Algerian College Student Plans Life-Saving Startup
By Anastasya Lloyd-Damnjanovic
Washington - For Djahida Messaoudi, entrepreneurship is a tool for improving the lives of others.
This mindset might explain why she was chosen from a pool of thousands of Middle Eastern and North African college students to take business classes at an American university and present a business plan to the U.S. State Department.
Messaoudi was one of 100 participants in a summer entrepreneurship program sponsored by the Coca-Cola Company and the State Department. The program, which aims to empower the next generation of business and social entrepreneurs in the region, selected applicants on the basis of their ideas for business or community initiatives that responded to specific local needs.
With five team members from her home country of Algeria and the expertise of the University of Indiana's Kelley School of Business, Messaoudi developed plans for a startup company that will manufacture a vehicular device to reduce car accidents in Algeria.
According to Messaoudi, more traffic accidents occur annually in Algeria than in any other country in the Arab world, and the rate of accidents per year is high by global standards. Because many accidents can be traced to features of the driving environment, such as road slickness, she believes that the embedded vehicular device developed by her team will reduce the danger involved in driving, and ultimately, injuries and deaths.
"It's the first product [for this purpose] in Algeria, and it will reduce a big problem," Messaoudi said of her startup idea.
During the monthlong scholarship program, Messaoudi took classes in management, communication, marketing and leadership at the Kelley School and networked with American entrepreneurs, who offered advice about best business practices and common challenges. Upon returning home, Messaoudi hopes to begin her lifesaving startup as soon as possible.
(This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State.)