What Does It Mean To Be A Lebanese Entrepreneur?

The word resilience has long been used to describe the spirit of the Lebanese population. However, behind the term which glorifies the mounting challenges that every individual in Lebanon faces on a daily basis, and yet remain determined to keep moving forward after tragedy strikes, are untold stories. In fact, the term resilience has been overused, and the narrative is now shifting. BDD, serving as the epicenter of the creative and digital communities in Lebanon and home to hundreds of Lebanese entrepreneurs, sought to uncover these stories.

We asked two simple questions… are there any benefits of operating from Lebanon? And what does it mean to be a Lebanese entrepreneur? All the responses confirmed one thing – being a Lebanese entrepreneur is a daily risk, but it is one worth taking.

On the benefits of operating from Lebanon… if you think there are none, think again. Yes, managing crises becomes part of the norm for entrepreneurs. But it is the exceptional local talent in the country that drives businesses forward. Not to mention, Lebanese entrepreneurs have globally sought after skills – to adapt and pivot on a daily basis, and face challenges with an innovative approach – to name just two.

“Despite all the difficulties that Lebanon faces, there are many benefits in operating a business in Lebanon or even in having staff working for you from Lebanon. The most important of which is the availability of exceptional talent with language skills and a capacity to build relationships and provide high quality customer service unlike any other country in the world. This is why Alfanar is supporting B.O.T who are focused on outsourcing digital projects to Lebanon. We strongly believe that this sector will become huge as there is no reason why companies should outsource to India or the Philippines when we have such amazing talent in Lebanon at a much better value for money.”

Michelle Mouracade, Alfanar’s Lebanon Country Director

“For me, a Lebanese entrepreneur, working in Lebanon is the toughest work in the world that one can choose. All what is taught about business planning and projections do not help for us because of circumstances out of our control that rise up fast and unexpectedly and ruins all what we have been building piece by piece. This does not happen once in a lifetime but once every while. A wider look at the world nowadays shows that countries are struggling because of COVID-19. For us, it is one of many other huge challenges: economic, political, banks, security… Each of these challenges is considerable by its own.”

Sabine El Kahi, Managing Director of The Makers Hub – Kids Genius

“Operating in Lebanon definitely helps you build resilience and an unthinkable ability to adapt and innovate in all conditions. Since we penetrated the Lebanese market, we have faced many challenges and we have learned to always find a way around them. Beyond the resilience, operating in Lebanon puts you closer to a highly skilled workforce. We are really proud of our team in Lebanon that has enabled us to shine and distinguish ourselves not only within our group but also in the market.”

Maria Nehme, Strategy Manager at OLX

On being a Lebanese entrepreneur… the dreamers. The determined bunch. The ‘crazy ones’. The crisis managers. The ones who will overcome any and every challenge, to make it.

“Working as an entrepreneur in Lebanon requires resilience and cooperation. Despite the many challenges that have faced us amidst the economic crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic, and now the Beirut blast, we have not surrendered. Instead, we have only become stronger, multiplying our efforts in order to continue moving ahead. We haven’t stopped working from Day 1, and we made collaboration with other organizations our top goal. We are very grateful to BDD for making this goal possible for us.”

Edward Bitar, Founder of LiveLove Beirut

“I would define a Lebanese entrepreneur in three ways: Creative Thinker, Persistent Dreamer and Networker. Without creativity, one cannot survive so many crises nor benefit from the multiple opportunities that these crises offer to entrepreneurs. One must not forget that an entrepreneur’s mission is to solve a problem for a future client. In addition, Lebanese Entrepreneurs (and all Lebanese citizens for that matter) are tired of being called resilient. A business owner doesn’t want to have to be resilient as they fully deserve to be operating in a stable environment with institutions that facilitate their business operations as opposed to the current environment where they are constantly trying to survive crisis after crisis. However, when you speak to entrepreneurs, beyond their resilience, the trait that stands out is their ability to keep dreaming and to keep moving forward despite all the challenges. This quality is very unique to Lebanese entrepreneurs. And lastly, Lebanese entrepreneurs who have “made it big” all demonstrate one common trait: they are amazing at creating and nurturing their networks.”

Michelle Mouracade, Alfanar’s Lebanon Country Director

 “The best thing about being a Lebanese entrepreneur and working in Lebanon is that we have so many challenges that we get the chance to contribute in improving the future of our people and country. For me, this is what defines a life worth living but it will always be full of challenges, stress and unexpected new circumstances and we always have, in the back of our mind the concern of making sure our team is doing well, working hard and keeping all our team members with us, keep the values and motivation of every member despite all what is happening around us.”

Sabine El Kahi, Managing Director of The Makers Hub – Kids Genius

From the heart of a broken Beirut, BDD would like to commend every entrepreneur, business owner, professional and individual in Lebanon, for coming together and investing their thoughts, efforts and hearts in the country, to rebuild it and rise again.

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