July 11, 2017
Member In the Spotlight July 2017: Dr. Anthony Asher
At LebNet, we strive to be a platform to support and nurture entrepreneurship across the diaspora as well as in Lebanon. For this reason, we are especially pleased to feature Tony Asher as a LebNet member who reflects this mission. Tony is a multi-faceted individual, public figure, and philanthropist who has enjoyed a long, successful career in Cleveland, Ohio. He is currently a Board of Trustees Member at USEK (Holy Spirit University Kaslik) and recently founded the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at USEK in Lebanon.
Tony set up the ACIE Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Lebanon as a center to foster innovation and promote entrepreneurship for the youth in Lebanon. Various educational organizations such as the AUB’s Darwaza Center and their new Innovation track in the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture, the Beirut Arab University Center for Entrepreneurship, are also joining the growing trend of supporting Innovation and promoting Entrepreneurship in universities across Lebanon.
Dr. Asher is an inspiration in his contribution towards advancing innovation in Lebanon and giving back. We were excited to get to know him better, understand his vision, and learn more about the Center for Innovation at USEK.
Tell us more about your background and how setting up the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at USEK came about.
I have been in business for a long time and was a student of the trial and error college. Over the years, I learned about various centers for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in various American universities and their roots at Stanford and in Silicon Valley. Therefore, I thought that such a center at USEK was important for Lebanese youth and USEK. After several discussions with Father Hady and the new president, Father Georges Hobeika, the center was launched. I am very excited the university has taken the idea of Innovation and Entrepreneurship and incorporated it in its curriculum across disciplines at USEK.
What are your goals and what do you hope to accomplish at the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at USEK?
My goals are 1) Create startup companies that will eventually become viable companies to create jobs in Lebanon 2) To foster Innovation and Entrepreneurship across faculties and create synergies between them. 3) To support USEK entrepreneurs to create new ventures or expand their existing business. 4) To nurture the culture of risk-taking and creativity among students.
Why are innovation and entrepreneurship in Lebanon important social causes for you, personally?
It is my belief that Lebanon can become an economic engine in the Middle East. Corporate institutions, industry experts, and young entrepreneurs need to work together to attain the objective of becoming a regional hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. In turn, job creation will help in mobilizing the economy.
In your opinion, what is the current state of entrepreneurship in Lebanon?
It is in its infancy and still growing. It needs much more direction and infrastructure, hence the Center. We hope it can be the go-to place for guidance and resources. Most innovation is focused on technology; we count on LebNet to be very influential in this area.
What do you think are the key areas of improvement in establishing and developing world class entrepreneurs in Lebanon?
Continuous Electricity, reliable Internet, and support from key influencers in government.
How do you see LebNet’s role in mobilizing the Diaspora for support?
With the support of LebNet through strategic coaching and mentorship, we can foster innovation and fuel the economic engine for development. We need key industry experts and influencers across the diaspora to recognize the importance of giving back- to help the ideas of the youth become reality.
What is your advice for young, aspiring Lebanese entrepreneurs?
Just do it. Get started. Failures along the way to success are common. Follow in the steps of Ben Franklin: After 100 attempts, he learned 100 ways his idea didn’t work.
For more information on Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, visit http://www.usek.edu.lb/acie/about