The second edition of the SPARK program provided capacity building, technical support, and cash grants to support 15 selected startups and MSMEs in Lebanon to adapt to the Covid-19 pandemic and develop their projects.
SPARK is a program implemented by Berytech and funded by the Islamic Development Bank and the Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development under The Tadamon Programme,
Two tracks were implemented in the program focusing on the technology and agri-food sectors, through a set of activities to provide technical assistance and business advisory services through bootcamps, webinars, and one-on-one coaching sessions to the selected beneficiaries so they would become more productive, efficient, and resilient.
Christelle Fakhoury, founder of Escalate, and Rayan Ismail, founder of FlyFoot, were both coaches during the program and members of jury in the final pitching event. They delivered multiple accelerated intensive bootcamps on What is Entrepreneurship, Minimum Viable Product (MVP), Value Proposition, Team, Presentation skills, Raising Funds, Business Model Canvas, Prototyping, Customer development, and Customer relationship.
The program ran across four months, from November 2021 to December 2021, receiving more than 150 applications, of which 24 shortlisted entrepreneurs were selected for the final pitching event. Along with Christelle and Rayan the jury members comprised of an in-house team of experts from Berytech along with trainers and coaches.
15 winners were selected to receive their respective prizes, Pick & Ship, Recycler Donation, Sanabel, Ringlet, and Karmatech, received a cash grant of USD 1,500, while the remaining ten startups received a technical support voucher of USD 1,000.
Recycler Donation is an environmental youth movement that offers a service in which the country can dispose of their waste without it having to be landfilled anywhere.
Lamis Akouch – Sanabel
Sanabel is the next generation of kid’s platforms allowing them to learn new soft skills and boost their emotional intelligence in a fun and safe environment
Ringlet is an affordable AI learning management system that is easily accessible by teachers and students in all communities. Available in 3 languages, the Ringlet LMS will support teachers by generating performance reports for every student to help sort out learning gaps and decrease dropout rates.
Mohamad Sayegh – Karmatech
Karmatech is a company that offers a 360-degree clinical management solution for doctors.
Sendus Majani – Bloq
Bloq is a web extension that blocks cookies and ads to keep user information private. However, the user can collect points if they decide to allow cookies or ads. Collected points can be donated to a partner organization or cashed through online purchases.
Toufic Lawand – Heart Defender
Heart Defender is a wearable CPR monitoring system that provides real-time feedback on the user’s chest compression performance making sure to achieve accurate compressions according to international standards and will be by the user side at all times, the software is to be implemented on every smartwatch making it more accessible to people with an app to review the user’s progressions and history.
Hanan Bou Najm – Balsam Jabalna
Balsam Jabalna produces and distributes Umeboshi paste, pickles, and vinegar.
Suhad Hamd – Dimples
Dimples provides healthy snack portions of dehydrated fruits, veggies, and potatoes that are high in fibers, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals with no added sugar or preservatives.
Mohamad Ghalayini – KawaFungo
KawaFungo is an environmental, recycling, social startup aimed at reusing the coffee grounds (coffee waste that is thrown away by coffee brewers) to grow mushrooms.
Christelle Bou Harb – Drive Green
Drive Green is a locally designed and assembled fast modular and compact solar charging station that could be adapted to all kinds of electric vehicles.
Bassam Samara – Carpooling
Carpooling is a mobile app that helps Lebanese people and Lebanese businesses connect with other individuals who are using their vehicles, to carpool and deliver goods.
Nader Kabbara – Ouna
Ouna is a platform where you can sell, buy and recycle pre-owned electronics.
Jana Kabrit – Healevate
Healevate is a platform that helps bridge the gap between mental health and corporations. It helps employees work mindfully and reach their full productivity.
Takadam is an online platform that works on linking youth with opportunities through an advanced filtering process that facilitates the application process.
Christelle Fakhoury stated that “the SPARK program was a much-needed initiative to help entrepreneurs in the tech and the agri-tech sector overcome their challenges especially during the economic crisis that Lebanon is facing. The purpose of the program was to support them in developing their entrepreneurial skills through workshops and coaching sessions and give them the help they need in order to start or scale their business. Through this program, I met talented entrepreneurs full of passion, hope, and innovative ideas, wanting to make a difference despite everything that’s going on. The applicants not only benefited from capacity building and technical support, but they also met like-minded entrepreneurs, and they also became more confident and ready to grow their business against all odds.”
Drive Green shared their experience in their program: “It has been 6 months since we started working on our startup. We are both engineers, and so our knowledge was enough to get the prototype done. However, each time we went pitching, we felt that we needed more guidance and expertise in business related fields. The coaches we met during our one-on-one sessions in SPARK felt that weakness and gave us constructive criticism that reshaped our presentation. In addition to that, and after winning, the SPARK program team appointed us both a strategic and a financial advisor to help us fully fill these gaps. We are very grateful for that and truly believe that this will make us more appealing and will help us reach the next milestone.”
Sanabel shared their experience “When we first applied for the program, we assumed it would be similar to the typical seminars we had attended in the past, which was not the case. What we loved best was the practical advice we received after each session, as well as the schedule for developing and maturing our ideas. The mentors’ assistance was quite valuable, as they completely shaped our viewpoint and explained many topics we couldn’t figure out without their input.”
SPARK is an international non-governmental development organization active in 14 regions throughout the Middle East, North and Sub-Saharan Africa. For over 25 years, SPARK has been creating pathways for young people to rebuild their futures.
SPARK provides opportunities for youth, particularly women and refugees, to study, work and grow their own businesses in fragile communities through the provision of higher (vocational) education scholarships, entrepreneurship development and SME support.
All SPARK’s programs are founded on close collaboration with local partner organisations.
This program is offered by SPARK, funded by the Islamic Development Bank and the Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development under The Tadamon Programme, implemented by Berytech.