Public 4-Year Schools

Rutgers Team Advances in Prestigious Hult Prize Challenge

The winning team: From left, Najeeha “Gia” Farooqi, alumna Hanaa Lakhani, Umair Masood, Hasan Usmani, Moneeb Mian

A team of Rutgers Business School students and one alumna won first prize in the regional Hult Prize Challenge with an idea of operating a system of electric-powered rickshaws in refugee settlements.

Seniors Najeeha “Gia” Farooqi, Moneeb Mian, Hasan Usmani and alumna Hanaa Lakhani captured the top prize in the March 4 competition against 70 teams from such schools as Harvard, Yale, Princeton and the London School of Economics.

In a six-minute pitch – polished by months of preparation – the team detailed a compelling plan for Roshni Rides, a business to provide electric-powered rickshaws in refugee settlements, offering residents an affordable, hop-on, hop-off way of traveling to jobs, schools and vital services, including hospitals and markets. Passengers would use reloadable ride cards similar to the New York City subway’s Metro card. The team plans to pilot the system in Orangi Town, where an estimated 1.2 million people live within Pakistan’s port city of Karachi.

“We’ve worked very hard,” said Farooqi, who like the other team members are Americans of Pakistani ancestry. “This is very personal for us. We are the sons and daughters of immigrants and refugees.”

The students, who know one another from classes and their involvement in Muslim student organizations, have been working as a team on case competitions since 2014 and have won a couple of them, including the Target e-commerce case competition. Farooqi said the Hult Challenge was “definitely the most challenging competition we’ve entered.”

The Hult Prize Challenge is on a different scale. Started by the Hult Prize Foundation in 2010, it encourages college students from across the globe to dream up the most innovative ideas for sustainable start-up businesses that are capable of solving some of the world’s biggest challenges. The not-for-profit foundation is dedicated to launching a new generation of social entrepreneurs through the Hult Prize Challenge. Earlier this year, 14 Hult Prize entrepreneurs were listed on Forbes 30 under 30.

This year’s challenge is focused on social ventures to help restore the rights and dignity of people and societies “forced into motion due to social injustices, politics, economic pressures, climate change and war.” The Hult Prize Foundation puts the number of refugees around the world at 1 billion.

After winning a lead-up to the regionals in December at Rutgers, Farooqi and her team-mates dramatically re-worked their idea, switching from bicycles to solar-powered electric rickshaws. They calculated costs, enlisting the help of Mian’s uncle who lived in Orangi Town to help them determine not only the viability of their plan, but its potential impact on the lives of refugees.

They refined their idea and their pitch over and over with advisers, with Rutgers friends who nearly won the Hult Prize Challenge regionals last year and then in front of family and friends who crowded into a room for an event the team dubbed Demo Day. The love and support of their community, Farooqi said, was one of the things that fueled their determination through long hours of preparation in Tillett Hall on the Livingston Campus. “They believe in this idea even more than we do,” she said.

Daria Torres, a managing partner at Walls Torres Group, served as an adviser to the team. “Archimedes is known for quipping that a lever long enough can move the world,” Torres said. “This Hult Prize regional win for Roshni Rides is evidence that students at Rutgers University can be a dynamic lever for positive change. Society stands to benefit from their curiosity, ingenuity, humility and optimism.”

As regional winners, the Rutgers team will begin a critical period of crowdfunding to raise money for their pilot, which will be carried out during the summer. They will have access to mentoring and other assistance during a six-week-long Hult Prize Accelerator. And then in September, they will compete in the Hult Prize Global Finals, hosted by former President Bill Clinton, for a chance to win $1 million in seed money.

As students on the verge of beginning new careers, team member Usmani said he and his friends often talk about the prospect of making money versus fulfillment and “changing the world with the skills we’ve been blessed with.”

“This is so, so fulfilling,” Usmani said. “It has the ability to improve so many lives.”

Professor Alok Baveja, who worked with the students, said the Roshni Rides team embodies a truly inspiring ethos – “Real success lies in having a positive impact on the lives of others.”

“This competition is not about the four of them,” Baveja said, “It is about the difference the four of them will make in the world. This team of supply chain management students, leveraging their diversity and talents toward social good, should inspire the entire Rutgers community.”

