Ahmad Ashkar is founder and chief operating officer of the Hult Prize, an international competition that pits teams of business school students against one in another to develop social enterprise solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.

Each year, a new challenge is selected—this year’s is fighting global poverty in the areas of education, energy, and housing—and teams compete locally, regionally—and finally, at an international competition in New York City to present the best business plan to make a difference on these issues. The winning team receives $1 million to implement its idea, plus access to key partnerships through the Clinton Global Initiative.

Ashkar’s work with Hult and as a management consultant exposed him to many approaches to social entrepreneurship. Asked to advise aspiring social entrepreneurs, he noted that a common mistake is trying to reinvent the wheel by focusing only on products or services when innovations in distribution, business models, or marketing might produce much more impact.

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