Impact Rise: scaling up social impact ventures in Lebanon

Posted on October 16, 2019

Social entrepreneurship needs a proper ecosystem to grow in Lebanon where social innovators can be mentored, financed and supported to scale up.”

Berytech launched Impact Rise – a social innovation program to put startups, experts and support partners on the road to growing sustainable and successful social ventures.

The program was launched in the presence of representatives from the US Embassy in Lebanon, the Berytech team, as well as program partners, experts, social entrepreneurs, and the media.

The Impact Rise social innovation program is designed and managed by Berytech and funded by U.S.-Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI).

Social Entrepreneurship in Lebanon

Social entrepreneurship encourages the development of innovative and sustainable solutions to unsolved social problems and challenges, driving job creation, sustainable development and revenue model and impact generation. 

Lebanese startups such as FabricAid – a second-hand clothes collector and distributor, SE Factory – a coding bootcamp, Yalla Bus – a Lebanese bus assistance platform, Easy Wall – colorful plastic cubes made out of recycled bottles, M Social Catering, Compost Baladi – waste management products and services, and Clean2O – a filter which gives anyone access to clean drinking water, have created since 2017 hundreds of jobs for underprivileged people, catered to some of Lebanon’s most pressing social and environmental issues, and provided a livelihood to hundreds of families. But it takes time to find a sustainable business model, and very often, social entrepreneurs cannot find the funds or resources to help them scale up. 

“Social entrepreneurship is essential to the Lebanese economy and plays a major role in creating and sustaining a better socio-economic environment, however it needs a proper ecosystem to grow where social innovators can be mentored, financed and supported to scale up. This is addressed and solved through Berytech’s latest program, Impact Rise – Lebanon’s pioneer social entrepreneurship scale-up program,” explains Maroun N. Chammas.

Through the program, Berytech is scaling up 15 social entrepreneurship startups from Lebanon with innovative and impactful solutions for a better community and a better environment. Berytech is providing them with exposure, business development, grants, access to markets and funding opportunities, to grow regionally and internationally.  

Berytech is also establishing and empowering a network of 30 impact experts including coaches and mentors who will be assisting the startups in their growth journey. 

“The project funding that we have generously received from MEPI is very important for the design, development and implementation of our program and will contribute not only to scaling up the startups to the growth stage, but to empowering ecosystem partners through capacity building and developing strategic linkages and partnerships,” continues Chammas.

MEPI Coordinator Elaine Jones said in her remarks that “Entrepreneurs identify a need, then find a market-driven way to fulfill that need.  That’s business.  A social entrepreneur takes this, not one step further, but two steps further:  he or she simultaneously seeks both a profit and a positive social impact, then finds a way to carry out the work in an environmentally sustainable way.  That’s essentially a ‘triple-bottom-line’.”

An all-inclusive approach

Krystel Khalil – Berytech’s Director of Programs, explains that the added value of the Impact Rise Program is its holistic approach. “We are setting up the adequate infrastructure by first training the coaches and mentors, then choosing promising social enterprises, providing them with capacity building and training, offering free incubation with an array of services, providing seed money support to develop prototypes, and finally giving them the chance to grow through connections with investors.”

Indeed, and over a period of 2 years, Berytech will ensure the growth of the social entrepreneurs and their ability to sustain themselves and operate on their own. 

Berytech has planned for capacity building workshops and trainings to empower the entrepreneurs to scale up and ensure sustainable growth of their 15 startups solving local needs. This will include customized coaching and mentoring sessions, technical assistance and field visits, group workshops and one-on-one business clinics, dedicated business development assistance, and support in investment readiness through dedicated sessions with the Berytech team of experts and access to investors’ networks through personal meetings.

Funding vouchers with up to $9500 will be granted to finance business development and marketing activities. Berytech will also offer the startups access to a coworking space desk at one of its innovation parks, where the most dynamic entrepreneurs and freelancers are based, as well as access to Berytech’s ecosystem including a community of fellow startups and entrepreneurs, access to more experts, more workshops and networking events, access to funding companies, and the media.

Impact Partners

Berytech has based the Impact Rise Program on inclusive collaboration between the major Social Entrepreneurship stakeholders across the ecosystem: The Startups, the Partners, the Coaches, and the Mentors.

Accordingly, Berytech has partnered with international experts from the IES-Social Business School – the first business school focused on Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship for the bootcamp training as well as the train the trainer program for the coaches. The 15 trained coaches will receive certifications and will be matched with the 15 social startups to support them in their growth journey.

Berytech has also partnered with IM Capital to introduce the 15 mentors to Confideo Venture Mentoring (VM) – a service offered by IM Capital to support the growth of entrepreneurs in Lebanon. The mentors will also be matched with the 15 social startups to support them in growing their impact. 

Berytech has also aligned with DOT, Arcenciel, MEPI Lebanese Alumni Association, ProAbled, Lebanese Social Enterprise Association, Makesense, Global Compact Network Lebanon, and Live Love Beirut.

Call for applications

Berytech is looking for early stage startups with a product or service validated in the market and who have not been operational longer than 2 years. The innovative product or service has to have a promising social or environmental impact, and the business and the revenue model must be sustainable with a potential for scalability.

Coaches interested in applying for the program need to have a degree in business, economics or engineering, as well as have a minimum of 3 years’ experience in supporting small businesses. As for mentors, Berytech is looking for those who are impact driven and passionate about giving back, with great advisory skills and a wide range of experience.

Applications for the Impact Rise Program are open till December 8, 2019 on this link: https://programs.berytech.org/impactrise/