By Thalia Kaloush
Ever since I had heard about Tripoli Entrepreneurs Club, It sparked my curiosity, because the words Tripoli and entrepreneurs don’t usually go together according to the stereotypes associated with our city.
I wanted to learn more about that unique group of people, and I had to meet them. So I sent an email even though I had many doubts. I thought that I, still a student, will have nothing to do there and no one to talk to. Half hindered by my fears and half hopeful, I visited TEC. Needless to say, I went home with new-found optimism! My interactions with the young entrepreneurs restored my faith in Tripoli, their enthusiasm and positivity are honestly contagious.
So here’s what I discovered about TEC, and what it taught me about making change in Tripoli, and Lebanon as a whole.
Firstly, you’re probably wondering what does this hard-to-spell word even mean: An entrepreneur is an innovative individual who turns his/her big ideas into a business. Entrepreneurs are problem solvers and community driven people, that’s why in most cases you’ll see that entrepreneurial operations aim in part to solve certain local, national or international problems.
For instance, Clean2o is a startup launched with the help of TEC, it aims to make clean water accessible for everyone. Coming at first place in TEC’s startup seeds program, the two masterminds behind clean2o came up with a sustainable way of providing clean water by designing portable water filters. Clean2o is at once a profitable business, and a possible solution for an international issue. That in my opinion is what makes their company so inspirational.
By now entrepreneurship seems like an easy to win lottery; it’s an escape from boring routine jobs and a way to make money while being your own boss. Isn’t that the perfect lifestyle?…WRONG! Entrepreneurs face many challenges when launching a startup; it takes hard work and sacrifice to bring visions to life, they have to quit their jobs and put their stability at risk, in order to give their undivided attention to their projects.
Interestingly, TEC is itself a startup. ”we started from point zero. It took seven years of consistent hard work and dedication to get to where we are today.” –Fadi Mikati, co-founder at TEC.
With all this in mind, how does TEC inspire change making and advancement in our society?
It’s no news that Lebanon is going through really tough times. We, the youths, are the most effected, our ambitions are nearly crushed, and we’re told: the best thing you can do in this country is leave. Entrepreneurship, however, offers us an open minded alternative for a better approach.
Lebanese youth, by adopting the entrepreneurial mindset, can create their own opportunities, pave their own way, and defy radicalism. The best thing you can do for this country is stay and be a change-maker, a creative problem solver, in short: an entrepreneur.
Finally, this is where TEC’s role comes in. Not only does it create an inclusive community for these like-minded people to exchange ideas, but also, through its efficient programs, supports entrepreneurs on their journey. Thus encouraging entrepreneurs to follow their dreams, while making entrepreneurship more widespread in the Lebanese culture.
As a student, if you can take home one message from this blog post let it be this: don’t be hesitant to reach out to organizations, the likes of TEC, in your entourage. Contrary to what you may think, students do have a role to play in the improvement of our country, and it’s not an insignificant one.
That is why, I challenge you to find any organization near you specialized in a field of your interest, and give them a call, or write them an email introducing yourself and clarifying your interest in their work. You’ll be surprised at how readily they’ll explain to you what they do, as well as listen to your opinions. Most importantly, you’ll be in awe of how much these people have done and are willing to do for Lebanon, which will prompt you to find your own unique way of making a difference so that we can collectively invite revolutionary change.