A total of 14 youth-led projects pitched their ideas and solutions during the “Young Entrepreneurs and Sustainability Competition”, a competition organized by INJAZ Lebanon under the patronage of Banque du Liban (BDL), with the support of UNDP Lebanon and hosted by LAU Beirut. This competition encourages entrepreneurship and innovation, and all projects are focused on sustainability and on development.
The competition included two tracks; the “Company Program”, a5-months INJAZ entrepreneurship program during which students learn to set up their own companies with the help of mentors, and UNDP’s “Youth Leadership Program” (YLP5) which aims to support and empower young change-makers to design and implement innovative and sustainable development solutions, whether these be social enterprises, non-profits, NGOs, initiatives or campaigns.
In his speech, Khaled Bohsali, Executive Director of Foreign Affairs at BDL, said that the bank’s support to the competition “is part of its eagerness to encourage entrepreneurship and to strengthen the emerging corporate sector and the SMEs, for they are one of the main pillars of Lebanese economy.” “Strengthening this sector will create more job opportunities and will boost economic growth. This is what pushed BDL to support this kind of institutions and enterprises,” he added.
As for Nada Sweidan, Programme Officer and Youth Focal Point at UNDP, she observed that “all projects are focused on sustainability and aimed to achieve a positive impact to better serve communities in Lebanon” and pointed out that “they fit within the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).” She also explained that the YLP5, organized by UNDP, “aims to enable participants to become the leaders, thinkers and change-makers of tomorrow.”
Saad El Zein, Assistant to the President for Special Projects at LAU, expressed his pleasure to be hosting INJAZ Entrepreneurship and Sustainability Competition (Young Entrepreneurs Competition) for this year, and said that the university “has always encouraged empowering young adults with the necessary skills and motivation to spark innovation and economic growth.”
Samar Dani, Executive Director at INJAZ Lebanon, considered that the competition “is a great opportunity for youth to network with like-minded people and is a platform for them to get their voices heard and give a chance to their ideas to start coming to life.” “Based on our belief to achieve a better and more sustainable future, we decided to lay the sustainability development mindset at the core of our entrepreneurship program,” she added. Finally, she explained that INJAZ Lebanon, a non-profit organization that started in 2001 and a member of Junior Achievement Worldwide, has the mission of empowering and educating youths on Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Financial Literacy in order for them to have better chances of succeeding in the market.”
The fourteen participants pitched their ideas and solutions to the judges and the public for approximately two hours.
BDL presented the “Best Company” award to Hive Snacks by Sasha Abdelsater and Zoya Abi Ghanem. This project, which provides healthy on-the-go bee pollen-based snacks and contributes to the local beekeeping ecosystem, will be representing Lebanon at the regional INJAZ Young Entrepreneurs Competition organized by INJAZ Al-Arab taking place in OMAN during November 2019.
As for the “Youth Leadership” award, it was presented by UNDP to Benzinati by Sara Hammoud, an artificially intelligent app that motivates drivers to reduce their fuel consumption, while the “SDG5-Gender Equality Award” was presented by NCLW (National Commission for Lebanese Women) to Khibra by Yasmine Minkara. Khibra aims to raise awareness around societal problems in Lebanon regarding the way we view, treat and interact with immigrant domestic workers and provides these workers with the tools necessary to integrate the local society.
The award for the “Most Innovative Solution” was given to Salamati by Asmaa Serhan, Jana Serhan and Mohammad Serhan, a smart portable medical device that provides any patient a live monitoring to his vital signs wirelessly via internet and a mobile application.
Dream Big Academy by Reem Obeid won the “Best Social Impact on Youth” award, as well as the “Passion for Change” award. This project is a football academy for young boys and girls in the south of Lebanon.
The audience voted for the “Best Public Presentation” and the winner of this category is Men id la id by Malak Sayour, a project that attempts to reduce consumption and poverty by placing customized containers in selected places in order to collect seasonal goodies and items for those in need.