Team Chosen to Represent Augustana at Regionals in Hult Prize Competition

Winners of the 2020 Hult Prize Augustana University campus competition (from left to right) Onajite Taire ’22, Luca Amayo ’20, Hult Prize Augustana campus coach Taha Afzal ’21, Gedion Alemayehu ’22, Giselle Mawadri 23’. Photo Credit: Zac Stevenson

Ten minutes — that’s all the time Augustana University students had to pitch their business plans aimed at tackling global challenges to help change the world.

As part of the 2020 Hult Prize competition, a panel of five judges listened to five teams pitch their ideas on Tuesday, Dec. 3. The judges, made up of business leaders in the surrounding community, chose a team of four students to move past the campus-round competition. Luca Amayo ’20, Onajite Taire ’22, Giselle Mawadri 23’ and Gedion Alemayehu ’22 made up the winning team called “Team SuperMoto.” 

“This year’s challenge is around sustainability, so they (the Hult Prize Foundation) want students like us to start businesses so that every dollar earned for the business is also helping the earth in a general sense,” said AU Hult Prize campus coach Taha Afzal ’21 in an earlier interview.

Team SuperMoto’s business idea focuses on creating a cleaner and more affordable energy source for households in rural Kenya. The group would utilize an aquatic weed called the water hyacinth that has infested Africa’s Lake Victoria and is negatively affecting its ecosystem to make up the new fuel.

“They’re looking at business in a different way, like outside of the class, outside of the textbooks,” said Afzal.

The first runner-up was a team made up of four students — Uyaruun Purevdorj ‘21, Connor McSherry ’21, Selbi Veliyeva ’22 and Alli Fox ‘21. Their plan also included using an invasive plant spreading across the southern portion of the United States to make bags that would replace the plastic ones we commonly use at the grocery store.

Team SuperMoto also won the people’s choice award at the Tuesday evening event. They will be headed to either San Francisco or Washington to compete at the regional level this spring. According to the Hult Prize website, the top 50 teams from regionals will go to a six-week-long accelerator in London. Those winners will then head to the United Nations Headquarters in New York in September, where they will compete for $1 million in seed money to help fund their vision.

The team is still in need of funding for travel expenses. If you would like to sponsor the team, please donate here.

Program Questions: Contact Taha Afzal, Augustana University Hult Prize campus coach.

Media Inquiries: Contact Jill Wilson, public relations and communications strategist.