Turning the page on 2020
31 Dec 2020
As we turn the page on 2020, a year that I am sure we are all happy to see come to an end, I would like to take a moment to reflect on what a year it has been.
A year of health, financial, economic, political, and social challenges, not just in Lebanon but also on a global scale. A year when the Covid-19 pandemic forced us to live in isolation, far from our families and friends. A year when the August 4 criminal explosion in the Port of Beirut took us to a totally new level of destruction and desolation, bringing with it the tragic loss of LIFE members, loved ones, friends and compatriots.
However, 2020 is also a year when I saw overwhelming acts of solidarity, love, compassion, and patriotism. A year when I was proud to be Lebanese and a member of LIFE, this group of Lebanese professionals working together, with one voice and one ambition, to support their homeland and strive for a better future.
LIFE stands for what we aspire to see in Lebanon: rising above religious, political, economic, and personal considerations, differences that might have divided the Lebanese in the past, but have been translated, through our LIFE family, into a voice of unity, solidarity, knowledge sharing, tolerance, co-existence and giving.
What we have achieved in 2020 is truly inspirational and I am grateful for all your support.
Starting with our humanitarian efforts, last year, in the wake of the October 17 revolution, we initiated LIFE’s Emergency Relief Fund. Through our collective efforts, we raised USD 650,000 to help provide much needed food and medical supplies to over 32,000 beneficiaries across Lebanon.
Following the August 4 explosion, the coalition we formed with our partners, under the Beirut Emergency Fund, raised an impressive USD 8.7 million to date, which has allowed us to help reconstruct ICU units of hospitals, provide medical support to targeted organisations, rehabilitate more than 1,143 homes, distribute more than 667 home appliances, rescue 180 SMEs, and support 1,850 mental health beneficiaries. In addition to this, many of our members reached out to their global firms/employers and encouraged them through their CSR and matching programs, to donate money to Lebanon’s relief efforts, or to send medical supplies and equipment, resulting in incremental tens of millions of dollars of donations.
Today we acknowledge that our country has a long way to go to mend its wounds and to start its eventual journey of recovery, but we can be proud of our contributions, our continued efforts in support of numerous effective initiatives and of the unified message we have projected.
In line with our purpose of working together for a better future, our focus continues to be on our young generation. By investing in them, we hope to give them the foundations that will allow them to be the spark in the journey to recovery. To that effect we have reinforced our scholarship program and our pool of scholars in 2020 rose to 146, representing an annual 132% increase over the previous year, the largest increase since inception. Due to your generous donations, we have disbursed $1.5 million for scholarships, with a total of $1 million earmarked for students studying for their undergraduate degrees in Lebanon, an important step to support Lebanon’s education sector so that it does not collapse.
To enlarge the pool of scholars we have also opened LIFE Scholarships beyond business and finance to encompass engineering, computer science, biology, and liberal arts. Finally, we helped 1000 disadvantaged students finish their degrees in engineering, IT and telecom at CNAM-Liban (Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers) which is part of the Lebanese University. Without our support these students would not have been able to complete their education and receive their degrees.
I am also proud that, despite the dire economic situation in Lebanon and on the global level, out of the 40 scholars who graduated this summer, more than 80% have already found employment, a testament to the resilience and motivation of our scholars, and the power of the organisation in supporting our scholars through mentorship, guidance, job search and placement.
We have further doubled down on our on the ground efforts to create jobs and keep the younger generation engaged. Through the LIFE platform, 800 jobs have been created with our partners: SE Factory, Codi, B.O.T, Jobs for Lebanon, and Holberton Academy. Our Career Portal has also shown great momentum with more than 80 opportunities posted, for which 900+ applications were submitted.
On the membership front, LIFE is now present across 12 chapters, with the addition of the Riyadh chapter. With the Beyond Finance expansion into Consultancy, Law and Technology, the new chapters, and the ongoing virtual events, our membership base continues to expand, and we can proudly say that we are now, through our membership, a self-sustainable organisation, in line with the Board’s ambition. We have also continued to provide virtual events and thought leadership webinars to keep our members connected, informed, and engaged in both Lebanon specific and world impacting events.
Finally, as Promote continues to focus on job creation and humanitarian efforts, I would like to announce that with the support of the Board and the Management team, we have decided to launch a fourth pillar under the name of “Advocate”. Over the past year we have been vocal about our views on matters such as economic reforms, capital controls, management of debt and the banking sector. Through this new Pillar, we now look to step up our initiatives on thought leadership, policy influence, public outreach and student engagement towards the economic, financial and social development of Lebanon. We will be communicating further about this early in the new year.
As we look towards 2021, I thank you once again for your passion and support and offer my heartfelt gratitude towards the entire management team, under the leadership of Nadine Massoud, for their tireless dedication and passion, working relentless hours to secure the various aid, support and numerous initiatives outlined above.
I pray that 2021 will bring with it a gleam of salvation for our country as I am confident that we will overcome the hardships and emerge from the ashes towards a stronger more vibrant Lebanon in the years to come. In the meantime, I wish you and your families and loved ones the best for the upcoming new year. May it also be a year where we can once again physically get together and continue to join hands in delivering on our common vision.
Chair of the LIFE Board