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MAKING THEIR MARK: Class of 2017

Anis Kallel: ‘I want to make a difference’

May 3, 2017

Kallel wins entrepreneurship competition

Add a new honor for Anis Kallel: winner of the annual Charles and Janet Forbes Entrepreneurial Competition.

Kallel submitted a plan for EcoFemina, which seeks to provide hygiene products for girls in developing nations. The United Nations reports that only 43 percent of girls in impoverished nations attend secondary school, in large part because they have limited access to female hygiene products. EcoFemina has identified Tunisia as a test nation and is negotiating a deal with UNICEF to bring the products to the refugee community.

“EcoFemina improves the lives of adolescent girls living in poverty by providing an affordable feminine hygiene solution for their period,” Kallel says. “It combines hygienic reusable pads with a kit to wash, dry, and store these pads, making it easier for girls to attend school and engage in class with no discomfort or stigma.”

The Forbes competition was established in 1989 to encourage full-time University engineering students to consider the commercial potential of topics or processes they are studying. The event is organized by the Ain Center for Entrepreneurship.

Anis Kallel came to Rochester by chance. One day in 2013, he and high school friends in his native Tunisia took an online survey that promised to match them with a suitable college in the United States. Kallel answered questions about areas of study and activities he was interested in.

“Rochester came back as a 100 percent match,” he says.

Kallel was grateful to receive the University’s Renaissance & Global Scholarship, a full-tuition, four-year scholarship offered annually to about 20 students who are academic all-stars and have unique backgrounds that add to the diversity of the student body.

“I was given something most people wouldn’t dream of receiving,” the computer science and business dual major says. “That comes with some responsibility. Whatever potential Rochester saw in me, I wanted to live up to it.”

Kallel has enjoyed his college experience from all angles.

He served as president of the Computer Science Undergraduate Council and a teaching assistant and peer advisor in the department. He was a research assistant in the Human-Computer Interaction lab, where he helped develop RocSpeak, a software program that helps people improve their public speaking skills.

He worked at the UR Tech Store and was a member of Rochester’s club volleyball team. He landed internships at the video game company Electronic Arts and at Microsoft. He studied abroad in Spain, where he added Spanish as his fourth language, and was a member of Roc HACK, a club for hackers, engineers, and builders.

Kallel will remain part of the University community next year as a Kauffman Entrepreneurial Year student. The KEY program allows selected students the chance to devote one or two tuition-free semesters to the study and practice of entrepreneurship.

“I didn’t want to jump into the Silicon Valley industry right away,” Kallel says. “I wanted to do research on emerging markets in Africa.”

He’ll work as a co-op student for Seedstars World, a Swiss start-up company that runs global start-up competitions covering more than 65 emerging and developing markets. Kallel is scheduled to visit 24 cities in 20 countries from May to December before returning to Rochester.

“Then, I’ll compile my experience and put it all into perspective,” he says. “I’ll see what worked in other countries. I want to make a difference—in Tunisia and everywhere.”

graphic reads CLASS OF 2017

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