48 hours ago, Lebanon’s journey to become a true hub for knowledge not only in the region but the whole world had begun. Over 1800 seasoned entrepreneurs, investors, and experts gathered here, on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean, to lay the foundations for establishing Lebanon as a premier international startup hub alongside London, Berlin, and Singapore. They shared experiences, insights, techniques, methods, and know-how, dished out how-to’s to newcomers, do’s-and-don’ts to the up and coming, and inspiration to the rest of us.
More than 50 startup industry veterans from around the world took to this stage. With them, we listened to success stories, heard about proven investment strategies, discovered how to find and stain talent, learned about international startup legal, accounting, and audit best practices. In these two days, we connected with industry leaders, met and pitched to angels and VCs, and got up to speed on the latest trends.
His Excellency the Governor Mr. Riad Salamé said yesterday in his opening speech that “knowledge is the most expensive commodity in today’s world!”. He promised us to create a synergy between the Lebanese banking sector and the country’s knowledge economy. He emphasized that Circular 331 was just the beginning and that it is time for all the stakeholders to come together to fuel growth in the economy. He also said that Lebanon will be having a stock exchange dedicated to our sectors soon.
We were not only happy to have H.E. the British Ambassador Mr. Tom Fletcher take to the stage and hear him express his love and faith in Lebanon and the Lebanese, but also to see him uncover a Lebanon – UK Tech Hub which will take the ecosystem to the next level. “In Lebanon you have to work with so many obstacles. When you work anywhere else it is a walk in the park,” he emphasized. With this initiative Lebanon will see the UK offer expertise, experience and exposure to support the growth of Lebanon’s embryonic knowledge economy.
Here in Lebanon we are predisposed to weather the storms because of our resilient nature. We have gone through a lot and continue to learn with daily uncertainties, but we have learned to overcome insurmountable challenges and turn them into opportunities. This point has been emphasized by many speakers over the two days, especially by the successful Lebanese entrepreneurs like Mr. Alexander Asseily, Mr. Ramzi Rizk, Mr. Jean Nehmé, Mr. Mark Haidar, and many more.
Not only will the startup have the chance to go to the UK, they will also go to Silicon Valley through the Speed Initiative.
We also had workshops on the side where various speakers lectured about key issues related to the ecosystem, from pitching to investment strategies. We took notes of the comments of participants that more is needed. Entrepreneurs seem eager to learn and we will work on improving access to information and transparency, and hopefully make it all available under one platform. We will also keep on supporting the creation and expansion of bootcamps. I am personally looking forward to congratulate the winner of the Seedstars World Competition, the First International Startup Competition in Lebanon.
Finally I would like to thank all our prominent speakers especially those who came from the furthest corner of the globe to join us. I would also like to thank our audience who proved to be unique! The interest and the engagement that I have personally witnessed in the past two days have restored our faith in the importance of our efforts and will encourage us to do more.
I mostly would like to thank H.E. the Governor of the Central Bank Mr. Riad Salamé without whom none of this would have happened. I would also like to thank our strategic partners and everyone on the production team who made this event a reality.
My next appointment to you will be in January 2015 to launch the UK-Lab Tech Hub.
I would like to end by thanking you all again for helping us succeed and we promise that this is just the beginning…