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Former President Clinton presents young innovators with $1 million at UN to better refugee lives

Contestants for the Hult Prize came from universities around the globe, gathering for the end of the year-long competition.
The Roshi Ride team from Rutgers University cheers after winning the Hult Prize Finals and Awards Dinner 2017 on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017, at the United Nations headquarters. (Mark Von Holden/Hult Prize Foundation via AP Images)
The Roshi Ride team from Rutgers University cheers after winning the Hult Prize Finals and Awards Dinner 2017 on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017, at the United Nations headquarters. (Mark Von Holden/Hult Prize Foundation via AP Images)

A team of four young Pakistani-American innovators has a solution for the refugee crisis, and former President Bill Clinton thinks so, too.

On Saturday night, Clinton presented Rutgers University’s Hasan Usmani, Hanaa Lakhani, Moneed Mian and Gia Farooqi with $1 million in startup funding from the Hult Prize Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to funding humanitarian initiatives.

The award was given at New York’s UN Headquarters where contestants from universities around the globe gathered for the end of the year-long competition.

The challenge, which was issued by Clinton himself, tasked competitors with finding a plan to address the world’s refugees, restoring the human dignity and rights to millions of displaced people by 2022.

The winning startup, Roshni Rides, will bring a transportation network to Pakistan, focused on ridesharing and convenient payment of a fixed price using a preloaded card.

Farooqi, the company’s CEO, said the team will begin working immediately after relocating. “This team is dedicated to making an impact in the transportation industry in Pakistan, and help the lives of refugees living in informal settlements,” she said. “We will start in Orangi Town, Pakistan where we will execute a solution that cuts transportation costs in half. We are already working on rolling out our partnerships to establish the Roshni Network, we have three signed LOIs ready to go.”

While the team members have much work to do, Farooqi said they’re both excited and overwhelmed to have won.

“There are so many people who got us to this point to day, this win is theirs as much as ours,” she said. “Our advisors who spent countless hours going over our strategies and ideas, who mentored us and gave us tough love when we needed it we critical to our success. Above all, we are grateful to our parents who sacrificed so much to allow us to be on stages like the one we were on tonight.”