For Us By Us: Global Diaries is an initiative brought in partnership with the Hult Prize Foundation that is bringing to light the incredible behind-the-scenes stories that are occurring across the globe with young entrepreneurs trying to change the world through impact.
Where did we leave off? Oh yes, I finished the London Regional Summit and flew to Santo Domingo the very next day. I had 4 days to check that everything was organized, make documents, schedules, meet my volunteers, etc.
If you remember, I learned during the London Regionals that my team is my most valuable asset. But I didn’t know anyone in Santo Domingo. And it was the first time a Hult Prize Regional was hosted in the Caribbean, which meant that the people on site didn’t have major Hult Prize experience or exposure to how things are run. This was set to be my biggest challenge.
However, when I first met all my volunteers, I knew we would be fine. In our first meeting, they asked a lot of questions, they wanted to know everything, a great sign! They knew each other already, which meant that the team was already in sync. The remaining task on my plate was to ensure that they knew what Hult Prize entailed. And I stressed that this was not MY event, it was THEIRS, and I needed them to take ownership of it.
I wanted my volunteers to be as entrepreneurial as possible, to be problem solvers and they did not disappoint me at all!
On the same day as my arrival, Andrea Garcia landed. Andy is our Head of Corporate Relations at Hult Prize Foundation. She came to the DR to fulfill the role of Judge Facilitator. I cannot emphasize enough how amazing she was at taking care of all our judges! Big Big shoutout to her!
Friday arrives and all volunteers start filling up the venue in the early morning to set up. We prepare everything for the registration, we do our traditional last run-through and then we break for lunch. After that, the competing teams start arriving and the show starts!
It was time for the Welcome and Speaker Series to start but before doing so, one of our Rockstars, Justin, broke the ice and by talking to the crowd, asking them random questions. “Did you meet someone from another nationality? Did you learn something random about a new country? Did you learn anything about Santo Domingo? Has any new words entered your vocabulary?”
I was surprised by the number of things people had already learned and we were only a couple of hours in!
At the Speaker Series, the big highlight was Andrea with her story. She made us all cry! She decided to finish her story the next night, leaving us all on the edge of our seats.
Saturday – THE Day
As you all know, Saturday is a long day in the Hult Prize Regional universe. We started very early with some breakfast and then it was off to the pitching rooms! I have to once again highlight the role of my volunteers. Those amazing stars made sure all the little things were solved on the spot! All the competing teams already knew each other and the volunteers, people were talking as if they met years ago. The amazing Hult Prize effect in action!
We go through morning and afternoon pitches in a flash and reach our Final Event, which took place in the AMAZING National Theatre. The venue was astonishing. I could feel all the competitor’s nerves, enthusiasm and excitement in the atmosphere. The crowd was active, excited, engaged, it was great! To start the ceremony, we had a special gift by our partner on site, FUNGLODE. They created two little videos from Friday and Saturday which reminded the teams how they much they evolved in one weekend, showcasing how Hult Prize can change you in just 48 hours. People went crazy, they loved it! Following that, Andrea finished her story and made us all cry once again.
Our six teams were amazing! In fact, our deliberation took way too long! Everyone in the theatre was half hungry and half intrigued to know who the winner will be! Finally, the judges announced our winner, Agro360. We all went for a first-class dinner afterward and clubbing as is the Hult Prize tradition.
Overall, the experience was great, the connection between the teams was insane, the support they gave each other was inspiring. I am proud that we could take the Hult Prize to a place were change and social entrepreneurship are much needed. The engagement of the local people to volunteer with their time was crazy. I am super thankful to all of them and I hope I can see everyone again next year!
Clara Bourdieu Shaw