The Geneva Challenge 2020

2020 Advancing Development Goals International Contest for students

Virtual Award Ceremony of the Geneva Challenge 2020

The 2020 edition asked graduate students to address the complex issues arising from social inclusion. While significant advances have been made in reducing extreme poverty around the world, more efforts are needed to tackle social inclusiveness. Overall, social inclusion matters concern a multitude of groups and have a strategic impact on the social cohesion, human development, productivity, economic growth and long-run development of countries and regions around the world. Therefore, a call for innovative and cross-cutting proposals accounting for the context and the multitude of potential actors involved was critical. 

In 2020, 366 teams composed of 1,368 graduate students from 102 different nationalities registered to take part in the Geneva Challenge.  145 project entries were submitted by 558 students from teams hailing from all over the world. The Academic Steering Committee selected 16 semi-finalists teams.

Winners of the 2020 Geneva Challenge


First prize


Team from North America and Oceania

Project Gem: A Teletherapy Platform To Connect Elderly With Family Caregivers

One of the most profound challenges that people face in old age is social isolation. Nearly half of elderly currently live alone or with just a spouse, and elderly who live alone are at increased risk for a number of serious behavioural and health problems including cognitive decline, depressive symptoms, reduced physical activity, and increased chronic disease morbidity. To connect isolated elderly to the families who care for them, Project Gem enables family caregivers to provide companionship for their elderly through reminiscence-based teletherapy.


Project Gem

Team from North America and Oceania


William Ge is currently studying medicine in the Health Sciences & Technology Program of Harvard Medical School and MIT. He completed his dual Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and Biophysics/Biochemistry at Yale University, and works in a computational cancer research group in Boston. He spent his early childhood in Hubei, China with his grandparents, who are his lifelong role models and inspire his work on Gem.


Taylor Goldy is a true believer in cross-disciplinary research and collaboration. She has worked at Harvard’s Wyss Institute designing textile- based, lower-extremity exosuits, and at NASA, re- designing intravehicular activity (IVA) apparel for astronauts on long-duration missions to Mars and engineering a cooling device for ballistic vests worn by NASA security personnel. At Harvard, Taylor hopes to continue cross-disciplinary problem-solving to further understand how to translate an idea into a product and improve people's lives.


Sun Kim is currently pursuing her Master of Science in Global Health and Population at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She is originally from South Korea, and completed her Bachelor’s in Biomedical Engineering at Yonsei University. Her current research projects focus on infectious disease control and prevention, and how it disproportionately affects people based on their socioeconomic status. She has a strong interest in social determinants of health and she has previously worked at the World Health Organization, country office for Sri Lanka, as a food security officer.


Shuying Ni is pursing a Master in Data Science at Harvard University. She is originally from Beijing, and completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Math at Brown University. She holds strong interest in applying analytics methods to solving social issues.

Second Prize ex aequo


Team from Europe

GerBound- A Platform Solution To Address Social Inequality In Mongolia

Climate change and economic pressures are impeding many Mongolians from sustaining their fragile nomadic way of life. In recent years, increasing inequalities have become strikingly apparent, with thousands of nomadic families forced to give up their traditional lifestyle and thus moving from the countryside into shantytowns outside of Ulaanbaatar (“Ger districts”), struggling to integrate into a modern urban society. GerBound addresses these gaps in the innovation ecosystem by connecting local changemakers with the Mongolian diaspora. GerBound provides the diaspora with a transparent channel to support the country in a more coordinated way. Mongolians living abroad can thereby decide what local projects they want to support financially or with their respective expertise.


Project GerBound

Team from Europe


Zelmeg Otgontogoo is a MSc International Business student at the Stockholm School of Economics in Sweden. Born and raised in Germany, with his parents originally coming from Mongolia, he is passionate about contributing towards solving the challenges faced by the people living in Mongolia. Before the start of his Master’s, Zelmeg studied abroad in the US and Finland and worked in the field of consulting in Germany and Hong Kong.


Julius Tebrügge is a MSc International Business student at the Stockholm School of Economics in Sweden. Passionate about the chances of digital learning, Julius previously worked for a media company in New York,
where he supported investments in the field of education technology. During his Bachelor's degree, Julius studied in the Netherlands and Singapore.


