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AUS wins first and second place at RAKBANK Changemaker Competition
A hydroponics system and a green fintech banking proposal landed two student teams from American University of Sharjah (AUS) first and second place in the RAKBANK Changemakers Competition.
Managed by the Career Design Lab at the AUS School of Business Administration (SBA), the inter-university competition was organized by SBA and RAKBANK as part of the latter’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) responsibility. Students were asked to present business plans related to the areas of health, water, renewable energy and education.
First place winners went home with a cash prize of 10,000 AED and an internship opportunity with RAKBANK in Summer 2024, and second place winners went home with a 7,500 AED cash prize.
The winning business idea, dubbed “Hydropreneurs,” centered on making sustainable living accessible to the average individual. Combining hydroponics and entrepreneurship, the premise of the business is built on selling customers hydroponic kits and supplies coupled with training on how to grow their own produce. Individuals may opt to consume their harvest or sell it to Hydropreneurs at a competitive price. The latter would re-sell the organic produce to supermarkets.
“We all ask multinational companies to be sustainable, and sometimes we forget to play our part in sustainable living. This idea benefits everyone and allows us to become more sustainable. Our journey while working on this project was educational, especially that we had to conduct a lot of research. We also found that hydroponics is not a well-known agricultural method for the average person,” said Fahad Mahmood, a management information systems student.
Mahmood teamed up with finance major Fatima Hassim on the project, and both are looking towards spreading more awareness about hydroponics and further refining their business idea.
The second project aims to help banks and the public make sustainable decisions.
“The idea is for a green fintech system that can be integrated into banks, advising on greener purchasing and giving access to green investing. Banks will target eco-conscious segments and conveniently fund their green bonds, aligning their practices with ESG strategies. With the growing figures of individuals’ preferability for sustainable and eco-friendly purchases, this idea will be the first-of-its kind in the GCC region,” said Farah Khanfar, finance major.
The proposal was submitted by student team Khanfar, Mohammed Alnunu and Iryn Tony.
“We’re highly enthusiastic about putting this project into action. We’re looking for funding and gathering a group of engineers, developers and data scientists to effectively execute the plan,” said Khanfar.
Having positioned itself at the forefront of business education in the region, SBA is focused on influencing the educational and professional landscape of the UAE. Through its Career Design Lab, SBA offers its students assistance with internship and job placements, and market-led education that expands expertise and impact. AUS is ranked number one in the UAE and among the top 200 universities globally for business and management studies, and for accounting and finance (QS 2023).
“Competitions offer great opportunities for experiential learning and market insights to our students. We always encourage our industry partners to use such activities as an innovative recruitment tool and offer career-related outcomes along with other prizes. We are glad to be part of the inaugural RAKBANK Changemakers Competition and delighted with the results,” said Eleni, Senior MAnager of the Career Design Lab at SBA.
To learn more about SBA, visit www.aus.edu/sba.