9th Annual UN Hult Prize Global Finals & Awards Gala

United Nations, New York, NY
September 15, 2018

Watch the Finals

“Leading a generation to change the world”

Ahmad Ashkar, CEO and Founder of The Hult Prize


Jeetu Patel

Chief Product Officer
Read Bio

Jeetu Patel is Chief Product Officer at Box. He leads the company's overall product and platform strategy, driving Box’s long-term roadmap and vision for cloud content management in the enterprise. Previously, as Chief Strategy Officer and SVP of Platform at Box, Jeetu led the creation of the Box Platform business unit, overseeing product strategy, marketing and developer relations. He grew the team from a nascent product to a revenue generating business line and key element on Box’s overall suite of offerings. He also led corporate development & M&A strategy as well as Box for Industries. Before joining Box, Jeetu was General Manager and Chief Executive of EMC’s Syncplicity business unit which he grew from $0 to $100M in 2.5 years. Prior to EMC, Jeetu was president of Doculabs, a research and advisory firm co-owned by Forrester Research focused on collaboration and content management across a range of industries, including financial services, insurance, energy, manufacturing and life sciences. Jeetu holds a B.S. in Information Decision Sciences from the University of Illinois Chicago.

Bill Townsend

Bluesource Companies
Read Bio

Mr. Townsend is Chairman, Chief Strategy Officer, and co-founder of the Bluesource Companies. Bluesource is the largest and oldest market-maker, advisor, and capital source for North American environmental emission reductions. Bluesource creates these environmental attributes from over 20 different technologies across 46 states and 4 Canadian provinces. Bluesource and partners announced the formation of the first US-based carbon fund of $1 billion for investments exclusively in climate change reduction projects in North America. Mr. Townsend partnered to form the Petro Source Companies, a group of companies that gathered, transported, refined and marketed hydrocarbons and carbon dioxide. He is former Chairman of the Life@Work Companies, which published faith-based business media and won Folios in editorial development and design. As Chairman and co-founder of LifeSource, a foundation dedicated to pain management, Mr. Townsend stewarded a 2011 national campaign to stop accidental deaths due to legally-prescribed medications. The Paradigm Project, a Bluesource spinoff, which leverages carbon markets to benefit severe critical needs in developing world communities, was a Clinton Global Initiative Fellow and a 2013 UN Lighthouse Project. Mr. Townsend is the founder or co-founder of several companies in energy, chemicals, publishing, consulting, finance, and environment. Through a privately-held investment fund, more than a dozen other start-ups in the not-for- and for-profit space of faith, culture, and character have been launched or nourished. Mr. Townsend is the past Board Chair of People of the Second Chance, Relevate, Axiom, and K2 the Church Trustees. He and his wife, Andrea, live in the Rockies and are blessed with three children and nine grandchildren

Ibrahim AlHusseini

FullEnergy Cycle
Read Bio

Ibrahim AlHusseini is a highly-regarded investor and humanitarian who founded FullCycle Energy LP - a fund that finances global power plants that can turn municipal waste into clean fuel that will bring power to millions in need in the developing world. To date, AlHusseini has raised half a billion dollars in capital for impact. In addition to FullCycle Energy, AlHusseini concurrently manages his family office, The Husseini Group LLC, which invests in growth companies that embrace social enhancement and ecological sustainability. AlHusseini speaks worldwide about impact investing and the solution economy, has been featured in The Washington Post, and has presented at the United Nations, the Vatican, the Social Good Summit, INSEAD and more. This year, AlHusseini plans to launch a token offering with the mission of funding waste-to-energy plants to help power a carbon-neutral future.

