Impact and Business, a powerful combination! [Newsletter 3 Lebanon]

Hello everyone,

We’re already nearing the end of this exciting new adventure with Codi Tech. One thing is for sure, I definitely plan on coming back to Lebanon. Before I catch my flight tomorrow morning, here are some fresh updates!

Here are the main accomplishments of my mission:

1. Two entrepreneurship workshops in Beirut and Tripoli: I had the opportunity to engage with 80 technology enthusiasts who will soon graduate as Full Stack developers. During these workshops, we covered essential topics such as the different stages of startup growth, key elements for creating a compelling pitch deck, and crucial questions to ask before launching a fundraising process.

Codi Tech Lebanon

2. Five individual sessions on entrepreneurial projects: What particularly struck me was the students’ ability to identify promising market opportunities. We discussed projects such as a mental health platform inspired by the Headspace smartphone application, a freelance platform connecting Lebanese talents with international companies, and an EdTech platform aimed at promoting mathematics and biology learning in Lebanon.

3. Business plan for 2023-2024: In collaboration with Codi’s management team, we worked on a business plan to simulate different scenarios related to Codi’s evolution as a hybrid model between an NGO and a social enterprise. By generating revenue through certain Bootcamp activities, Codi will be able to reduce its dependence on earmarked and unpredictable donations over the long term while multiplying its social impact.

4. Writing an observation report: As an external volunteer within the organization, I was able to easily engage with all stakeholders at Codi to identify opportunities for improvement. I was impressed by the transparency and abundance of ideas proposed by the teams to enhance candidate selection processes, enrich educational content, and strengthen alumni community participation.

Impact and Business, a powerful combination!

After working with 9 exceptional NGOs, I have observed certain limitations of a model based solely on donations and grants.

• Donations and grants are often one-time or limited in time, making it difficult to establish a long-term strategy.

• These funding sources are often earmarked for specific projects, meaning the NGO cannot freely allocate them. It is rare to find funders interested in financing overhead costs, software, staff training, or management, which limits the NGO’s development.

• Additionally, some funders or companies may prioritize showcasing high impact figures, which can compromise the quality of actions taken. For example, in the field of education, some funders prefer to finance $300 per student for 30 hours of training for 100 students, rather than $2,000 per student for 200 hours of training for 30 students, despite the latter being necessary to deliver quality education.

However, after dedicating time to financial modelling of an organization based on a hybrid model between an NGO and a social enterprise, with 100% reinvestment of revenues into the NGO, an exciting perspective emerges. This model has the potential to allow numerous NGOs to scale up and achieve their mission in a more efficient and sustainable manner.

Flywheel modèle ONG

In the case of Codi, I am convinced that this approach could open new perspectives and enable truly exciting developments! For example, why not consider opening a co-working space for external individuals outside of class hours? Why not consider creating specific training programs for companies in search of talented developers?

What is even more thrilling is that Codi’s thinking is not an isolated case. Many other NGOs are also considering the implementation of this type of hybrid model. This reflects a paradigm shift in the NGO sector, where innovation and financial sustainability are increasingly being taken into account. By adopting this approach, NGOs could diversify their sources of funding and significantly expand their impact.

I am inspired by this evolution and look forward to seeing how Codi and other NGOs will continue to push the boundaries and create exciting opportunities to transform lives and contribute to society.

Ahmad and Rifaat: Two student profiles at Codi.

Ahmad Codi Tech Lebanon

At the beginning, Codi was primarily focused on welcoming refugee students, especially Syrians. I had the opportunity to meet Ahmad, a young Syrian man with whom I became friends. He often sat on the couch next to my desk, which allowed us to have regular conversations.

Born in Syria, Ahmad had to flee his country due to the war. Today, he is stuck in Lebanon due to mandatory military service. Young people under 40 years old are required to serve, which can sometimes last indefinitely (Ahmad’s cousin served for 7 years). Despite these difficulties, Ahmad is filled with determination. I have never met a student who has applied to so many universities to continue his studies. Unfortunately, every time he faced the same problem: the rejection of his visa application. On my last day at Codi, he introduced me to Basel – a senior software engineer from Egypt who was visiting Beirut and whom he had just met at the mosque. One thing is certain, Ahmad knows how to create opportunities for himself! Codi is the springboard he needed!

Rifaat Codi Tech Lebanon

In these times of deep crisis, Codi has undergone a significant evolution in the profile of its students. Over the years, more and more Lebanese people have applied to Codi’s program, seeking opportunities in the face of economic difficulties and the consequences of the current situation. Among them, Rifaat is a striking example. Originally from Baalbek, he had secured a place for a master’s degree at an engineering school in France. After completing his studies, he had obtained a job at a French company. Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, his company had to cut positions, and due to his visa, he was forced to return to Lebanon.

After sending hundreds of applications without receiving a response, Rifaat made the decision to change careers and turned to becoming a full-stack developer through Codi. His current project is to create a specialized freelancing platform for IT professions, highlighting Lebanese talent. He was very welcoming and even took me to visit different neighborhoods in Beirut before going for a beer by the sea. We plan to stay in touch.

After two weeks, for me, Lebanon is:

Joseph Codi Tech Lebanon

An outstanding sense of hospitality: I was incredibly well-received – every weekend or some evenings during the week, a staff member, mentor, or student suggested exploring a city or typical restaurant to introduce me to Lebanese culture. For example, Joseph took me for a walk with his wife Joy and their son Karim in Byblos. This city, founded in 5000 BC, is exceptionally well-preserved. We strolled through the historic souk where we tried one of the typical restaurants.

When there is a problem, Lebanese people find solutions: For instance, in the face of electricity shortages, many Lebanese have turned to solar energy. It’s the first time I’ve seen so many solar panels per square kilometer when just 3 or 4 years ago, they were practically non-existent. I’m curious to know how many Lebanese from the diaspora have undertaken similar initiatives in Europe, Brazil, or even the US because finding solutions is the very definition of entrepreneurship.

Once again this year, it was a true privilege to spend time with an exceptional NGO that is changing the trajectory of hundreds of young lives each year! After this 9th project, I can reaffirm that people with goodwill exist in all corners of the planet. They demonstrate on a daily basis that “We can all make a difference at our own level”! #GenerationImpact

NGO project Map

Have a great day,