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23 May 2024 20:29

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Lebanon’s Start up Scene on CNN

CNN takes a closer look at Lebanon’s rapidly increasing start up scene in the most recent episode of Marketplace Middle East.

Ziad Jureidini and his business partner Karl Abou Zeid talk to CNN about the launch of the almost one-year old courier service – Sqwirl. Inspired to start the company in an effort to tackle one of Beirut’s key problems, traffic, Ziad Jureidini, Co-Founder of Sqwirl, explains, “Startups are more lean and mean and agile and they move faster. What’s very special about start-ups is that they get to take decisions much faster and act on them… and they get to pivot and change whatever they do in a much quicker way than being a corporation.”

Startups are a crucial engine of economic growth, especially in the Middle East — where one in four young people are unemployed. Across the region over 73 million young people are out of work, that’s the highest rate in the world. 

The rise of startups in Lebanon is greatly attributed to the increasing support from incubator programs and local investing, namely the Central Bank of Lebanon or Banque Du Liban. A 400 million dollar fund for Lebanese startups, known as Circular 331, was set up three years ago and encourages banks to invest in entrepreneurs.

Riad Salame, Governor, Banque Du Liban said to CNN, “The success of entrepreneurs in Lebanon is a success for all Lebanese, because of the talents we have in Lebanon, we have seen them succeed everywhere, and we think this is a sector that can create employment and create new wealth for the country.” As the longest-serving central bank governor, Salame’s strict fiscal regulations almost single-handedly navigated the Lebanese economy through recession, war and political uncertainty.

Lebanon has continued efforts to raise awareness and create a system and infrastructure that supports an entrepreneurial environment. As a Lebanese entrepreneur himself, Sami Abou Saab, CEO of Speed@BDD explained, “I think what makes it is mostly the human talent, and we have a lot of it in this country. The educational system is really good and it’s graduating a lot of great potential. The key is to try to keep some of them here at least and even to attract some from abroad to have this network of strong individuals who are capable and are going to build this ecosystem.”

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