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Innovators to network at Global Entrepreneurship Week
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BEIRUT: Lebanon is getting ready for the Global Entrepreneurship Week, one of the world’s largest gatherings of innovators where they network, share ideas and explore their potential to start new businesses. From Nov. 12-18, entrepreneurs can participate in activities that will include competitions, meetings with experienced mentors and investors and listening to guest speakers seasoned in their fields.

“We’re gathering the whole eco-system,” says Joelle Yazbeck, program manager of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Enterprise Forum of the Pan Arab region, which is this year’s host.

Now in its third year in Lebanon, this event is expected to eclipse those of the previous two years in terms of activities and participants, she says. Thousands are expected to take part this year.

In fact, to make sure that the many events don’t overlap with one another, Lebanon’s Global Entrepreneurship Week has been scheduled to begin just over a week early.

This will include a national road show from Nov. 1-11 that will make stops at universities and youth centers throughout the country.

The beginning of the official week will kick off with a three-day social innovation camp, and participants will then get the chance to meet potential mentors the following day. On Nov. 13 there will be a gala fundraising dinner, and on Nov. 16 there will be a networking event in which entrepreneurs will get the chance to meet venture capital firms.

Between Nov. 16 and 18, the Startup Weekend Mount Lebanon will take place in Dbayyeh. Nov. 17 will start off with TedxBeirut followed by the Hamra Street Entrepreneurship and Innovation Festival. The Hamra festival will continue throughout the day on Nov. 18.

“We’re targeting young people, and we want as many students as possible to come,” says Yazbeck. “This is where they can take their ideas and see if they can turn them into startups.”

The annual event was launched in 2008 by then-U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Carl Schramm, president and CEO of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. It has since reached 115 countries – with nearly 24,000 partner organizations offering 37,000 activities for 7 million people.

Amid the worldwide recession world leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, are embracing the event, seeing it as a way to help boost their economies through the formation of new firms.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 27, 2012, on page 5.
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