The Coca-Cola MENA Scholarship Program is celebrating its sixth anniversary by starting the search for 100 budding entrepreneurs from across Middle East & North Africa who will enjoy the experience of a lifetime with an intensive educational journey to the U.S this summer, following in the footsteps of almost 500 program alumni.

The flagship regional youth initiative, a partnership between The Coca-Cola Company and the U.S. Department of State, will see Algerian, Egyptian, Jordanian, Moroccan, Palestinian, Tunisian and, for the first time ever, Saudi Arabian students participate in the 2017 edition of the program. The first stage of the selection invites young people from across the region to submit a business idea to “Make Tomorrow Better” in their home countries through the program website: https://scholarship.coca-cola.com

With a young, dynamic and energetic youth population across the region, the program has been designed specifically to provide training and guidance to help bring innovative ideas to life to help transform economic and social opportunity across the Middle East & North Africa.

The budding entrepreneurs will enjoy an intensive accelerated curriculum with faculty members at the prestigious Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, one of the top-ranked business programs in the U.S., before participating in a business plan competition to demonstrate the skills learned throughout the program.

A total of almost 500 university students have already participated since the initiative first began in 2012, with program alumni already securing more than 70 further higher-education scholarships and almost 80 scholars reporting to have already started their own businesses in diverse fields such as technology, travel and tourism, marketing, hospitality and environmental services. More than 34,000 aspiring entrepreneurs have applied for Coca-Cola MENA Scholarship Program over the five years the initiative has run.

Within just 48 hours of the launch of the application portal, 8,500 young people had registered, and 600 ideas had already been submitted. The website asks users to either submit a business idea or vote for the idea they believe is the best. This voting aspect creates a public forum for the people of the participating countries to take ownership and vote for what would truly have the greatest impact in their countries. The top 25 ideas generating the most votes along with another 75 to 100 hand-selected ideas based on strength determined by the company’s program team will be awarded the opportunity to complete a more formal application. These 800 or so applications are then reviewed by the local participating U.S. Embassies and Consulates to award up to 100 scholarships.

Coca-Cola MENA Scholars at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington D.C.

“The MENA region has a young and fast-growing population, and empowering the region’s youth will be essential to ensuring long-term economic and social prosperity, Zoran Vucinic, president, Coca-Cola Middle East & North Africa. "The Coca-Cola Company has a strong commitment to the communities in which we operate, and we look forward to welcoming the latest group of young entrepreneurs and their ambitions to 'Make Tomorrow Better'.”

Over the months leading up to, during and directly following the program, Coca-Cola Journey will share stories and experiences from program alumni and this year’s scholars to provide an inside look at the MENA Scholarship Program, a life-changing initiative providing opportunities for students from territories where opportunities are limited.

Visit https://scholarship.coca-cola.com for more details.