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The Indiana Daily Student

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IU startups can compete for $1 million


IU students can compete for a $1 million international award by entering the University’s first local contest for the international Hult Prize.

“It’s a business enterprise as well as a social enterprise,” said Rachel Boveja, director of global public relations for the Hult Prize at IU. 

The international prize was created in 2009 to solve world social challenges by funding inventive student startup companies, according to the Hult website. Last year, students were challenged to create sustainable, energy-powered innovation improving 10 million lives by 2025. 

The 2019 application will go live at 6 p.m. Sept. 15 when the challenge theme is announced by U.S. President Bill Clinton at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. Both the Clinton Foundation and the UN are Hult Prize partners.

At the IU level, undergraduate and graduate students can compete in teams to become the Hult campus representative, Boveja said. The winners will then compete in a regional competition and, if they advance, have the chance to win $1 million at international finals in fall 2019. 

Boveja said the prize encourages students from different disciplines to collaborate and create innovative solutions to world problems.

Anoir Ennouri is the campus director for IU’s Hult Prize regional competition. 

Ennouri competed in the contest in 2013 as a student at the University of Tunis. He said competing in the contest helped him get in touch with insecurity and injustice in the world. His team was the first team from Tunisia to enter, creating a startup that facilitated trade between people with different agricultural products to reduce food insecurity.

While Ennouri’s team did not end up moving into the international finals, he said competing for the prize helped jump-start his career in business. He became a consultant for the World Bank and launched his own startup, Coffee Tree, which made fertilizer from used coffee grounds.

“The Hult Prize is, for me, a door that allowed me to grow as a human and as a professional,” Ennouri said.

Ennouri’s work at Coffee Tree brought him to IU’s Global Business Institute, a Kelley School of Business program for international students to study business topics in an American environment. Ennouri said he wanted to introduce the Hult Prize to IU because of his positive experience with the business school.

Ennouri oversees every aspect of planning IU’s local competition. Ennouri will be working the competition remotely from Tunisia, where he is currently collaborating with a Nigerian startup company.

Student staff members will also play a large role in organizing the contest at IU. 

Sophomore Malik Hale is the director of programming and development for IU’s competition. His job is to take programs and events created by the Hult Prize for competitors and enact them on the IU-Bloomington campus.

Hale said the prize is also a good way for students to network with each other and with influential institutions like The Clinton Foundation and United Nations.

Hale said the people he has talked with about the contest are not just interested in the $1 million.

“A lot of people just want to be able to make the social impact in the world,” Hale said.

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