A huge congratulations to Akash Sidhu (BBA ’17), Amal Naufer (BBA ’18), Vasiliki Belegrinis (BBA ’18) and Joseph Truong (BBA ’17) who won the Hult Prize Regional Finals in Shanghai last weekend.

The Hult Prize, often referred to as a “Nobel Prize” for business students, brings together the brightest minds from around the world to present socially innovative and sustainable solutions to global problems. This year, the Hult Prize challenged students to focus on reawakening human potential and restoring the rights and dignity of refugees around the world.

Team Empower has been working on their project since October, and left to compete in China in late February. Their winning pitch focused on how connectivity can become productivity for refugees. It advocated for providing stable and affordable internet access, allowing refugees around the world to realize their potential as global citizens.

As one of the six globally selected teams, Team Empower will spend the summer in the United States working in the Hult Prize Accelerator and will begin piloting their project in Africa.

“We truly believe in the power of collaboration and how young entrepreneurs like ourselves can make a real difference in the world.”

“It’s been such an amazing experience going through the Hult Prize journey,” says Amal Naufer, BBA candidate. “Ever since we won our campus round in November, we’ve evolved our idea into a real business. Now we can’t wait for the summer and the opportunity that awaits us to really change the lives of refugees around the world.”

With thousands of university students competing in Shanghai, London, Dubai, Boston and San Francisco, the Hult Prize is the world’s largest student social enterprise competition in the world.

More importantly for Team Empower however, Hult represents “a large community hub for like-minded individuals wanting to collaborate and do social good for the world,” says Akash Sidhu, BBA candidate. “We truly believe in the power of collaboration and how young entrepreneurs like ourselves can make a real difference in the world.”


So how did the winning team identify their challenge and get inspired by a solution?

“After working with refugees and staff at the York University Centre for Refugee Studies, we were shocked to know that up to 40% of refugees’ disposable income is spent on staying connected, demonstrating a real need for affordable and reliable connectivity,” says Vasiliki Belegrinis, BBA candidate. “We like to think that slow Wi-Fi or running low on cellphone battery are major inconveniences in our lives. But for refugees, it can literally be the end of a lifeline.”

“The internet is a portal of countless opportunities and we believe that everyone has the right to connectivity. We are ready to provide them with the link to the outside world and give them the opportunities they deserve,” says Joseph Truong.

Please join us in wishing the best of luck to Team Empower!

For more updates on their progress, visit their Facebook page.