LIFE Chairman's Annual Letter 2018

23 Jan 2018

Dear LIFE members and friends, 

As Chairman of this dynamic organisation, one of my goals from day one, was to turn a volunteer organisation of very committed members into a professional one that survives its founders. 
It is thanks to your trust, dedication, professionalism and generosity, that what started as a dream a short 9 years ago amongst a small group of Lebanese finance executives, has now developed into a global and professional organisation with the best and most diligent staff.

With all the challenges our region has been facing over the past decades, the need for us Lebanese to gather and bond around shared principles and values, gives us a grounding that is sorely needed. In this global age, we cannot think of being Lebanese anymore as being tied to a land, no matter how much we are attached to it. Being Lebanese for many of us is our second religion, and LIFE gives us the conduit to practice it.

What we are today, as successful as it is, is only the nucleus of what we can become 10 years from now with your continued support and commitment. We have a rare opportunity to create something we have failed for 100 years to create inside Lebanon: a group of Lebanese, from all backgrounds and religions, coming together, with a common goal, to help each other and the younger generation which will succeed us.

As I come to an end of my chairmanship, I'd like to take a moment to look back at the last four years:

  • Our membership counts around 250 junior members and 500 senior members including 76 premium contributors
  • We now have a total of 10 chapters globally, with our newly opened ones in Montreal and Sydney along with an effective presence in 3 others: Abu Dhabi, LA and Washington
  • We have widened our membership reach to include Corporate Law, Fintech, Insurance, Real-Estate and Venture Capital
  • We have organised more than 100 yearly global events with Gala dinners gathering over 350 guests and raising more than $1M each

This has allowed us to continue to support financially challenged Lebanese students, bringing the total to over 180 scholars to date:

  • We broadened the scope of the scholarship programme to include underprivileged areas
  • Our scholars are morally bound to perpetuate the circle of giving by paying back their scholarship fees. It is with great pride that I inform you that some of our scholars have now reached the stage, where after 5 years of hard work, they are finally able and have indeed started giving back to LIFE
  • A soft skills training has become an integrated part of the scholarship programme benefitting our scholars in Lebanon, in partnership with ESA
  • An essential part of the scholarship we offer is the mentoring programme, which has also been expanded to all our members along with career advice and introduction services benefiting more than 200 members

Not only are we investing in our youth but also in our country. Our efforts in Lebanon have been marked by the following main initiatives:

  • What started as a pilot project with Lebanon for Entrepreneurs (LFE) turned out to be a crucial entrepreneurship advocacy and mentorship platform for tech start-ups in Lebanon, and a springboard to Silicon Valley through LebNet, our partner organisation
  • In partnership with Endeavor Lebanon, the Invest in Lebanon initiative held its 4th Global Summit in Beirut last December. This conference has helped build bridges between local entrepreneurs and the Lebanese in the diaspora in an effort to enhance business opportunities for Lebanese people across the globe 
  • With the objective to promote economic growth in Lebanon, LIFE has been meeting with several governmental bodies and has written a white paper expressing LIFE’s views on the current economic situation in Lebanon and highlighting the necessary reforms
  • We started a mentorship programme for carefully selected social enterprises in Lebanon which has been very successful and we hope to expand it even further
  • With the aim to raise the profile of Lebanon abroad and in response to the more active role the US government is playing in the world of finance, we have initiated an Honorary Board in the US whose members include Lebanese American politicians, namely: Senator Mitchell, Senator Sununu and Secretary Abraham and we are looking to extend the invitation to other prominent figures

Again, none of this would have been possible if it wasn’t for the people who worked tirelessly to lead LIFE to where it is today. I would therefore like to thank the 100 volunteers, from the chapter committees to the junior councils for their commitments and hard work. My thanks also go out to our most senior members who have helped formulate a solid strategy and a set of long-term goals for our organisation.

I would like to reiterate my full support to Nadine Massoud, our new CEO, and the LIFE team who will be working to keep on improving the value proposition for our members, and to continue the expansion of LIFE to new verticals and cities. This can only be achieved by broadening our horizons and relying on you to keep on believing in our vision and helping us make a change. 

Finally, I look forward to passing on the baton to the next chair: many great candidates are ready to take the lead and are currently going through a thorough internal process leading to the elections by the end of the first quarter of the year.

Thank you,
Marc Malek