Venus Brown

Buddah Brown Entertainment
Founder and CEO

Kathleen Rogers

Earth day Network
Read Bio

Kathleen Rogers is the President of Earth Day Network. Kathleen has developed Earth Day Network into a year-round policy and activist organization. Now more than 1 billion people participate in Earth Day in 192 countries. Kathleen has been at the vanguard of developing innovative financial mechanisms to support green buildings and schools. Kathleen also founded Earth Day Network’s groundbreaking Billion Acts of Green program, which has now recorded close to 3 billion individual actions to improve the environment. She is a frequent commentator on environmental issues in the media and has appeared on CNN, Fox News, and NPR, as well as in Time Magazine, The Washington Post, the New York Times, and The Los Angeles Times and many other international and national newspapers and journals. Prior to her work at Earth Day Network, Kathleen held senior positions with the National Audubon Society, the Environmental Law Institute, and two U.S. Olympic Organizing Committees. As Chief Wildlife Counsel for the National Audubon Society, she oversaw international trade, migratory species, and biodiversity programs, and was responsible for bringing the first citizen complaint before the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, the tri-national agency created to oversee North American environmental issues.

Paul Polman

Read Bio

Paul Polman has been CEO of Unilever since January 2009. Under his leadership Unilever has an ambitious vision to fully decouple its growth from overall environmental footprint and increase its positive social impact through the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan. Paul is also a member of the recently launched Coalition for Inclusive Capitalism Project, and a Counsellor of One Young World. Paul has been on the Board of Dow since 2010 and DowDu Pont since 2017. In recognition of his contribution to responsible business, Paul has received numerous awards and accolades including the Rainforest Alliance Lifetime Achievement Award (2014), the Oslo Business for Peace Award (2015), the UN Environment Programme’s Champion of the Earth Award (2015) and the Singapore Government Public Service Star (2016). In 2016, he received France’s Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur, in recognition of his efforts in galvanising business action on sustainability and for his involvement during the historic 2015 UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris. In 2018, Paul was named an Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) for services to business and received the Treaties of Nijmegen Medal, in recognition of his contribution to building a more sustainable world. He earned a BBA/BA from the University of Groningen, Netherlands, in 1977 and an MA Economics and MBA finance/international marketing from the University of Cincinnati in 1979. He has been awarded honorary degrees from a number of Universities, including Northumbria, Liverpool, Groningen, Cincinnati, and an honorary Doctorate of Science from the University of Cranfield.

Arianna Huffington

Thrive Global
Founder and CEO
Read Bio

Arianna Huffington is the founder of The Huffington Post, the founder and CEO of Thrive Global, and the author of 15 books, including, most recently, Thrive and The Sleep Revolution. In May 2005, she launched The Huffington Post, a news and blog site that quickly became one of the most widely-read, linked to, and frequently-cited media brands on the Internet. In August 2016, she launched Thrive Global, a corporate and consumer well-being and productivity platform with the mission of changing the way we work and live by ending the collective delusion that burnout is the price we must pay for success. She has been named to TIME Magazine's list of the world’s 100 most influential people and the Forbes Most Powerful Women list. Originally from Greece, she moved to England when she was 16 and graduated from Cambridge University with an M.A. in economics. At 21, she became president of the famed debating society, the Cambridge Union. She serves on numerous boards, including Uber, Onex, The Center for Public Integrity, Global Citizen, and Just Capital. Her last two books, Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder, and The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night At A Time, both became instant international bestsellers. She is a mother, sister, flat shoe advocate, and sleep evangelist.

Taylor Scobbie

IMPCT Coffee
Founder and CEO
Read Bio

Taylor is the CEO and co-founder of IMPCT Coffee, winners of the 2015 Hult Prize. IMPCT Coffee is the world's first impact trade coffee company, using specialty coffee to transform lives in the vulnerable countries and communities that grow it. Their impact trade model sources and retails incredible coffee from poor communities and re-invests the profits back into local women to build and own poverty-fighting schools - Fair Trade re-imagined for the 21st century. Where Fair Trade pays an extra $0.20 per pound sold to farmers, impact trade re-invests over $12 directly into local women. IMPCT Coffee is now available throughout Asia and the United States and is on track to provide 2,000,000 hours of education across Latin America and Africa in 2018 alone.Taylor was born and raised in Calgary, Canada and has a Bachelor's degree in both Finance and Philosophy from the University of Calgary. After working for four years in finance and IT consulting he made the leap to Taiwan to pursue an MBA degree under scholarship from the Taiwanese government. There he met his IMPCT co-founders and embarked on the incredible Hult Prize journey, unlocking the opportunity to use his business background to build a better future for the world’s most vulnerable people.

