Jönköping University students ready to tackle refugee crisis

Jönköping University students ready to tackle refugee crisis
A team of students from Jönköping University will, for the first time, enter the Hult Prize Foundation competition – one of the largest and most prestigious student competitions in the world.

On November 25th, students from the university shall pitch their ideas in front of a panel of entrepreneurs and consultants on Jönköping’s university campus to decide which team shall represent the university and indeed Sweden at a regional competition in 2017.

Each year the Hult Prize Foundation collaborates with the Clinton Foundation, as former US president Bill Clinton chooses a pressing social issue to be the main focus of the competition.

Teams of up to four students from over 600 universities worldwide must then compete to come up with an idea for a social venture which will help solve the social issue at hand.

Following local competitions on various university campuses around the world, the winning teams shall represent their university at a regional competition taking place either in Shanghai, San Francisco, Dubai, Boston, London or online.

The six regional finalists will then spend six weeks during the summer attending a Hult Prize Accelerator hosted by Hult International Business School, before competing in the global final held at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting in New York next September.

The winning team is rewarded with USD 1,000,000 in seed capital from the Hult Prize Foundation – presented by former president Bill Clinton – as well as receiving extensive professional support in launching their social venture.

The social issue chosen by Bill Clinton for this year’s competition was a key inspiration for Hult [email protected] Campus Director and SI Scholarship holder, Alia Yasser, to bring the Hult Prize Foundation competition to Jönköping University.

“This year’s topic concerns refugees and the hardships they currently face, and it’s all about coming up with solutions for the refugee crisis,” she explains.

“As a society, we are very aware of the refugee issue and the problems they’re facing. We are accommodating a lot of refugees here in Sweden, so I thought the topic actually touches the Swedish community a lot.”

As a student at Jönköping University, Alia is conscious of the business mindset and talent of many of the university’s students. This, she says, also motivated her to involve Jönköping in this coveted competition.

“We have a very entrepreneurial campus – this is what Jönköping University prides itself for,” Alia says. “The students are actually very aware of how to come up with solutions, and how to develop business ideas.”

For such business-minded students, the Hult Prize Foundation is no ordinary student competition. Rather, this is an opportunity to build a network of consultants and established entrepreneurs at the very least, and a life-changing venture that could change the world at most.  

“At the competition here on campus, Students get to pitch their ideas in front of a jury of qualified people – consultants and business people and so on – so they get an expert opinion on their ideas,” Alia explains.

And for the winning team from the local competition, the experience is guaranteed to become something of an unforgettable journey as they progress to the regional competition.

“At the regional competition, there are many people pitching their ideas from around the world, so they get a network of international participants as well as a network of consultants from the Hult Prize Foundation itself,” says Alia.  

 “And, of course, there is the USD 1,000,000 of seed funding if they manage to win after making it to the final.”

The competition to decide which team will represent Jönköping University at a regional competition takes place on November 25th.

“So far we have 20 teams participating. They are going to pitch, with their teams, in front of a qualifying jury, and then the best team to pitch their ideas to the jury of experts will win,” Alia explains.

“We announce the winning team on the same day.”

 This competition brings much to be excited about in Jönköping. Not only is it the first time the university is entering the competition, but they and Stockholm School of Economics are the only two universities from Sweden that will be participating in the 2017 Hult Prize Foundation competition. 

“Here, at Jönköping University, we have 3 values – entrepreneurial at heart, international in mind and sustainable in action,” says Alia.

“I think that these three values are conveyed through this competition.”

 As for Alia, the first Hult [email protected] Campus Director for Jönköping University, she is eager to hear the students’ social venture ideas and proposals that may help refugees during this international crisis. 

“I’m really excited about hearing the ideas that the students come up with, because the case is quite wide and the issues have been happening around the world,” she explains.

“I just want to see how the students can tackle this in a socially innovative way, and to see what creative ways they can come up with to actually help refugees.”