Beirut: UNICEF Lebanon’s Generation of Innovation Leaders (GIL) program celebrated, yet again, Lebanon’s creative youth and their business achievements in its three-day Jawa2ez GIL Zoom event funded by the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Andan Foundation, and organized by The Nawaya Network and INJAZ Lebanon. The second edition of Jawa2ez GIL took place between November 24 and 26, where teams of young entrepreneurs who have launched enterprises of their own with the support of UNICEF’s GIL, were brought together from all over Lebanon on a unique and intensive learning journey that allowed them to both elevate themselves as business owners and gain exposure and support from donors to grow their startups.
GIL is a program powered by UNICEF Lebanon and implemented by the Nawaya Network and INJAZ Lebanon (entrepreneurship track), as well as by DOT Lebanon (digital track). It is designed to address the issue of rampant unemployment among the youth nationwide and deal with the younger generation’s lack of access to the knowledge-based economy. GIL lends a helping hand to disadvantaged youth in Lebanon, helping them build their entrepreneurial and digital capacities and thus enabling them to attain better career opportunities and become self-sustaining, income-generating members of the society. GIL Innovation Labs operate nationwide to make sure the program reaches those residing even in the most secluded and marginalized areas, through partnerships with local stakeholders. In these labs, young go-getters are given access to trainings, workshops and events where they discover new opportunities, weave their own networks with like-minded people, and develop their digital and entrepreneurial skills.
In true GIL spirit, Jawa2ez is a rigorous three-day online boot camp that ultimately opens doors for participating youth teams to compete for additional funding and coaching. The event also serves as a solid networking forum where business owners connect with each other, exchange ideas and share their business insights.
At this second edition of Jawa2ez GIL, young and passionate entrepreneurs were given the precious opportunity to hone their pitching skills in order to better sell their business to potential investors and donors, receive on-demand sector-specific training and further guidance across the facets of being business owners (in terms of management, development and execution), and obtain additional funding and business support to boost their micro-businesses. The three-day sessions covered several topics, including training on Digital Marketing, Sales, Pitching, E-commerce, Legal advice, Agriculture future world, and Food Safety.
UNICEF Representative in Lebanon, Yukie Mokuo, addressed the participating teams on the third day of the event – pitching day, saying: “Young people in Lebanon are very resilient, but it’s not fair to just push you to just be resilient. From UNICEF Lebanon, we always stand with you, for you to remain ambitious, for you to continue to have opportunities so that you can be able to stand on your feet and to build this country and to build this society.”
On November 26, day 3 of Jawa2ez GIL, 38 teams of young go-getters from the Nawaya Network and INJAZ Lebanon competed among each other and pitched their projects to a panel of jury. A total of 15 hard working teams were among the winners; their prizes ranged from additional coaching to extra funding to scale their micro-enterprises. Seven other teams reaped business support vouchers. Winners were selected based on the scalability of their projects, the market’s need for their businesses especially in these unprecedented times, and their potential of growth.
The First Prize win was granted to two deserving entrepreneurs: Boushra Hassanieh, the founder of “Teabah”, and Rayan Bahchik, the mastermind behind “Solar Ray Amper”.
Teabah is a Lebanese Tea brand that brings to the market fresh locally-grown tea, produced in Lebanon with the help of women living in rural areas. Teabah’s tea leaves are dried, ground, and packaged either in tea bags or in painted wooden containers for infusion with different local flavours such as berries, pomegranate and jujube. “Proud is an understatement!” said Boushra upon receiving her prize. “Recognizing Teabah, this brainchild of mine, among the many innovative business ideas encourages me to strive for a successful business deserving of this cherished award,” she added.
And while tea leaves are green in color, Solar Ray Amper is green in impact. It is a power supply solution in the form of a portable kit that can be used when access to electricity is not an option. The kit can be recharged simply by being left out in the sun, which renders it a 100% renewable energy system. “It is an AC/DC power supply with zero operational cost and zero noise,” Rayan explained. “My keenness on green power systems and on safeguarding the environment has fuelled my desire to create a device that requires no more than a ray of sunshine to function. Receiving this valuable award is a major push in the direction of success,” he added.