Diaspora targeting apps,
linking emigrants with home
For investment, products, services search
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One bank and two entrepreneurs launched last week three digital initiatives to link local entrepreneurs and businesses to the Lebanese diaspora worldwide.

Bank of Beirut (BoB) launched the ‘Lebanon Investors’ online platform to connect the diaspora to local entrepreneurs, Abacus Lebanon launched ‘Ya Mijana’ mobile application to globally promote local producers, and TEDMOB launched an app similar to LinkedIn, but locally and aimed at the diaspora.

According to Danielle Issa, Head of Strategic Development at BoB, ‘Lebanon Investors’ is a platform whose overarching objective is to link the diaspora to the economic opportunities available in the country.

“The website is a forum where like-minded investors can come together,” she said.

Information about investor profiles is channeled to a team at BoB that then aligns the profiles with local industrial contacts and partners for proper financing purposes.

Abacus Lebanon launched ‘Ya Mijana,’ a mobile application that offers numerous features including promoting local products in specific target markets worldwide.

“The app is huge and combines different features that could be found separately in different ones,” said Charbel Sarkis, a partner at Abacus.

‘Ya Mijana’ is the brainchild of Sarkis who financed the project’s entire cost of a total investment of $160,000.

“The app’s most important feature is its ability to search for businesses and for individuals,” he said.

Registered companies can be located by searching directories according to country, nationality, and line of business. Subscribers can add their logo and business details. The app provides voice, text, and video chat services. It has 45 built-in languages and two subscribers can chat by using two different languages due to an automatic translation feature.

Sarkis said they expect to reach the first 100,000 users within two to three months.

He said that they have subcontracted the app project to companies in Vietnam, India, and Silicon Valley, in California. A German company is in charge of the infrastructure that includes the servers and data centers.

Sarkis said they have subcontracted the project to more than one company outside the country for cost reasons, as well as because the app is huge and uses advanced high-tech features.

TEDMOB, which was selected last year by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to develop the ‘Lebanon Connect’ mobile application, has now launched the full version of the app.

“The app is like a LinkedIn for Lebanon and the diaspora. Its main function is to connect the Lebanese worldwide,” said Mario Hachem, CEO and founder of TEDMOB.

“If you need a lawyer in Argentina, you can select the occupation ‘Lawyer’, and the distance from your location, and you get all the Lebanese registered as lawyers in Argentina,” he said.

Subscribers can register either as businesses or as individuals. The app also provides a ‘Chat’ service between subscribers.

Companies that face difficulties in marketing their products abroad can list themselves on the app's ‘Buy Lebanese’ feature, Hachem said.

The app also allows local companies to post their job vacancies, as well allowing updates from news and events regarding the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the country. A directory of embassies in Lebanon is also available. A link from the app to the ministry’s website will allow formalities with the ministry to be conducted.

The new app version will be promoted globally in embassies and on TVs in order to reach the diaspora worldwide, Hachem said.

TEDMOB develops digital platforms and mobile apps. Its customers include ABC, OMT, Bank Audi, and Allo Taxi.
Reported by Shikrallah Nakhoul
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Date Posted: May 08, 2017