KUCHING – Safe Planet, a team consisting of Isaac Nagai, Sarkis Majaryan and Queenie Ngui Chee Enn, has emerged as champion in the first in-person Hult Prize OnCampus Program at Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus.
While other teams dropped out along the Hult Prize journey, the trio persisted, reaching the Swinburne Sarawak OnCampus Program’s Pitch Day on 18 February 2023 and battling it out with two other teams.
Taking second place was Team Faith, consisting of Desmond Tai, Raphael Rijin and Qian En Chen. Four students, Mysha Nahiyan Shemontee, Nathan Jessy Yi De Cheng, Shirley Ng Hui Qi and Syed Syaquille Rafique bin Syed Habib Abdullah Shukeran formed Team NSRM, which took third place.
The Hult Prize is considered one of the world’s most important social entrepreneurship awards. Its annual themes are aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, challenging young people to solve the world’s toughest issues by empowering them to make money, do good and improve the lives of millions of people through the creation of for-good, for-profit businesses. This year’s goal is redesigning fashion, aimed at solving environmental issues and unethical labour practices related to the fashion industry.
The Hult Prize competition starts each year at the university level with winning teams moving on to the next stage, through Regional and Accelerator rounds until they reach the pinnacle – the coveted Hult Prize worth US$1 million on a global stage involving the likes of former US President Bill Clinton.
Here at Swinburne Sarawak, the organising committee was formed in November and December 2022 after a rigorous application and interview process. This team, led by Campus Director Jeffrey Bun, a member of Swinburne Sarawak’s first winning team in 2020-2021, worked through the months bringing Swinburne students together to form teams, and subsequently helped them to innovate and polish their ideas through the organisation of talks and workshops by experienced social entrepreneurs and speakers.
Chief Judge Johan Donough spoke optimistically of Swinburne Sarawak’s support of the students who initiated the Hult Prize OnCampus Program.
“With no shortage of talent in Sarawak, it is crucial that challengers in the education space such as Swinburne Sarawak continue enabling young minds to strive so they may create a world where we can all thrive,” said Johan.
As for the students who took first place, Isaac, who just completed his Foundation studies, hoped that the team’s idea of a V-Robe would become a reality as it would make a big difference to the fashion industry, affecting the choices consumers make before purchasing a product and thus helping to reduce the return or wastage of clothes.
Final year Business student Sarkis said that the team would continue to work hard in adapting and improving their idea – never doubting that they could do better and make it to the next stage of the Hult Prize.
Ngui, who is only in her second semester of her Foundation Studies, said the most important advice she could give to others considering to participate in the Hult Prize OnCampus Program was to be fearless to fail.
However, it was not just the participants who benefitted from the Hult Prize OnCampus Program; the students who applied for and gained positions on the organising committee also found themselves immersed in a project that demanded strong organisational and communication skills.
Bun encouraged other students to take up the challenge of being on the organising committee, and being Campus Director in particular.
“Being a Campus Director is challenging but rewarding as it offers many opportunities to learn, develop skills and positively impact your community and the world. It is important to realise that being a Campus Director does not just benefit yourself but also others, both directly and indirectly,” he said.
More than 200,000 students in over 2,000 college and university campuses around the world are vying for a spot in the Regional Summits that will take place all over the world or online in March or April. Winners from the Regional Summits will move on to the Accelerator stage and thereafter to the final Hult Prize, dubbed the Nobel Prize for students. The overall winning team will be awarded US$1 million to be used to start up their social enterprise.
For more information on Swinburne Sarawak, visit its website (www.swinburne.edu.my), Facebook page (@swinburnesarawak), Instagram (@swinburnesarawak), Twitter page (@Swinburne_Swk) or YouTube channel (Swinburne Sarawak).