"It [Roshni Rides] will have a big impact," said former President Bill Clinton in ROI-NJ

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Date: 
Monday, September 18, 2017

ROI-NJ

A Rutgers Business School team’s transportation plan to return dignity to millions of refugees garnered it the $1 million Hult Prize for social entrepreneurship this weekend.

The prize is often referred to as the Nobel Prize for students.

The four-person team beat out finalists from Harvard University's Kennedy School, the Instituto Tecnolo'gico Auto'nomo de Me'xico, the University of Waterloo, the University of Calgary and York University. The students were the first Rutgers team to make the finals, beating out 50,000 participants from more than 100 countries.

Roshni Rides — using the Hindi word for light — uses existing rickshaws and their drivers, preloaded transaction cards and ride-sharing to create "a transportation network that connects refugees to critical resources and opportunities," senior Gia Farooqi said during the team's presentation.

She, along with new graduates Hasan Usmani and Moneeb Mian, as well as alumna Hanaa Lakhani, found that 2 million rickshaws in Pakistan were underutilized — including most pickups having just one rider, leaving three seats empty — even though their research found that 80 percent of refugees want to go to the same locations.

They used surveys to set a schedule based on demand, fleet size and number of pickup locations, and encouraged ride-sharing, then conducted a two-month pilot in Orangi Town, Pakistan, home to 2.5 million refugees.

In that time, more than 130 riders cut their transportation costs by 53 percent, while the income of the four drivers increased by 27 percent.

Roshni Rides used a preloaded card, similar to the New York subway's MetroCard.

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TAGS: Alok Baveja HULT Social Entrepreneurship Supply Chain Management