Meet the Co-Founders of Noor Medical!

Noor Medical is a highly diverse group of individuals. The four Co-founders hail from four different countries (Germany, Colombia, United States, Palestine) and bring a variety of enriching personal, academic and cultural experiences with them. Between the Co-founders we have experience in the international development sector (capacity building, governance), with start-up companies (OneLife and BioCarbon Engineering) and government agencies and NGOs (GIZ, Engineers without Borders, The Palestine Economic Policy Research Institute). Together we speak eight languages. Laila Berning, Saji Zagha and Federico Castillejo studied together in the Master of Environmental Governance (MEG) Programme in the 12th generation while Andrew Bonneau studied in the 11th generation. Based on our in depth understanding of complex challenges specifically in the developing context the team shares the vision to empower equitable healthcare in regions that suffer from grid disruption or no electricity at all.

Get to know the team

Before moving to to Germany to pursue his MEG degree, Saji Zagha graduated from Birzeit University in Palestine and worked in fundraising, economic research and ecological construction. He helped construct the Adventist Health International surgical health clinic in Abougoudam, Chad where we will test our hybrid autoclave.

Andrew Bonneau is an alumni of the Teach For America (TFA) program, where he spent two years as a secondary level science instructor in Philadelphia. During his time in TFA he helped develop an environmental science curriculum and engaged students in environmental awareness campaigns in their local neighborhoods. During his undergraduate studies Andrew studied cognitive psychology and international agriculture. This latter degree led to a formative experience in Kenya where he worked at the Children and Youth Empowerment Center, helping to develop a peer-mentoring program and aiding various youth business enterprises.

Federico Castillejo graduated as an industrial engineer from Los Andes University in Colombia. He focused his studies on finance and business management and worked for Engineers without borders to help strengthen local supply chains in Bogota’s surroundings. Federico’s experience in Engineers without borders helped him understand the importance of responsible private business practices to create positive social impact and stay competitive in a more aware market. Federico also worked in GIZ Brazil in the field of renewable energy and energy planning for developing countries.

Laila Berning graduated from the University of Freiburg in environmental natural science and is passionate about the linkage between the natural and social environment. She worked in environmental education in a National park in germany, disaster risk management in Brazil and worked for Bioversity International developing an outline to analyze damage and loss data after hurricane Otto that stroke Costa Rica in 2016.

Noor Medical Co-founders: Federico Castillejo, Andrew Bonneau, Saji Zagha, Laila Berning (From left to right) [Photo by Beatrice Verez]

From lunch at Mensa in Freiburg, Germany to pitching in Tunis, Tunisia

After some lunch breaks at Mensa exchanging ideas and talking about our passions, experiences and current projects, the intergenerational Noor Medical Team formed. Shortly after the formation, intensive work days and evenings over North American style frozen pizza and fries — along with healthy portions of Palestinian style hummus and babaganoush — the team successfully competed in the Hult-Prize Regionals in Tunis, Tunisia. Noor Medical won first place with their startup project against 33 international student teams from prestigious universities and business schools such as the Sciences Po Paris and the Hult International Business School. Beside the exceptional experience to become part of the Hult network where we met inspiring people from all over the world we also enjoyed our time in restaurants in Tunis and fortunately also had the time to visit Sidi Bou Said where we tried our first almond tea.

We are very grateful for the support along our journey and are thrilled by the growth of our project.

Challenges and opportunities working in an international group

Working in an international environment is related to a variety of challenges. Geographic separation, different time zones and poor internet connections challenge conversations with our partners abroad. Yet, despite these challenges the international context also brings a variety of new insights and valuable networking experiences.

What we hope to accomplish

It is the vision of the Noor Medical team to increase humanity’s access to equitable healthcare. At the time of writing, we have built an incredible network of partners and supporters which have helped us make Noor Medical what it is today. Our enterprise development is guided by values that we developed together and believe give our organization the vision to realize its dream. Included is the idea that economic, social and environmental aspects of our business are not separate challenges. We work to integrate these factors to ensure that we are not only a productive business, but that we are being kind to our planet and to the communities we operate in as well. See our Manifesto here:

If you would like to support us on our journey of positively impacting 20 Million people by 2025 please consider supporting us via our crowdfunding campaign.

To learn more about Noor Medical please visit our website: www.noor-med.com or follow us on facebook, linked in and twitter.