Passionate by scientific research and the study of genetics, Besma Belbedjaoui was never one to give up in the face of challenges. If anything, she was in search of them!
When the young woman realised she could not find a job suited to her genetics degree, she decided to take on a new challenge by bringing to Algeria an innovative concept: recycling.
“Back at the time [in 2011] I could see a growing focus on environment happening abroad, but it was still almost inexistant in Algeria,” the young woman recalls. She used her travels and time studying communication and marketing in Lebanon to finetune her idea and came up with a green business plan tailored to the Algerian context.
Riddled with self-doubt but persevering, Besma established Plasticycle Algerie with the support of the National Youth Employment Support Agency. The green start-up works by collecting plastic material in large quantities, washing and crushing them into tiny pellets, which are then sold to local businesses who use them to create various products. As such, Plasticycle Algerie acts as an intermediary between plastic goods wholesalers and industrial manufacturing facilities, while protecting the environment from tonnes of plastic waste.
Besma knows the seed of change will take time to grow in the collective mind, and gets discouraged sometimes. But every little counts. “After recycling workshops delivered to groups of children, I sometimes have visits from parents telling me that they had been forced to reshuffle their entire household waste system! This makes me so happy and I want to continue pushing for the empowerment of Algerians to take their future into their own hands.”
Through the conferences and awareness-raising events she holds across the country, Besma hopes to see Plasticycle Algerie’s circular economic model resonate with a growing number of citizens and become a positive force for Algeria’s future.
The SwitchMed initiative is funded by the European Union. Its activities benefit 8 countries in the Southern Mediterranean: Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine and Tunisia. Through policy development, demonstration activities and networking opportunities, SwitchMed supports and connects stakeholders to scale-up eco and social innovations. The programme supports policy makers, eco-innovative small and medium sized enterprises, industries, start-ups and entrepreneurs in the Southern Mediterranean countries, which have identified job creation and natural resource protection as priority issues that also contribute to their economic stability.
The Switchers is a community of inspiring green entrepreneurs and changemakers in the Mediterranean region. It is also a place where entrepreneurs that share a common passion for the environment can meet. Switchers are green and circular businesses implementing eco-innovative solutions that contribute to sustainable and fair consumption and production models. They are active in a variety of fields, such as sustainable farming, green construction, sustainable textiles and cosmetics, eco-tourism, renewable energy, or waste management.