INJAZ Lebanon is a non-profit organization that aims to educate and prepare Lebanon’s youth to become successful entrepreneurs and leaders of their communities. INJAZ actively engages the business community, expert trainers, and professional volunteers to share their experiences and deliver hands-on business educational programs that focus on Entrepreneurship, Work Readiness, and Financial Literacy.
INJAZ is one of the five business support organizations that Berytech has partnered with for the Partner Growth program. With each one located in a different Lebanese region, Berytech aims to empower them to catalyze entrepreneurship across the Lebanese ecosystem. Learn more about INJAZ in this interview.
Q: What are the core values that guide your organization’s actions and decisions?
A: The core values that steer our organization’s actions and decisions include a profound belief in the limitless potential of young individuals. We are firmly committed to bridging knowledge and experience with unwavering enthusiasm, ensuring our programs are culturally relevant and engaging in the real world. We place a strong faith in the transformative power of partnerships and collaborations, recognizing that collective efforts yield greater impact. Additionally, we hold a steadfast commitment to entrepreneurship as the gateway to achieving economic prosperity and lasting success. These values collectively shape and guide our organization’s endeavors.
Q: How long has your organization been operational, and how was it founded?
A: The journey began in 2001 when a dedicated group of business visionaries and change enthusiasts united with a common goal: to pioneer the first entrepreneurship program in a school. What initially started as a modest pilot project later evolved into an established organization with the formation of the inaugural Advisory Board. Fueled by an unwavering passion, they embarked on their new mission, commencing with only two schools and 200 students, thereby setting the groundwork for the birth of INJAZ Lebanon.
Q: What kind of programs are you running, and who benefits from them?
A: INJAZ Lebanon is currently running entrepreneurship and work-readiness programs to equip youth aged between 16 and 30 years old with the skills they need to find jobs, succeed in their career, or start their businesses.
Q: What sets your organization apart from other organizations in your industry?
A: What sets INJAZ Lebanon apart within our industry is our dedication to youth-centered education. We prioritize creating learning experiences that are not just informative but also enjoyable, engaging, and interactive. This uniqueness distinguishes us as an organization that genuinely connects with and respects young minds as equals. Moreover, INJAZ Lebanon’s pioneering status as the first business education NGO in Lebanon, established in 2001, further underscores our position. Over the years, we have consistently bridged the gap between the classroom and the business world by enlisting corporate sector volunteers to deliver our programs in schools. This approach develops an entrepreneurial mindset among students, starting as early as grades 7 through 12, providing them with immersive, project-based learning experiences. While INJAZ Lebanon now extends its reach to older youth, including university students and beyond, our commitment to a youth-centric approach remains strong, always striving to engage and inspire them in every learning opportunity.
Q: Can you share some of the key milestones or achievements your organization has reached over the years?
A: Over the years, INJAZ Lebanon has achieved significant milestones. We’ve empowered thousands of young people with entrepreneurship, financial literacy, and work readiness skills. However, 2020 marked a pivotal milestone in our journey. The multiple crises hitting Lebanon, including COVID and the financial crisis, drastically reduced available funding for our programs, especially in schools. The pool of corporate volunteers, a crucial part of INJAZ programs, almost disappeared as job losses and cost-cutting measures hit companies.
With the whole model at risk, we took swift and strict financial measures and reorganized our operations into a more agile model, transitioning from physical offices and costly program materials to digital solutions which allowed us to continue our programs with minimal interruption, earning the trust of existing and new partners who recognized our dependability in program implementation despite the changing landscape.
As a result, we gained a reputation as trusted implementation partners, attracting more grants and projects from international partners and donors and growing our programs from 6 in 2018 to 18 in 2023. This adaptability and resilience have been key milestones in our journey, demonstrating our commitment to delivering youth-centric education even in the face of adversity.
Q: What has been the impact of the partnership with Berytech on your organization so far, and how do you see this impacting your entrepreneurs?
A: Our partnership with Berytech not only aligns with our core values of youth-centricity but also validates our role as the pipeline for young entrepreneurs in the ecosystem. Specifically, our collaboration with IdeaLab, focusing on Agrifoodtech and Cleantech, enriches program opportunities and learning experiences for INJAZ youth, complementing our focus on Green Entrepreneurship and Youth in Agriculture.
This partnership exemplifies how transitions in the ecosystem can occur seamlessly, accommodating entrepreneurs at different stages and offering invaluable resources and mentorship to aspiring entrepreneurs. Most importantly, this partnership, which covers North Lebanon, allows us to reach outliers – youth in areas that may have been previously inaccessible due to geographical distances and logistical issues. We believe it will nurture a new generation of successful entrepreneurs, significantly impacting Lebanon’s entrepreneurial landscape.
Q: Can you share a major challenge your organization faced and how you were able to overcome it?
A: One major challenge that INJAZ Lebanon confronted was the unprecedented drop in funding from the private sector and board members in 2020 and 2021. These challenging times were compounded by the closure of schools due to COVID, which led to a decline in interest in our programs among educational institutions facing their crises. Adding to the complexity, we completely lost our pool of volunteers from the corporate sector, a vital resource for our programs. Furthermore, we used to rely heavily on schools and universities for our outreach, but all of this was disrupted due to the crises these institutions were grappling with.
To face these challenges head-on, we undertook a significant transformation. We adopted a lean and streamlined organizational structure, digitized our programs to ensure continuity and leveraged social media and effective marketing strategies to reach students directly. Most importantly, we positioned ourselves as dependable project implementation partners, even in the face of adversity. This strategic shift not only allowed us to weather the storms but also attracted international partners and new types of donors who recognized our commitment to delivering youth-centric education under any circumstances. This resilience has become a hallmark of our organization’s approach to challenges, always seeking innovative solutions to continue making a meaningful impact on young minds.
Q: What is your organization’s growth plan for the next 5 years?
A: Our growth in the past five years has been significant, particularly among university-age youth, thanks to various funded projects focusing on entrepreneurship and employability programs. However, we recognize that our core work in schools, which has always set us apart, has faced challenges due to reduced interest from donors and sponsors for school-based entrepreneurship programs.
In response, our growth plan for the next five years is twofold. First, we aim to expand our reach to even more youth across Lebanon through strategic partnerships and collaborations. Second, we are dedicated to re-establishing INJAZ programs in schools, especially public ones, using digital platforms and forming long-term collaborations with organizations and institutions involved in schools. Our goal is to have a presence in at least 100 schools annually while maintaining cost efficiency. We’re committed to developing innovative programs that resonate with young minds, forging partnerships to maximize our impact, and further solidifying our position as a beacon of youth empowerment in the region. This holistic approach ensures that we continue to inspire and equip youth with vital skills regardless of the challenges we may encounter in the educational landscape.
About Partner Growth
Berytech has created the Partner Growth Program under the ACT Smart Innovation Hub Initiative to enable five Support Organizations in different Lebanese regions, for three consecutive years, to source entrepreneurs with innovative solutions in the agrifood and clean technology sectors, assist them in ideating and validating their solutions through the IdeaLab Program, and initiate them to apply and join the Agrytech or Clyntech Accelerators and grow their businesses.