More than 200 000 student-led social entrepreneurship start-ups have been battling it out for the world-renowned Hult Prize – a $1 million seed investment given out annually to innovative youngsters with solutions to some of the globe’s most critical issues. Proudly South African-born student entrepreneur, David Apostolov, is leading the team that has been shortlisted as a potential recipient of this prestigious award. David and his team will be heading to the regional finals in Dubai to present their solutions-driven concept to the Hult committee on Saturday, 9 March.

Established in 2009 by an enterprising MBA student at Hult International Business School – Ahmad Ashkar – The Hult Prize has become the biggest engine to launch for-good, for-profit start-ups that emerge from universities worldwide. The theme for the 2019 challenge is ‘to create a business which creates the pathway to 10 000 jobs for youth within the next 10 years’.

David has a passion for innovative technology and, on visiting China in 2012 at the age of 15, he knew he had found a space for this passion to develop into a usable business model. After matriculating from The Kings School Bryanston in 2015, David immediately enrolled at the University of Nottingham Ningbo China, where he will graduate in July 2019 with a BSc (Hons) in International Business Management.

“China is the forefront of technological innovation,” said the 21-year-old student. “It is a place rich in opportunity for talented individuals, and I’ve always wanted to be directly involved in the business happening between China and Africa. I am fortunate enough to be well on my way.”

Driven by a passion to leave a lasting legacy of positive contribution to humanity, David committed to competing in this globally-revered competition. He and his dedicated team from the University of Nottingham Ningbo hope to secure funding to launch a global social ecosystem – named Rebloom – which consists of a specifically-designed three-step programme for homeless youth. It aims to get the youth off the streets, provide them with food, shelter and skills’ training. Finally, meaningful work is sought for them to ensure that they won’t go back to living on the streets.

Fierce competition for The Hult Prize means the team can’t give away too much detail, however David says this is ‘just the beginning’ of his social entrepreneurial journey to change the world for the better. He accredits his success thus far to his relentless resilience.

“For a time in my life, on paper at least, I was extremely average – but I refused to accept that. What my journey has taught me is that if I want to compete against others with a more natural aptitude than myself, I simply have to wake up every day believing I can and keep putting my best foot forward!”

The best and brightest young minds from around the world will be gathering in Dubai on Saturday to present their solutions to the Hult committee. However, David is not unnerved by this thought.

“Regardless of the result, I have made a commitment to myself and my country to never stop investing in the youth, finding solutions for social injustice and to remain a leader with a heart dedicated to the people I serve.”

He concluded with words of advice for other youngsters seeking to make a difference: “Never undervalue the impact of your contribution – both positive and negative. Everything adds up so it falls on us to ensure the legacy we leave behind is a positive one.”

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