Endeavor Lebanon and Lebanese International Finance Executives (LIFE) host annual Global Business Summit with top entrepreneurs and diaspora members
December 22, 2016 – Endeavor Lebanon and Lebanese International Finance Executives (LIFE) hosted their annual Global Business Summit for the third year in a row, gathering hundreds of top entrepreneurs, diaspora members and prominent investors at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beirut. The summit focused on discussing the latest challenges, opportunities and strategies of growing startups and scale ups from Lebanon globally.
The Global Business Summit welcomed H.E. Prime Minister of Lebanon Mr. Saad Hariri, who took part in a Town Hall discussion, tapping into the economic and business issues that Lebanon is facing, the government plans for reforms to boost growth and empower entrepreneurs and highlighting the role that the business diaspora can play in supporting those reforms and the Lebanese economy. Commenting on the matter, H.E. Prime Minister Hariri stated, “We are at a stage now, where the public and private sectors must come together and unify their efforts to contribute towards economic prosperity in Lebanon. We are very keen to support the local entrepreneurial community as their impact on the economy has been evident in recent years, stimulating job creation and putting Lebanon on the global map, via exceptional projects.”
H.E. Mr. Riad Salame, Governor of the Central Bank of Lebanon, delivered a keynote address, sharing plans for growth in the entrepreneurial sector, “We are looking forward to further develop our cooperation with entrepreneurs in our country. The CMA is preparing for the electronic platform, which has done a big progress, and hopefully we will be able to introduce that platform during the 2nd quarter of 2017. This platform will enable a transparent trading, accessible from all over the world, on Lebanese papers, be it bonds, certificate of deposits or equities.
Companies, startups and funds may be listed on this platform that would be an exit for those who have worked and invested in that sector. This year, we have increased the percentage that banks are allowed to invest in such sector to 4% of their own funds, with over USD 400 million invested to date. This figure can increase, at the present pace, by another USD 200 million. In case the demand is there and the sector is progressing, we will raise this percentage to 5%,” he added.
Tarek Sadi, Endeavor Lebanon’s Managing Director, highlighted the importance of the diaspora’s support in the next stage of growth of Lebanese tech companies. Putting this into perspective, he added “Today, two companies that did not exist five years ago, are worth over 100 million USD, which is a massive milestone. These companies, with scale and momentum, are leading the change and are at a critical stage of putting Lebanon on the global technology map.”
Adel Afiouni, LIFE Board member, shed light on the role that LIFE plays in creating a shared platform that transcends borders and affiliations, encouraging all Lebanese around the world to support each.
“Lebanon has always thrived on its private sector, on private initiatives and on private enterprise and the Lebanese business diaspora is a major engine in this effort. The Global Business Summit organised by LIFE and ENDEAVOR Lebanon, now in its third edition, is precisely an opportunity for the business diaspora and for local entrepreneurs to build bridges, to partner and to create economic growth.”
Edgar Masri, former President and CEO of networking vendor 3Com Corporation (acquired by Hewlett-Packard in 2010), and Board member of Silicon-Valley-based Lebnet, a prominent network of Lebanese technology executives in North America, delivered a keynote address. Alexander Asseily, a serial Lebanese entrepreneur who is most notably known for cofounding consumer tech and wearable devices company Jawbone, delivered another keynote address.
Ten of the most promising Lebanese startups were chosen to pitch their business ideas to a jury panel of executives that included Firas Abi-Nassif, Cofounder of Zürich-based investment firm Teleios Capital Partners, Yasmina Brihi, Director of Marketing at Google EMEA, and Rami Rahal, General Partner at New-York-based Venture Capital fund Blue Cloud Ventures.
A Fireside Chat session brought together Asseily and Lebanese entrepreneur Hind Hobeika, Founder of Instabeat, the first all-in-one swimming heart rate monitor with real-time feedback. Asseily stressed the importance of the Lebanese diaspora’s support to Lebanese entrepreneurs and shared his experience supporting and advising Hobeika, both being entrepreneurs in a similar field of expertise.
The sessions concluded with a panel discussion that brought together Lebanese entrepreneurs who scaled abroad to share their successful journeys with the audience. The speakers, Delphine Eddé (Diwanee), Christophe de la Celle (HedgeGuard Financial Software), Elie Habib (Anghami), Christine Sfeir (Semsom) and Eddy Touma (Klangoo), emphasized the advantages of being in Lebanon as well as the challenges of scaling, such as accessing finance, sourcing talent, accessing new markets, and discussed the ways they were able to overcome these obstacles.
The Global Business Summit reinforces Endeavor Lebanon’s and LIFE’s goal of bringing together Lebanese entrepreneurs and investors, and connecting the local business community with Lebanese expats, in an effort to enhance business opportunities for Lebanese people across the globe. The combined widespread network, comprised of Endeavor’s presence in 25 countries and LIFE’s 10 international chapters, links Lebanon to every corner of the world. The Summit was sponsored by Bank Audi, Banque Libano-Française, and MedSecurities.