Umair Masood, who organized the Hult Prize @ Rutgers, said students put in hundreds of hours preparing for the regionals.

“In Boston, they excelled at pitching their idea and evoked amazement from the judges, Masood said. “It’s safe to say that hard work pays off. With the support from all the advisers and mentors from the Rutgers community, it’s now time for them to compete in the last round for $1 million in seed money to help change lives and make an impact.”

Farooqi said she felt confident going into the regionals, primarily because of the passion and experience of her team. “We are the right people looking at this issue at the right time,” she said. “We want to put everthing into this business and see where it goes.”

At Rutgers Business School-New Brunswick, Farooqi is studying supply chain management with a double minor in political science and gender studies. Mian is a double major in supply chain and business analytics and information technology. Usmani is also studying supply chain management. Lakhani, who graduated last year with a major in supply chain management, is currently working as an operations analyst for J.P. Morgan.

To read more stories about Rutgers, scroll down:

Rutgers Team Addresses Security Issues in Brussels
Caring for Older People in an Aging Society

Rutgers Team Addresses Security Issues in Brussels

Introduces training initiative to strengthen ties between community and police

From Paris to Brussels, Copenhagen to Orlando, and most recently in Manchester and London, an explosive surge in violent extremist and terrorist attacks is targeting civil society, public venues and religious groups. The threat of mass casualty attacks has reached unprecedented levels across the globe.

In response to this emergent threat, a team of international experts from Rutgers University has completed the second of two intensive sessions focusing on police-community relations in particularly sensitive districts of Brussels.

“As events this week have demonstrated, the time for broad pronouncements and abstract guidance has long passed,” said Rutgers Professor John J. Farmer Jr., former New Jersey attorney general and senior counsel to the 9/11 Commission.

“The most effective way forward is to take action at the street level to protect vulnerable populations by strengthening their ties with law enforcement and making our communities more resilient,” Farmer said.

Funded through the generosity of Paul Miller, an alumnus of Rutgers University and Rutgers Law School, the Rutgers team has been working in Brussels and elsewhere in Europe and the United States since 2015, attempting to identify and, in this case, develop and implement reliable practices for protecting vulnerable populations. Recognizing the value of the Rutgers team’s work, Belgian officials invited the Rutgers team in the wake of the March 2016 attacks to work shoulder-to-shoulder with law enforcement and the Brussels community to develop a program to strengthen the relationship between the community and the police.

“The Rutgers team was here, on the ground, both before and after the attacks,” said Belgian Federal Police Commissioner Saad Amrani. “They have combined extraordinary experience and expertise with a commitment to adapt any proposed approaches to our individual circumstances.”

“In a word, they listen,” said Jonathan Biermann, head of crisis management for the Jewish community in Brussels. “They have come here not to impose a top-down solution, but to learn and adapt. Their credibility in the Brussels community, as a consequence, is peerless.”

“The new reality of violent extremism requires an unprecedented level of engagement between police and community,” said Sean Griffin, former Europol counterterrorism coordinator, who is serving as a senior adviser for the Rutgers team.

The Rutgers team conducted over 20 hours of videotaped interviews with civilians and law enforcement in the aftermath of last year’s terrorist attacks in Brussels. “These interviews are firsthand, primary source evidence of the impact of violent extremism on citizens, communities and police,” Farmer said. “They highlight the need for a new form of community policing and a renewed commitment to public education about suspicious activity and self-protection.”

The team has built its training curricula around these firsthand accounts and around the results of a “Practitioners’ Good Practices Exchange” Rutgers co-sponsored in November 2016 in partnership with The Egmont Royal Institute for International Relations, the Belgian Ministry of Home Affairs and the Union des Anciens Etudiants de l’Université Libre de Bruxelles.

The working sessions were conducted last week in two districts in Brussels: the Sablon, a neighborhood noted for its many shops and the Great Synagogue of Europe and the site of the attack on the Jewish Museum in May 2014, and in Molenbeek, a largely Muslim community that has attracted much unwanted attention after the world learned of the Molenbeek origins and of several attackers in the November 2015 attacks in Paris and the attacks four months later in Brussels.

