Entrepreneur and client of micro-financier Vitas, an IFC partner.
I’m a nature lover and a dreamer. I believe the more one remains connected to nature, the more simple and stress-free life becomes. I live in a peaceful area here in Mount Lebanon, surrounded by green spaces and mountains - a good environment for dreamers like myself. I run a very small farm, but I have big ambitions and ideas to grow it. But I lack the required financing, which is why I sought financial help from Vitas (an IFC microfinance client in Lebanon).
Cows are farmers’ biggest assets. Cows give us milk, which is cheap in Lebanon, and we make this into cheese, which we sell for good money. A cow is also often the first thing that comes to mind when someone thinks of a farm. I wanted to strengthen this imaginary link, which is why I chose a cow for my logo. My little farm is called La Vallee Blanche, which means ‘the white valley.’
The closer we get to nature, the healthier we become. In this tiny shop, I sell natural products like milk, cheese, butter and honey. Everything is natural, which is why people come to me. I started the business with savings and support from my family.
My dream is to build a farming space, rather than just a farm. I want to build a small motel inside the farm, starting with just seven rooms, to help families escape the noise of the city and relax. I’d like people to enjoy natural milk and cheese from my farm, and I want to provide activities for children too. I’d also like to bring the next generation closer to nature, so I’ve started inviting schools to bring children here to see how cows and other animals are fed, and teach them how to make their own cheese. No other place in town does this. I’m also building a small pool for fish farming and would like to open a restaurant too, so customers can enjoy fresh fish directly from the farm. It will take me another two years or so to finish this project.
To expand the farm and add the motel, fish farm and the restaurant, I applied for three successive loans from Vitas. These loans have helped me build the farm, buy fridges for my shop, and pay my workers. I started off with one worker - I now have eight permanent employees. I will continue to borrow money for this project until I realize my dream.
I believe in recycling so I support it whenever I have a chance. Recycling is vital to protect nature and preserve the beautiful world we live in. I believe everything can be used again, and we need to learn to do this to avoid damaging the world further. I used leftover cement and wood when I was building the farm, and my restaurant will have furniture made from recycled wood, or materials that have been discarded. I’ve also reused old skiing boards that people have thrown away to build this small truck, which I use to transport my products around Beirut. Skiing is a very popular sport in Lebanon.