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Kisum Chan - US$1 Million Hult Prize

Kisum Chan graduated from BIS HCMC in the Class of 2016 after completing both his IGCSEs and IB Diploma. Following this he moved to the UK to study Biomedical Sciences at University College London (UCL). On Saturday 15th September, Kisum and three of his fellow UCL students were presented with a US$1 million award by President Bill Clinton in the 2018 Hult Prize finals. This award is a launchpad for their company Rice Inc, a social enterprise with the ultimate goal of ending food poverty in South East Asia. We catch up with Kisum to find out more about his journey with Rice Inc. and their ambitious plans for the future...

  • Kisum Chan - Alumni Success Story | BIS HCMC

Does BIS seem like a distant memory?

It seems like it was so far away but I cherish every moment of it. My experience at BIS was amazing, I miss everyone and all the moments I had there.

What’s been happening since your time at BIS?

After BIS I got into UCL where I am currently studying Biomedical Sciences and over at UCL I tried to join as many clubs and be as active and as involved in the school community as possible. I feel like the constant push of CAS when I was at BIS really contributed to this. I remember being in the first couple of weeks of school at UCL and I was going to lessons but it just felt empty. I felt like I needed to do more and be more involved. Just studying was boring!

To compensate for this I joined a lot of school societies. One of the things that I joined was ISAC. It’s the world’s largest student organisation where I picked up a lot of business skills and went to a number of business meetings for them. I also got presidency of the Life Sciences society.

Kisum Chan - BIS HCMC Alumni Success Story

There’s a UCL changemakers programme where they invite volunteers and send out people from the community to do a mini research project to see how certain phenomena or events have affected the student body. So I did one to see how Brexit impacted the perspectives of international students of UCL and their willingness to be more involved in the school community.

After all of this I joined a competition called the Hult Prize before starting Rice Inc.

Keep exploring, keep challenging yourself and one day you will find the thing that’s perfect for you and you will thrive in that moment. - Kisum Chan, Co-Founder of Rice Inc.

What is the Hult Prize?

It’s a global social enterprise competition with a prize of 1 million dollars. It encourages students to tackle a different global problem every year. So this year it was to see how we can harness energy to impact the lives of over 10 million people. We wanted to tackle a problem that was significantly affecting our cultural communities and one of those problems was wastage in the rice supply chain due to inefficient and traditional agriculture practices.

Rice Inc is a social enterprise that takes existing off-the-shelf agricultural technologies which are currently available to farmers but because they’re so expensive they’re not using these technologies. This causes massive amounts of wastage in the whole supply chain.

Rice Inc. provides access to these types of technologies for example grain dryers or storage devices. This empowers the farmers to use these technologies, to increase the quality of the rice, the quantity of rice that they make, how much they can sell it for and even a better peace of mind for the farmers.

Rice Inc.
Courtesy of Kisum Chan/Rice Inc.

Creating a world with no hunger, starting with rice. - Rice Inc.

What was the result of the Hult Prize competition?

We won the 1 million dollars! We’re all very excited and I’m super looking forward to what the future has in store. The 1 million dollars is going to spread our impact not to just 1 village, not just 10 but throughout the whole of Myanmar and hopefully the rest of Asia as well. Why limit yourself to one area when you can help the world and the Hult prize is a pretty strong base to get us started.

Do you have any advice for other students?

I guess my final words would be to keep exploring, keep challenging yourself and one day you will find the thing that’s perfect for you and you will thrive in that moment.

2020 Update

In April 2020, Kisum made the Forbes Asia 30 Under 30 list of Social Entrepreneurs, recognising the amazing impact Kisum and his colleagues have had so far in ending food poverty across South East Asia.

Kisum Chan - Forbes 30 Under 30 | British International School HCMC

At BIS HCMC our aim is to  inspire confident, creative global citizens just like Kisum who have a thirst for knowledge and a vision to change the world for the better.

Why limit yourself to one area, when you can help the world. - Kisum Chan, Co-Founder of Rice Inc.