rights and dignity of one million refugees by 2022.
The Hult Prize is considered the top student competition in the world and provides a platform for university students to create and launch of social welfare for-profit start-ups.