Loucmane Pingdwende Sawadogo holds a BSc and MSc in Aeronautics and Astronautics from National Cheng Kung
University in Taiwan. Born and raised in Burkina Faso, Loucmane is passionate about innovation and fostering human potential. Besides his studies, Loucmane joined several Model United Nations conferences in the US, Ireland and Korea, realizing that the challenges our world is facing require a collaborative effort between the various actors of the economy. This led him to pursue a Master’s in International Business at the Stockholm School of Economics.


Thomas Weikert is a MSc Autonomous System student at KTH, Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden. Previously working for the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, supporting European enterprises to set up a business in Developing and Emerging Markets, Thomas has developed a passion for development work and empowering local communities.

Second Prize ex aequo


Team from Asia

SAMHIT- Strengthening Aid For Maternal Health In Tribal Women

In 2017, twelve percent of the global maternal deaths occurred in India and a large proportion of it includes tribal women. In spite of various government programs and policies for maternal and childcare, the tribal women in interior localities of the country remain excluded from the mainstream society. Their maternal needs remain unidentified and thus unaddressed. SAMHIT’s main objective is to collect quality data through blockchain-enabled application and analyzed using Predictive Analytics, identify high-risk pregnancy cases and to provide an aid for the prompt management of emergency specialty care. The application captures social factors along with clinical parameters to predict complications. This enables the frontline health workers to deliver proactive healthcare services with a timely referral for an uneventful situation. Thus, the project aims to provide a contextualized solution to cater to the indigenous tribal women in different geographies.


Project SAMHIT

Team from Asia


Minal Madankar is a Master’s student in Social Epidemiology at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. Her research and Public health interest revolves around maternal and child health in tribal communities. She has interned with Integrated disease surveillance program (IDSP), Muzaffarpur, Bihar, India. Where she studied various Social determinants of health in children affected by Acute Encephalitis syndrome for the year 2019. She has also interned with Child in Need Institute Kolkata and did exploratory research on complementary feeding practices among the urban slum dwelling mother. She has completed her Masters in Pharmacy and worked as a research associate in a Pharmaceutical formulation and development lab where she mostly focused on formulation of solid orals.


Dr. Pooja Sawale is currently pursuing Masters of Public Health focusing on Social Epidemiology at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. She is currently doing her Masters dissertation on Occupational health hazards in winery workers. She has interned with an NGO in the health sector and Integrated Disease Surveillance Program (IDSP) of  the Government of India, where she has attained immense knowledge of ground level health issues related to Family planning perspectives among young individuals and Social determinants of tuberculosis patients respectively. Pooja is from Maharashtra, India.


Dr. Anukriti Chhabra is pursuing Masters of Public Health (Social Epidemiology) from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. Her master's dissertation focuses on Pharmaceuticalization. She has done an internship at the Interdisciplinary School of Health Sciences, University of Pune where she did a short study on Maternal health. She has also interned with the Integrated Disease Surveillance Program(IDSP), Araria, Bihar where she learnt about neglected tropical diseases with a focus on Leprosy. She did an internship in Healthcare consulting and worked on a project around the healthcare facilities in Maharashtra and developed a keen interest in data analysis. She completed her bachelors and Masters in Dentistry from Manipal College of Dental Sciences, Mangalore. She is from Mumbai, India.


Dr. Harshal Shirodkar is pursuing Masters of Public Health, Social Epidemiology from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. Her Master’s dissertation is a Qualitative Exploration of Women’s experience of Pregnancy Induced Hypertension. She has done internship with Aastha Parivaar NGO in Mumbai, which works for the upliftment of female sex workers and their children. She has also interned with Integrated Disease Surveillance Program(IDSP), Dhule, Maharashtra where she conducted a Quantitative Study of Social Determinants of Leprosy and Factors contributing to Delay in Diagnosis of Leprosy patients. She has completed her MBBS from Mumbai and has previously worked as a Resident medical Officer and as a Medical Consultant in Mumbai.

