In April 2022, the EUDiF team went to Paris to meet with representatives from the Association Franco-Libanaise des Professionnels de l’Informatique (AFPI), Berytech, and Lebanese diaspora professionals to formally close the first of our Capacity Development Lab actions. Read on for a glimpse of the outcomes of this fruitful collaboration.
One year after its launch, EUDiF’s first operational intervention has come to an end. The action has resulted in a replicable step-by-step approach to empower diaspora as a market broker to help local businesses export services abroad, in this case paving the way for the Lebanese tech sector to expand into France, by leveraging diaspora expertise. The collaboration has included the creation of several innovative tools and the internalisation of technical and soft skills which AFPI will continue to use to support Lebanese tech companies.
French Market Acceleration Programme
One element of this initiative saw a team of diaspora professionals create the first-ever tailored French Market Acceleration Training Programme (FMAP). The FMAP contains guidance on laws, cultural specificities and tips for Lebanese tech companies to access the French market. It was successfully pilot-tested with 10 small and medium tech enterprises.
“The pilot programme proved to be high calibre. It allowed us to better understand the French tech ecosystem from all facets and to meet extraordinary Lebanese professionals. I would eagerly welcome additional programmes which will allow the creation of professional exposure and bonds between Lebanese entrepreneurs and the Lebanese diaspora.”
Toufic Saghbini, General Manager, Entelligence
Cedars Tech Label
Alongside other partners, AFPI and Berytech launched the Cedars Tech label to support Lebanese tech companies that wish to enter the EU market by creating a common professional identity built on a shared set of values and promoting “Made by Lebanese” as synonymous with quality engineering. The Capacity Development Lab support catalysed the label’s design and operationalisation by engaging diaspora professionals to develop a label guideline and communication plan. This is a valuable step towards its long-term objective to generate more jobs in Lebanon by supporting tech startups and SMEs to expand in foreign markets.
Developing AFPI’s institutional capacity
Our support also enabled AFPI to strengthen its ability to support and promote the Lebanese tech industry. First, by designing monitoring tools to help measure progress in training, communication, and labelling. Next, through enhancing the team’s online training facilitation skills and knowledge of relevant tech stakeholders and market needs. Lastly, by linking them up with regional and international peers such as La French Tech, Finance Innovation, and Start-up Tunisia to network and exchange experiences and best practices.
The added-value of diaspora expertise
Six Lebanese diaspora professionals based in France and Switzerland and two international experts were deployed across the various activities. The creation of the FMAP, the Cedars Tech label guidelines, and a communication training toolkit for AFPI all benefited from the diaspora professionals’ familiarity with the Lebanese tech sector and economy and – most of all – their high level of commitment. Having similar business and workplace cultures also facilitated interaction between the different stakeholders involved over the course of the collaboration.
This action marked Berytech’s first collaboration with the Lebanese diaspora, as well as the first opportunity for some diaspora professionals to capitalise on their expertise for the benefit of their country of heritage. Consequently, it has boosted AFPI’s network with diaspora members, businesses, and investors as engaging with AFPI is seen as a tangible way of supporting Lebanon. All partners are enthusiastic to pursue future developmental initiatives which tap into diaspora skills and resources.
“The EUDiF project has laid the groundwork for a long-term relationship with the diaspora based in France and this will be expanded in the future to other countries.”
Fadi Khoneisser, Director for Development and Growth, Berytech
The results of this cooperation serve as a solid foundation to construct and work on larger, long-term objectives to support development in Lebanon. AFPI can now further support its members through providing training and strengthened communication to promote the tech sector. While the French market is the current priority, both the FMAP and Cedars Tech label were designed to be replicable elsewhere, thus presenting huge potential for other destination markets. Moreover, AFPI is considering transforming the FMAP into a mentorship scheme with one-on-one support to tech companies wishing to expand into France.