“The issues we have been confronting in Brussels resonate in communities throughout Europe, the United States and beyond,” said Paul Goldenberg, a senior adviser for the Rutgers team who has worked extensively on hate crime prevention in the United States and Europe for over 20 years. “This unprecedented initiative is a best practice that can be adapted to other communities and law enforcement.”

Caring for Older People in an Aging Society

In a new book, a public health expert explores the ethical ramifications of providing care

“What are the cases that keep you up at night, the ones in which you are unsure what you should do?” This was the question Michael Gusmano, associate professor of Health Policy in the Rutgers University School of Public Health, and his colleagues from the National University of Singapore, the Hastings Center and the University of Oxford posed to more than 180 Singapore professionals who care for the elderly, including doctors, nurses, social workers and nursing home and adult day care center administrators.

Their answers resulted in Caring for Older People in an Ageing Society, an online casebook published by the Centre for Biomedical Ethics at the National University of Singapore, which contains 10 fictionalized scenarios supported by expert commentaries highlighting the ethical issues presented and giving practical insight.

Gusmano, a co-editor and co-author for the book, says that although the case studies are based in Singapore, the themes are universal for anyone caring for aging adults and navigating the often-ambiguous situations that arise.

Rutgers Today spoke with Gusmano about the top concerns of providing care in a world with an increasingly aging population and how providers struggle with knowing when lines should be crossed.

How are the scenarios in this casebook applicable to care providers in the United States?
Singapore, like the United States, is aging rapidly. People are living with chronic, progressive illnesses, and much of their care occurs outside of hospitals. If families and social support systems are not properly equipped, these people are likely to bounce back and forth to the hospital. The pressing questions for health care and social care providers are: to what extent do you understand the values of your patient who is resisting a care plan and how much do you intervene?

We published the case book online and with open access book so that care providers can open up conversations about these issues.

Discuss the importance of having a strong social and community care system.
If you do not have the right infrastructure for care in the community, it can undermine the investment in a health care system in which time matters and there is pressure to clear beds. In the United States, when you look at the economic value of informal caregiving by family members and friends it swamps how much we spend on Medicare and Medicaid combined. The rise of age and chronic illness coupled with this desire to save money on inpatient stays means there is an increasing reliance on informal caregivers. Thus, we are making more demands on the sandwich generation – primarily women caring both for their parents and their children. Societies need to rethink how they can support this important family caregiver role, because we do not have backup systems for this kind of care.

What are some of the biggest challenges health care providers cited?
Although technology now allows hospitals to send people home with medical equipment, that equipment often needs constant monitoring. This creates additional burdens at home and can result in hospital readmissions.

Professionals in Singapore struggle with how to balance this need to clear hospital beds and the patients’ desire live independently with a realistic plan for what family members can manage in terms of bathing, dressing and lifting their loved ones and managing medical technology. We don’t want to keep people in expensive institutions longer than they need to be there, but returning home is difficult for people living with multiple chronic illnesses and often limited mobility.

What are some scenarios that are discussed?
The book highlights the challenges faced by people who interact with the older people in a variety of ways: A medical team analyzes what they should do after man who has suffered a stroke repeatedly returns to the hospital after his home care plan falls apart; a father of a teenage son ponders his duty to take his parents into his home to live when his ailing father can no longer care for his mother who is suffering from dementia; an aging caregiver of a mentally disabled adult child is anxious about what will happen to him when she dies. We want to help professionals reason through these situations and consider the values at stake to make ethically defensible decisions.

How can looking at Singapore help U.S. providers prepare for the future of health care here?
In Singapore, longevity rates are high and birth rates are low. The country is rapidly going from one of the younger countries in the world to one of the oldest. The United States is much younger, but we are moving in that direction quickly. By 2030, it’s expected that 20 percent of our population will be 65 and older – and the fastest-growing segment of the population will be over 85. While this is a reflection of successes in health care, it brings new challenges. If people can’t live independently and we don’t want to warehouse them expensively in nursing homes, we need to rethink systems of care that make it possible for people to live safely and fruitfully in communities. The systems we are inadequate to meet the coming challenge.