By Layan Doueik
LAU Tribune staff
“I used my car savings to open my business,” Hassan Chahine, a 20-year-old international business student, said proudly as he explained how he started his company. Chahine now owns an advertising agency that “aims to establish and dominate the medium of mobile advertising in Beirut and Lebanon as a whole.”
In a previous article, I discussed the current lack of jobs for fresh graduates in Lebanon and spoke to students fearing unemployment. Nevertheless, a number of LAU undergraduates proved that, if you want to, you can create your own career.
As a young boy, Chahine devised many business ventures, funding them with his own money, yet none of them witnessed the growth he had hoped for. “I didn’t give up, I kept on trying,” he said. “This is the key. Perseverance opens all doors.” Chahine researched the idea of placing advertisements on taxis and studied its feasibility in Lebanon.
“The value I present is that I make an unprecedented use of things in a way people haven’t thought about,” Chahine continued. “Today, we are a cost-effective, high-impact medium collaborating with big names in the industry.”
Nader Bitar, a 21-year-old marketing senior, owns the region’s first social, moral and educational academy in Beirut. “My academy’s aims is supporting healthy social and emotional development, by improving positive behavioral skills that lead to life-long success,” Bitar said while handing me his business card and the academy’s brochure.
During a trip to New York with the United Nations, he visited schools, attended workshops and interacted with students. Comparing them to their Lebanese counterparts, he noticed a gap in comprehension, level of education, and thinking.
“So I started off from home. I managed to get the London School of Economics as a supporter of my initiative while Morgan International gave me an office and a conference room in downtown Beirut,” he said. “But now I own my own office and I have a lawyer and an auditor.”
Bitar has had an entrepreneurial spirit since he was 5. “I never used to eat my sandwiches at school and mom used to yell at me. But then I started asking her for up to 12 sandwiches per day,” he continued. “She was surprised until she found out that I was selling them for money at school.”
I met Mou’nes Shibly, 21-year-old marketing student, for an interview in his office in Hamra at 8 p.m., right after he finished his five-hour conference. He eloquently talked to me for couple of hours. Shibly is the vice president of incoming global internship program at AIESEC, the world’s largest youth-run organization.
“It all started by coincidence when I underwent an internship in London and I met a new culture and different mindset,” he said. “When I came back to Lebanon and saw the close-minded mentality, I immediately thought of change.”
Shibly’s role as a vice president is to approach different companies and get their partnership in order to have high-skilled interns exchange and to help “coach the youth and give them soft and hard skills they will use in their professional life.”
“Lebanon is among 110 different countries where AIESEC works but it wasn’t that active when I first applied to this position,” Shibly said. “We started from scratch and even conducted our meetings in our own houses or cafés.”
The 21-year-old VP managed to send 55 Lebanese interns to work abroad and receive 35 others in Lebanon. “I once had a meeting with the CEO of Siemens to propose interns to him. I managed to prove him wrong when he claimed that our program promotes unemployment,” Shibly said defiantly.
As we spoke, it was clear that Shibly’s ambition transcends his current success. “I am going to apply for presidency of AIESIC in Lebanon and then probably for presidency of AIESEC International,” Shibly said. “I am working on creating a name for myself rather than an ordinary CV.”
Behind every one of those young men lies a passion and the hope for a better personal and national future. “I am 22 and thinking on a large scale when there are students who are 24 and 25 and do nothing in life to benefit humanity,” Shibly said.