Bader’s Building Block Fund: $17m to help Lebanese SMEs
Bader (Young Entrepreneurs Program) has launched a new initiative with the organization of its first Global Lebanese Business Leaders Conference in Beirut on August 5, 2008, at InterContinental Phoenicia, bringing together a select group of successful, inspiring and dynamic Lebanese senior executives and entrepreneurs from around the world.
Bader stressed that it believes that by bringing together Lebanese resources from all over the world, it can successfully channel the Diaspora’s energy and use it to implement effective ways to coach, assist and support Lebanese talents and projects.
“Bader is about delivering tangible results on the ground and involving strong partners. We believe that the active involvement of the Diaspora will be extremely beneficial to Lebanon. We are very happy with the response of top Lebanese Executives and Entrepreneurs to our initiatives, and we are looking to expand our initiative with them” says Mr Robert Fadel, Bader President.
“The rationale behind the Global Business Leaders Conference is to have two-way communication. It is the only process that will allow all the energy of the Diaspora to be efficiently channeled and have an impact in Lebanon” says Robert Fadel.
“We will follow up with the top executives who were present today on their support to the initiatives we have presented them today. I am confident that the momentum we created with our initiative will continue and strengthen in the weeks and months to come” says Mr Fadel.
Mr. Fadel was followed by Mr Talal Shair, Chairman of the Building Block Fund (BBF), the first equity fund in Lebanon focused on Lebanese Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). Equity financing is different from a loan as it is the act of raising money from investors against a share in the company where the money is invested. The BBF was one of the first successful initiatives launched by Bader as the Fund had it closing at $17million. Mr Shair talked about the BBF aim at bringing best practices in the Lebanese market so that the Fund has the same level of governance and transparency as that of European and American funds. Investment in SMEs will range between $0.5million and $1.5 million.
Mr. Nagy Rizk, the Managing Director of the BB Fund, focused on the overview of promising industries and how to find the best opportunities in Lebanon. In his presentation, he emphasized on the Fund’s strategy and how to create the most value out of its investments.
Ms. Hala Fadel, Chair of the MIT Enterprise Forum, presented a joint-initiative between Bader and the MIT Enterprise Forum: the MIT Arab Business Plan Competition. The Competition drew more than 1,650 applications, a record. The Competition is open to all Arabs of all ages, and it is designed to encourage entrepreneurs to start their own companies and ultimately create a nest of leading firms in the Arab world. A business plan is a document that outlines the objective, activities, strategy, means, risks and opportunities facing a company for a specific period of time. A business plan is the basic document to evaluate a company’s development and future. With the first two places held by Lebanese, this shows how much potential we have in our country.
Bader presented its newest initiative: The Bader Angels. It will be the first Business Angel Network in Lebanon. Business Angels are individuals who will invest on an individual basis in startups. Business Angels are very important as they promote Entrepreneurship, fuel growth and innovation, create jobs and provide coaching/mentoring. Presented by Mr Saad Azhari, this initiative has drawn very favorable response from the attendance. Average investment size done by the Bader Angels will range from $50,000 to $500,000.
Presented by Mr Fadi Daou, CEO of Multilane, the Applied Training Center was inspired by successful Centers already operating in other countries. It is aimed at bridging the gap between university graduation and the technology sector workplace (semiconductors, telecommunication, etc.). It usually takes between 1 and 2 years for a graduating student to acquire the tools and know-how to be employed in that sector. By providing such platform, students will be able to find work in that field while staying in Lebanon. It is important to know that Lebanon has the capacity to provide top-notch technology for the best ICT companies in the world.
The audience was able to learn more about the Partnership for Lebanon (PL), a CISCO initiative, presented by Mr George Akiki, the Director of the PL. The program’s goal is to establish Public Private Partnerships to build scalable, replicable, sustainable solutions to help the people of Lebanon find the path to long term stability and economic growth.