Muslim students at Rutgers University won this year's $1 million Hult Prize, a global contest for student social entrepreneurs focused on tech for refugees.
The prize recognized the amazing work they did on RoshniRides, an eco-friendly transportation service enabling refugees to travel with ease and affordability. The service uses a rickshaw-based shuttle network for refugees camps, hoping to spread economic opportunity to groups of people with no other transport options.
"When we went to Pakistan this summer, it really struck us that these people are isolated in their settlements and they can't move. We tried to think about how we can get them places they need to go." Hasan Usmani, one of four Roshni Rides team-members, told Fast Company.
This year's edition of the Hult Prize was dedicated to helping refugees who, by some estimates, make up to 1 billion people worldwide. Roshni Rides is aimed particularly at women who feel uncomfortable sharing crowded buses with men and who can't afford to hire rides in their own rickshaws.
"It's mind-blowing that a few people, who really tried to understand the problem, could begin to solve it in a simple way. It shows that you have to be willing to put the investment and time down to make these things happen," Usmani says.
Roshni originally planned to develop solar-powered rickshaws, but it later switched to conventional natural-gas-powered vehicles. "The solar aspect is amazing and something we want to do later, but it doesn't immediately answer the concerns of the people," Usmani said.
Source: Fast Company