Hult Prize: The Nobel Prize for Students

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A red carpet award ceremony is the stuff of the Oscars – or the Hult Prize On-Campus Award ceremony hosted right here at Strathmore. Sweeping red carpets, and black tie outfits marked the occasion, where young change makers from across the world gathered to celebrate the efforts of the campus coordinators in supporting students participating in this year’s Hult Prize.

The annual Prize is founded on the belief that our future lies in the hands of our young people. It thus challenges them to solve the world’s most pressing problems through their innovative ideas and brilliant concepts. The Hult Prize has been referred to as the ‘Nobel Prize for students’ by Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus.

We caught up with Dorcas Otieno, a lecturer in the University for over 12 years, and the Strathmore faculty director of the Hult Prize. She joked about running into former students who she couldn’t believe had graduated so many years ago, pulling an ‘I must be getting old’ face. She broke the stages of the competition down for us.

The Innovation, The Competition and The Million Dollar Hult Prize

Each year, the Hult Prize team announces a theme. Following the COVID-19 pandemic that so heavily affected the employment sector, the 2022 theme is focused on getting the world back to work by creating meaningful work opportunities at a scale. Once the theme is announced, the onus is on the young people to develop a social venture that addresses the issue. The point at which the Hult Prize and the students meet is the On-Campus program.  Student volunteers, known as Campus Directors, organize training programs and community events focused on that year’s Call to Action at their universities. ​ Their goal is to select a winning team to participate at the regional level. The Strathmore On-Campus team has over the years developed and supported teams to participate at the regional level, sometimes 2 or 3 at a go.

With a strong social venture in mind and the support of their universities, the teams proceed to the regional summits hosted in cities across the globe. Thousands of teams attend the regional summits each year, and through an immersive digital format, pitch their ideas to a panel of experts. Winning teams of each region proceed to the global accelerator – 6-week program, which aims to refine and build upon their social venture. ​

Week by week, the teams are trained on various business aspects to refine their proposals. They then pitch each section to the Hult Prize staff and experts, reworking them to take their venture to the next level. At the end of the 6 weeks, 6 teams are selected to proceed to the Global Finals where they stand a chance to pitch to a panel of distinguished judges and win $1,000,000. This year’s winners receive their award from Former US President, Bill Clinton.

Celebrating Social Impact

Over the years, Strathmore University has nominated exceptional teams that have participated in and won the regional summits. The campus directors, led by Grace Kavata, the first ever Campus Director of Hult Prize in Strathmore, work tirelessly to get students interested and working on bold business ideas. They source for and provide panels of experts and judges to train the students on the social issues from which the themes are drawn and to help select the top teams to proceed to regionals.

In years past, teams from the University have pitched their ideas to local leaders and industry experts and past winners of the Hult prize. In 2020, three teams were chosen to pitch at the regional summits and in 2021, two teams proceeded to London for the global accelerator. Their ideas, borne from personal experience and immersion in their societies, have changed many lives. The most recent innovation by Stratizens for the Hult Prize was Kivu Sokoni. They sought to bring fresh groceries right to the doors of their customers from the centralized markets of DRC. These students, both diploma and bachelor’s students are doing impactful work in service to society.

We were honored to host this year’s On Campus Awards ceremony. The attendees came from nations across the world and enjoyed a three-day immersive experience in Nairobi, including a visit to the Nairobi National park. Their visit ended with the red carpet award ceremony where the Top Programs of 2022 and their coordinators were awarded and celebrated. Through continued good relations between Hult Prize and Strathmore University, more change makers can be nurtured, taught and challenged to bring about much needed social change.

 

 

This article was written by Celia Kinuthia. 

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