As the technological entrepreneurial ecosystem in Lebanon continues to grow with the support of the public and private institutions, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the central bank of Lebanon’s Circular 331, a significant driving force comes from the entrepreneurs themselves who, beyond scaling their own businesses, commit to supporting the next generation of entrepreneurs.
When founders of companies begin to invest in other businesses, an ecosystem is born. A crucial support system in entrepreneurial ecosystems often overlooked is the network of entrepreneurs supporting each other through mentorship, investment and inspiration. A firm believer and catalyzer of this system is Endeavor, an international non-for-profit organization. Endeavor has been building a culture that encourages successful entrepreneurs to reinvest in their local networks in order to multiply the impact of entrepreneurs and foster a spirit of contribution to the local economy. Endeavor is committed to supporting high-impact entrepreneurs who can scale up, are innovative and showcase the drive to mentor and invest in earlier-stage startups and the future generation of entrepreneurs. There is a firm belief that successful founders can channel their knowledge across the entrepreneurial ecosystem to ultimately grow economies.
“There is a sense of purpose that is shared by successful entrepreneurs revolving around giving back, supporting and paying it forward to the communities in which they live and operate,” explains Christina Chehade, Managing Director of Endeavor Lebanon. “In Lebanon, we have been identifying high-impact entrepreneurs and equipping them with skills to scale up, stimulate and give-back to the entrepreneurial ecosystem, having a direct impact on economic prosperity” she adds.
This tangible impact of giving back and knowledge sharing is demonstrated on the Multiplier Map, a result of a yearlong study conducted in 2017 by Endeavor Lebanon, in collaboration with Endeavor Insight and the World Bank. The Multiplier Map, being the first of its kind, seeks to gauge the contribution and impact of local tech founders and their companies. The study sought to map the tech ecosystem literally; with each time a founder is cited as an influencer their circle grows—whether through inspiration, employment ties, mentoring or investing.
Data from 85 Lebanese tech entrepreneurs was gathered (out of 120 surveyed), and their companies landed on the Multiplier Map showing connections with other companies. Within the ecosystem, connections and links were drawn based on who inspired them to become entrepreneurs, where they were employed before becoming entrepreneurs, who invested in their companies and who mentored them as they built their businesses. As responses were analyzed, patterns indicated that when founders of companies support each other, a remarkable impact on the ecosystem flourishes.
An example is the growing circle of influence of Diwanee founder and Endeavor entrepreneur Hervé Cuviliez. After establishing and scaling up Diwanee, Cuviliez co-founded Leap Ventures, a tech-focused entrepreneur-led venture capital firm, which streamlined his give-back to the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
“What lies at the core of the entrepreneurship spirit is the valuable support that passes from entrepreneur to entrepreneur in the shape of investment and mentorship,” says Cuviliez. “Who better to inspire an entrepreneur than a peer with common challenges and advice for best practices to scale up and overcome shared challenges,” he adds.
Endeavor Lebanon found that when successful entrepreneurs give back to the ecosystem, their impact multiplies. Ninety-percent of Endeavor Lebanon Entrepreneurs are active promoters of high-impact entrepreneurship. They go on to serve as angel investors or venture capitalists with $33 million invested and countless hours of mentorship donated since 2011. Additionally, Endeavor Insight research shows that Endeavor entrepreneurs are four times more likely to inspire others, eight times more likely to serve as a mentor and four times more likely to invest.
Chehade concludes: “If we help bridge the gap between entrepreneurs and allow them to exchange best practices, the entire economy will reap the benefits—where more jobs will be created, stimulating the economy and supporting dynamic minds to achieve more.”