Advancing Entrepreneurship in Lebanon and the MENA

Since 2010, the Amideast Entrepreneur Institute (AEI) has been promoting entrepreneurship in Lebanon and the larger Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The Beirut-based institute has trained nearly 700 aspiring entrepreneurs, business owners, and professionals in the various aspects of business planning and operation, with a focus on practical, hands-on training supported by coaching, mentoring, and access to networking opportunities.
Global Entrepreneurship Week Speakers at the Amideast Entrepreneur Institute

The AEI’s commitment to entrepreneurship was on display in November 2023, when it brought speakers from the worlds of entrepreneurship and capacity building for Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW).

The Amideast sessions echoed GEW's message of action, knowledge, and connection. Eight in all and varying in focus, the talks and workshops turned the spotlight on the entrepreneurial mindset, skills, and knowledge and what it takes to advance entrepreneurship in a landscape shaped by Lebanon’s unique economic and social challenges.

"What It Takes to be an Entrepreneur," by Jen Smith

Amideast’s Regional Director for Workforce Development and Entrepreneurship, Jen Smith, led off with her take on entrepreneurship, based on her own experience of becoming a successful entrepreneur and later translating that experience into expertise that she today shares as a development specialist. Noting that the path toward entrepreneurial success is never clear-cut and is different for everyone, she discusses the blunt realities of leading a business and tackles what it truly means to "make it” as an entrepreneur.

“Pivoting in Times of Crisis,” by Christine Francis

In another session, leadership and culture transformation coach Christine Francis explored how having a toolkit of leadership skills that are grounded in positivity can help entrepreneurs navigate the new normal as they learn to stay relevant and cultivate the necessary tools and practical skills to weather global shifts in business. Her session was especially relevant during times of crisis, when unprecedented challenges and volatility have served as a stress test for businesses, entrepreneurs, and professionals alike. 

“Empowering Communities through Social Entrepreneurship,” by Maya Rahal

In yet another session, Maya Rahal, country director of Al Fanar Venture Philanthropy, shed light on the important role that social enterprises can play in meeting the challenges not just in Lebanon but elsewhere in the MENA region. Her talk illuminated the impact of her organization by providing training, funding, and other support for enterprises through its offices in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Palestine. She also noted that the organization, which was founded in 2005, is also preparing to launch the first social impact investment fund for the MENA region.  

Other workshops delved into areas like starting one's own business and spoke directly to the resilience and adaptability required of Lebanese entrepreneurs in a country where economic and political uncertainties are prevalent. Another significant area of focus was the enhancement of essential entrepreneurial skills such as public speaking, design thinking, and effective marketing strategies for SMEs.

Amideast’s Contribution to GEW 2023

By covering these diverse yet interrelated themes, Amideast contributed to the practical knowledge and skills of Lebanese entrepreneurs. Moreover, in the face of the unique challenges facing Lebanon today, the speakers underscored the importance of adaptability, innovation, and sustainable practices for aspiring and new entrepreneurs.

GEW 2023 events in Lebanon were organized by Acher Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik (USEK). More than 100 events were conducted by over 20 partners. AEI's involvement in GEW was made possible through the support of the American Corner in Beirut.

About the AEI

The AEI provides support for aspiring and established entrepreneurs through webinars, workshops, coaching, and mentoring. While its immediate focus is Lebanon, it has delivered online training to aspiring Palestinians in collaboration with the Amideast-managed America House in the West Bank and Gaza.

To learn more about upcoming workshops and programs at the Amideast Entrepreneurs Institute, check out these links: