About the Author: Nnadozie Ebere is a first-year student in the African Leadership University and the Hult Prize Campus Director of the school. Nnadozie is passionate about leadership and entrepreneurship. His hobbies are photography and videography. He has used these skills to create a media brand that connects students from various parts of Africa. He intends to pursue a career path in Computer Science in the future.
Hult Prize was as new to me as it was to my university, African Leadership University when I started down this road. Today, we have become one of the top performing universities in Rwanda and Africa. Hult Prize is a global social entrepreneurship challenge that empowers young people to come up with ideas that solve social problems, by engaging them in a contest that gives the winning idea a seed-funding of $1 million dollars. To get all parts of the world actively involved in this process, Hult Prize offers colleges around the globe the privilege to independently organize OnCampus Hult Prize events and produce winners that will advance to the next stage known as Regional Finals, after which if they are successful they proceed to the final stage for a chance to go to Hult Prize Accelerator in the United Kingdom. This gives campus champions the privilege to bypass over 50,000 applications from individuals applying independently around the world. Due to our proactivity, my university African Leadership University (ALU) was one of the universities in Africa that got this opportunity.
ALU is a Pan-African institution that brings together the brightest minds of Africa and equips them with critical thinking and problem-solving skills to enable them to transform the continent. The institution envisions to create over 3 million change-making leaders by 2060. Hult Prize was the perfect platform that aligned with the institution’s vision and could to validate such skills. So preparations kicked-off to organize our very first Hult Prize experience within our first year of existence as an institution, in October 2017. I wanted to deliver a quality OnCampus event and prepare our winning teams to favorably compete with any team around the globe, and have a chance of winning the ultimate prize.
As not only a Campus Director- but a Campus Director in a startup university – I found it difficult to get a student body of 270 to register for an unknown contest that would involve Masters students as competitors and create a team of students that would help me in organizing the events (find our full team structure at www.hultprizeat.com/alu). Recruiting ten teams seemed impossible based on these reasons. Just like these students, I was new to Rwanda without any knowledge of how to navigate the media space of the country within a professional capacity, it was challenging to efficiently recruit judges and mentors for our OnCampus event. In the first two months, I struggled to get students to form teams, organize information sessions and get mentors to coach students – not to mention that my schoolwork didn’t make it any easier. The attempt of outsourcing professionals wasn’t proving very successful. I needed more exposure and understanding of what Hult Prize truly was. I decided to organize sessions to create awareness on campus. With the help of The Student Ventures Program an incentive for students inclined them towards participating. As things progressed we also had the support of our school’s faculty to serve as mock judges and mentor the teams, students were learning more in this hands-on experience than they would in class. Presentations and pitches were given effective feedback and by December, we had managed to register 15 teams for the final competition – with ten teams moving on to compete. And after much persuasion we were able to convince young professionals in Rwanda to serve as judges, everything was shaping up and things were started to fall into place. The final event was held on the 15th of with only a budget of $200 dollars.
Today, our event has been mentioned as one the events that met Hult Prize criteria worldwide. Our campus champions, Nishati, went on to the Regionals and finished runners-up to first. Similarly, the three campus champions – Nishati, Spectra, and Volta – are currently top finalists for Hult Prize Rwanda in preparation to win $30,000 USD in seed-funding.
Serving as Campus Director has shown me the potential young minds can unleash when guided by a commitment and eagerness to improve. I never knew that the students I started my college journey within September 2017 would create systems that could harness food waste to generate biogas for poor households or come up with sustainable means of providing solar power to SME’s or even harness human potentials to build an irrigation system that could help small-scale farmers. The possibilities are unlimited, and inside everyone is a change-making idea to help the world. I have also learned that readily available resources can take us as far as we want to and I look forward to sharing how far we would go on this journey in the future.