For the occasion of the visit of H.E. Ms. Michaëlle Jean, Secretary General of the Francophonie to Lebanon, the Middle East Office of the AUF, Berytech, L’Orient-Le-Jour and Le Commerce Du Levant organised on Wednesday 28 September at the Campus of Innovation and Sports – USJ a panel discussion entitled “Woman entrepreneur, Innovative Woman,” which was followed by the presentation of “Femme Francophone Entrepreneur 2016” Award.
“This competition highlights the successful and pioneering work and role of the francophone Lebanese woman in the field of entrepreneurship for socio-economic development and social transformation. This is not a marginal or incidental role but a full contribution to cultural development, democracy and peace,” said the rector of USJ, Father Salim Daccache, in his opening remarks.
“This event devotes our collective commitment to the promotion of entrepreneurship and innovation in all its forms, notably driven by the creative youth of this country. It also celebrates the involvement of women in the challenges of innovation, creation and entrepreneurship, the commitment of Francophone women and beyond that of the Lebanese Francophone women,”said the regional director of the AUF, Mr. Hervé Sabourin.
“Our ambition is to turn this huge potential market, this vast network of expertise, this irreplaceable diversity of experiences, development models, capacity to do, produce, create, innovate and invent that is the francophone countries, from Africa to the Americas to Asia, Europe, the Middle East and the Indian Ocean. Economically the Francophonie is a market of nearly 800 million people including portals and strategic opportunities across five continents. A vast reservoir of human resources of high quality and strong will, especially young people and women who are key driving forces,” concluded Ms. Michaëlle Jean.
The panel discussion, moderated by Michel Helou, deputy executive director of L’Orient-Le Jour, has met three young women entrepreneurs: Elsa Aoun, co-founder and CEO of “Ounousa” Ms. Taline Assi CEO of “Mosaicmarble” and Christine Sfeir, CEO of “Dunkin ‘Donuts” for the Middle East and CEO of “Semsom”. They offered poignant and enlightening testimonies about their careers and offered many tips for all those who would like to one day creating their business.
In his turn, the Minister of Economy and Commerce, Mr. Alain Hakim, recalled that “in Lebanon more than 10 000 businesses are run by women entrepreneurs in the cosmetic, aesthetic and medical industries, whence the importance of creating incentive plans in these strategic business areas to develop the role of the women entrepreneurs and encourage and attract new investment.”
Following the panel discussion, it was the turn of the four finalists of the 2016 contest “Woman Entrepreneur Francophone”, Mrs Tania Atallah Dahdah, Maria Lati, Saria Moutran Hanna and Audrey Nakad, to present, with passion and enthusiasm, their business project before the jury.
“It is my duty on this occasion to emphasise the importance and growth of women entrepreneurs in the region, especially in Lebanon. We are presenting our support to women entrepreneurs, a pioneering Francophone initiative in Lebanon and the region. We have witnessed the rapid increase of the number of women entrepreneurs because of this program, as we provided them with a supporting ecosystem for the development of their business plans,” said Chairman and CEO Berytech Mr. Maroun Chammas.
It was finally Maria Lati for her “Jasmine & Rose” project and Saria Hanna for her “Wonder Full” project, which have been designated “Francophone Women Entrepreneurs 2016”. They competed in the categories “Idea” and “Start-up”. The winners received their awards from the Secretary General of the Francophonie who praised their determination and ability to create and innovate.