Pakistani-American students win prestigious Hult Prize challenge

Four Pakistani-American students have made Pakistan proud by winning the prestigious Hult Prize challenge and a $1 million award in seed capital.

Rutgers University graduates Hanaa Lakhani, Moneed Mian, Hasan Usmani, as well as CEO Gia Farooqi, are one step closer to turning their idea for tackling the global refugee crisis into reality with Roshni Rides – a transportation network to empower refugees overseas.

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. After several stages of competition, six finalists including Team Roshni Rides were selected from more than 50,000 applicants from over 100 countries.

The business model is a formalized rickshaw shuttle service that aims to offer fixed, affordable commuting prices to urbanized refugees in South Asia, where transportation options are often limited.

Easily accessible local travel will help refugees in having easier access to education and employment opportunities, the team members said.

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.

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.


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