True resilience of Founders - A Lebanese Story

Our hearts go out to all of those affected by the recent tragedy in Lebanon. Being a MENA startup, we realize the importance of raising awareness and supporting our fellow entrepreneurs. It is heartwarming to see the ecosystem come together and join hands. 

I reached out to several Founders in Lebanon to get a few words on their sentiments and how they are coping during these times. 

“We keep repeating those moments, we keep going through the footage, dissecting each other’s reactions, sometimes crying, other times laughing – laughs coming from a place of deep pain and sorrow. This is how we have been navigating through the first week - together.”

“Grateful that our team and their family members were safe, we were at the office the next day, at 7am: this is a team that refuses to stop. We cleared the rubbles, we cried, we retold our stories and we planned the operation for the next few days. Stopping, giving up is never an option. The livelihood of our team members and the livelihood of the business owners whom we deliver for depends on us being in operation.”

“During the weekend, we reduced our operation size and joined relief efforts; we are also joining several initiatives in support of our community, our team and our clients. This in its own way is therapeutic to us on many levels. The startup community is already in a difficult spot due to the economic crisis we have been going through. Now more than ever we need to be there for one another” - Yusr Sabra from Wakilni

This event further compounded the pain and difficulties startups and their families have had to cope with as of late, and the consequences will continue to show. 

Arthur Bizdikian from Lemonade Fashion commented, 

“As a Founder of a startup, your job is to fix mistakes - boy they were right. Regulations in Lebanon were not startup friendly, and at some point growth pains kicked in. Then hyperinflation hit Lebanon and our currency saw a devaluation, however we survived it.”

“Then, came the tragedy, which none of us saw any harm, but our office incurred heavy damages. We lost a lot thus far and the trauma will live on with us. We are, however, rebuilding and supporting one-another. Building a startup is hard, but in MENA you have to be extra resilient to survive. Without the team and partners as well as the network and support in the ecosystem during these times, we wouldn’t be where we are today.”

It is clear that the friendships and mentorship that one builds during their journey is pivotal, especially for times like these. 

“Launching your startup is much like a warzone, you have to manage a lot of problems and make sure the mission is accomplished in the most efficient way possible, while surviving. Lebanese entrepreneurs worry about many things starting with safety for themselves and their loved ones, above everything else an entrepreneur goes through.”

“Startups are known to be disruptive and this is exactly what we need in our country, disruption. We have the duty to ease the pain and give back value to our community as much as we can, now more than ever. This has helped us get back our tunnel vision that we need.” Ziad Jreijiri, Cofounder and CEO, Oreyeon

They say tragedy brings inspiration for change, and although we didn’t expect this or would wish this upon anyone, we do recognize the spirit of action and change this has set forth. 

“Growing a startup in Lebanon is just like this beautiful country itself, a roller coaster ride with so many unknown variables at any point in time. But, it is worth it! Because these unknowns are within the DNA of every startup, the road is never really clear-sighted anyway, and the need to pivot, take decisions under pressure and be lean are the pillars of your everyday life."

“Resilience is at the core, starting everyday as if there was no bad yesterday is the recipe to keep building in Lebanon. We believe this country deserves a big change in the upcoming years and the only way to get there is for everybody to navigate through all times with hope for a better tomorrow!” Najib Sabbagh, Founder, Mirrorr

Buoyancy - “a cheerful and optimistic attitude or disposition” we see this in the Lebanese people and startups rising from this event and growing stronger than ever before. With a positive attitude and the willingness to go back out there with smiles on their faces and do what they can during these times. We stand strong with Lebanese startups, their loved ones, and the MENA ecosystem.