Construction of a business plan

[Newsletter 1] Omar, a father, electrician, former soldier, and refugee

Hello everyone,

How are you? This year, I am participating for the eighth time in a project focused on impact measurement or digitization alongside an exceptional NGO. At each of these opportunities, I have met inspiring entrepreneurs, activists, and changemakers, whether in the Brazilian favelas, the Ugandan jungle, the northern neighborhoods of Marseille, the slums in India, or the remote villages of Guatemala. These experiences are real bursts of optimism!

This year, I have just arrived in Lebanon as part of an organization called Codi Tech, based in Beirut. This association trains refugees and marginalized youth in computer coding! But why did I choose this destination?


One evening in February 2019, I came home late from work. Just before entering a sushi restaurant on the way, I met Omar. He didn’t ask me for money, but only for something to eat for dinner. After offering him to order with me, we ended up spending the whole evening together.

Originally from Mali, Omar is a father of two children who still live there. Before the Libyan revolution, he had a peaceful life with his family and worked as an electrician. When the Malian war broke out in 2012, he joined the government army and fought for his country for several years. After the coup, the president had to go into exile, and Omar’s situation worsened. His family was in danger. At any moment during the night, armed groups could invade his home and kill him and his family. He had to flee his country to find a better place to live with them. From Turkey to Greece on a small boat, through multiple attempts to cross the Italian border, it took him two years. He said it was one of the most difficult periods of his life. After a month and a half in France, he had no documents, sometimes had to sleep on the street, hadn’t seen his family for two and a half years, and didn’t have enough money to go back to Mali. He had almost nothing, and yet he didn’t complain once during dinner. We mostly laughed while discussing the differences between our two countries.

On my way home, I wondered: If I were in his place, what would I have done? Would I have also fled my country to find a better life for my family? I am convinced that talking to refugees could dispel many preconceived ideas on the subject.

Adnan - Codi Tech Lebanon

Lebanon is the country that hosts the largest number of refugees per capita in the world, accounting for 25% of its total population. To form my own opinion, I decided to pack my backpack and go meet the locals there. Upon my arrival in Beirut, I was warmly welcomed by Adnan, a close friend of Codi Tech. During the journey from the airport to the hotel, he took the opportunity to give me a brief guided tour. Four things particularly struck me:

1) Churches and mosques are often built side by side. Adnan explained to me that religious diversity is part of their culture, with over 18 recognized religious communities by the state.

2) Many buildings do not have electricity at night. Due to a lack of investment in energy infrastructure and corruption, the government is unable to meet the demand. Many families who can afford it are forced to rent electric generators from illegal suppliers who charge three times the regular kilowatt-hour rate.

Codi Tech Lebanon

3) Inflation is very high, to the extent that one dollar is equivalent to 100,000 Lebanese pounds on the black market. In 2023, inflation reached 25.5% between January and February and 190% over the course of a year. To exchange money on the street, the hotel manager advised me to check the current exchange rate down to the hour.

4) People are very warm and welcoming. If you smile at someone on the street, you’re almost guaranteed to receive a smile in return!

I’m excited to embark on this new adventure! In the next newsletter, I’ll share more about the organization and the project.

Wishing you all a wonderful week, and see you soon,


[Newsletter 2] Codi Tech, a catalyst for social innovation, inclusion, and employment

Hello everyone,

I hope you had a great week!

I started my mission last Monday alongside the NGO Codi Tech. Hortense, the organization’s founder, scheduled a meeting with me at exactly 8:45 a.m. to go together to Codi.

Hortense Codi Tech Lebanon

I have known Hortense for several years, and she is one of those social entrepreneurs who inspire me. After working for four years at BCG, she could have chosen a prestigious career. However, after conducting in-depth market research, she decided to leverage her network and skills to launch an NGO in Lebanon. Codi Tech is an innovative initiative that combines a coding bootcamp and a leadership course. Over a six-month period, an intensive and free training program enables students to become full-stack web developers (both front-end and back-end) or digital project managers. The NGO’s goal is to use coding as a catalyst for social innovation, inclusion, and employment.

