Fostering Digital Entrepreneurship in Lebanon: Insights by Maroun Chammas

Posted on July 31, 2018

No one can stop progress, and I am confident that Lebanon will regain its place on the global ICT map.”

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Just as the famous proverb says that it ‘takes a village to raise a child’, it also takes a shared vision and a collective effort to build a nation. 

Unite our efforts to develop the Lebanese economy

We need to unite our efforts to develop the Lebanese economy and increase employments rates, all of which will lead to the country’s stability and prosperity. This requires fostering digital entrepreneurship, creating an enabling environment for innovation and driving entrepreneurship through catalyzing and supporting startups in the information, communication and technology (ICT) sector.

Berytech, founded by Saint Joseph University in 2002, has been putting effort in that direction for the last 16 years hosting more than 300 companies, helping more than 3,000 entrepreneurs, creating more than 1,600 jobs,  granting more than USD $600,000 to startups, and investing over USD $70 million in Lebanese technology companies. Berytech’s efforts have a track record of success, and thanks to our corporate governance that respects international standards, Europeans and Americans trust us with their funds and investments.

I have witnessed first-hand the amazing innovations and technologies developed by young Lebanese talents, which have reached international standards. The future today is in ICT, and we need to be able to increase the support of innovative Lebanese companies and create the right environment for innovation.

 

Decentralize and Unite

While it is natural that Beirut is the  business capital of the country, there are many under-served regions in Lebanon that require our attention. In order to contribute to economic development in Keserwan, Jbeil and the North, Berytech and the Michel Issa Foundation are building an innovation park in Amchit, which will be ready by the end of next year. This will allow us to support Lebanese entrepreneurs in different geographical areas.

Fortunately, there are many examples of efforts to promote innovation, technology and entrepreneurship in Lebanon. Yet, our efforts must be united under a comprehensive vision that combines the public and private sectors and plays a pivotal role in the restructuring of the Lebanese economy.

 

What are we waiting for to unite all our efforts?

The ten prominent investment funds in Lebanon decided not wait. They recently founded the Lebanese Venture Capital and Private Equity Association, which, as the sector’s representative and policy catalyst, will work to address the issues facing the sector, including setting up frameworks for joint investments and settling disputes, as well as seeking to adopt international best practices. The association will also drive entrepreneurship in Lebanon through ICT start-ups, in line with the Central Bank of Lebanon’s Circular 331 to urge Lebanese university graduates not to leave the country to seek jobs.

 

Rise up and unite to achieve it

Some say we are going through difficult times and that our internal policy will always divide us. I tell them with confidence that Lebanon’s creativity and innovation will unite us in a common goal to see them succeed locally, regionally and globally. No one can stop progress, and I am confident that Lebanon will regain its place on the global ICT map. Our new motto is: “Designed in Lebanon, manufactured in China, sold around the world.”

In conclusion, there is a bright future we can form for the country. It is our duty as Lebanese to rise up and unite to achieve it.

 

This article was originally published in An Nahar special edition in Arabic.

 

Maroun-N-Chammas-(2)About the Writer – Maroun N. Chammas
Whilst representing the third generation of the Chammas family to share responsibilities at the helm of MEDCO and the Group, through his role in Berytech, Maroun Chammas also plays a key role in shaping the ecosystem that nurtures and supports Lebanese innovation and entrepreneurship. Having raised millions in equity capital for Lebanese startups, he wants to see more young people step up to the challenge and utilise openness, creativity, and entrepreneurship, which he believes are also characteristic of the country. “The environment, the money, the infrastructure, are all there,” he says. “No more excuses.”