Skip to main content
Students winning the Hult Prize
Yale student team with Hult Prize Foundation CEO Lori Van Dam and Stella McCartney

Student Startup Wins Prestigious Hult Prize for Sustainability

Banofi Leather took home the $1 million top prize for its plan to turn banana crop waste into a sustainable leather alternative that can help offset the fashion industry’s environmental footprint.

The winning streak continues for Banofi Leather, a Yale-based startup that has won the $1 million Hult Prize 2023 in the world’s biggest social entrepreneurship business competition for students.

A company that turns banana crop waste into an eco-friendly leather alternative, Banofi was founded by Jinali Mody YSE ’23. The team also includes Maggie Boreham ’24, Jen Adachi ’24, YSE ’24, and Isobel Campbell YSE ’23.

High profile fashion designer and environmentalist Stella McCartney awarded the Hult Prize at the close of the year-long competition in Paris on September 22. Banofi edged out five other finalists.

"We are so incredibly grateful for all the encouragement the Yale community has given us,” Mody said. “When we started working on Banofi, we received the support we needed through TSAI City, SOM's startup cell, and CBEY. These teams really helped our idea grow."

For the competition, teams were challenged with creating sustainable ventures for the clothing and fashion industry, which is responsible for 8% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Ventures had to demonstrate a positive impact on people and the planet and support the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

More than 40,000 teams from 120 countries submitted ideas.

“Competing in Hult was a whirlwind, but it's an experience that none of us will ever forget,” said Boreham. “We’ve grown closer as a team, and this win means that we’ll now have the resources to scale our operations, boost sales, and continue R&D. We’ve already started having interesting conversations with brands, and we’re so excited for what's to come!

Campbell found the quality and number of teams competing encouraging.

“Given the urgency of climate and environmental action, it’s clear that no single individual or company can achieve this alone, so it was truly inspiring to witness the potential of every team involved,” she said. “For Banofi Leather, winning the $1 million Hult Prize will be a game-changer in our mission to combat the huge environmental impacts of the leather industry.”

Last June, Banofi was awarded the $30,000 top spot in the prestigious Wege Prize Global Competition.