A million dollar prize is on the line, and a group of five Ryerson MBA students are in the running to win the coveted Hult Prize competition.
In order to qualify for the regional competition, the team had to submit a statement of purpose for entering the competition along with their resumes. Angela Holzer, a member of the Ryerson team heard about the competition just a month before it began. She quickly commissioned a group of five MBA students.
“This year the Hult competition is about healthcare in slums so we looked at which students had some healthcare background…and saw who was interested,” said Holzer.
The team consists of Peter Myers, a former naturopath, Candice Mullings, who previously worked at a hospital, Witold Lukaszynski, who worked in a slum in Kenya and Sally Yip, who has consulting experience in IT in the healthcare sector.
Now in its fifth year, the Hult Prize Foundation is a not-for-profit organization focused on combating various global issues through social entrepreneurship. Each year, a different theme is chosen and the competition encourages undergraduate and graduate students to create a sustainable business structure to provide a solution.
The Ryerson MBA team will travel to Boston in March to compete in one of the six regional competitions held worldwide. Each team has just 12 minutes to pitch their proposal.
“[We’re] supposed to take one idea and show how conceivable and relevant it is,” said Holzer. “That’s an additional challenge, to make sure we really understand [our idea].”
One team per regional competition is chosen to participate in a summer accelerator program where the teams develop their ideas and prepare for the final round hosted by former U.S. President Bill Clinton and his foundation, the Clinton Global Initiative.
The ambitious team is being mentored by Ryerson MBA Professor Kimberly Bates who, Holzer says, encourages them to think outside the box.
“[She] tries to see who else is competing against us because some topics might be very popular and a lot of teams might do the same, so she tries to bring in a little strategic to see how Ryerson can position [ourselves] a little bit apart from the others,” Holzer explained.
Last year, a Canadian team took the prize. The challenge was to produce a sustainable food source for malnourished communities globally. Montreal’s McGill team developed a model that would distribute “micro-livestock” kits to these communities.
The competition was founded in 2009 by Ahmad Ashkar, a Hult International Business School student, when he had the idea to crowd-source solutions to global problems. Working in collaboration with the Clinton Global Initiative, the competition focuses on a different social problem.
This year, the regional competitions will take place on March 7 and 8 in Boston, San Francisco, London, Dubai, Shanghai and Sao Paulo.