EBDA in Arabic (إبدأ) means “to start”. The EBDA programme in Lebanon by SPARK and Injaz Lebanon, a local youth entrepreneurship non-profit organisation, has been focusing on giving startups the boost they need to succeed.

The programme, supported by the Dutch Nationale Postcode Loterij, received over 250 applications from startups and business ideas from every corner of the country. 67 were chosen to receive intense business training over 2 months from a team of specialists, focusing on planning and getting to know their target markets.

Only 15 startups were selected to participate in the EBDA Business Plan Competition at the American University of Beirut and present their business plans to a panel of judges for their chance to win up to $10,000 in startup capital. Get to know the winners and the new, innovative businesses that will be shaping the startup scene in Lebanon for years to come:

1. Reef

Rodaina Bou Shaheen started her business, Reef, in Beirut because she noticed that many local and international NGOs required office catering services.

At just 25 years old, Rodaina currently employs 17 women from rural areas and underprivileged communities to cook and prepare the food. Reef was awarded $10,000 in startup funding during the EBDA Business Plan Competition.

2. Dr. Leda

Founded by four Lebanese women, Lina El Khoury, Marie Mouzawak, Alaa Mrad and Rida Halbawi, Dr. Leda provides anonymous, affordable, online psychological counseling. It provides people with the emotional support needed to overcome social anxiety.

Lina said: “I aim to see a world with no discrimination, judgments, and most importantly stigma. I dream that my startup will be able to bring joy and comfort to people, becoming the leading mental health software tool in the MENA region by 2023.” Dr. Leda won $7000 in startup funding during the EBDA Business Plan Competition.

3. Furbiture

Syrian friends, Khalid Al Hamwi & Moubadda Younes who are based in Tripoli, founded this creative furniture design and production lab. Their craftsmanship partners solidly with their designs, creating contemporary furniture that fills the unmet needs of the local market. Furbiture sees huge potential for a furniture industry and market in North Lebanon.

Khalid said: “My dream is to contribute to rebuilding the future of Syria, specifically educating people.” Furbiture also won $7000 in startup funding during the EBDA Business Plan Competition.

4. Find a Nurse

Beirut-based, Lebanese couple, Hussein Sleiman and Khulud Khalil, founded Find a Nurse, which has become the biggest network of home healthcare providers in Lebanon.

The idea arose when Khulud and Hussein were working full-time but couldn’t find a certified nurse to attend to their needs outside of office hours. They realised there was a gap in the market for nursing service. Their online platform connects families with qualified caregivers quickly and affordably. Find a Nurse won $5000 in startup funding during the EBDA Business Plan Competition.

5. No Blues

Two self-taught designers and soap-manufacturers, Mariam Al Kotob and Rajaa Abeed, founded a small atelier where they produce high-quality, handcrafted bath and relaxation product.

The two Lebanese university friends were inspired by local, traditional Tripolitan soaps, as well as new, trendy imported bath products. Their unique brand won $5000 in startup funding during the EBDA Business Plan Competition.

6. ADSH

Syrian, Omar Al Merhe, founded an online platform that allows e-commerce store owners to run their drop shipping stores efficiently. It sells products via a website without having the physical product in stock. It then liaises with bigger companies to ship the customer’s product directly to their door.

The project won $5000 in startup funding during the EBDA Business Plan Competition.

7. MyPlan

Beirut-based Syrian, Mohamad Mkayas, built a software that creates interactive online planning tools for NGOs and community leaders, to help people preparing for business plans and proposals. The software collects hard-to-reach data and shares it with organisations that require such information.

Mohamad said: “My dream is that my online company serves all the world with a mix between technology and development.” His business won $5000 in startup funding during the EBDA Business Plan Competition.

8. Nawafez

Tamador Mahmoud, a young Syrian female entrepreneur based in Tripoli, founded a news website focusing on developmental and economic affairs in the governorates of North Lebanon and Akkar.

After being awarded $5000 in startup funding during the EBDA Business Plan Competition, Tamador said: “My dream is that this news website will become one day a news agency and will give an opportunity to the new generation to be part of the website, providing them with a platform to deliver their own voices.”

9. Smart Kids

Current SPARK student, Yasser Alyan from Syria, won $5000 in startup funding for his application that helps parents monitor and balance the time their children spend playing and learning.

Yasser said: “My dream is to build an e-learning system that complements the schools’ curriculum by integrating entertainment and excitement with scientific topics in order to encourage students to experience science in a practical and fun way.”

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