Hult Prize challenge "became so much more than a competition," said Gia Farooqi in the Huff Post

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Sunday, September 17, 2017
New York, NY

Huff Post

Four Pakistani-American students are one step closer to making their idea for tackling the global refugee crisis into reality.

The young entrepreneurs behind Roshni Rides, an envisioned transportation network to empower refugees overseas, on Saturday won the prestigious Hult Prize challenge ― which comes with a $1 million award in seed capital.

The Roshni Rides team is made up of recent Rutgers University graduates Hanaa Lakhani, Moneed Mian and Hasan Usmani, as well as CEO Gia Farooqi, who is on track to graduate from Rutgers later this year.

Farooqi, 22, said the refugee-focused challenge posed a politically poignant issue for her team. There was a lot of news coverage surrounding the Syrian refugee crisis when it was announced last October, she noted.

"Being Muslim, and feeling very connected to our global Muslim family, it just became something that was so much more than a competition," she explained.

Farooqi said it felt "very unsafe and almost uncomfortable" to be a Muslim in America after President Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign, which focused heavily on a ban to halt the entry of refugees and other citizens from predominantly Muslim nations into the United States.

Participating in the Hult Prize challenge to support refugees in Muslim-majority Pakistan and beyond afforded her a platform to represent the U.S. on a global stage as an American Muslim, Farooqi said.

"America is diverse and looks different," she added. "Anybody can help anybody, no matter what you look like."

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TAGS: Business Plan Competition Global Entrepreneurship Week HULT Social Entrepreneurship