From Cameroon to Westover: Airman takes next steps toward entrepreneurship

  • Published
  • By Capt. Meghan Smith
  • 439th Airlift Wing

Jean Marc Tchazou left Cameroon in 2007. He said the government of his homeland was oppressive, and he knew that his only chance at success meant moving to the United States.  

Now a senior airman in the Air Force Reserve, Tchazou’s journey to citizenship was highlighted in a 2013 Patriot Magazine article. He said by acquiring his U.S. citizenship, he left behind in Cameroon a system strafed by corruption.


“Opportunity is the main reason I came to the United States,” Tchazou said. “In the U.S., if you work you will see the results of it.”


Tchazou said he came to the U.S. ready to work hard at becoming an entrepreneur. But first he had to overcome the fact that he spoke no English. He learned the language through community college courses and language software programs, trading in his childhood dream of becoming a doctor, like his father, for new dreams: an advanced degree, U.S. citizenship, becoming an Airman, and finding his way as an entrepreneur.


After arriving in the U.S. with a bachelor’s degree in finance from Cameroon’s University of Douala, Tchazou completed his master’s degree in accounting at Fitchburg State University in Massachusetts. Tchazou also frequently takes individual college courses to learn new skills, recently adding computer science and coding courses to his ever-increasing roster.  It was during one of his computer courses that Tchazou got the idea for his latest endeavor: marrying technology with healthcare.


“My goal is to bring healthcare to people through their phone.” Tchazou had a military friend who was battling depression after multiple deployments but refused to seek treatment because of the stigma associated with a PTSD diagnosis.  After many months, Tchazou was finally able to convince his friend to seek treatment. “I am developing the app e911md with a medical clinic in Washington, D.C., to help people connect with a doctor, but remain anonymous.”  


Having enough doctors participate in the program will be key to its success. Tchazou is initiating a marketing campaign to attract additional healthcare professionals who will be available to app users.  Another option to expand services is to license the app to individual clinics. 


While the app can help any prospective patient, Tchazou said, “Mental health and drug addiction is our main focus.” The app is in beta testing now, but when it is fully functional Tchazou said it will connect patients with doctors for remote consultation, counseling, to receive medical records for review by medical staff, or to refer a patient to a local provider if necessary.


Tchazou said the inspiration for e911md came from a paternal source as well as a practical one.


“My father used to travel in Africa and Asia practicing medicine, and one of the ways my father consulted with his patients was by telephone,” said Tchazou, whose father was a generalist physician and died in 2014. “I knew I wanted to do something that mixed medicine with technology, and after visiting the hospital with a sick friend and waiting for hours just to spend a few minutes with a doctor, the idea came to me.”


Tchazou joined the Westover community over four years ago, and he said he has no plans of leaving anytime soon — even if his business takes off.


“Westover is like family to me,” he said. “I’d like to continue to grow here as an Airman, and as an entrepreneur.”