A landmark for innovation in Jordan

Mary Nazzal-Batayneh is the founder of Landmark Hotels, a justice activist, a social entrepreneur, and an impact investor, who in recent years has become active in Jordan and Palestine’s budding entrepreneurial space. She is the Chairperson of 17 Ventures, an impact investment and advisory firm specialised in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and innovative finance in the MENA region.


After over two years of worldwide economic pressure, the ease of travel restrictions and increased uptake in vaccinations give businesses ground for optimism. However, one big challenge remains: how to facilitate sustainable employment in a changing and digitalised world, especially for the younger generations and marginalised populations? A new Amman-born project tackles this issue and brings answers of its own.


 


Introducing Landmark 2.0

One of the biggest hurdles for entrepreneurs when starting a new business after the market research phase is to be able to test the product on the market, so as to adjust it to client preferences before its official launch. A joint project between Endeavor, a global organisation that supports high-impact entrepreneurs and Landmark Hotels, Jordan's leading family-owned local hospitality business, is offering entrepreneurs both mentorship and incubation.

Landmark Hotels founder Mary Nazzal-Batayneh commented “As soon as Covid hit, we realised we were not going to be able to host a lot of people in a meeting room. Hospitality needs to change, and we knew we needed to inject innovation into the property.” In an effort to foster innovative ideas and reinvigorate hospitality and tourism locally, she reached out to Endeavor and started talking to entrepreneurs on how to do things differently. This is what led to the launch of the innovation hub today inside the Landmark Amman hotel, dubbed Landmark 2.0.

A project by an entrepreneur, for entrepreneurs

According to Mary, "One of 17 Ventures' first moves was to partner with globally renowned impact fund manager, SEAF, to launch the SEAF Jordan Growth and Impact Fund. It is an SME growth vehicle with a clear intention to support companies integrate women, youth and people with disabilities into the workforce by creating an inclusive and enabling environment.” There are structural constraints for the women of Jordan when joining the workforce, such as transportation and childcare, and the country has one of the lowest rates of female participation in the workforce in the world. Hence, Landmark 2.0 represents a huge opportunity for Jordan to integrate women as well as other marginalised communities more effectively.

On the whole, Mary believes that “Social enterprise means doing well and doing good: just like all investment needs to move towards impact investment, businesses need to move towards this this hybrid model.”


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