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Global prize attracts entrepreneurs from across disciplines

Published: 2014-02-14

Hult Prize logo

A team of MBA and engineering students will compete in the regional finals of the fifth annual Hult Prize, a global competition in partnership with President Bill Clinton and the Clinton Global Initiative.

The Hult Prize aims to “identify and launch the most compelling social business ideas” with winners receiving $1 million in seed capital along with mentorship from members of the international business community. Ohio State’s team -- MBAs Burouj Ajlouni, Danielle Latman and Aiswarya Ramamurthi, and engineering student Kartik Malhotra -- will compete March 7-8 in San Francisco. Additional regional competitions are taking place in Dubai, London, Boston, San Paulo and Shanghai.

The Ohio State team advanced through a preliminary round based on the team members’ academic and professional backgrounds as well as a collective passion for this year’s Hult Prize focus: building sustainable and scalable social enterprises to address non-communicable disease in slums.

The team is currently crafting the details of an idea for a social enterprise that aims to provide a comprehensive and cost-effective solution to education, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of non-communicable diseases in urban slums in India, that could eventually be scaled to slums all over the world.

“This is an incredible opportunity for us,” said Ajlouni, who serves as co-president of the Fisher Entrepreneurship Association and, along with Malhotra, works as a research analyst in the Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialization (TEC) Institute at Fisher. “We have a chance to deliver a meaningful solution to a disadvantaged and marginalized population by combining our passion for health care, technologies and science, and entrepreneurship.”

Like her teammates, Ajlouni’s background is multifaceted and multidisciplinary. Before entering Fisher’s MBA program, she earned a PhD in biomedical science, and has 10 years of experience in biomedical research and teaching. Latman has extensive experience working on HIV/AIDS advocacy and health care for underrepresented populations. Ramamurthi speaks five languages and co-founded a nonprofit in India to provide students living below the poverty line with access to education. Kartik, an undergraduate student, is majoring in integrated systems engineering and minoring in entrepreneurship at Fisher and psychology.

The initiative to enter the competition and build a business idea and plan has been student driven, but the TEC Institute at Fisher is providing financial support to the team as they prepare to travel to San Francisco in March.

“We are excited to present our unique business plan in San Francisco,” Ajlouni said. “We’re proud to be representing Ohio State.”