Thursday, December 10, 2015

Challenge the slums with the Hult Prize!

“If you can create a real business, the beginning of a prototype, you can change the world.”

Muhammad Yunus - Nobel Peace Prize Winner

Last Saturday was the internal competition of the Hult Prize at the San Francisco campus of Hult International Business School. In case you never heard about the Hult Prize, it is the world largest student competition for social good. It was initiated in 2009 by Ahmad Ashkar, a former MBA student of the Hult International Business School. Every year, the team with the best idea (chosen by the judges) to tackle a specific global issue receives $1 million to develop a social enterprise. This year, the challenge is Crowded Urban Spaces. 

Started at 9:15am, the competition saw the participation of sixteen teams of three or four members from undergraduates to MBA students. The teams where divided into four groups and presented their innovative ideas to “build sustainable, scalable, and fast growing social enterprises that double the income of 10 million people residing in crowded urban spaces, by better connecting people, goods, services and capital.” The public could not have access to the first pitches of the day but after that round he judges chose a winner per room for the finals. 

One of of the final four with the idea of using dechets to create building blocks: Team Jengo

After the lunch, the jury announced the winning team per room and right after hearing their name, the members of each team had 10 minutes to convince all the judges that they were the best to represent the school at the regionals. At that point, every detail could have made a difference and it actually did… I was glad to see that two of the teams in the final round were from the Master of Social Entrepreneurship program and that the winning team was one of them. Composed of students from France, Uganda, Japan and India, Slum Dunk made the difference with their Musana Carts. 

Taliey Bita facebook account
Slum Dunk developed the idea of providing simple and affordable, modular and solar powered business carts to street vendors in Kampala, Uganda. The goal is to provide street vendors with access to energy, capacity and mobility in order to double their income and empower them by facilitating infrastructures within the informal economy. 

Group hug for the winning team: Slum Dunk
I believe that one of the reasons why Slum Dunk won the competition was the considerable amount of researches they have done and the feedbacks they got from their targeted population. As I already mentioned in my previous article also about tackling the issue of slums, it is not just about providing a solution, it is about bringing something that people would be interested in. And in order to have an effective solution, the people directly concerned have to be part of the process to find that solution.

Winning Team: Slum Dunk

The other teams also had great ideas that they can proofread and present again online for a chance to continue the journey. If you want to learn more about the Hult Prize, previous challenges and winners, or how you can participate, please feel free to check the website.

One the final four, all from the MSE program: Team Synergy

The most energetic team and holding the second place: Team Chakravyuh

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Patine à tes risques et périls ! Skate at own risk!

English version at the bottom! 

Comme si elle avait deviné que je voulais m’imposer des challenges, mon amie m’a invitée à faire du patin à glace. Au tout début elle a cru que je plaisantais lorsque j’ai accepté et que j’ai suggéré qu’on y aille le jour même. C’était une première fois pour moi et alors que je la croyais experte, Tati était également à ses débuts même si contrairement à moi elle n’avait aucunement besoin de tenir la rambarde. Je vous raconte cette expérience parce que j’en ai tiré trois leçons. 

Tout d’abord lorsque nous voulons tenter de nouvelles expériences ou entamer de nouveaux projets, il est normal d’avoir des appréhensions et de craindre l’échec. Toutefois comme l’a dit Nelson Mandela, le courage n’est pas l’absence de peur, mais la capacité de la vaincre. Il y a des risques, et il y aura des signes visant à vous décourager mais c’est à vous et vous seuls de prendre vos propres décisions. Ne dit-on pas que qui ne risque rien n’a rien? 