Upon arriving at Codi

I was immediately immersed in action by participating in a team project presentation. The students were tasked with developing an e-commerce website for a client they had approached themselves. Quickly facing the market, some presented a platform for the purchase of limited edition sneakers, an e-commerce site in the fashion sector, or even a car resale website.

What struck me particularly was the exclusive use of English! Even though some students had a basic level a few months ago, Codi Tech managed to help them progress rapidly so they could also be exposed to international opportunities. The second point that stood out to me was the culture of feedback. After each presentation, mentors and students engage in constructive feedback to improve their skills and teamwork.

Codi Tech Lebanon

My two objectives at Codi:

With Hortense and Joseph, the program director, we quickly finalized the scope of my mission, setting two main objectives:

Codi Tech Lebanon

Objective 1: Organizing entrepreneurship workshops in Beirut and Tripoli. Given the students’ keen interest in starting their own businesses, we brainstormed together to come up with a workshop format. Even before the workshop began, I was bombarded with fascinating questions from students about their projects, such as a student who is a gym coach and wants to launch a specialized sports e-commerce website, or another student developing an EdTech with an iOS application that promotes reading through an immersive experience…

Objective 2: Developing a 2-3 year business plan. The aim is to support Hortense and Joseph in their strategic thinking to diversify their sources of revenue, so they are no longer exclusively reliant on donations, which can be unpredictable. We will materialize this in a 2-3 year business plan, which is an incredibly exciting project and closely aligned with my role as an investor at Blisce.

Lebanon is currently experiencing an unprecedented economic and social crisis.

The consequences are devastating for the population, especially with the exchange rate experiencing a drastic drop, going from 1,500 Lebanese pounds per dollar before the banking crisis to 100,000 Lebanese pounds per dollar in informal exchange offices. This massive devaluation of the national currency has led to skyrocketing inflation, significantly impoverishing the Lebanese people. According to the UN, 80% of the population now lives below the poverty line, with 40% living in extreme poverty.

Codi Tech Lebanon

The crisis was caused by fraudulent financial practices involving the country’s economic and political elites. In fact, most of the national banks (18 out of 20) have shareholders linked to the political class, and 43% of the country’s financial assets belong to them. For years, public debt has been financed through artificially high interest rates, creating a “Ponzi scheme” where public funds were used to enrich the elites at the expense of social and healthcare services. In 2019, this financial bubble collapsed when the banks were unable to repay their debt. Faced with a default, the banks took drastic measures such as capping bank withdrawals at $100 per week or prohibiting money transfers abroad. In addition to inflation, people can’t even withdraw their money deposited in the bank. The crisis has caused deep distrust towards the banking system and the ruling class. At the hotel, the receptionist explained to me that everything is done to bypass the banks, even salaries are paid in cash.

The Temples of Baalbek

Peter and Zineb, two mentors from Codi, proposed an excursion to Baalbek. This is where, among others, the Temple of Bacchus is located, one of the best-preserved Greco-Roman temples in the world. I didn’t hesitate for long before accepting their proposal.

Codi Tech Lebanon

On the road, I noticed many propaganda signs. I wondered why… They explained to me that we were entering the territory of Hezbollah, a Shiite political-military organization. It’s almost like a state within a state. After the checkpoint, the regular police and army do not dare to enter, unless authorized by Hezbollah.

Baalbek Codi Tech Lebanon

In 3000 BC, Baalbek was a flourishing Phoenician city where the worship of Baal, an eastern deity associated with lightning and beneficial rains, was celebrated. The place is magnificent, every stone is intricately carved.

Zineb, who knows the region well, then took us to the souk to taste the local specialty: sfihas. These are small meat-filled dough pastries that people order in large quantities for family meals. For price negotiations, I quickly realized it was better for me to step back a bit as my tourist appearance didn’t help.

Another excellent day! Have a great week, everyone.


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

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,