Ekaruna Can you tell us more about the cooperation between EIP and Venture, from where the concept of the company originated, and about its added value in the investment and hospitality sectors?
In 2014, Karim Burhani and myself established Emerging Investment Partners, an investment management structure in partnership with the Obegi group (www.obegigroup.com) and Generation Alfa (www.generation-alfa.ch). The objective is to invest in high growth, medium enterprises with regional expansion prospects in diverse sectors across the Levant, North Africa and selected African countries. The company is backed up by a pool of prominent investors. As such, we were looking at prominent sectors in the Lebanese economy that are resilient to the economic cyclicality and that could also be exportable. Hence we have identified the Venture Group and we invested in the Hazmieh backyard. The added value is significant for both the investment and the hospitality sector. The investment is a showcase of how an institutional investor could make a hospitality idea a reality in the best shape possible. It does also increase the likelihood that this hospitality concept be visible and exportable to other areas/countries/regions. On the other hand, EIP is excited because it has delivered on its promise to provide investors with great opportunities with favorable risk/return reward given the resilience of this type of venture and the effort made by the hospitality group to secure strong brands for a long term horizon.
Ekaruna EIP is based in Lebanon. Does that mean it is solely working within the local market? Where are you identifying new opportunities?
It is true that, so far, the EIP team is based in Lebanon – however, it covers the MENA region as a whole. Lebanon is an important market as it includes talent and bright business models, but the wider region also represents a significant place to make sound investment decisions. EIP plans to have presence in significant markets across the MENA region.
Ekaruna Your joint venture made its first investment in Hazmieh. What does this project brings to the investment world and what benefits can you create from that to strengthen the Lebanese economy?
This investment provides significant benefits to the Lebanese economy in general and particularly to the Hazmieh community. It is expected to generate around 1000 job opportunities - in a time where Lebanon is suffering from high unemployment rate. It will provide growth venues for the participating brands (hospitality companies) and will also provide the community with an enjoyable lifestyle place (presence of kids area and a gym in addition to a variety of leading restaurants).
Ekaruna EIP is promising a great leverage for promising sectors in the market, are hospitality projects still an attractive investment in Lebanon?
Hospitality is an attractive sector as it is a high value added business with great impact on the community. In addition to that, it reflects the Lebanese savoir-faire/savoir-vivre which helps make such investment replicable outside Lebanon.
Lebanon as a brand is known worldwide and its hospitality is one of the leading drivers of this reputation.
Ekaruna How you see EIP activities leveraging hospitality in the future?
We look forward to investing further into hospitality projects in Lebanon and the region as a whole. We are currently assessing one other opportunity in Lebanon as well as the possibility to replicate the Backyard in another country.