BEIRUT: Le Potager and Colonel Beer won the two BLC Bank Brilliant Lebanese Awards - Woman Entrepreneur of the Year and Business of the Year-- respectively, during a glitzy live broadcast from Casino du Liban aired Tuesday night.
The People's Choice award went to Rita Abboud, for her Bebes Calins school.
Bébés Câlins is a sophisticated nursery school for children aged 1 to 5 years. According to a brief description of the ecole. "The preschool offers a multitude of activities and experiences that cover the six areas of learning (language, autonomy, overall motor skills, creativity and discovery of world, music education, socialization).
The awards gala boasted the likes of crooner Ramy Ayach serenading the crowd, while the fast-paced broadcast featured many background segments on the competing companies much like a reality TV show.
Now in its 5th year, the BLC Brilliant Lebanese Awards (BLA2016) is a unique recognition of excellence that highlight entrepreneurs, men and women, for proven excellence and success in their fields.
The award winners were acknowledged with a cash prize, amounting to $30,000 each for the two top categories -- Woman Entrepreneur of the Year and Business of the Year -- while the winner of the People's Choice Award received a prize of $5,000. Also, the award ceremony focused on the achievements of these entrepreneurs who have spearheaded successful initiatives spanning across different sectors and proved their leadership and entrepreneurship skills.
The winners were selected based on the financial performance of the company (30 percent), the creativity of their business (30 percent), its future sustainability (25 percent) and corporate social responsibility (15 percent).
Bank chairman Maurice Sehnaoui said during the broadcast: "This award is not about the money; rather it's about recognition."
Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award: Zeina Khoury Daoud, Le Potager
A family business established in Lebanon, Le Potager was founded in 1994 and first focused on olive oil production and distribution.
However, in a few short years, it evolved markedly. Today Le Potager offers 35 different products including cold press 100 percent natural extra virgin olive oil from Koura, North Lebanon; herbs; soaps; and syrups. 'We also grow and deliver (straight to your door) over 30 different types of 100 percent organic vegetables through Le Potager Bio," the company said.
The most recognizable phase of the company, the "Potager Bio" box of goods, came about when Zeina Khoury Daoud decided to grow organic fruits and vegetables to provide her family and friends with a healthy and nutritious intake that is free of chemicals and toxins.
In 2010, Le Potager Bio was officially founded. Daoud uses organic farms in the Bekaa, free of synthetic pesticides and certified by CCPB (Inspection and Certification Body).
A hands-on manager, Daoud insist on being in charge of packing food. Every morning at 5:30 am she personally prepares Le Potager Bio boxes that will be delivered to the clients at their doorsteps. The Bio Boxes contain a variety of fruits and vegetables, according to what is the most recent from the harvest.
In 2015, Daoud also implemented the franchise of the French organic shop "La Vie Claire" in Lebanon and opened two boutiques in Ashrafieh and Hazmieh. She is currently the general manager of both Le Potager Bio and La Vie Claire.
"It's all very exciting," Daoud told Annahar of winning. "And very emotional. None of the finalists knew if they would win, and when my name was called, I hadn't expected the honor. It means a lot that the jury recognized the importance of a business with organic food as its central concept."
"To me, it's always been very important what you eat!" she said.
Another, immediate result of the recognition lent by the award broadcast on live TV was that suddenly many viewers decided that that the Bio Box delivery would be great for their home.
"From this morning, my phone has been ringing off the hook with new subscribers for our service," a surprised and happy Daoud told Annahar.
Business of the Year Award: Jamil Haddad and Colonel Beer
Born and raised in Batroun, Jamil Haddad is an adventurer at heart.
Growing up, he always had a desire for new experiences and spent much of his time camping, enjoying the outdoors, and windsurfing at Batroun's famous spot "Colonel." That very spot inspired the name of Haddad entrepreneurial endeavor, the Colonel Project, a microbrewery that produces and fosters the culture of high quality craft beer, on a green platform, in the heart of Batroun city.
But how did it all start?
Haddad says that beer has long been one of Batroun's favorite drinks and that culture nurtured Haddad's own passion for brew and motivated him finally to take up home brewing. After pursuing rigorous research, attending workshops in the UK, and touring different breweries and beer festivals in Europe, Haddad carefully learnt the craft and became proficient at it.
Reached by Annahar the day after the award, Haddad – like Le Potager's Daoud – said that his two mobiles and all the business lines, "have been ringing off the hook."
"There has been hundreds of calls on my mobile," he said, with callers asking about ordering the beer, and visiting the brewery and restaurant.
"This award is a great opportunity for me (and the Colonel project) to gain even further recognition, and bring good craft beer to Lebanon and abroad."
Haddad added that, "Competing in the contest was a wonderful experience, and it was good to test myself."
Though this craft beer would seem to have an eccentric brand- with the longhaired buccaneer as its icon - the business is anything but wayward, instead it is the result of a great deal of considered business planning. Built on international standards and named after the popular Windsurfers' spot in Batroun, Colonel is a microbrewery that has fostered the production and culture of high quality craft beer in Lebanon since its opening in the summer of 2014.
The entire Colonel project consists of a microbrewery, brewpub, restaurant and beer garden which welcomes beer enthusiasts all year long and hosts a variety of musical, cultural, and sports events that complement the Colonel's unique beer concept. Colonel's brewery is visible to its visitors at all times through a glass separation. The venue's eco-friendly structure with its characteristic upcycled wood pallets and green walls is also fascinating to see.
The Colonel brewry produces a variety of full-flavored craft beers with an emphasis on quality, freshness, and experimentation. Only natural ingredients are used in the production, the company says, noting that no additives or preservatives are added.
Haddad said he was elated about the award, and wanted to live up to the credibility of the "Brilliant Lebanese" title.
During the receipt of the award, the hardworking entrepreneur said, "Keep revisiting your project until it works. Lebanon's full of opportunities."
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