In the face of the critical economic challenges that Lebanon and the region are currently facing, the spirit of women who dare to take risks, mark their paths, and embark on entrepreneurial journeys with determination is more inspiring than ever. These women are not just a ray of hope , but they express the essence of initiative and dynamism. After 11 years dedicated to supporting female entrepreneurship, AUF (Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie) and its partners have launched the 12th edition of the Femme Francophone Entrepreneure competition, recognizing and rewarding startups from Lebanon, the Middle East, and Africa.
Femme Francophone Entrepreneure Winners
The results were announced on September 28th, during a final event hosted at the AUF Francophone Employability Center . The competition was intense, with 33 initial applications narrowed down to 10 in the capacity building phase, and 7 in the semi-finals. Ultimately, only three exceptional ventures stood out, earning well-deserved recognition.
1. Metle Metlik: Empowering Women’s Health Education
At the forefront, the groundbreaking educational digital platform, “Metle Metlik,” captured the attention of the jury. Developed by two visionary female doctors, obstetrician-gynecologist Gaëlle Bou Ghannam and sexologist hypnotherapist Sandrine Atallah, Metle Metlik is not just an innovation; it’s a catalyst for change. This platform, dedicated to women’s reproductive and sexual health, emerged as the grand winner of the 2023 Francophone Women Entrepreneurs Prize. The competition, jointly organized by the Middle East branch of AUF and Berytech, in partnership with L’Orient-Le Jour, reaffirms its commitment to empowering female entrepreneurship in Lebanon. Metle Metlik’s mission is to provide comprehensive educational support on reproduction and sexuality to Arab women throughout their lives via pre-recorded online courses, webinars, and interactive chats. Its initial focus markets include Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.
2. Gaïo Cosmetics: Crafting Beauty with a Purpose
The second prize was awarded to Gaïo Cosmetics, a venture born in 2020 from the resilience and determination of pharmacist, Gaëlle el-Chaer. Handmade with love and expertise, Gaïo Cosmetics offers a curated range of personalized cosmetic products tailored for every skin type. It’s more than a cosmetics brand; it’s a commitment to natural, minimalist, environmentally friendly, cruelty-free, and budget-conscious beauty. Following her injury in the devastating explosion at the Port of Beirut on August 4th, she transformed adversity into inspiration, and Gaïo Cosmetics is her way of regaining the zest for life and sharing it with the world.
3. Vietrail: A Stained Glass of Artistic Innovation
In third place, we have Vietrail, a venture led by the talented creator Christelle Gemayel. Vietrail offers a captivating reimagination of stained glass, creating personalized souvenirs and art objects that resonate with a deep commitment to innovation and Lebanese cultural heritage. Each piece is a reflection of Christelle’s passion for art and her dedication to preserving and promoting Lebanon’s rich artistic legacy. Vietrail is not just a business; it’s a space where cultures converge, and creativity thrives.
4. Alex-stars: A translation service startup headquartered in Alexandria – Refaat El Hattab.
Established in Alexandria, Alex-stars launched its operations in 2018 initially focusing on organizing social events within French-speaking and family circles through Facebook and word-of-mouth. With a passion for growth and a desire to enhance their translation skills, the team at Alex-stars is now keen on expanding its interpretation services into the Cairo market.
Promising Solutions: The Impactful finalists of the FFE Competition
Jennifer Aouad – Ata3allam
Jennifer Aouad’s Ata3allam is a revolutionary platform that teaches the Arabic curriculum to children aged 4 to 8. Using interactive technology and playful methods, Ata3allam offers over 400 exercises, 30 educational and entertaining videos, and songs to facilitate the learning of the Arabic language for young children. Launched in 2022, Ata3allam is already making waves worldwide and is set to soon be available in schools that embrace technology in education.
Marie Nawal and Rawane Gemayel – Rowine
Marie Nawal and her daughter Rawane Gemayel’s Rowine are on a mission to revive peach farming in the Bickfaya region. Recognizing the challenges faced by farmers, Rowine transforms peaches into a liqueur, a product that can be enjoyed year-round, encouraging farmers to replant peach trees. This natural peach liqueur is crafted using traditional methods, preserving the essence of this delightful fruit.
Alaa Ghandour – Ta Mabsouta
Alaa Ghandour’s Ta Mabsouta specializes in creating educational and therapeutic materials tailored for teachers and speech therapists in the Arabic language. The primary goal is to fill the gap in educational and therapeutic resources in Arabic, promoting evidence-based practices. Ta Mabsouta bridges the gap between practical applications and research in the field of language and learning. The aim is to implement innovative and responsible solutions to enhance Arabic language teaching and support the linguistic development of both children and adults.
These women entrepreneurs serve as an inspiration and showcase the resilience, creativity, and determination of women entrepreneurs in the region. The Femme Francophone Entrepreneure competition, now in its 12th edition, continues to celebrate and support female entrepreneurship to reach new heights of success.