On April 13, 2021, the new Competencies and Entrepreneurship Center (EC2) was inaugurated at Saint Joseph University of Beirut (USJ). Located at the Campus of Social Sciences (CSS) and jointly managed by the Career and Placement Office (SIP) and the Faculty of Business Administration and Management (FGM), the Center was equipped within the framework of the project “Skills for Employment in La Francophonie – Moroccan-Lebanese University Partnership” of the University of Montreal, funded by Global Affairs Canada. The project, launched three years ago, partners USJ and the University of Balamand (UBO) in Lebanon, as well as Mohammed V and Cadi Ayyad universities in Morocco.
After the welcome speech of Prof. Carla Eddé, Vice-Rector for International Relations and coordinator of the project in Lebanon, Prof. Salim Daccache s.j., USJ Rector, stated that “the word entrepreneurship reminds us of the continuous work done by the University to promote the art of being innovative and creative. This joint venture engages us in a very intelligent and promising way to achieve the objectives of this great project which is becoming a reality despite the difficulties.”
H.E. Ms. Chantal Chastenay, Canadian Ambassador to Lebanon, said that “events such as the inauguration of the Center remind us of the important role that the Francophonie plays in the promotion of peace, democracy, respect for human rights and sustainable development, as well as the central role it gives to women, youth and vulnerable people.”
“Our participation in such events,” adds Ms. Chastenay, “gives us the opportunity to celebrate our commitment to the rich and diverse Francophone culture and all its values which are at the heart of the Francophonie, which places youth at the heart of its actions. In this way, Canada strongly supports global efforts to ensure that young people can learn, grow and achieve their full potential.”
Ms. Rachida Azouz, academic coordinator of the project at the Vice-Rectorate of International Affairs and Francophonie of UdeM, stated that “this Center is the result of a collaborative effort, but also of a co-construction work between USJ and UdeM, in the framework of the project which is focused on the reinforcement of competencies, and the alignment of the trainings on the needs of employers and the job market more broadly.”
Outgoing SIP Director Edmond Chidiac said, “University entrepreneurship is first and foremost the advancement of a culture. USJ was not waiting to have a center before developing it. However, this Center is of major importance, since it is the first space at USJ specifically dedicated to entrepreneurship, where students will be able to meet, share their experiences, get to know each other to form multidisciplinary teams and propose innovative projects.”
During the ceremony, student entrepreneurs presented their microenterprise projects selected for a technical and financial support of 3,000 CAD at the start-up stage by the “Fonds d’initiation à l’entreprenariat”, and still within the framework of the project “Skills for Employment in La Francophonie”. Mr. Elie Bou Faysal presents Prochick, a company that will specialize in the transformation of chicken remains into pet food at competitive prices. Ms. Mariam Semsarzadeh introduced the Elaab application, which aims at forming an integrated sports community by connecting sportspeople and dedicated facilities and spaces. Mr. Mohamad Hallal introduces Supporters, which will offer personalized educational support services to young people with academic difficulties through an adapted virtual platform.