Third Prize ex aequo


Team from South America

Yacha: A Multiplatform Solution To Bolivian Youth's Education And Labor Inclusion

Bolivia has consistently struggled to include marginalized communities into policy and decision-making processes that have the potential to challenge the social status-quo and break the poverty cycle. This has been particularly noticeable among Bolivian youth who, despite constituting a growing portion of the population, have remained on the sidelines of development programs. Facilitating vocational and professional connections, YACHA fosters youth inclusion by simultaneously bridging inter- and intra-generational gaps and engaging young Bolivian leaders, especially minorities and disadvantaged youth. YACHA sheds light on the issue of education and employment in Bolivia, grounding our proposal on data-driven research that cuts across the fields of economics, sociology, development studies, and politics, among others.


Project YACHA

Team from South America


Alejandra Goytia is currently completing her Master’s degree in Economics at the  “Universidad de Chile”. She holds a BA in Economics from “Universidad Católica Boliviana”. Her research and interest revolve around Economic Development and applied microeconometrics. She is now working at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).


Nicolás Irazoque is pursuing a Master of Economics at the National University of La Plata. He has a degree in Economics from the Bolivian Catholic University. His research interests lie within Economics of Education and Economic Development. He has been a research assistant and assistant professor throughout his undergraduate studies.


Karen Martinez, is an economist and aspiring public sector leader interested in the design and evaluation of public policies for development. She has more than four years of experience in the research field, mainly focused on gender studies. She is currently completing her master's program in Economic Sciences, with a primary focus on Econometrics at the University of Geneva as a scholar of the Simon I Patiño Foundation.


Thaís Quiroga is pursuing a Masters in Development Studies at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. She completed her dual undergraduate degrees in Philosophy and International Relations at William Jewell College and the University of Oxford. As a Hans Wilsdorf scholar, she has focused her academic and professional interests on children’s rights, primarily on child labor and education.

Third Prize ex aequo


Team from Africa

Vertical Farming In Refugees Setting (VEFIRS) - A Tool For Fostering Intergroup Relations And Social Integration

In the last decade, Uganda in East Africa has witnessed an influx of refugees from South Sudan, Burundi, and Democratic Republic of Congo. The demand for land continues to grow at a fast pace especially in Bidibidi, the largest refugee settlement in East Africa. This continues to provoke tensions among refugees and host communities. As a result, refugees remain susceptible to exclusion from social, economic and political affairs in the country. The VEFIRS project aims to build the adaptive capacity of refugees and the host community of Bidibidi settlement to land scarcity and rocky soil through the multi-storey vertical farming approach. The goal of this initiative is to help them become self-reliant in overcoming food shortage and poverty, which are drivers of unethical behaviours.

Team from Africa


Nelson Papi Kolliesuah is a Liberian, and a final year MasterCard Foundation supported student through the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM). Nelson holds a Bachelor’s degree in Plant and Soil Science from Cuttington University, Liberia. He is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Food Security and Community Nutrition at Gulu University, Uganda.  Nelson has three years of professional academic and organizational research experience in planning, execution, monitoring, and evaluation of rural development interventions.


Monique Mededode Sognigbe, a Beninese citizen, is a MasterCard Foundation sponsored student through Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM). She is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Food Security and Community Nutrition and serving as Graduate Teaching Assistant at Gulu University in Uganda. Her research focuses on the Oxidative stability of sunflower oil produced by small-scale processors in Uganda. Monique holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Life and Earth Sciences from the University of Abomey Calavi in Benin and worked there as a Research Assistant and Laboratory Technician at the Laboratory of Genetics, Horticulture, and Seed Sciences.


Iyaloo Nghinaalo Sheyavali is a Namibian supported by the MasterCard Foundation through the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM). She is a final year student pursuing a Master of Science in Food Security and Community Nutrition at Gulu University, Uganda. Iyaloo has a background in Food Science and Technology from the University of Namibia with huge interest in agro-processing, food quality and safety, food product development, nutrition, project planning, monitoring, and evaluation. She has two years of experience in quality control and processing of dairy products and cereals. Iyaloo is the founder of Ikrisha, a company that produces a wide range of protein supplements and serves the community by creating awareness on malnutrition.


Marveen Nafula is a MasterCard scholar supported through the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM). She is a Ugandan currently in her final year pursuing a Master of Science in Food Security and Community Nutrition at Gulu University. Marveen studied Animal Production and Management at Busitema University in Uganda. She has served as a Veterinary Officer (VO) at a Pioneer Agricultural Company in South Sudan for two years as well as a Farm Manager where she has been in the position to use the knowledge and skills acquired to offer extension and advisory services to her clients who are livestock farmers. Marveen is passionate about community transformation and would like to venture into areas of food security, livelihoods, nutrition and agriculture.


