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Meet the Superstars Powering the PeaceTech Accelerator

Interview led by Kimberly Richter, C5 Accelerate

As any institution in Washington D.C. can tell you, no program, event, or publication would run without the support of talented interns and fellows. C5 Accelerate is no exception! Throughout the winter and spring, the PeaceTech Accelerator was fortunate enough to have Haley Trantel, a student at American University, and Karim Hamri, a recent fellow at Legacy International, contribute their time and talent to our program.

Get to know these superstars, and hear their perspectives on social entrepreneurship and peacebuilding below:

Tell us a little bit about your background:

HT: I’m an undergraduate student at American University, majoring in International Studies and minoring in Economics. My academic interests have largely revolved around peacebuilding and good governance. Prior to interning at C5, I worked at Women in International Security, the Middle East Policy Council, and Human Rights Watch.

KH: I consider myself a community builder who believes in art as a tool to solve social challenges, and collaboration as an approach to create systemic change. I was born in Morocco and am a visual artist and electrical engineer. I have previously worked in different fields such as communication, marketing and innovation management. Currently, I am the founder of Ta7rir, an organization that addresses social challenges through art and creativity.

What have you been working on at the PeaceTech Accelerator?

HT: Every day is completely different! It keeps things exciting. Some days I help out with events, other days I manage data entry, draft social media content or do program research.

KH: At the PeaceTech Accelerator, I developed a communication plan, as well as branding materials, which helped me to explore the core values of the organization. I also worked on building a pipeline of potential entrepreneurs who could be part of the accelerator program’s next cohort.

Karim, I’m curious to hear how the start up ecosystem that you’ve seen here in DC compares to your experience working with entrepreneurs in Morocco?

KH: The entrepreneurial ecosystem in Morocco is growing, and many programs exist to support entrepreneurs through mentorship, financial support and network building. However, I think when comparing the experience to D.C, there is much more potential to grow here, as there are flexible incorporation procedures, and it’s easier to raise money, connect with investors, and test with different markets.

What have you liked the most about your internship?

HT: Getting to dip my toes into a lot of different projects. Every day is a new adventure, and one of the benefits of getting to work with a smaller team is gaining broad exposure to all aspects of the program.

KH: What I liked most about my fellowship is being in a place that links cloud innovation, social entrepreneurship and peacebuilding. It was also interesting to work with a program that connects people from all around the world, both from for-profit enterprises and from non-profits, which is for me something new compared to the conventional accelerator model.

What have you learned that most surprised you?

HT: Building on Karim’s thought, before this internship, I worked for several NGOs, so I always saw social impact initiatives through that lens. It was fascinating to learn how entrepreneurs from across the globe are utilizing technology to make the world a better place.

KH: Yes! While talking to social entrepreneurs from the PeaceTech Accelerator and around DC, I learned the potential that technology has to provoke real social change.

Of the entrepreneurs you’ve met through the program, who have you been most inspired by, and why?

HT: I was inspired most by Raji Borthakur, the founder of TerraBlue XT. The story behind her TJay product is incredible. She had no formal technology background, but was motivated to find a better solution for her son, who has epilepsy, and for herself and her family, who support him. It’s impossible to not be inspired by her dedication and drive.
Karim, you’re a successful entrepreneur in your own right! What advice would you give to other start ups who are trying to make it in the social impact space?

KH: Joining the social impact community is a huge opportunity to learn new skills, enable growth, and connect with potential collaborators. What I advise always is to join the social impact ecosystem with defined challenges, and hustle to reach your goals within acceleration programs. I welcome readers to check out the PeaceTech Accelerator!

Haley, what’s one piece of advice that you would give to future interns in the program?

HT: I feel so fortunate to have gotten to know the entrepreneurs from the third program, as well as mentors from around the globe. I would advise future interns to take advantage of all these connections!

If the PeaceTech Accelerator were to have a mascot, what do you think it should be?

HT: Definitely a lightning bolt!

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