The Berytech team organized the first Berytech Alumni Meetup (BAM) with startups that have received support through ACT Smart (Agri-Food & CleanTech) Innovation Hub, an out-of-the-box approach by Berytech to strengthen business advancement, economic growth and job creation in the Agri-food and Cleantech sectors in Lebanon.
The aim of the event and future BAMs is to build a strong and vibrant network of entrepreneurs in Lebanon focusing on critical sectors such as technology and agrifood. Berytech is working to grow and build an all-inclusive alumni meetup to bridge the Lebanese entrepreneurial ecosystem, having incorporated more than 300 startups and supported more than 4000 entrepreneurs throughout the past 20 years.
“We are committed to helping Lebanese startups and SMEs, whether they were our alumni or not. Berytech continues to provide them with new programs and access to support and financing. We also collect and update our data to be able to contact our alumni based on opportunities suitable for their scope of work, and we are currently working on organizing networking events in the upcoming year,” explains Youssef Yammine, Liaison Senior Coordinator at Berytech.
How to secure your business a grant
The team of Berytech organized a series of meetings with the startups to identify their business need, followed by a workshop on ‘How to Secure a Grant’.
“The workshop aimed to guide the startups throughout the phases of securing a grant for their businesses and discussed the current open calls available in programs inside and outside Berytech, with a heads up on the application process, selection process, and post-award expectations,” details Suha Hallab, Business Development Advisor at Berytech for WE4F program.
The Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL) team at Berytech also intervened in explaining the importance of the data collection for every business to ensure transparency and dealing with resources, and the main pillar of the relationship between the donors and the beneficiaries.
Mirna Chammas, MEL officer at Berytech elaborates that “the relationship between the donor and the beneficiary is a long-term bilateral one. After receiving a grant, donors ask for a solid commitment from the beneficiaries in terms of reporting data.”
Chammas also discussed the importance of this data collection and the reason for its collection: “We use the data to promote greater transparency in the use of resources. We should be keen on documenting our financials, HR, and procedures because it will guarantee the donor’s trust and confidence. It is also used to track the progress of the startup in terms of meeting KPIs and measuring its direct impact on the community and the economy in the bigger picture”.
Panel Discussion on Berytech Programs
Following the workshop, a panel discussion took part with the participation of three guest speakers, Nicolas Farhat, Deputy Program Manager of Water and Energy for Food (WE4F) MENA, Chadi Abou Nohra, Program Manager of Food System Challenge (FSC), and Maurice Mouawad, Fund Consultant.
The discussion focused on the selection criteria of every program, and the main pillars for the eligibility and approval for a grant for innovations that address the challenges of WEF nexus and/or working in the agrifood value chain. The guest speakers addressed the very rigid intangible criteria which focus mainly on food security.
Farhat stated: “The WE4F program is challenging within its application process because it is looking for niche organizations that can increase or optimize food supply, save water and energy alongside the process, reach vulnerable communities including the base of the pyramid – the poorest of the poor, and ensure financial stability beyond the program.”
In his turn, Abou Nohra explained that the “eligibility criteria of the Food System Challenge are simple. We are looking for small and medium enterprises with 10 registered employees working in the agrifood value chain. For the intangible criteria, we focus on the aspect of the contribution to the country’s food security. The program’s objective is to make the food system in Lebanon more resilient”.
Programs and Upcoming Events
After the panel discussion, the startups attending the first BAM were introduced to available programs and competitions in the ecosystem, Berytech team presented ongoing programs open to applications within Berytech or within its community partners.
Soha Nasser, Agrifood Specialist at Berytech, introduced the Agrination Startup Cup targeting innovation in the agrifood sector, implemented by Industry Disruptors and FAO with Berytech as an incubator and implementing partner in Lebanon.
“The program focuses on the NENA countries and is working to make the agrifood system more sustainable, healthy, and equitable. The Agrination Startup Cup aims to support youth-led early-stage startups in the field of agrifood and rural development,” stated Nasser.
The event was concluded with a Q&A session followed by a networking session to allow the startups get to meet and connect.
“The hardest thing for us as a social enterprise is to match the timely need for money with the long demanding time for application for grants, so hopefully we will be able to secure some sources of funding to sustain our growth phase before we will be able to cover our growth with the revenues that we will generate” stated Guglielmo Mazzà co-founder of Refuse.
Berytech is keen on growing its network and increasing the business networking opportunities for entrepreneurs in its community. Entrepreneurs need to have added-value resources behind them to support the growth of their business. These resources can fill the gaps in their expertise and open them up to opportunities they may not have otherwise had access to, such as investment, contacts, expertise, and grants.
Berytech is working on generating strong and valuable relationships within the Lebanese entrepreneurial ecosystem, where startups and SMEs can share and gain valuable insights from each other, positively enabling their business journey.