Generosity, mutual aid, planning. So many hopeful watchwords, marked the ceremony for the establishment of the “Bechara and Carmen Obegi Prize for Creativity and Innovation”, which took place on Monday, October 12, 2020, at the François S. Bassil Auditorium, in the presence of Professor Salim Daccache s.j., Rector of Saint-Joseph University of Beirut (USJ), Mr. Riad Obegi, Chairman of the Board of Obegi Group, Prof. Joseph Gemayel, Dean of the Faculty of Economics (FSE), the President of the FSE Alumni Association, Mrs. Joumana Kmeid Hobeika, the Director of the USJ Foundation, Mrs. Cynthia Ghobril Andrea, and the members of the Prize Selection Committee: Prof. Salim Chahine, Vice Governor of the Banque du Liban, Mr. Henry Obegi, CEO of Obegi Group, Prof. Joseph Gemayel, and Dr. Fouad Zmokhol, Dean of the Faculty of Business Administration and Management (FGM) of USJ.
The ceremony consisted of the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding for the establishment of the annual “Bechara and Carmen Obegi Prize for Creativity and Innovation” and the awarding of the Entrepreneurship and Excellence Awards for the winning projects.
Established as a tribute to Mr. Riad Obegi’s parents, Mrs. Carmen Obegi and the late Mr. Bechara Obegi, this award is granted on the basis of two themes: entrepreneurship, which was won this year by Mr. Rodrigue Haddad for his UBUS project, and excellence, which was won by Ms. Lamis Dib for her achievements in research and innovation.
In his speech, Prof. Joseph Gemayel, Dean of FSE, described “this beautiful initiative of Obegi Group” as “a spark of hope under a gloomy sky” and “a message directed towards the future, to our young generations overwhelmed by doubt and fear of the future.” He added, “our University is facing the greatest challenges that threaten the core of our society, and this initiative is part of a joint effort by the business and academic communities.”
Addressing Mr. Obegi, USJ Rector Prof. Salim Daccache said: “You wished this Prize to be awarded to FSE students, and this is praiseworthy, especially since this Faculty is a valuable asset in the life of our country, as it trains the best specialists in a discipline that remains vital for our country and for our region, which has been hit by the most severe crises. Your investment is a clear sign! We are grateful for this message of hope and friendship, as an institution and as a community of USJ.”
After praising the excellence of the project, the efforts and the investment of Mr. Edmond Chidiac, Mr. Riad Obegi declared “that innovation is not a novelty and that it is part of human nature, and that it represents a necessity for human beings in all fields and not only in terms of economy, especially since in the current situation in Lebanon, innovation is essential.” Obegi insists that this is the only way Lebanon will be able to get out of this situation.
“But innovation, he adds, requires faith and courage. Young people won’t stay in Lebanon, and expatriates can only be brought back or kept in touch with only through innovation, which also needs tradition, embodied by the academic sector and more particularly by USJ, in order to flourish.”
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