Finding solutions when faced with problems is part of Nida Ammar’s attitude towards life. She does not take a passive role when she is confronted with an issue. Instead she works towards a better tomorrow.
Nida is the Communication Lead of CCTRONIC, a Toledo-founded company that creates technological solutions for agricultural needs.
It’s a long way from where Nida’s story began. She was born and raised over 6,000 miles away in Jordan, an Arab country situated in the rocky desert of the northern Arabian Peninsula. She lived in a culture that highly values water, as it is not abundant. Bathing is a luxury in a society where water was limited to 23 gallons per day per person. In comparison, the U.S. Department of the Interior estimates that each American uses 80-100 gallons of water per day.
“I grew up knowing how precious water is,” Nida explained.
When she migrated to the United States three years ago, Nida was alarmed by the water crisis. In August 2014, an algal toxin in Lake Erie contaminated Toledo’s drinking water, prompting a “do not drink” advisory.
She will never forget when the toxins in the water prevented a child from getting immediate treatment for a burned hand. Her background is in linguistics. While she knew the value of water, she lacked expertise in water innovation technology necessary to fight the issues threatening our precious resource.
Hurdles do not stop Nida. When she moved to Toledo three years ago, it became home. She knew she needed to protect her home.
Without action, she knew “this lake is going to diminish.”
Nida and her husband, an electrical engineer, came to America with two children and a vision for the future, a vision of abundance. With a unique perspective on the imperative need for water conservation, they saw the problems and started brainstorming solutions.
For two years, they have worked on a solution that reduces nutrients from irrigation water before it is sent to the lake. Alongside another electrical engineer who manages sales and two software engineers, Nida and her partner Leo Idraikh have worked to build an innovative product.
“Everything was made from scratch,” Nida said.
This year, CCTRONIC shared their ideas with Erie Hack, a challenge led by the Cleveland Water Alliance that accelerates and funds technology solutions to Lake Erie’s most pressing concerns. CCTRONIC took second place, earning $25,000, in addition to winning a $1,000 jumpstart challenge.
Nida is thriving in a successful start-up business, working for a mission she full-heartedly values. Toledo has provided her the hub needed to make a difference.
“This town is bursting with resources,” Nida said.
She has been here for just three years, but she has seen the city grow and develop, just as she has. Noting that “Toledo feels like home,” Nida takes pride in her city and country.
It’s a “big, big country with way more options than back home. To start a business here, there are so many resources and lawyers and organizations,” Nida explained.
There is plenty of opportunity out there, and Nida believes it is there for everyone if you step outside.
“You have the essence. You have got it in you,” Nida stated. “Go out there and connect. Word of mouth is the strongest. Get your courage up. Someone will connect you to the right source. You need to be out there, because someone out there will know exactly where you need to go.”
Nida knows about stepping out and overcoming reservations. As a hijab-wearing woman, she could have let fears keep her inside.
“In the news, women in hijab were being feared and attacked.” But from Nida’s experience actually interacting with people, she has had mostly wonderful experiences.
She found courage in her children: a six-year-old daughter and a three-year-old son. She carries herself with the self-confidence and strength she wants to see in her children. She became the woman she wanted her daughter to become. “Children see, children do.”
It wasn’t easy. She struggled with postpartum depression after giving birth to her daughter. Faced with a difficult battle, she found motivation by looking forward.
“What if I stay in this bubble for 15 years and my daughter sees this?” Nida asked herself.
She wanted her daughter to see her mother give 100 percent effort. She wanted her daughter to see her fail and try again.
Life, especially parenting, is full of moments of failure, but Nida, again, sees a problem and searches for solutions. “If I made bad choices yesterday, I try to do better today. I think, okay, maybe I should try a new approach.”
She is unashamed of her failure, modelling the process for her children. “I want them to take on any challenge and not be afraid to fail, because everyone does. It’s normal.”
She wants both her children to be respectful, strong, and unafraid and for them to be empowered to go out and try and make a difference. However, she recognizes the importance for women to have strong role models and to continue to pave the way for future generations.
“My daughter inspires me,” Nida said. “I want her to have a strong mother figure. I want her to be independent. If I’m not independent, she can’t be independent.”
Nida knows that mentoring women helps them along their journey, lifting them from one place and helping them to another. Nida met women who have been that role for her, and she works to help women, especially her daughter.
“This world is not fair, but I can handle it, and she will be better at fighting it,” Nida stated.
Every day, Nida Ammar strives to offer her best to her family, her community, and Toledo. She fails, she struggles, and she grows, moving towards her vision to a future of abundant water and opportunities for all.