Women Entreprenuers in Lebanon Official Launch

The official launch of the Women Entrepreneurs in Lebanon (WEL) project is finally here! After months of anticipation, TYO staff, board members and founder, Hani Masri, and partners from the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women including founder, Former UK First Lady Mrs. Cherie Blair joined Rene Moawad Foundation President and Former Lebanon First Lady, Mrs. Nayla Moawad, at the Business Incubation Association of Tripoli (BIAT) center in Tripoli on Tuesday, September 6th. The project's sponsor, JP Morgan, was represented by professionals from the financial services firm's Beirut, Geneva and London offices.

The partners had a chance to see several of the women entrepreneurs in action during their one-on-one coaching sessions as well as to discuss the program's progress, successes, and challenges. Everyone was delighted to see the impact that the project has already had on the lives of the women and to hear more about next steps for our impressive group of participants.

On Wednesday September 7th we enjoyed a delicious lunch at the organic restaurant Tawlet, run by the social enterprise Souk el Tayeb, whose founder and partners are on the WEL steering committee!

That evening, TYO hosted a project launch and panel discussion, with the help of the Le Gray Hotel in Downtown Beirut. The panel, focusing on Entrepreneurs and Economic Development in the Region, included a well-rounded group of academic experts and practitioners including: TYO Director, Ms. Nell Derick Debevoise; Dr. Nisreen Salti, Professor of Economics, American University of Beirut (AUB); Dr. Dima Jamali, Professor of Business, AUB; and Ms. Christine Codsi, Partner, Souk El Tayeb and WEL Steering Committee member. The panel was moderated by Dr. Tony Feghali, Co-Director, Darwazah Center for Innovation Management & Entrepreneurship, AUB, Olayan School of Business.

Important take-aways were the extent to which women's participation in the workforce, whether as entrepreneurs or employees, enriches the economic and social well-being of their entire families. Not only do women tend to reinvest 90% of their income in the family (vs 30-40% reinvested by men in their families), but also their involvement in work lowers birthrates and improves children's health and education outcomes. Another essential conclusion of the panelists and audience was that men must be engaged as part of the solution to encourage women starting businesses and/or going to work.

Panel guests included US Ambassador to Lebanon, Maura Connelly, Le Gray owner, Gordon Campbell Gray, and TYO Board Members, Mr. and Mrs. A. Huda Farouki as well as many other esteemed and prestigious guests. The Lebanon team was thrilled to share all of our success with such an interested and influential group!

With a strong base of supporters and a truly wonderful team behind this project, project participants are primed for business success! With the launch behind us, we look forward with the highest hopes and couldn’t be happier or more proud here in Beirut.