As highlighted in a new report by Endeavor Insight, entitled “How to Improve Access to Finance in Lebanon,” Lebanon is primed to make its mark on entrepreneurship. To succeed in this goal, all actors in the ecosystem have specific roles to embrace in order to expand access to finance—a crucial piece of fostering a true culture of innovation. From interviews with nearly 20 influential Lebanese actors in the entrepreneurial ecosystem (including VCs, incubators, entrepreneurs, etc.), it was evident that there are actionable steps that can be undertaken by the government, entrepreneurs, and funders. (Be on the lookout for a series of blog posts which focus on each of these actors.) Below is the high-level recommendation which all Lebanese actors should work toward:
1) Engage and organize the Lebanese diaspora: With an estimated 10 million Lebanese living outside of the country versus just 4 million in Lebanon, a large untapped population lives outside of Lebanese borders. Ecosystem stakeholders should develop a strategy to leverage this brain drain.
2) The government could invite prominent expat business leaders and entrepreneurs to visit Lebanon, meet with dynamic Lebanese entrepreneurs, and experience the entrepreneurial ecosystem. IDAL (Investment Development Authority of Lebanon) plans on employing this tactic by working with organizations such as LIFE (Lebanese International Finance Executives) and LebNet, to engage the diaspora. Their combined goal is to help build the technology startup community within the country in order to encourage more mentorship and angel investment.
3) VCs should try to engage Lebanese entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and other locations, similar to what is being done by LebNet. By involving these entrepreneurs on their boards and in their investment committees, VCs can expose the Lebanese start-up community to the influence, inspiration, and guidance of the most successful Lebanese entrepreneurs.
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.