Raymond Younan, Raymond Kassatly, Elie Challita, Riad Akiki, Sara Jane Fahed, Anthony Behlok, Costi Berberi, Hani Katerji
Summary of Meeting Minutes:
The Economy and Development Team & Solidarity Team met with Rita Makhoul to discuss the issues faced by startups. Rita has an expertise in E-governance and business/innovative transformation with a specialization in tech startups.
According to Rita, the challenges facing the startups are the following;
- The BDL CR331 was created in order to support technology startups. However, the ecosystem did not deliver success. The only startups that were successful were the two companies FOO and ANGHAMI; these two companies were even established before the CR331 was created.
- Investors were unwilling to invest in Lebanon due to the unease of doing business.
- Government inefficiency is one of the biggest hinders for startups. Unease of doing business, bureaucracy, bankruptcy laws, barriers for trade are all examples that prevented startups to open and to scale up.
- Scaling up was hard due to the smallness of the market, and it has been hard to open satellites (or other branches) in other countries even in GCC region.
- Recent financial crisis and Corona pandemic which made financing and market access extremely hard. These issues could even have eliminated a rough number of 50% of new startups.
- Several accelerators were operating (the number is up to 5) that brought about a high number of 100 startups per year. This high number of startups lead to several failings in small market especially that many were getting funding from different accelerators.
- The CR331 forces company to keep their headquarters in Lebanon. This was a hinder for several startups since it eliminated flexibility and the possibility of scaling up operation abroad.
Rita spoke also regarding some future opportunities;
- Entrepreneurs flourish in times of crisis. Thus this is the best time to have new entrepreneurs that will come up with new ideas to solve multiple current issues
- Invite companies to outsource part of their services and production in Lebanon.
- The possibility of higher impact on services and product export due to lower wages.