Posted on March 22, 2018
Berytech is hosting a series of power talks with a selection of Lebanese parliamentary candidates, bringing them together with entrepreneurs from the ecosystem.
The second power breakfast talk hosted Nicolas E. Chammas, who discussed his vision of growing the Lebanese economy through proper legislation and through reinforcing a national culture that promulgates entrepreneurship.
“I work in the most traditional sector in the economy, paradoxically, this is what has revealed to me why we are in dire need of high-tech,” states Chammas. He explains that we have yet to agree on which kind of economic system we want for the country showing that it has been clear throughout the last 100 years that the systematic immigration of the Lebanese workforce happened because of the lack of job opportunities. According to Chammas, it is continuing to happen because we do not have a long term economic vision: “We have all the requirements to sustain the high-tech economic model. We just need to take charge. There is a mentality that needs to change and there are laws that need to change, and the parliament needs to head that change.” Supporting budding entrepreneurs in technology and science is how the country can create new job opportunities while traditional industries are falling behind.
Chammas corroborates that what Berytech and the players in the ecosystem are doing is the ground zero for the renewal of Lebanon. Universities, incubators, accelerators, the Central Bank, VCs and seed funds are all playing different roles in rising with the Knowledge Economy but all these efforts need to be reinforced with proper legislation. “We have to fast track the knowledge-based economy. Artificial intelligence will percolate every corner of society and will destroy millions of jobs. We don’t want to be on the receiving end. We want to be on the front end.” Chammas confirms that the 3% of the GDP that the high-tech sector represents now needs to be increased to 12% with time. “The Silicon Valley of Lebanon can be a supra-structure not necessarily a geographical location, but the spark will be launched from Berytech.”
Nicolas E. Chammas is a financier, businessman and economist. He has led several social and economic consulting missions to various ministries, public institutions and international organizations, focusing on employment, trade, development, investments, finance, competitively and the knowledge economy. Chammas has frequent interventions on Lebanese and Arab TV stations and contributes regularly to the national press. He was the first non-American president of the MIT Alumni Association. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Engineering, a M.S. in Civil Engineering, and an MBA in international economy.
He is currently the General Secretary of the Lebanese Economic Organizations, President of the Beirut Traders Association, Member of the Board of Trustees – Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Vice Chairman of Cedrus Bank, and the Managing Partner of Elie D. Chammas & Co. He is married with two daughters and a son.
He is the author of several research and publications including “The knowledge-based economy and its impact on the Lebanese society and economy”; “The socio-economic future of Lebanon in questions”; “Construction industry and its role in the Lebanese economy”; “The political and economic context in Lebanon.”