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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Tibetan Innovation Challenge to encourage employment in Tibetan communities

June 6, 2016

Rochester University, June 3, 2016 - The Tibetan Innovation Challenge is an intercollegiate social entrepreneurship business plan contest, organized by the University of Rochester, aiming to improve the lives of Tibetans living in refugee camps in India through self-sustaining and replicable business ideas.

2016 marked the project's second year, with students representing several universities submitting proposals for evaluation by a panel of judges.  Each proposal included a two-page executive summary and a link to a video presentation uploaded to a platform such as Vimeo or YouTube. Selected finalists were then required to present a full business plan. 

On June 3, 2016 finalists presented their business plans in person to the panel of judges: Lobsang Nyandak, Executive Director of Tibet Fund (USA); Tashi Nangsetsang Project Manager with A&L Contractors (Canada); Randall Kempner, Executive Director of the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs; and Song Pak, SVP of Operations & Acting General Counsel, Revolution LLC.

The 2016 winners, announced on June 3, are Kari Wozniak of the University of Illinois PMBA class of 2017 and Mikayla Hart from University of Rochester Simon's Business School for their project called "Tashi Organic".

The Tibetan Innovation Challenge was founded in response to the Dalai Lama’s concern over the out-flow of young Tibetans leaving their communities in search of gainful employment. Tibetan refugees face many economic difficulties, which this competition hopes to mitigate by empowering Tibetans to take greater control of their own economic futures. Teams of students from colleges and universities will develop practical business ideas for Tibetan refugees to implement within their communities, with the goal of creating enterprises that will have a meaningful and positive long-term economic impact. The Tibetan Innovation Challenge will connect the brightest, most innovative minds from the nation’s top colleges and universities with underserved populations who stand to benefit from their ideas. The best ideas will be replicable within similar communities and populations in other parts of the world.

All of the business plans generated during the competition are given to the Tibetan refugee community to form the foundations of new Tibetan business ventures. These enterprises are partially financed by the Tibet House in London and The Art of Peace Foundation.

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