Staffordshire University students in global refugee challenge

A team of budding entrepreneurs from Staffordshire University have reached the UK finals of the world's largest student competition.

Business Management students Daniel Griffiths, Danielle Nugent and Sarah Andrade Vitorino are taking part in the 2017 Hult Prize, competing for $1 million.

The annual event is backed by former US President Bill Clinton and aims to create and launch social businesses tackling major world-wide issues, with the winning idea receiving $1 million in start-up funding.

The Staffordshire students have successfully reached the London continental finals of the competition on 3 - 4 March where they will pitch their business idea aimed at transforming the lives of women refugees in Colombia to representatives of the Hult Foundation and Clinton Global Initiative.

Daniel, who is leading the team, explained: “The teams have been asked to come up with a business idea to help refugees and offer them sustainable training and employment opportunities. Our idea involves setting up an ethical fashion upcycling business, which will help Colombian female refugees who are fleeing sexual exploitation and violence.

“The aim of our project is to raise awareness of the often overlooked – but extremely vulnerable - female refugees in Colombia and South America who have escaped violence and unrest in their own country to be forced into prostitution by gangs in their new homeland.

“The project will train women to 'upcycle' clothing to create a commercially-viable ready to wear range of clothing. We will work with retailers to take factory seconds, unsold garments and second hand clothing as the raw materials for our product range.”

The Hult Prize attracts more than 50,000 global applications each year, with former prize winners representing the world’s most prestigious universities and businesses.

Dr Peter Jones, Dean of Business, Leadership and Economics, said: “It is great having a Staffs team compete in the Hult Prize for the first time. To successfully reach the London finals is testament to the student's ability and hard work.

“I think it's important for students to get involved in such events, but not just for their personal development or to fly the flag for the University. The Hult prize represents social enterprise and it reflects the ethos of our city and region.  Business isn't just about economic benefit or simply making money, it's also about changing and transforming people and regions for the greater good.”

Successful teams from the national heats will go on to compete in the finals in New York later this year.

Daniel added: “I'm honoured to represent Staffordshire University and the team are working hard. I remember spending time in high school believing that I was never academic enough to do anything on this scale, so I hope our achievements will motivate others to push themselves to go out of their comfort zone and realise their potential.”

Find out more about studying with Staffordshire University's Business School here.

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