I've experienced the excitement of the TED Prize being awarded each year the TED conference. It is thrilling, not just because of the money granted to the winner for the purpose of making his/her wish come true, but also because of the response from the TED community members in the audience, both physically in Long Beach, and--in some cases--participating via satellite.
Last night, I was a guest at the Hult Prize Global FInal Program for 2013, at which Bill Clinton presented the Hult Prize to one of six MBA student teams who had competed for the award. It's a benchmark for social entrepreneurship: all the teams were regional winners in places around the globe and these six teams made their final pitch to an esteemed group of judges who decided, after hearing all six ten minute pitches, which group would walk away with $1 million to follow through on their plan for a sustainable business that would end world hunger.
The student presentations were remarkable. All were poised and well rehearsed. Their handling of the questions from the judges after their formal presentation was extraordinarily impressive, professional, and convincing. They had done their homework and they had the answers to overcome objections.
The winning team, from McGill University, presented its company named Aspire, which will produce and distribute insects--yes, you heard that right--as a protein rich food to people in countries that have already proven their appetite for tasty insects (in Mexico, for example, people love grasshoppers, an exceedingly nutritious food source). The only reason they don't buy more of the insects Aspire plans to produce is because they are expensive and are limited to short seasons during the year. Aspire has figured out how to produce them year-round, and sell them at affordable prices. It sounded like a winner when they presented their plan and the judges apparently loved it, too. Count on hearing more about Aspire.
Meanwhile, the other five teams were extraordinary as well. In fact, I found myself wanted all six of them to secure funding so they can execute on their plans. Perhaps some of the corporate leaders sitting in the nearly 1000 person audience will find these other plans sufficiently compelling to offer funding for them too.
Anyone who feels concerned that the youth of this world are uninspired, unengaged and unambitious needs to hook into footage of these Hult presentations. They are evidence that entrepreneurism and a passion to change the world are alive and well among our youth. As one of the judges said near the end of the program "At last I can have faith that no matter what problems our generation is leaving behind, you are the generation who will and can resolve them!"