BEIRUT: In recent years, Lebanon witnessed the rise of social entrepreneurship that encourages the development of innovative and sustainable solutions to social challenges and drives job creation.
Lebanese social startups like FabricAid, a second-hand clothes collector and distributor; SE Factory, a coding Bootcamp; Yalla Bus, a Lebanese bus assistance platform; Easy Wall, colorful plastic cubes made out of recycled bottles; Compost Baladi, waste management products and services; and Clean2O, a filter which gives anyone access to clean drinking water have been creating hundreds of jobs since 2017 for underprivileged people.
In recognition of the importance of such initiatives, Berytech launched Impact Rise on Wednesday at the Lebanese national library in Sanayeh, Beirut, as a social innovation program that aims to put startups, experts and support partners on the road to growing sustainable and successful social ventures.
The program is designed and managed by Berytech, and funded by the US-Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI).
Representing Berytech CEO and chairman Maroun Chammas, Ramy Boujaoude said: “Today, we know that social entrepreneurship plays a major role in creating and sustaining a better socio-economic environment in the country. However, we also know the sector needs a proper ecosystem to grow where social innovators can be mentored, financed and supported to scale.”
The Impact Rise program will contribute not only in scaling 15 startups to the growth stage but in empowering ecosystem partners and impact experts through capacity building and developing strategic linkages.
Through the program, Berytech is also establishing and empowering a network of 30 impact experts, including coaches and mentors who will be assisting the startups in their growth journey.
In her remarks, MEPI coordinator Elaine Jones said that “entrepreneurs identify a need then find a market-driven way to fulfill that need. A social entrepreneur takes this, not one step further, but two steps further, seeking both profit and a positive social impact.”
AN INCLUSIVE APPROACH
Krystel Khalil, Berytech’s director of programs, explained that the added value of the Impact Rise Program is its holistic approach.
“We are setting up the adequate infrastructure by first training the coaches and mentors, then choosing promising social enterprises, providing them with capacity building and training, offering free incubation with an array of services, providing seed money support to develop prototypes, and finally giving them the chance to grow through connections with investors,” she said.
Berytech aims to ensure the growth of the social entrepreneurs and their ability to sustain themselves and operate on their own in two years.
Funding vouchers with up to $9500 will be granted to finance business development and marketing activities. Berytech will also offer the startups access to a co-working space desk at one of its innovation parks, where the most dynamic entrepreneurs and freelancers are based and have access to more workshops and networking events.
Berytech has based the Impact Rise program on inclusive collaboration between the major social entrepreneurship stakeholders across the ecosystem: the startups, the partners, the coaches, and the mentors.
Accordingly, Berytech has partnered with international experts from the IES-Social Business School, the first business school focused on innovation and social entrepreneurship for the Bootcamp training, as well as the “train the trainer” program for the coaches. The 15 trained coaches will receive certifications and will be matched with the 15 social startups to support them in their growth journey.
Berytech has also partnered with IM Capital to introduce the 15 mentors to Confideo Venture Mentoring (VM), a service offered by IM Capital to support the growth of entrepreneurs in Lebanon. The mentors will also be matched with the 15 social startups to support them.
Berytech has also aligned with DOT, Arcenciel, MEPI Lebanese Alumni Association, ProAbled, Lebanese Social Enterprise Association, Makesense, Global Compact Network Lebanon, and Live Love Beirut.
CALL FOR APPLICATIONS
Berytech is looking for early-stage startups whose operational period doesn't exceed two years, with a product or service validated in the market. The innovative product or service has to have a promising social or environmental impact and the business and the revenue model must be sustainable with potential for scalability.
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