June 16 (Reuters) – His employees are struggling to find gasoline for their cars to drive to work and he has to come up with a unique product to encourage customers to go with a high risk company based in Lebanon act, but against all odds, Fadi Daou's tech company is thriving.
The entrepreneur's company, MultiLane, manufactures test and measurement equipment for data center infrastructure. His international customers include Microsoft, Apple and Google.
“Everything is conceived, designed and built in Lebanon,” said Daou.
While Lebanon is battling a financial crisis, which the World Bank describes as one of the worst depressions in modern history, Daou had to master numerous challenges, for example building his own solar power supply in order not to depend on the state power grid. He succeeds in exporting his products successfully.
After 25 years in the USA, he returned to Lebanon in 2006. In November 2019, one month after the Lebanese economy started, he established Houmal Technology Park (HTP) in his hometown of Houmal, 15 km outside of Beirut, to expand its production.
Global tech companies “choose and choose to work with Lebanon knowing that Lebanon is a high risk country, so we have to offer twice as much on the value proposition, in terms of innovation and time to market. We have to work harder,” he said.
“We are building a quality product that is unique in solving an industry problem, so they buy it from us.”
In the past two years, Lebanon has also seen a popular uprising against its political leaders, the global COVID-19 pandemic and a giant chemical explosion in the port of Beirut that killed 200 people and destroyed parts of the capital.
The local currency has lost around 90% of its value against the dollar, and the crisis has destroyed thousands of jobs and driven more than half of the population into poverty.
Daou employs 130 mostly young men and women at MultiLane Lebanon and plans to take on 25 more people by the end of the year.
His goal is to hire more employees in the coming years to combat the brain drain caused by the financial crisis.
“My reward is when a parent calls me or sends me a thank you message because my children are now working, they wanted to leave the country but are now staying,” he said.
Hundreds of engineers, academics, doctors, artists and others have packed their bags to look for opportunities abroad as the country moves faster towards total collapse.
“It's an empowering experience … the company is really giving young people a chance to stay in the country,” said Sana Aawar, an intern at MultiLane.
Her colleague Maria Tawil added that they felt able to realize their dreams as young engineers who wanted to prove themselves.
Reporting from Alaa Kanaan; Writing from Yara Abi Nader; Editing by Alexandra Hudson
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