Over the past three years, since the Banque du Liban (BDL) introduced Circular 331 to inject $600 million dollars in the Lebanese entrepreneurship ecosystem, Beirut has begun to emerge as a regional tech powerhouse – with greater access to funding, government support and a growing number of accelerators and incubators.
A database compiled by Arabnet, indicates that Lebanon is now in second place regionally, after the United Arab Emirates, for the number and value of investments in its tech sector. It also has nearly 200 startups.
Circular 331 was introduced to halt the brain drain and boost local employment, whilst recognizing the need to fuel a knowledge-based economy. It is clear that Circular 331 boosted the startup scene, as well as accelerators and venture capital firms. With more than $250M available in seed and venture capital, and over 65 investments taking place between 2013-2015, Lebanon is one of the thriving capitals of digital innovation in MENA (Middle East and North Africa).
According to Middle East Online, the Arabnet report identified three sectors for growth in Lebanon: financial technology; the well-being sector; and the retail visualisation sector, which reimagines consumers’ shopping experiences via new channels of purchasing, such as e-commerce. If Lebanon focuses its efforts around these sectors, the report said, the country would become one of the top ten entrepreneurial countries and would have created an additional 25,000 jobs by 2025.
For a map of the Lebanese startup ecosystem via Arabnet, click here.
[Image: Beirut Digital District]