Aspiring Entrepreneur from Africa to Apply Silicon Valley's Best Practices Toward a New Online Coupon Site in Algeria

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Plug and Play Tech Center’s start-up, LikeList, served as mentor in U.S. Department of State’s TechWomen program

A young woman CEO from Algeria has traveled to Silicon Valley to gain in-depth knowledge to help her launch her venture, the first online discount coupon site in her home country, through TechWomen, a U.S. Department of State program. The program, in its pilot year, pairs women from the Middle East and North Africa with mentors at leading technology companies. Loubna Lahmici, CEO of Ideatic, an Algerian start-up, was one of 37 women from the Middle East and North Africa identified as emerging leaders in technical fields who were paired up with their American counterparts for professional mentorship.

Launched in June 2011, TechWomen paired women from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, and the Palestinian Territories with 24 participating Silicon Valley technology companies for the five-week program. Using innovative technologies, cutting-edge content, and social networking tools, TechWomen fosters and develops the next generation of women leaders in the technology field by providing women and girls with the access and opportunity needed to pursue tech-based careers.

Loubna was matched up with LikeList, a website where people discover and share local businesses and positive experiences, to learn how to interface with venture capitalists, to craft online marketing programs, and how to launch a new venture. Since LikeList is located at the Plug and Play Tech Center, Loubna also experienced firsthand how the leading high-tech accelerator’s from Sunnyvale more than 300 start-ups from all over the world are thriving in Silicon Valley.

“My experience in the TechWomen program was invaluable, giving me insights into cutting-edge technologies, connecting me with counterparts, and opening up new opportunities for the growth of my business,” said Loubna. “I will return to my home country with the latest best practices, new ideas and projects that I will share with my colleagues and team.”

Loubna is championing online commerce and changing Internet shopping in Algeria. In a country with more than 8 million Internet users and more than 30 million mobile users, Loubna is changing Algerian consumer behavior by introducing the Internet as a tool to save time and money. Her company, Ideatic, is incubating a new site which is an online site that provides limited, high-value printable coupons and mobile coupons for significant discounts which help to drive traffic and sales to local stores.

“Because of her local knowledge, business relationships and deep understanding of Internet usage and technology limitations in Algeria, Loubna is crafting a solution that’s culturally appropriate for Algeria,” said Jill Finlayson, senior director of Community at LikeList and Loubna’s mentor. “Rather than trying to force a model from other countries onto Algeria, she is taking the best practices and ideas from Silicon Valley and localizing them to help Algeria take the first steps toward online shopping.”

About TechWomen
TechWomen, a public-private partnership, was developed to implement President Barack Obama’s vision of greater collaboration between the United States and communities with predominantly Muslim populations, as outlined in his June 2009 speech in Cairo. TechWomen is funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), managed by the Institute of International Education (IIE), and implemented in partnership with the Anita Borg Institute for Women in Technology (ABI). For more information, please visit: http://www.techwomen.org.

About LikeList
LikeList is a place online for sharing lists of local businesses, positive experiences and hidden gems between people you know, people you trust and people like you. For more information about LikeList, visit http://www.likelist.com.

About Plug and Play Tech Center
Plug and Play Tech Center is Silicon Valley’s leading high-tech accelerator and is home to more than 300 technology start-ups. Over the past 2 years, Plug and Play has created a soft landing platform for more than 60 international start-ups, partnered with 15 foreign governments to host their Silicon Valley incubators.

Plug and Play has also partnered with over 170 institutional VC firms, over 40 corporate venture arms and 350 Angels for funding, M&A and business development opportunities and has been hosting a broad spectrum of technologies from digital media, networking, mobile, voice and data communication, enterprise software to wireless, clean-tech and semiconductor.

Since its founding in 2006, companies residing in Plug and Play have raised more than $750 million in funding.

About the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA)
The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) of the U.S. Department of State fosters mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries to promote friendly and peaceful relations, as mandated by the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961. ECA engages youth, students, educators, artists, athletes, and rising leaders in many fields in the United States and more than 160 countries through academic, cultural, sports, and professional exchanges. Striving to reflect the diversity of the United States and global society, ECA programs, funding, and other activities encourage the involvement of American and international participants from traditionally underrepresented groups, including women, racial and ethnic minorities, and people with disabilities. ECA exchange program alumni encompass over 1 million people around the world, including more than 40 Nobel Laureates and more than 300 current and former heads of state and government. For more information, visit exchanges.state.gov.

About the Institute of International Education (IIE)
The Institute of International Education collaborates with universities, governments, non-governmental organizations and corporations to develop and implement scholarship, exchange, and training programs that educate and build leadership skills among students, scholars, and professionals worldwide. These include the prestigious Fulbright and Humphrey Fellowship Programs and the International Visitor Leadership Program, administered on behalf of the U.S. Department of State in partnership with other countries, as well as more than 250 other initiatives that benefit over 26,000 men and women from 175 countries each year. IIE has extensive experience working with U.S Embassies and Missions around the world to implement high-profile programs to foster cross-cultural dialogue and public diplomacy on behalf of the U.S. government.

IIE is currently engaged in collaborative program initiatives in 16 countries/territories in the MENA region that reach over 7,000 students, scholars, and professionals each year to promote workforce development, good governance, and gender equity in the region. IIE programs utilize social media to connect emerging leaders worldwide to forge solutions to critical problems, and enhance networking among alumni. IIE’s MENA Regional Office in Cairo has also provided training in a wide range of fields to over 10,000 individuals from the public, private and NGO sectors. Through its West Coast Center (IIE/WCC) in San Francisco, IIE has extensive experience and success collaborating with the technology sector and local organizations, especially in the MENA region. For more information, visit http://www.iie.org.

About the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology (ABI)
The Anita Borg Institute provides resources and programs to help industry, academia, and government recruit, retain, and advance women technical leaders, resulting in higher levels of technological innovation. ABI programs serve technical women by creating a community and providing tools to help them develop their careers. ABI is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 charitable organization. ABI Partners include: Google, HP, Microsoft, CA Technologies, Cisco, Facebook, First Republic Bank, IBM, Intel, Intuit, Lockheed Martin, National Science Foundation, National Security Agency, NetApp, SAP, Symantec, Thomson Reuters, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, Amazon, Broadcom, Motorola Foundation, Raytheon, Salesforce and Yahoo!. For more information, visit http://www.anitaborg.org.

Media Contacts:
Jerri Barrett                            
Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology (TechWomen)    
jerrib(at)anitaborg(dot)org    
650-857-6095

Mirjana Sasa    
Plug and Play Tech Center
shasha(at)plugandplaytechcenter(dot)com
408-524-1439

Ursula Herrick
LikeList
Ursula(at)herrickmedia(dot)com
408-202-0865

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Herrick Media
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