October 29, 2015 marked a busy morning at the BUET Civil Building. Despite the mid-term break, the Civil Building was bustling with students in formal attire from as early as 9 am. The Secondary Round of the Hult Prize at BUET was about to commence.
Twelve chosen teams from a pool of 32 from the previous round were given the opportunity to present their business solutions in front of the judges. Previously, a Primary Grooming Workshop had been organised by the Hult Prize at BUET on October 8 to prepare the participants for the upcoming competition. This was followed by the submission of written case studies from the participating teams. Then on October 20, 32 teams presented their respective ideas in front of the judges’ panel. The judges then selected the best 12 teams to proceed onto the Secondary Round. This year, students battled it out to come up with the most innovative solution to the global problem, ‘Crowded Urban Spaces’. Teams consisting of three to four members gave a brief presentation (for around 8 minutes) each and were subjected to a brief question and answer round by the judges’ panel. The prestigious judges’ panel consisted of Shaer Hassan, Md. Atiqur Rahman Sarker, Samira Zuberi Himika, and Professor Tanvir Ahmed. Based on originality, innovation and feasibility of the ideas, the top six solutions were chosen to compete in the Grand Finale of the Hult Prize at BUET. This year, the Hult Prize at BUET is being hosted by the BUET Career Club and organised by Nazmus Sadat, the campus director of Hult Prize at BUET.
The Hult Prize is a competition for university level and MBA students worldwide. It is in fact the largest student competition for solving social problems. It is a joint initiative by the Hult International Business School and the Clinton Global Initiative. Each year, teams are selected to take part in the regional pitch offs, held in several cities such as Shanghai, Dubai, London, San Francisco and Boston. Finalists are then promoted to participate in the final pitch-off in New York. The winning team is given one million dollars in seed capital to implement their social enterprise start-up plan.
In developing nations such as Bangladesh, the problem of crowded urban spaces has become a major issue and a barrier to further economic development. It is estimated that about two out every three youths in many crowded urban localities are either unemployed or underemployed. Traffic jams cost over one billion dollars in economic productivity worldwide. Nearly 100 million children living in crowded urban areas do not have access to early childhood education, which limits their chances of ever making it out of poverty. Students have been given the target of designing a social enterprise that will alleviate the situation so that the income of the population residing in urban crowded spaces doubles by 2022. Their start-up solution must pave the way for improving mobility and increasing the connectivity between people, capital, services and goods.
With November 12 fast approaching, BUET Career Club is about to host the Grand Finale of the Hult Prize at BUET. It is to be seen which team will win at the final and make it directly to the regional pitch offs.