Kandeh Yumkella

Former United Nations Under-Secretary-General and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All
Read Bio

Dr. Kandeh K. Yumkella is best-known for his post as Under-Secretary-General and as Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All. He is also CEO of the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative. Yumkella has worked in the field of international development for over 20 years. After studying agriculture in Sierra Leone and agricultural economics in the United States, Yumkella took various posts related to agriculture and economy, in both the private and public sector. In addition to serving as the Minister of Trade, Industry and State Enterprises in Sierra Leone, he has held academic positions at American universities and various key policy positions within UNIDO.

Hans Vestberg

Read Bio

Hans Vestberg is chief executive officer of Verizon Communications, a leading provider of wireless, fiber-optic and global Internet networks and services. He was named CEO on Aug. 1, 2018. He previously served as Verizon’s chief technology officer and president of Global Networks, with responsibility for further developing the architecture for Verizon’s fiber-centric networks. At Verizon, Vestberg has focused on delivering seamless experiences for customers over network assets consisting of the country’s leading 4G LTE network, the largest 5G test-bed in the U.S., the nation’s biggest residential fiber network, a global internet backbone and undersea cable network carrying much of the world’s internet traffic, and fiber assets in 45 of the top 50 markets in the U.S.

Elizabeth Thompson

Former Minister of Energy and Environment of Barbados and previous Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations
Read Bio

Liz recently served as Interim Executive Director for the establishment of the SUNY-UWI Center for Leadership and Sustainable Development, at New York. She is a former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations, at UN Headquarters, New York. For the UN, she led the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development, developed the Higher Education Sustainability Initiative (HESI) which attracted membership from over 300 universities in more than 50 countries. She also worked on the SDGs and served as Senior Advisor to the UN Secretary General’s global energy initiative Sustainable Energy for ALL (SE4ALL). In 2008, before joining the UN, her work in environment, climate change and sustainable development was recognized with the prestigious UN award of “Champion of the Earth.” From 1994 to 2010, she was a Member of Parliament, Minister of Government and then a Senator in Barbados. She also led a Caribbean regional consultancy service which worked in the areas of energy, environment, the MDGs, SIDS and sustainable development.

The 2018 Challenge

Harnessing The Power Of Energy To Transform The Lives Of 10 Million People

Can we build sustainable, scalable social enterprises that harness the power of energy to transform the lives of 10 million people by 2025?

Meet The Teams

Noor Medical

Albert-Ludwig University Freiburg

Start-up Concept:

Noor Medical’s mission is to increase humanity’s access to equitable healthcare. By providing devices to sterilize medical instruments, with capability to work in a variety of operational contexts. We are working towards improving the provision of safe surgery in rural and off-grid medical clinics. Over 1.5 billion people in the world lack access to medical clinics with capable surgical instrument sterilization equipment, resulting in the unfortunate statistic that 1 out of 5 patients in the developing world suffer from postoperative infections. Unsafe surgery results in approximately 17 million deaths annually. Noor Medical works with a variety of partners to rectify these conditions.


University College London

Start-up Concept:

SunRice is a rice drying service that aims to reduce rice wastage and empower rice farmers in South East Asia. They bridge the gap between off-the-shelf rice drying technology and rice farmers that could not afford it thus making the drying technology more accessible for poor farmers. Rice farmers are currently stuck in a poverty cycle, they cannot afford modern drying technologies, they lose rice due to traditional drying practices and this leads to food insecurity. SunRice makes modern drying technology accessible to these rice farmers. They will identify trustworthy and influential partner farmers through our partner, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), build a dryer on his land and pay him a percentage service fee based on the quantity of rice dried. They are currently piloting in Letpadan in Myanmar and they are in the process of setting up our first dryer for the upcoming harvest season. At SunRice, they want to empower farmers to impact their community, prevent rice loss to feed our hungry now and in the future.


