Notre Dame University



LERC participates in the Global Lebanese Business Leaders Conference, organized by the Young Entrepreneurs Program BADER at the Phoenicia Hotel

5 August 2008
Reported by Basma Abdul Khalek (LERC Research Assistant)

The Young Entrepreneurs Program BADER organized the Global Business Leaders conference at the Phoenicia Hotel in Beirut, on August 5, 2008. Those present were, BADER members from different sectors of activity, and also members of the Lebanese diaspora to follow successive presentations on BADER’s mission, agenda, initiatives, adjunct projects and current activities aimed at encouraging  the young generation to take the initiative, supported by the Lebanese community in Lebanon and abroad. The Lebanese Emigration Research Center (LERC) of Notre Dame University (NDU) was represented by Director Ms. Guita Hourani and LERC Consultant Mr. Amin Nehme.

Mr. Nehme and Ms. Hourani conversing on the margins of BADER’s Conference. (August 2008)

The conference was divided into two main sessions. The first session was dedicated to a presentation of BADER by its President Mr. Robert Fadel, who is also the Vice-Chairman of ABC, the leading retail company in Lebanon. Mr. Fadel revealed several achievements in finance, education and networking, which are as well BADER’s main strategy points. Then, Mr. Talal Shair, founding member of BADER and Chairman of the Building Block Equity Fund (BBF) – initiative by BADER, introduced the practices that have to be considered on the Lebanese market when starting a business. Following, Ms. Hala Fadel, Chair of the MIT Enterprise Forum, showed the results of the MIT Arab Business Plan Competition which ended with three winning teams that had presented the most interesting business ideas to be implemented. The first session ended with a talk by Mr. Saad Azhari, Chairman and General Manager of BLOM Bank S.A.L., who stressed the importance of the Bader angels which is the first business angel network in Lebanon that promotes entrepreneurship and matches between entrepreneurs and investors.

Speakers (from left to right): Mr. Nagy Rizk, Mr. Georges Akiki, Mr. Robert Fadel, Mr. Fadi Daou, and BADER’s Managing Director Mr. Antoine Abou-Samra. (August 2008)

The second session opened with a presentation by Mr. Fadi Daou, Founder of the International Network of Lebanese Entrepreneurs and Technologists (INLET). He insisted on the importance of the Applied Training Center that was established for start-ups orientation. Following, Mr. Nagy Rizk, Fund Manager of the BBF, highlighted the main points of the current situation of the Lebanese economy. He gave an overview of the Lebanese Small and Medium Enterprises’ (SME) market that is mainly composed of family businesses with conflicting agendas and visions. After identifying the main deficiencies, Mr. Rizk presented the BBF projects that are based on many education efforts in order to respond to the most promising investment opportunities that lie in the technology sector, and to compete locally and regionally.

Finally, the Partnership For Lebanon (PFL) was introduced by its Program Director Mr. Georges Akiki. He said that PFL is a joint effort designed to help the people of Lebanon find a path to stability and long-term economic growth. This goal is only accessible by expanding workforce training and building technology infrastructure. PFL has also planned to identify and engage the Lebanese diaspora by increasing awareness, raising funds and seeking collaboration on initiatives.

Finally, Mr. Rizk stressed the great potential for technological development in view of the low barrier to entering the market, the highly educated, multi-lingual, creative, and innovative human capital, and the large number of Lebanese, many of whom are prospering in the technology sectors.