Country & City Insights

How Lebanon can create its own Silicon Valley by improving access to finance

Endeavor Insight released a report, “How to Improve Access to Finance in Lebanon.”

“Silicon Valley” is synonymous with successful entrepreneurship.  While its roots lie in a verdant valley in Northern California, it is a phenomenon not solely confined to the United States.  A fundamental Endeavor belief is that “Silicon Valleys” can be created anywhere—that a network of entrepreneurs, funders, and entrepreneurial support organizations can create a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem in countries, cities, and markets all over the world.  A new report from Endeavor Insight tests this theory.  It focuses on the potential of Lebanon, a country not immediately associated with entrepreneurship, to foster and support high-impact entrepreneurship.  Specifically, it analyzes one aspect of a successful entrepreneurial ecosystem—access to finance.  Through interviews with nearly 20 influential Lebanese entrepreneurship actors (including VCs, incubators, and entrepreneurs), the report maps out the current funding landscape in Lebanon, its main barriers to progress, and its biggest future opportunities.

Simply stated, the Lebanese funding landscape is still at a fairly nascent stage opportunity remains in the next few years. This potential is mirrored in the past trajectory of growth: the number of VC deals done from 2010 – 2012 is twenty-one versus just three from 2000 – 2009.  Unfortunately, many of the VCs and bank guarantors came before the facilitators and incubators, which make it difficult for entrepreneurs and funders to be on an equal playing field.  The first three VC firms emerged in 2008 and 2009 while five accelerators and facilitators emerged shortly after, from 2009 to 2011.

With that said, a robust environment of incubators and entrepreneurial support organizations has gained traction in the last three years to assist entrepreneurs in raising funds.  These developments bode well for Lebanese entrepreneurship.

The report goes on to further outline immediate, actionable steps which the government, entrepreneurs and funders can take to move the ecosystem forward.

To learn more about where Lebanon is now, as well as read recommendations for how it can fully capitalize on its bright future, please read the full report here.

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