Ensuite je me suis rendue compte qu’il n’y a pas de mal à demander de l’aide. Croyez moi, j’ai beaucoup de mal avec cela. C’est stupide je le sais mais même pour demander mon chemin j’hésite quelques fois. Résultat, je me retrouve souvent dans des situations déplaisantes que j’aurais pu éviter facilement si j’apprenais à me reposer sur quelqu’un d’autre. Chaque fois que je vacillais, j’avais le choix entre tenir la rambarde ou tenir la main de mon amie. J’avoue que j’avançais beaucoup plus facilement en choisissant la seconde option. Dans la vie de tous les jours, qu’on le veuille ou non, nous aurons besoin d’appuis pour aller de l’avant : Dieu, la famille, les amis, des experts…

Enfin, je me suis souvenue que c’est en tombant que l’enfant apprend à marcher. Cela est également valable lors de l’apprentissage du vélo, du surf ou du patin à glace. Je suis tombée une seule fois (il n’y a malheureusement pas de photo) parce que je suis restée trop longtemps accrochée à la rambarde. Mais cette chute je l’ai désirée car je savais que sans elle jamais je n’aurais réussi à me tenir sur la piste sans appui. Je ne suis pas devenue Kristi Yamaguchi en une séance mais j’ai appris à me tenir sur les deux pieds après m’être retrouvée sur les deux fesses…

Et vous, quels risques allez-vous prendre demain ? A qui allez-vous faire appel pour vous tenir la main ? Êtes-vous prêts à tomber pour triompher ?


Skate at own risk!

As if she knew that I wanted to challenge myself, my friend invited me to go ice skating. First she thought I was pranking her when I accepted and proposed to go the same day. It was my first time to skate and although I thought she was already an expert, Tati was also at her beginnings. However she did not have to keep holding the railing. I am telling you this experience because it taught me three lessons I want to share.

First of all, it is normal to apprehend or fear failure when we plan on trying new things or beginning a new project. However, as Nelson Mandela said, courage is not the absence of fear but the triumph over it. There are risks and there will be signs trying to discourage you but it is on you and you alone to make your own decisions. Do not they say that nothing ventured, nothing gained?

Secondly, I realized that there is no harm in asking for help. Believe me, I have many difficulties with that. Although I know it’s stupid, I even hesitate to ask for directions to strangers. As a result, I often find myself in unpleasant situations I could have easily avoided if I learned to rest on someone else. Each time I was swayed I could either choose holding the railing or holding my friend’s hand. I admit that I went much more easily by choosing the second option. In our everyday life, whether we like it or not, we will need support to move forward: God, family, friends, experts ...

Finally, this experience reminded me that the child learns to walk through falling. This also applies when we learn biking, surfing or ice skating. I fell once (unfortunately there is no photo) because I stayed too long attached to the railing. But I have desired this fall because I knew that without it I would have never managed to stand without support. I did not become Kristi Yamaguchi in one session but I learned to stand on both feet after I fell on my buttocks…

And you, what risk are you willing to take tomorrow? Who will you call to hold your hand? Are you ready to fall in order to triumph?

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Hope for slums: Small actions change lives.

One of the things we forget to be thankful for is the blessing of living in a comfortable house. If you are reading this, there is a strong possibility that you have access to a decent house and many amenities that are not accessible to millions of people in the world. Last thursday was Thanksgiving and we were supposed to be thankful for every blessing in our lives. Were you thankful for not having to worry about poor living conditions?

In the world, 863 million people live in slums and this number is expected to rise to 2 billion by 2030. For those who are not common with slums, they are “heavily populated urban areas characterized by substandard housing and squalor.” People living in slums lack some of the basic needs to live decently and are exposed to diseases that can be avoided if we decide to act. We love complaining but we rarely think about a way to change things and improve other people’s lives. Sometimes we believe that we are not strong or powerful enough to make a difference. Well, we need to understand that small actions can make a difference.

One of my friend told me about her team project to solve one of the world’s biggest issues. 
One person can make a change but a village can have a bigger impact. Therefore, they are working to create a challenge that brings people together to improve the lives of slums inhabitants. Their objective is to gather on one hand people who want the problem to be solved and on the other one, people who have creative ideas that can help solving it. One of the things I like about their idea is that they are looking for projects that take into account the culture and social foundations of the slums communities. They want ideas that involve working with the people who will be affected by the change instead of imposing a pseudo solution that will not be useful to the communities. If you want to learn more about their project, be inspired and make a change, you can follow the blog Hope for slums and you also have the opportunity to make a donation for the crowdfunding here.

Will you be the one continuously complaining about not being able to make a big change or will you start with smaller actions to make a difference?