Advancing Entrepreneurship in Lebanon Beyond Global Entrepreneurship Week

The Development for People and Nature Association (DPNA) is a Lebanese secular, non-profit, non-governmental organization working through a wide range of civil society organizations to meet the needs of local communities, especially the disadvantaged.  Our vision is to achieve a civic society that motivates all citizens in Lebanon to participate in public life and to lead positive change.

One of our organization’s main projects is called “Fostering Free Enterprise in Youth – FFEY”, which we have been implementing in partnership with CIPE since 2007.  Since that time, we have established a curriculum called “Entrance to Enterprise” (E2E), which is a knowledge guide aimed at introducing the concept of entrepreneurship not only to university students, but also to high-school students.  E2E trainings have been held for more than 300 students and 90 teachers throughout the past years, which led to the formation of an Alumni Network.  Most importantly, our current focus is to integrate the concept of entrepreneurship in the high-school curriculum through interactive activities.

DPNA believes that it is the right of every person to know what entrepreneurship is, how to be a successful entrepreneur, and how to develop a business plan for a creative idea based on market needs and other elements.

This is at the heart of our work in 2013.  DPNA has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Center for Educational Research and Development, which is the entity responsible for the curricula in Lebanese schools.  This historic agreement has been approved by the Ministry of Education and Higher Education and will guide our work to integrate the E2E curriculum over the coming years.

One of the highlights of the project is the role of DPNA during Global Entrepreneurship Week Lebanon (#GEWLebanon).  Our first experience Global Entrepreneurship Week came last year.  During a series of meetings which we were holding with organizations that spread the concept of entrepreneurship in Lebanon, we were invited to attend a coordination meeting for the “Entrepreneurship Eco-System” in Lebanon.  This is where our role in GEW started.

To expand our impact in 2012, DPNA decided to hold its GEW events outside the capital.  We organized an Entrepreneurship Exhibition and a seminar on the Challenges and Opportunities that Young Entrepreneurs Experience (when starting their business) in Saida, Southern Lebanon.  The exhibition included 15 NGOs, companies, and institutions that support entrepreneurs with technical or financial expertise.  The seminar featured presentations by two young entrepreneurs, the Director of Financial Operations at the Central Bank, the Chairman of Kafalat (one of the most well-known companies that provide entrepreneurs with financial assistance through subsidized loans), and SouthBIC (the only business incubator in Southern Lebanon).

More than 120 people attended the two events.  One-on-one discussions continued in the reception that took place after the event.

The feedback on the event was very positive for two main reasons.  First, because it was held in Saida, rather than Beirut, reaching an underserved part of the country yearning for knowledge.  Second, because entrepreneurship is a new topic in this area, and more people are excited to learn how they can establish their own business, especially in rural areas. One of the main components of entrepreneurship is for community members to improve the economic situation in the area in which they are living and create new job opportunities for graduates.  This was a source of great encouragement for those who participated in the event.

The high unemployment rate is a problem in Lebanon, and entrepreneurship is one of the solutions.  In partnership with CIPE, DPNA will continue to ingrain this concept as a culture among youth, not only during Global Entrepreneurship Week, but beyond.

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