Living and being from Lebanon isn’t always a piece of manoushe (am I right?). Aside from the daily struggles of living, as women and as entrepreneurs we face challenges that are both universal and ones that are completely Lebanese-y.
These day-to-day and large-scope challenges can often leave you lonely or just disheartened. With the recent terror attacks here at home and abroad, it’s been even harder to figure out why the hell we do this.
Here are a few Lebanese female entrepreneurs who are examples of success and sheer perseverance against all the odds. They’ve still got hope in Lebanon and it’s contagious, making a difference not only in my life, but in the lives of many. Each and every one of them has helped me personally with FADE IN:, always taking the time to lend an ear, advise, or share their stories. They’ve struggled, succeeded, are still succeeding and they did it all on their own merit.
Pauline Korban, Community and Events Manager, AltCity
Start-up incubator and café AltCity would not be the same without Paula. Her official title is the Community and Events Manager, but she should be called the ‘ribbon that ties everything together’. Maybe not an official title, but it’s accurate. She puts her heart into her work and personal life, bringing a truly spirited vibe to all the events, exhibits, bootcamps and even us underdogs: Lebanese start-ups. She’s my own personal super-hero, seeing FADE IN: through its ups and downs and watching us grow step by step. Possibly her most admirable quality is her sincerity. This woman cares and she’ll take the time to comfort you in your personal/business breakdowns (thank you, Paula), or share in the joy of your milestones. Running the scene at Altcity is like having two full time jobs and get this, Paula is also a wonderful mom to a beautiful little girl, a marathon runner, and the founder of Structure Resto, a creative consultancy firm that specializes in concept cafes and restaurants. All in a day’s work!
Nadine Mneimneh, fashion designer
Categorizing Nadine in the “fashion industry” is very misleading because the term conjures up red carpets and fancy dresses that no one will ever be able to afford. Nadine’s got the talent for all of that, there’s no doubt, but she’s doing something more. She opened her ready-to-wear ‘Nadine Mneimneh label’ in 2011 after working in retail management, visual merchandising, marketing and printmaking and has since showcased in Europe and the Middle East. Alright, so she’s got expert technical skills, but what’s truly impressive about Nadine is her ultra-creative brain, coupled with a business-savvy sense that have culminated in her newest project. I will leave you in intrigued suspense, but know one thing: with this new endeavor, she will change the face of the fashion industry in the region and position Lebanon on the map as a leading player in the global market. She will create jobs and a sustainable technical-support system for the fashion/apparel industry that we truly need in this country. On top of it all, she’s super humble and cares about her values and integrity above everything else.
Maya Hodroj, strategy consultant, The Boston Consulting Group, London office
It is not often that you find a powerhouse of a woman in her mid-twenties. That’s Maya. She doesn’t know it, which makes her all the more cool, man, but she’s way ahead of the game. Currently a strategy consultant for a major consulting group in London, she did not leave Lebanon without leaving her mark. While still in the country, she was headhunted by Amideast Entrepreneur Institute as their short-term acting manager and in just 3 months she made a huge impression. She launched and coordinated a new competition for start-ups and worked tirelessly, during and after office hours, with each and every applicant. She went so far as to personally coach all the finalists and gave off an attitude of shared success. Meanwhile, she just so happened to mobilize a diverse group of Lebanese youth to open a new platform that drives successful volunteering practices in Lebanon. Basically, Maya and the team will help you match yourself with the perfect volunteering opportunity in your area, not only making you a better person, but also utilizing and strengthening your skills to better our community. The platform is called VolunteeringLB and the upcoming official launch is certainly going to bring some much-needed goodness (literally) to our tiny country.
Lastly, a special shout-out to all the women of the #fadeinfamily. It takes courage to be creative, and they continually inspire me in their storytelling and self-expression. A big part of that family is FADE IN: co-founder and brand manager, Sara Jawad, who pushes us to continue to believe. Thanks, team!
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