Entrepreneurship and startup businesses in Lebanon face a number of challenges that compromise the success of the entrepreneurial scene and demotivate the youth from pursuing their dreams.
Even though a number of organizations and many ambitious individuals have been working hard to change this status quo, the startup sector remains a daunting one as the Lebanese public cannot afford the luxury of failure: unemployment rates and livelihood expenses continue to rise, and developing a business enterprise from scratch in a fairly stagnant market can bring forth devastating consequences.
In comparison with other regions, Beirut is considered the business hub of international, governmental, local and startup companies and enterprises in Lebanon. Nonetheless, such allocation of investments, resources and services has left other parts of the country less developed, if not underdeveloped, and has immensely contributed to the current brain drain as the youth either choose to migrate to the capital or seek job opportunities abroad. Accordingly, the economic development of the nation has become predominantly centralized and neighboring communities are struggling to take part in their country’s growth and progress.
In order to address the above issues and to motivate the youth to fulfill their career ambitions, Phoenicia University is launching the PU Charitable Incubator for Innovation SAL (PUCIFI) – the first business incubator in the South of Lebanon.
Being a firm believer in the youth’s creative potentials, Phoenicia University is giving young adults and aspiring students the opportunity to develop their business plans and start their own enterprises. The PUCIFI is non-profit; it aims to finance projects and business initiatives of entrepreneurs with original and innovative concepts. Unlike organizations or banks that offer loans to startups or that require a specific percentage of the profits, PU’s incubator is completely philanthropic and charitable.
Many entrepreneurs, though they take carefully calculated risks, venture into unchartered territories only to struggle in maintaining and sustaining their businesses later on. This matter can be the result of their lack of expertise in a competitive market and their inability to predict or account for certain variables. Therefore, and in order to guarantee that those ventures are not short-lived, the PU incubator offers consultation services including mentorship, training workshops, and research guidance. It also offers entrepreneurs access to facilities like offices, laboratories, high-tech equipment, etc…
According to Dr. Karim Rbeiz, Dean of the College of Business at Phoenicia University, the purpose of the PU business incubator is to nurture innovation and turn dreams into a reality. Dr. Rbeiz explains that “the South of Lebanon has so many individuals with great potentials and ideas, but who have not had their chance to excel and showcase their creativity. By providing entrepreneurs with the finances, expertise, and the know-hows, startups can become a model of how effective and successful businesses operate.” He continues to list the advantages of supporting entrepreneurships on socioeconomic development, stating that such an initiative reduces the rate of unemployment by providing new job opportunities to the public, and that it limits the brain drain the country is witnessing. More importantly, Dr. Rbeiz asserts that “the PU incubator will allow the youth to dream again.”
During the difficult times that economies around the world are facing, initiatives to improve the standards of living and that compel the youth to seek the betterment of their lives and that of their communities are much needed. The PUCIFI can be certainly said to act as a platform and a driver towards economic, social, as well as individual welfare and security.