University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Start-up Concept:

Climate change portends a growing threat to the world’s already strained agricultural and food systems. Food stocks are decreasing and prices are increasing across many parts of the globe – especially in developing nations. Long practiced but increasingly unsustainable agricultural techniques are proving highly damaging to soils, ecosystems, waterways, and economic health. Typical approaches to declining agricultural productivity involve exploiting existing arable land beyond its biological capacity. The solution to falling food stocks and debilitated ecosystems does not involve more aggressive land conversion or soil manipulations, but rather, the creation of new food supply systems that do not rely on unsustainable strategies.


International Islamic University of Malaysia

Start-up Concept:

ImpactRays is a social enterprise start-up which has developed a smart, solar powered and automated irrigation system, specifically for the 86 million low income smallholder Nigerian farmers, to address the food security problem through boosting their yield in dry season farming, as well as improving their living standard by boosting their income.The poor farmer is empowered with this zero energy cost and precision irrigation system which boosts the yield and income of the farmer by 10 times through commodity based financing and zero down-payment through a leasing model. ImpactRays adds value for their customers by optimizing the process and offering services that adds value for them.


American University of Sharjah

Start-up Concept:

U-Light aims to provide a simple, affordable and reliable source of light. The company aims to provide light to 1.2 billion people living off the electricity grid across the world. The product harnesses kinetic energy to generate electrical energy in a sustainable and cost-effective manner. U-Light aims to become the world leader for human powered innovation with plans to scale both vertically through more products/models and horizontally across different regions. The company is currently in the process of piloting their product in Nigeria in rural areas. U-Light aims to capitalize on their presence in Nigeria to establish connections and collect letters of intent etc. U-Light is a movement that aspires to empower millions of children and change the world – Nigeria is just the very first step. U-Light: For a brighter future.

Empower Energy

University of Oxford

Start-up Concept:

Empower Energy provides access to clean energy in the most underserved communities in India, through their “Solar ATMs”. These solar charging stations are run by local entrepreneurs, such as trusted village shopkeepers, and allow for their customers to access reliable energy sources without any upfront costs. By renting LED lamps and battery packs from their local shop, users save time, money and do not have to worry about maintenance. The company have two ATMs operating in Orissa, with 100 paying customers utilising their service, as part of their pilot. Empower Energy’s Franchisees become symbols of trust and reliability in each village. By meeting energy needs of the most underserved through their ATMs, Empower Energy develops valuable customer relationships. These relationships then enable the company to serve additional energy needs and desires of their customers which they fulfil through their network of ATMs. They are empowering millions to join the modern economy.

“The largest student competition on earth is about changing the world.”

Bertil Hult, Founder of EF Education First

“We didn’t launch a startup, we just created an industry

Ahmad Ashkar, CEO of Hult Prize

“A brilliant award for a brilliant idea.”

Yves Behar, Award-winning industrial designer and entrepreneur.

Hult Prize By Numbers



Empowered to solve the most critical social problems


Startup Business Ideas Generated

Throughout the annual Hult Prize challenges


Man Hours

Per year invested in pitching, judging
and developing entrepreneurs



Commited to changing the world



Representing the world’s largest student work force


Judges and Mentors

Improving business ideas worldwide



Number of nationalities represented


invested in the impact sector

Roshni Rides

The 2017 Winners of the Hult Prize

Learn More


The 2016 Winners of the Hult Prize

Learn More


The 2015 Winners of the Hult Prize

Learn More


The 2014 Winners of the Hult Prize

Learn More

Aspire Foods

The 2013 Winners of the Hult Prize

Learn More