My Message to You

March 20, 2013 in General by Maha Lahoud

487709_427093334046672_1220447663_nYour excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very happy to have been solicited to take part in this important event [EU Cooperation Days 2013] celebrating the very beneficial and needed cooperation between the EU and Lebanon. My very short intervention is a bit marginal with respect to the focus of your conference as I was requested to testify, in my capacity as a business active woman, about my experience in setting up and launching my company [PlayLebanon] and about the resources that are available for project owners, in Lebanon.

Rather than embarking on a classical lecture about the theoretical components of business success, I chose to seize this opportunity to testify:

One : That Lebanon continues to be a land of opportunities ;

Two: that there are a number of local and international organizations, notably European, that offer support and tangible solutions to the owners of promising projects;

And three: that the Lebanese woman has walked out of her kitchen and that’s not solely to go shopping;

Lebanon continues to be a land of opportunities. Yes. Despite all our problems, political or otherwise, the potential of our country remains enormous. We have to believe in it and to make it happen. I am an advocate of a country where the average citizen (including myself) is a little bit less active in politics and a little bit more trusting towards our politicians, from all sides. We would then be able to carry out other constructive occupations, and work in parallel for the development of our country on several fronts at the same time, and hence move forward much faster…

At PlayLebanon (that’s the name of my company), we chose to believe in Lebanon, and have started from scratch, to set up a company that currently generates yearly revenues exceeding 2 billion Lebanese Pounds and that generates work for 10 persons… It’s not yet Google nor, of course, but with more than one hundred thousand users, we have reached a noteworthy reputation level…

For those who do not know it, PlayLebanon is the online agent for the sale of the lottery products of the Lebanese government. It became, shortly after its launch, a subsidiary of the Libanaise des Jeux, the official operator.

Aside from our revenues level and the number of our users, the success factor that makes me particularly proud is that PlayLebanon pays more than Five Hundred Thousand Dollars of annual revenues that are taken by the state out of our sales in addition to our regular taxes… If I am doing the

Maths well, your excellency, all you need are 10,000 companies like ours to bridge the budget gap… Sometimes the problems are so much smaller than they seem, isn’t it?

Anyway, PlayLebanon achieved this success by drawing on the resources available in the Lebanese market for new ventures and for innovating companies. I can mention Berytech, of course, the Lebanese Technological pole where we continue to be located, who is a partner of the EU on several projects and who offers professional support and provides an environment that is very favorable for business development. I can also mention Kafalat, as well as the “Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie” the A.U.F. and others. My message today is a message of optimism. Ladies and gentlemen, the opportunities are there… The resources are sometimes hidden or lack visibility, hence the importance of events like your conference of today, but they are there, undoubtedly.

My last words go to the few women that may still hesitate to walk out of their kitchen and to the many men who hesitate to walk in. I want to tell them that the world of business doesn’t differ a lot from that of cookery… Indeed, whether you are preparing a dish or a business plan, you need to have the flair, to put the appropriate ingredients, to put some projects on the back burner, to fire up under others etc. in order, as a result, to get your share of the cake… So go right ahead, good luck and bon appétit!

I wish your conference a lot of success and thank you again for having invited me to participate. Thank you.

Maha Wehbe
Play Lebanon (established at Berytech Technology Pole)