London’s calling for CBS team seeking to make a difference

A group of international MBA students have made it through to the finals of a social issues challenge taking place in five cities early next month

February 22nd, 2013 10:47 am| by admin

Some 16 billion kroner could buy a lot of food. Enough, some say, to end world hunger. But, according to food advocacy group Stop Wasting Food (Stop Spild af Mad), that’s the amount of money Danes are throwing away every year when they toss away their leftovers.

Luckily for Denmark – and the world – more people are beginning to look out for the welfare of the planet’s starving-hungry. Among them are five full-time MBA students at Copenhagen Business School, and they’re making serious waves at the Clinton Global Initiative’s fourth annual Hult Global Case Challenge.

The competition challenges the brightest undergraduate and graduate minds to find solutions to various social issues, the best of which is awarded the Hult Prize and $1 million. CGI’s founder, Bill Clinton, the former US president, has hailed this contest as a much-needed incentive to create good. “The Hult Prize is a wonderful example of the creative co-operation needed to build a world with shared opportunity, shared responsibility and shared prosperity, and each year I look forward to seeing the many outstanding ideas the competition produces,” he said.

This year’s theme is that of global food security, and the contestants were asked to determine the best way to access and distribute food to those without the means to get it themselves. Teams were asked to focus on providing “safe, sufficient, affordable and easily accessible food to the 200 million people who live in urban slums”.

What makes this challenge particularly important is its reliance on the ideas of 20-somethings. As the prize’s website explains, business school students are a relatively untapped resource. For one, business schools teach their students how to overcome the hurdles of executing a project. And, for another, the variety in the students’ backgrounds gives these teams fresh perspectives on solving problems.

Representing that variety for CBS is a team of five international students: Chiara Ercole from Italy, Pantelis Colakis from Greece, Jack Langworthy, a Californian, Faisal Alamro from Saudi Arabia and Rahul Shah from India. Together, the team has rallied through a rigorous selection process and were one of the few selected from over 10,000 applications.

Not only is the team a mixture of nationalities, they also bring many different skills sets to the table. “Our team is composed of experts in nutrition, food processing, IT, telecoms and corporate finance,” Langworthy told The Copenhagen Post. “Each of these skills is framing a modern and sustainable approach to solving food security in slums.”

Going to school in a country that wastes as much as it does, these five students have really taken on the issue and want to rally until the end. “The amount of food wasted while people starve is tragic,” commented Alamro. “And, thankfully, unnecessary.” That passion has brought them to the prize’s regional finals. Their idea is, as Langworthy explained, “to provide an efficient supply chain between farmers and the slums with a special focus on Kibera, Kenya”.

The group have paid particular attention to generating jobs for women in Kenya to create “a means for food preservation and a means to distribute healthier and cheaper food options within slums, while respecting cultural tastes”.

The Hult Prize regional competitions will take place on March 1 and 2 on Hult International Business School’s five campuses in Boston, San Francisco, London, Dubai and Shanghai. CBS will compete in London but then not find out until September whether their idea will win the million-dollar grant presented by Clinton himself.

“We are each so busy with school, but we each have so much love for this project that we have essentially given up sleep between now and our competition,” admitted Langworthy. “But it’s an amazing opportunity to make a sustainable improvement in the lives of millions.”

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