Nahla | Sharing Thoughts
INVEST IN SMALL BUSINESSES
One success story is enough to attract investors in grim times. Crises can trigger fear and anxiety, they can also trigger a sense of belonging to a community as well as a drive to innovate and create. At a time when the entire world is in chaos, few care about what is happening in Lebanon a country always trying to gets extra doses to still survive. The Lebanese have a remarkable level of resilience, never have they succumbed to slow death, they always had what it takes to rise from the ashes and leave their mark on the world! Much evidence can attest to this; it’s as if this people never got used to being idle, never gave up and never stopped trying to get over the hardship. The Lebanese have been known throughout history for their keen sense of trade and import; such factors have always played a role in reinvigorating the country. Today, as import becomes ever-more difficult; we are bound to change our outlook on economy and think about promoting local production and finding alternatives to products we previously used to import. Lebanon offers today tremendous opportunities for investors; it is a heaven of economic potential. Those who appreciate environments where the demand far exceeds the supply will recognize that investment in small businesses in Lebanon is an incredible opportunity now. The new generation of innovative entrepreneurs has the opportunity now to play a major role in reviving the economy. Big companies have already realized the importance of local production; start-ups can also offer creative alternative solutions capable of turning the tables and achieving long term economic success. This is precisely why I wish to address young entrepreneurs and offer them some practical steps that can unleash their creativity: 1. Begin by creating a list of materials Lebanon currently imports to support locally produced items. 2. Go through the list and select a few possible items that you can research further, you just need one good idea. 3. Explore alternatives that can be manufactured in Lebanon, for example: o Although we produce some dairy products in Lebanon, we import the plastic wrapping which increases the price of the locally manufactured product. o Research to find out if the plastic can be substituted for a different product that can be produced in Lebanon. o You will find great ideas on the internet, you will see that companies in Australia and other places in the world have used new technologies to develop alternative products for the use of dairy packaging – products that are more sustainable and cheaper to produce. o Reach out to such international companies that have already experienced such products, there are many around the world. o Assess the opportunity to work with them, to learn from them, to apply their technology in Lebanon, to use the Lebanese market to test their technologies etc. the type of relationship you can establish with them are endless. 4. Go through the import list and identify a couple of products that can be either produced in Lebanon or substituted with new products through the use of new technology implemented around the world. 5. Don’t think about revenues at this stage because the markets you should aim for are not only Lebanon, think of exporting. By solving a problem for Lebanon, you can solve a problem for international markets. 6. All you need is one small great idea. You don’t need to find a solution to the whole list of imported items, and you don’t need to think of a huge business, start small – you need one WIN and the rest will follow. 7. Develop the details of the business you have selected so that you have a solid business plan that is attractive to an investor. Great ideas that solve a problem in the Lebanese market, coupled with solid feasibility study and business plan will attract the needed investors. Build your plan, funding will follow. All we need is one success story to trigger interest from local or international investors. You can play a major part in rebuilding the credibility that our country has lost! To simplify the above, here are some successful ideas implemented around the world. Olive pits and sunflower seeds husks are being used as bio plastic granules to produce biodegradable products. Similarly, fish waste and algae are used to produce plastic. Such production does not only cater to the local need for plastic substitutes but also solves part of the plastic waste problem in Lebanon. Be courageous enough to stop the economic collapse and find solutions in a country that lacks solution finders.