A hub for female web entrepreneurs in Lebanon
As a partner in the EU-funded WeHubs project, Beirut-based business incubator Berytech is providing female entrepreneurs with the support they need to succeed in Lebanon's growing digital economy.
© entrepreneur #227391040 2019, source:stock.adobe.com
The digital economy is big, yet women play only a small role in it. This is particularly true in Europe, where women represent under 19 % of all web entrepreneurs (compared to nearly 33 % in the US and even more in Asia and Africa).
To help balance these numbers, the EU-funded WeHubs project connected a large number of organisations that provide business support to female entrepreneurs with the aim of increasing their participation in web enterprises. The result of this effort is the WeHubs Network, the first European community that connects business ecosystems and provides them with the tools and resources needed to support women-led start-ups in the digital sector.
The WeHubs Network is comprised of dedicated hubs located in France, Germany, Greece, Norway, the UK, Slovenia, Lithuania, Malta, Sweden, Austria and Lebanon. WeHubs encouraged women to start their own venture, to think about new ideas and to convert these ideas into concrete projects or businesses, says Laura Lecci, the WeHubs Project Coordinator at the European Business and Innovation Centre Network. The hubs were solicited to help communicate our success stories and share them through their own communication channels.
Producing success stories
The Lebanon hub, which was coordinated by local business incubator Berytech, was responsible for producing and disseminating eight success stories. Each of these success stories featured a strong female role model who had launched a successful start-up, explains Berytech Business Support & Development Manager Joanna Abi Abdallah. By promoting these videos via the WeHubs website and various social media platforms, we helped inspire Lebanese women to pursue careers in the web and technology sectors.
In addition to producing and promoting the videos, Berytech also provided analytic reports related to women and the digital economy. Here we built on existing studies to create a better understanding of the what female web entrepreneurs need and how these needs were being met or not being met by local business ecosystems, adds Abi Abdallah. Through these reports, we developed a strategy for engagement and sustainability that ensures a wider application of the WeHubs model.
Acting locally in Lebanon
At the local level, Berytech was an active partner in organising WeHubs business plan competition in Lebanon. Not only did we promote the competition throughout the country, we also supported many of the Lebanese women who applied, including one who made it all the way to the final pitch in Brussels, says Abi Abdallah.
Berytech also worked to mobilise local coaches and mentors and match them with aspiring female entrepreneurs. In promoting the WeHubs platform, Berytech ensured that local Lebanese entrepreneurs took full advantage of the available resources, mentoring tips, webinars and videos. Furthermore, via the support of the other WeHubs partners, Berytech launched its own dedicated programmes for female entrepreneurs.
The WeHubs Network is dedicated to facilitating knowledge sharing between relevant stakeholders, developing dedicated services for them, and offering access to relevant events and support to both female web entrepreneurs and the business support organisations ready to help them, concludes Abi Abdallah. As this is what Berytech has been dedicated to doing for the last 15 years here in Lebanon, we jumped at the opportunity to become involved with the project and we continue to reap the rewards for doing so.