Despite the difficult circumstances due to the economic and financial crisis that Lebanon is going through, aggravated by the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2020 edition of the “Femme Francophone Entrepreneure” competition (FFE) is already enjoying great success with a total of 90 applications received.
Launched in 2012, the competition had to adapt this year to the exceptional context of the health crisis and the resulting confinement measures, by launching it online. Of the 90 applications received, 37 were selected in this first phase, instead of the usual 30, divided into three categories: technological innovation, social entrepreneurship and research. New in this edition, this last category aims to help women entrepreneurs to “transform their research project into a successful business” and thereby translate ideas, often confined to laboratories, into marketable products.
The projects submitted were evaluated according to criteria of innovation, market research, viability and complementarity of the skills of the team. Among the applications received this year, 40 relate to social entrepreneurship, 27 to technological innovation and seven to research. Sixteen projects could not be validated due to their long-term location in Africa, the competition emphasizing the commitment of competitors in Lebanon.
Francophone women at the helm
Organized by the Agence universitaire de la francophonie (AUF) in the Middle East and Berytech, theecosystem of support for Lebanese startups, “Femme Francophone Entrepreneure” has valued entrepreneurship in Lebanon for 9 years and offers a grant of 20,000 euros ($ 21,660) to be shared this year between the three winners in each category. This sum will cover the incubation costs of each winner for a period of six months at Berytech, which will thus support the selected startups until the market launch stage.
Media partners since 2016, L’Orient-Le Jour and Le Commerce du Levant participate in this competition “to support female entrepreneurship, but also encourage young people to stay in Lebanon by allowing them to develop their ideas and participate in the economy of the country ,” explains the marketing director of the French-language daily and monthly economic magazine, Hanaa Gemayel Jabbour. The fact that this year thirty more applications were received compared to last year, demonstrates the attractiveness of this competition celebrating the commitment of French-speaking women to innovation and entrepreneurship.
Innovation stays the course
The economic crisis sweeping the country since last August did not discourage the spirit of resilience of the Lebanese, who maintain their desire to invest in the country and participate, among other things, in its Knowledge Economy.
Last year, Rayanne Beyano (Mushtic) and Rosabelle Chedid (C Green) were crowned “Femmes Francophones Entrepreneures.” Both concerned with the environment, the first launched a biodegradable substitute for polystyrene and the second, a treatment system for sewage sludge. The development of innovation has regularly been put on the table as one of the possible alternatives to transform the Lebanese economy into a more productive model. The McKinsey report, commissioned by Lebanon in early 2018 and published a year later, made it a major priority with great potential for the country.
Three years ago, it was Labneh & Facts, a media and communication agency created for Lebanese youth with the aim of helping new generations to make things happen in the country that won the competition. The FFE prize then allowed Marie-José Daoud and Soraya Hamdan to embark on a marketing campaign and to finance their first major investigation, giving them credibility in the community. “It was not only the prize itself that allowed us to bring our project to life on a larger scale, it was also the whole selection and training process preceding the final that gave us confidence and validated, first of all in our own eyes, the interest and the potential of our project,” explains Marie-José Daoud. Today, Labneh & Facts stands firm and its co-founder is not surprised by the number of applications received this year. “It is in times of crisis that the greatest number of ideas emerge. The Lebanese have nothing to lose and know that they must seize all the opportunities that arise, like this competition,” she said.
The next stages of the competition will take place as follows:
- Online training: week from June 22 to 29
- Business Plan / Pitch deck / Video submission: July 15
- Selection of the 9 finalists (3 candidates per category): July 22
- Pitch training and preparation: last week of July
- Final: August 26
All additional information can be obtained from firstname.lastname@example.org
Read more about the competition here.
Source: L’Orient-Le Jour article.