Startup takes baby steps to million-dollar prize

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Four students standing with arms around each other
Written by Eugenia Xenos Anderson. Originally published on the daily bulletin.

St. Paul’s GreenHouse innovator Alisha Karmali and her team at BabySteps Academy have won the first round of the coveted Hult Prize and will represent the University of Waterloo at the regional level next March, competing against universities and teams from around the world.

The 2015 Hult Prize comes with US $1 million in startup funding, and each regional champion will get to spend the summer inside of the Hult Prize Accelerator, an innovative incubator for social enterprises.
BabySteps Academy is made up of Alisha, a third-year Psychology and Business student, Fardeen Khan, a third-year Nanotechnology Engineering student, Shafaq Zakir, who’s studying Economics and Finance, Katerina Szkolka in Psychology, and Osama Sidat in Computer Science. The team’s goal is to provide quality early childhood education to children under 6 years old in urban slums and create job opportunities for women. Pictured above are (l to r) Shafaq Zakir, Alisha Karmali, Fardeen Khan, and Katerina Szkolka.
"I became a GreenHouse innovator merely 3 months ago and the inspiration and support I have received in this short amount of time is astonishing,” said Alisha. “My mentors at St. Paul’s GreenHouse have been very proactive in assisting me with my research and guiding me through the steps of building a startup.”
Alisha’s startup is also a finalist for the St. Paul’s GreenHouse $5,000 Social Innovation Fund. The recipients will be announced at a Social Innovation Showcase on December 3 in Alumni Hall at St. Paul’s.