In the Fall of 2014, I was a sophomore studying Architecture at USC. It was at this time that I first came across the Hult Prize. A friend of mine had shared the opportunity with me, and invited me to an information session hosted by the then Campus Director, Anzal Adams. It was the first year of the Hult Prize at USC, and I was curious about this new competition that proposed to solve some of the most pressing global issues, specifically those affecting the urban poor.


What is the Hult Prize?

What is the Hult Prize?


The following is a description of the Hult Prize taken directly from the Hult Prize Foundation website as of early 2016:

The Hult Prize Foundation is a start-up accelerator for budding young social entrepreneurs emerging from the world’s universities. Named as one of the top five ideas changing the world by President Bill Clinton and TIME Magazine, the annual competition for the Hult Prize aims to create and launch the most compelling social business ideas—start-up enterprises that tackle grave issues faced by billions of people. Winners receive USD1 Million in seed capital, as well as mentorship and advice from the international business community.

The Hult Prize is offered in partnership with Former US President Bill Clinton and the Clinton Global Initiative. It is hosted and supported by Hult International Business School. And it is generously funded by Swedish entrepreneur Bertil Hult and his family. It has been called the “Nobel Prize for Students” by media outlets world-wide. 


I was incredibly intrigued. That fall, I registered to compete in the competition. The call that year was for solutions that addressed the issue of early childhood education within urban slums. My team and I proposed a mobile school for children aged 0 – 6 years old. Our proposal, BoxEd, took the elements of a classroom and compressed them into a box, creating a mobile classroom that could serve multiple children.

BoxEd logo


The idea was in part inspired by proposals for multi-purpose micro-spaces that we had seen online. We identified space and mobility as issues that are critical in education within slums. There are challenges in securing land for any form of construction, and there is little security for those who live in slums since much of the property they inhabit belongs to the government. Thus a mobile platform that maximized its use of space was a pertinent solution.


Our team made it to the final round of the competition, which gave us the opportunity to pitch our proposal in front of a distinguished panel of judges. Although we did not come out as victors, it was an educational experience, and we received useful feedback from the judges on our concept and even our delivery.


All graphics shared on this post were designed by and are property of Shiku Wangombe, unless otherwise stated.