Aaron Ekipetot Nanok is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Food Security and Community Nutrition at Gulu University, Uganda. He is a recipient of the MasterCard Foundation Scholarship through the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM). He has past experience of working in refugee environment, having worked with Windle trust Kenya (WTK) in Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya. He is an Agricultural Officer working with Turkana County Government with four years of field experience. He is serving as the world literacy foundation (WLF) brand ambassador (2020) representing the Republic of Kenya. Nanok is an Associate Expert in Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Environmental Audits (EA) and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources Management from Egerton, Njoro (Kenya).


This special prize is awarded in partnership with the Sustainable Development Solutions Network – Youth

RuRelief. Multifunctional System for Refugee Support in Russia

RuRelief is an innovative system of information and service support that solves complex problems of asylum seekers in Russia and provides them with a comprehensive advice on a broad variety of questions. The project is based on the studies of shortcomings of the existing practice of granting asylum and numerous violations of refugee rights in Russia. Their solution circumvents slow and ponderous bureaucratic machine unable to integrate refugees into the society, by adapting to the governmental structures and filling the gaps in refugee protection.


Project RuRelief

Team from SDSN Youth Special Award


Alexandra Kramskaya is currently obtaining her Master in Development studies at the Graduate Institute in Geneva. As she is inspired by humanitarian work, her academic interest lays in the fields of migration and refugees, humanitarian assistance and sustainable development. Her current research focuses on climate change driven migration and the gap between perceptions of national elites and the reality of crises on the ground. In 2020, Alexandra has conducted a research on the state of the art of risk assessment in humanitarian field together with ACAPS (Swiss NGO). At the moment she is interning with UN OCHA. Alexandra is Russian.


Alfiya Lyapina has recently earned a Master’s degree in Demography at the Higher School of Economics and defended her final thesis on Circassian refugees from Syria in Republic of Adygea (case study of 2012–2019). She has been conducting field research on asylum policy in Germany and Russia for three years. As a journalist, she has also published articles on social inclusion of various vulnerable groups and on the work of NGOs activities in Russia (in Moscow and Tatarstan). Alfiya is Tatar.


Elizaveta Volosatova is currently obtaining a Master’s degree in International Relations at the Diplomatic Academy of Russian Foreign Ministry focusing on world politics and global development. Having a background in international education, she is eager to help vulnerable groups of people in their needs. Bringing her perspective to the RuRelief project, she believes language plays an important role in migrant integration process. Elizaveta is Russian.


Irina Sigua is currently obtaining a Master’s degree in International Relations at the Diplomatic Academy of Russian Foreign Ministry. She is working on projects referring to achieving Sustainable Development Goals at the Academic mobility center (NGO). She has successfully completed the course on the Basics of Working with People with Migrant Backgrounds and Experience of Forced Migration jointly launched by the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, NGO “Kids are kids”, UNHCR Russia, etc. For several years she has been volunteering at the integration centre for refugee children “Kids are kids”. Irina is Georgian.


Saniya Bakhitova is completing a Master’s degree at Moscow State Academic Art Institute named after V.I. Surikov of Russian Academy of Arts. She has successfully finished a course on the Basics of Working with People with Migrant Backgrounds and the Experience of Forced Migration of the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art. Saniya is the author of the Art project “Their own” aimed at breaking down society’s barriers around people with migration experience. She has been volunteering at the integration centre “Kids are kids” mostly working with refugee children. Saniya is Tatar.

The Award Ceremony

The Award Ceremony 2020

Semi-Finalist Teams 2020


Project Brick Making for Better Housing - Africa

Inclusion for Healthcaree

Project Inclusion for Healthcare access for older persons in Northern Uganda - Africa


Project Beastie: Reimagining The Emotional World - North America


Project GAIN: Greenhouse Advancement in Nunavut - North America


Project Novus Via - South America


Project BISCO - Business Incubator for Social Cohesion


Project Energy and Sanitation Solution for Social Inclusion