India Focussed Solution Wins Runners-up Position at a 1 Million US$ Crowd-Sourcing Event

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INDIACSR News Network

NEW DELHI: A team of 5 students from different nationalities representing Aarhus University, Denmark achieved the runners-up title at a global business case competition that aims to tackle global poverty. Competing in the education track of the Hult Global Case Challenge 2012 – the world’s largest crowdsourcing platform for social good, the team which also comprised of an Indian from the North Eastern state of Meghalaya, beat some of the top business schools around the world to achieve this feat.

The event attracted thousands of students, representing over 130 countries and six continents (with almost every Indian IIM also fielding one team each)competed across five major cities (San Francisco, Boston, London, Shanghai and Dubai)and online. Winning teams across each region and the online event were selected in one of three challenge tracks – Education, Energy and Housing with one aim only – reducing global poverty.These 18 teamsmoved on to the Global Final, which took place on April 26, 2012 in New York City where they presented their innovative solutions at the famous New York Public Library. Among those in attendance were President Bill Clinton and Nobel Peace Prize Winner and Founder of Grameen Bank, Professor Muhammad Yunus.

Rajiv Vaid Basaiawmoit and his team comprising of Jan Lindhoej (from Denmark), Victor Bradu (from Romania), Mia Moller (from Denmark) and Nikolas Bakke (from Norway) came together to form a team in November 2011 and called their innovative project by a catchy name called – DOT.E or Delivering Opportunities Through – Education. Their aim was to help an NGO called One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) provide access to education via their child-specific XO laptop to over 10 million children over the next 5 years. DOT.E’s innovative solution powered them to successive victories over many rounds to finally land the runners-up position at the global championships finals that recently concluded in New York.

President Bill Clinton met each member of the DOT.E team and asked about not only their idea but also where they came from and tried to briefly understand their solution. Prof. Muhammad Yunus asked the question (during the interactive Q&A session) – “what if a new technology came up in a few years’ time and changed the game?” To this, Rajiv and the team replied “that it wouldn’t matter as the focus was not on hardware but human ware – the children – and the XO laptop is just a tool. Tomorrow if a new laptop or tablet or anything else came up that could easily replace the XO – it should as the business model is holistic and that any new tool – provided it keeps to the principle of providing quality education could easily be incorporated in the model”. Some other USPs of their solution and business model that Rajiv highlighted in his speech were also as follows: education integration across the board, a novel partnership platform that would facilitate CSR matchmaking and project follow-up, a grass root awareness program (Bal-vigyanyatra) and social media buzz.

The DOT.E team’s journey has been long and intense. They were first selected from over 4000 applications to qualify for reaching the regional finals in Dubai in the last week of February. In Dubai they won both rounds by beating over 12 teams to qualify for going to New York. On the first round (semi-finals) they beat 4 teams (winners from other regionals and online) to advance to the final round of the global finals. Their competitor in the final round was from Carnegie Mellon University, USA to which the DOT.E team lost by a very small margin. The judges found the decision to choose the winner to be very hard and the innovative solution of the DOT.E project has earned them an opportunity to collaborate with the winning team (CMU) at the behest of the CEO of OLPC – Rodrigo Arboleda Halaby.

Rajiv conducted most of the field research in India – the bulk of which was conducted in Meghalaya alone. Upon being asked by the Hult Global Case Challenge on what he thought about the competition – Rajiv replied “The HGCC 2012 is a one-of-its kind crowd-sourced case challenge that actually aims to do social good but also puts in your hand real cash – necessary seed capital to help take your ideas off the ground! This is as close as it gets to the real thing.” In preparing their global solution, which also had a strong focus on India amongst some other countries, the DOT.E project unveiled a holistic business model and coupled it to a unique partnership platform and managed to garner interest from private firms such as Tata Consultancy Services, Grundfos (Danish pump manufacturer), Novo Nordisk (Danish pharmaceutical company) and meLTyd Inc. (Ghanian waste resource management company).

This is what Grundfos Life Link Program manager Louise Koch has to say about the DOT.E project – “The DOT.E project is one of those rare solutions that make the impossible possible by reaching across sectors and combining new ways of partnerships, financing, and social impact in one holistic concept. I strongly support the DOT.E team because of their innovative and intelligent model for providing access to education and connectivity for children in the developing world”.

Rajiv also interviewed OLPC India head Satish Jha to understand OLPC India’s efforts and mission of providing XO laptops and access to education to each and every Indian child. He also met with the CEO of Vedanta Foundation – Mr. Ravi Krishnan to consider offers of partnership and synergies with this project. Satish Jha from OLPC India also mentioned that he was happy to see the government’s focus on education and realising that the Aakash tablet was not the right tool for the job. OLPC India is currently in talks with the governments of Kerala, Manipur. Punjab and Gujarat to secure large scale orders of the XO laptop for its school children.

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