Posted on October 5, 2017
Berytech offers 6 months incubation to the FFE2017 competition winners
“The unconditional support for women’s entrepreneurship is a duty if we are to aim for a better economy. Berytech and its partners have committed to it, and invite you to do the same,” this was the sincere call for action made by Berytech CEO Maroun Chammas during the final of the Femme Francophone Entrepreneure competition 2017, held under the patronage of the President of the Council of Ministers, H.E. Mr. Saad Hariri last night.
Berytech is offering 6 months incubation as a prize to Labneh & Facts – an online platform for the production and publication of content through professional journalists, and YallaBus – mobile application to optimize bus services in Lebanon, winners of the 2017 edition of the Femme Francophone Entrepreneure – FFE competition, co-organized with the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF) and in partnership with L’Orient-Le Jour and Le Commerce du Levant. The incubation will give the two winning teams access to Berytech’s co-working space, to trainings and workshops as well as networking opportunities.
The winners are also each receiving a 10,000 euro grant from AUF as well as media coverage from L’Orient–Le Jour and Le Commerce du Levant.
“The young women who presented their projects during the final are creative, innovative and inspiring … and as Charles-Maurice De Talleyrand-Perigord so aptly put it: ‘Where so many men have failed, a woman can succeed’,” commented Chammas during the opening ceremony in the presence of the Minister of State for Women’s Rights, H.E. Mr. Jean Oghassabian, and Ambassador to Canada in Lebanon H.E. Mrs. Emmanuelle Lamoureux, representatives of the competition’s partners and the Saint Joseph University of Beirut, as well as the media and friends and family of the contestants.
In a heartfelt impromptu comment, Minister Oghassabian said “even if the competition had been open to both men and women, these five women would still have been finalists!”
Now in its 6th edition, the FFE competition saw 78 applications received this year, 20 more than in the previous edition, demonstrating the appeal of this unique French-language competition in Lebanon. 25 projects were shortlisted and over 50 hours of one-on-one trainings and workshops were given to the candidates; “Design Thinking” given by Loubna Ibrahim from IdeatoLife, “Customer Development” given by Amin Beitamouni from Heed, “Pitching and Storytelling” given by Rabih El Khodr, “Business Plan Development” given by Nicole Hammouche, and “Business Model Canvas” and “Testing Techniques” given by Joanna Abi Abdallah from Berytech.
The hard work paid off, as the finalists all shared the same enthusiasm on what they had learned through their journey, agreeing that they now had more self-confidence, a clearly defined solution to a problem their startups were aiming to solve, and a more developed business plan which they could now confidently share with potential investors.
Ten candidates were selected to pitch in front of the competition’s partners and five candidates were shortlisted to compete in the final. Alexandra Valerik defended Legato – an online platform allowing musicians to find work opportunities; Ingrid Salloum pitched for ImagineMe – an online platform allowing parents to create personalized children’s stories through augmented reality; Stéphanie Sakr spoke about Pourpre – a concept store to create personalized lipsticks; and this year’s winners: Soraya Hamdan and Marie-Jose Daoud defended Labne & Facts, and Therese Keyrouz, YallaBus.
They each had 5 minutes to pitch before the jury – Mrs. Corine Kiame from IM Capital, Jihad Bitar from Smart ESA, and Bassel Aoun from Kafalat, and the public.
The keynote talk was given by Asma Andraos, a Lebanese entrepreneur and activist, who shared her experience as a woman entrepreneur and provided advice for a successful business start-ups. “Do not underestimate what life in Lebanon has taught you: think quickly, find alternatives, adapt, improvise!”
Commenting on the competition, Mr. Hervé Sabourin, Regional Director of AUF in the Middle East said, “This event celebrates the liveliness and modernity of our Francophone space, its exemplary capacity to take into account all the challenges of our modern world and in particular those that relate to the economic development of societies.”
As for Michel Helou, Executive Director of L’Orient-Le Jour, he added, “We are proud to be a partner in this competition, to commit ourselves to supporting private initiative and to be able to tell the story of those women and men who make up the Lebanon of tomorrow.”
The Reverend Father Salim Daccache, Rector of USJ had this to add, “These women and they’re projects have set a precedent and will be used as a model to follow in the future.”
Chammas concluded, “Finally, I congratulate the winners, wishing them success and luck and I encourage them to truly benefit from the support offered by Berytech during their incubation in our ecosystem.”