The setup of a Lebanon-based regional (MENA) electronic commerce company framework under the umbrella of the Lebanese Ministry of Economy & Trade.
The key obstacles to Lebanon creating an Alibaba-like/… platform is:
- It is an economies of scale business
- Lebanon does not manufacture mass intensive products (low prices)
The framework would overcome these obstacles as follows:
- Economies of scale can be created by using private funds to subsidize companies that provide marketing, platform and technical and other shared services to Lebanese export-based e-commerce. Thus, Lebanese e-commerce companies would be able to benefit from:
- Marketing: shared marketing efforts around a common label or brand, and shared marketing around a common platform
- Platform: a cheap and world-class platform
- Technical other shared services: low cost of accounting, HR, etc.
- As for Lebanon’s lack of local manufacturing, given the exchange rates, Lebanon is once again competitive for manufacturing labor-intensive low-cost products (e.g. assembly of digital parts, thermometers, etc.)
The overall objective of the framework would be to create the right conditions to foster companies providing the following products:
- Online business-to-consumer (B2C) and consumer-to-consumer (C2C) services
similar to Amazon (United States) and Rakuten (Japan) with a special focus on what is produced locally in the following sectors:
|IT/Digital (including software, video games, electronics)||Leisure|
|Industry (except oil & gas)||Health|
|Culture (such as books, music, art)||Local craft|
- Online business-to-business (B2B) services
similar to Alibaba (China)
- Travel and hotel
Funding & management
- Incorporation of a company by the Lebanese Ministry of Economy & Trade to own the assets (label / brand name, technical platform, funds raised in the second step) and to guarantee transparency via appropriate oversight by one of a Big 5 accounting firm and a board of personalities known for their integrity.
- Partnership with the universities in Lebanon:
This partnership would give a significant boost to these universities
Universities would handle the management and the development of the digital project (and later its upgrade and its maintenance)
Professors could be the project managers
Students could be developers (this real-life project would give to them a first experience)
A free Sponsoring could be given to these universities
The output of step 1 would be a pilot platform which would not be able to scale. In subsequent steps, the experience gained from creating this platform would accelerate the creation of a scalable platform.
- Organization of a webinar by the Lebanese Ministry of Economy & Trade and the universities in order to raise equity from angel investors
Up to 40% of the company could be offered to them against $5 million and a free carry interest of 10% of the company to small producers and manufacturers.
High caliber people (with significant experience and track record in setting up this type of platform) would be hired to manage the company.