Pakistani American Students’ Solar Powered Rickshaws Secure First Position at Hult Prize Competition

Pakistani American Students’ Solar Powered Rickshaws Secure First Position at Hult Prize Competition

Pakistani-American Students Secure First Position at Hult Prize Competition with Roshni Rides; Solar Powered Rickshaws

The Hult Prize Competition is an international social entrepreneurship competition that gives students from around the world a chance to start up their own business aimed at solving a social issue. At this year’s competition, the question posed was ‘How do we build a sustainable, scalable startup enterprise that restores the rights and dignity of 10 million refugees by 2020?’

The winners for the Hult Prize were four Pakistani American students for their social entrepreneurship business, Roshni Rides, which envisions a transport network for refugees connecting them to critical services.

Read: Startup Pitches, Investors at Your Doorstep: UberPITCH Arrives in Pakistan

Roshni Rides is a solar-powered rickshaw transport system, which will run on a systematic route with stops along venue of employment, hospitals, schools and markets; started by Rutgers Business School students, Gia Farooqi, Moneeb Mian and Hasan Usmani and alumna Hanaa Lakhani.

This year’s theme for the Hult Prize competition, “Refugees – The Reawakening of Human Potential” saw pitches that focused on “restoring the rights and dignity of people and societies who may be, or are forced into motion due to social injustices, politics, economic pressures, climate change and war.”

Read: Government of Queensland, Australia Grants AUD$100,000 to Pakistani Startup Micropower Labs

The Hult Prize regional competition saw 40,000 applicants, where Roshni Rides secured a place competing against 60 other teams. In this final challenge, they won the coveted prize of $1 million by competing against five other groups from across the world.

Earlier in May, the team secured $30,000 in a crowd funding campaign and in the summer ran a pilot project in Karachi’s Orangi Town. Speaking to a journalist, co-founders Gia and Hanna said:

We came up with the idea after speaking to one of our team mate’s uncles who used to live in Orangi. Hearing the stories of the refugees who live in this informal settlement, we realized that due to a lack of safe and affordable transportation, they were missing out on critical resources like education and healthcare.

At a time when the world is seeing a refugee crisis in all corners, be it South East Asia, Middle East or the western world, this comes off as a much-needed product of social innovation. Social media congratulatory messages were all over the internet from the local Pakistani entrepreneurial and social ecosystem.


Image source: Roshni Rides Facebook