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Dr. Zak Allal (’18) contributes to boosting U.S.-Algeria relations through reality TV show

Zak Allal, premiere of Andi Hulm
Above: Dr. Zak Allal, IWP alumnus and research scholar, at the premiere of Andi Hulm.

How to boost entrepreneurship in Algeria and boost relations between the United States and Algeria? The U.S. Embassy in Algiers has decided to try a very innovative experiment to support the entrepreneurial spirit among youth in Algeria, by launching a “shark tank”-inspired reality-TV show, where young Algerians try the entrepreneurial adventure of their lifetime.

Aired every Saturday evening at 9:30 pm between February 8th and April 11th, 2020 on Ennahar TV, the program is called “Andi Hulm” (I Have a Dream). Thousands of participants from all over the country wanted to live their “Algerian dream.” Only 60 were lucky enough to be selected. They faced challenges under the watchful eye of the jury members known for their “success story;” among them was Dr. Zak Allal, IWP alumnus and research scholar.

During the 10-episode series, which was conceived and sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in Algiers and the American Chamber of Commerce in Algeria, the 60 candidates had to go through challenges designed to put them in real-life situations, to get an idea of the obstacles they will have to overcome in their future careers. Most challenges took place in leading U.S. companies operating in Algeria (such as Cisco, PizzaHut, Nike, Eli Lilly, Berlitz, and PPG). Each episode had its sets of challenges, from literally pitching an investor in an elevator, to recruiting new staff members and acquiring new customers.

The red-carpet launch ceremony and premiere took place on February 8th at the Holiday Inn Hotel Algiers. (Video of the red carpet premiere event)

Zak Allal
Dr. Zak Allal, U.S. Ambassador to Algeria Mr. John Desrocher, and his wife Ms. Karen Rose

Dr. Zak Allal, who participated in designing the challenges and evaluating and coaching the contestants, said: “When the U.S. Embassy reached out to me to ask if I might be interested to be part of the show, I was thrilled. For me, it was an opportunity to give back all my acquired experience in the U.S. to my native country. The experience I gained in Washington D.C. at IWP, and in Silicon Valley at Singularity University, and Stanford Graduate School of Business definitely played a role.”

The American ambassador to Algeria Mr. John P. Desrocher made an appearance during the Season finale, where he and his wife Ms. Karen Rose gave a last word of encouragement to the finalists. He said: “The 8 companies that worked with the show, and all members of the American Chamber of Commerce, are really determined to build the business relationships between partners in Algeria and companies in the United States.” He also added, “I am optimistic about the potential we have, because of young people like you – you are the foundation on which Algeria’s future economy is going to be built.” (Video here)

State Department Spokesperson Ms. Morgan Ortagus stated: “I am excited about the launch of the U.S. Embassy Algiers-sponsored Andi Hulm TV show. With Algeria’s first reality competition show, we’re breaking new ground together. As partners, the U.S. is committed to supporting the next generation of Algerian entrepreneurs and business people.”

The winner of the show received a check for one million dinars (~ $6000), as well as a trip to the United States where he had the chance to further develop his project in a start-up incubator and come back to Algeria to implement it. The other candidates had an experience that will serve them in their professional future. Though the winner took home a cash prize, the goal of the show was to ensure that all the contestants benefitted from the experience. Throughout the course of each episode, participants had the opportunity to seek advice from the CEOs of leading U.S. companies, as well as gain exposure among the Algerian public.

Preview of Andi Hulm All ten Andi Hulm episodes on YouTube