More Than Just a Competition

Ahmad Ashkar, Hult Prize Founder & Hult International Business School alumnus.

We’re in the final countdown for the International Career Development Conference in Anaheim, Calif., where many DECA students will be taking part in one of the biggest career development conferences in the U.S. – will you be competing?

If you are, it is probably one of the first times you have ever presented in front of such a big international crowd. The competition will be tough, and you’ll need to be prepared, but it will also be an exciting moment that you will never forget—one that will truly prepare you for a future in business.

No matter how nervous it may make you, the value of experiences like these is huge. By taking part in DECA competitions you are not only refining your ability as a public speaker, you are also gaining experience in pitching and selling your ideas to an audience. And these skills will remain useful for life—especially if you are planning a career in business and entrepreneurship.

At Hult we are passionate about DECA because we believe it teaches a lot of the practical skills that we look for in students. We specialize in connecting global businesses with innovative thinking, both through our undergraduate program designed to continuously flex students’ presenting muscles, and our unique partnership with the Hult Prize, a global student competition often described as the ‘Nobel Prize for entrepreneurship.’

In fact, the Hult Prize is one to watch if you’re an active DECA member. Testing your public speaking and your problem-solving abilities similarly to your DECA experience, the Hult Prize may even be the competition you want to enter next if you are already in college (or once you begin).

Proof that you can use business solutions to do good in the world, the Hult Prize challenges students to develop innovative, scalable, and sustainable ways to meet today’s most pressing social challenges. Founded by a Hult International Business School alumnus, Ahmad Ashkar, the Hult Prize allows college students to compete with their peers and make their business ideas a reality, working in teams of three or four to solve an international humanitarian problem through social entrepreneurship.

President Bill Clinton with Hult Prize 2015 winners.

Every year, President Bill Clinton chooses the challenge and presents a $1,000,000 prize to the winning team, who battle through regional finals to present their business idea to some of the world’s most influential change makers. Not only do the students participating often find new business partnerships and opportunities along the way, but the winners earn the seed capital that will enable them to put their dream into action!

So what is this year’s challenge?

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton has challenged this year’s participants to create social enterprises to restore the rights and dignity of 10 million refugees by 2022. To do this, teams will need to craft new business models and rethink traditional attitudes to find ways to support displaced people. To win, they must be able to measurably improve conditions in one of five areas: place, community, learning, ownership, or opportunity.

And who is in the running for this year’s prize?

So far five finalist teams have been selected from around the world, and they are bringing some extraordinary ideas to the fore in the field of social entrepreneurship.

U-gas from ITAM

Winner of the San Francisco Regional Final, U-gas seeks to reduce deaths from hygiene-related diseases in refugee camps (currently the biggest killer). They will minimize incidences of cholera or typhoid fever by installing better toilet facilities, and creating saleable bio-gas as an eco-friendly by-product.

Roshni Rides from Rutgers University

Winner of the Boston Regional Final, this team aims to provide electric-powered rickshaw transportation services to Orangi in Pakistan, a town mainly inhabited by refugees, who currently spend 11% of their annual income on the expensive and unreliable transport services in the area. Cheaper, more energy efficient transport could improve both earning potential and day to day life for refugees in Orangi and towns like it.

EPOCH from the University of Waterloo

Winner of the London Regional Final, Team EPOCH has developed an app that brings together refugees and community members to exchange their skills, talents, and services. It aims to give newly arrived refugees a way to integrate with their local community, and allows all users to earn and redeem time credits, which can be exchanged to give and receive help according to their abilities and resources.

Skill2Scale from University of Calgary

Dubai Regional Final winner Skill2Scale uses gamification within a mobile app to teach refugees the language and cultural skills they’ll need in their new community. Piloted in African refugee communities and a range of other countries, this project has already shown that it can help to promote community integration.

Team Empower from York University

Shanghai winners, Empower, have come up with a solution to the lack of internet connectivity many refugees face. Their solar powered WiFi bracelet gives access to stable and affordable internet use via a subscription model that is 50% cheaper than what the majority of refugees currently pay. And of course, more internet means more employment opportunities, better education, and greater access to healthcare information.

But it’s not over yet—there is still a wildcard round this April, where a final team will be chosen to compete against the regional finalists. Who do you think are the ones to beat, and do you think you could match them?

You can find out more about the Hult Prize at As the sponsor of this year’s ICDC event, we hope to catch a glimpse of many future Hult Prize applicants up on the DECA stage. We know you have the skills; you just have to rise to the challenge. Good luck and we’ll see you in Anaheim!

Hult International Business School will be at booth 606 and 608 at the #DECAICDC in Anaheim – stop by and say hello to our Career Development team and current Hult Students. 

This article was written by DECA National Advisory Board member, Hult International Business School. You can find out more about Hult International Business School, our Bachelor of Business Administration degree, campuses in London and San Francisco, faculty, and more when you follow us on FacebookInstagram or Twitter.