If you had a choice between having a $10 million business and being on the cover of Forbes magazine, or running a $50 million business and no one knowing who you were, what would you do?
Sabine El Kahi was firm with her answer - she didn’t care for either.
“We only have this life once and what matters is that we make an impact,” she said at Mix n’ Mentor Beirut on Friday.
Such conviction from a woman who’s startup Kids Genius works to bring children into contact with engineering and science through maker activities, was an apt way to start Wamda’s latest Mix n’ Mentor event.
Not least because of the new addition to the mentoring sessions, social entrepreneurship.
There has always been some fogginess in Lebanon, and indeed around the region, around the words ‘social entrepreneur’. How does one define such a startup? How can they make money? Should they make money? Where can they find support?
A prominent topic of debate was how to define a social enterprise. The consensus was that a line needed to be drawn between whether your idea was an NGO, a charity group, or a profit-making business.
“What do you put first, being a profitable business as a defining factor, or the social good?” asked one entrepreneur.
One participant said, “no, if you want anyone to give you money, especially an investor, you have to show how to make profit, not just how you’re going to ‘give back’”.
One way to distinguish a business from an NGO is to have a profitable business model.
For mentors Zeina Saab of Nawaya and Mike Clarke of the Open Source Action Network, the issue of making money was still a very real one.
Amongst attendees to the day’s events the chatter centered around how the Lebanese startup ecosystem was progressing was mixed. While some were still critical of it’s inability to compete, not only worldwide but regionally, others were keen to highlight the massive strides that had been made in recent years. Here are a collection of some of those thoughts.
Feature image via Wamda.
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