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Aspiring Entrepreneurs

  • By Business Life Magazine
  • August 01,2021
Aspiring Entrepreneurs

By the time the crisis erupted in October 2019, the economy was facing four extraordinary challenges. First, public sector debt had reached such elevated levels that a default had become a question of when, not if. Second, the banking sector, having lent three-quarters of deposits to the government, had become functionally bankrupt and increasingly illiquid. Third, the productive economy had experienced virtually no growth for an entire decade - a development with acute socio-political implications. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the country was politically rudderless. A foreign exchange black market emerged and the national currency, the lira, sharply depreciated. In turn, inflation soared and people’s real wages and purchasing power collapsed. In addition, as if all these woes were not sufficient, a severe COVID-19 crisis hit the country and, most tragically, a devastating explosion took place on Aug. 4, leveling a third of downtown Beirut.

The confluence of these large negative shocks led to the implosion of the economy: GDP is estimated to have contracted by 25% in 2020, with an additional 10-15% decline forecast for 2021. When measured in USD, the Lebanese economy may end up shrinking from $60bn in 2018 to $15bn in 2021. An extreme form of wealth destruction is taking place with the Lebanese de facto losing the majority of their bank savings. Meanwhile, four out of every ten Lebanese are out of work, and half the population is under the poverty line.

But what these numbers do not reveal are the structural scars. Human capital is fast eroding due to a massive brain drain of the young and skilled. Equally worrying is the loss of physical productive capacity resulting from widespread business closures. Much more alarming are the security consequences of the economic implosion. Lebanon’s sectarian history is rife with conflict. An economic collapse provides a perfect habitat for a return of violence.

Since the Beirut explosion: What is the situation now at The Net? On the 4th of August, a massive explosion occurred in the port area of Beirut, capital of Lebanon, injuring more than 6500 people and affecting the lives of hundreds of thousands. Four months later, a lot has been done but the work is far from finished. "The explosion was a force majeure. We were not prepared for it. We didn’t envisage an explosion in the port. We were fully stretched by the COVID-19 as well as learning more on COVID-19 awareness and also trying to conceive the demonstrations in various parts of the country. No matter how overwhelmed we might be, we should always be prepared for the worse," explains Mourad Aoun.

Mourad Aoun is the Chairman and CEO of The Net Group who is famed for his perseverance and for lifting The Net from ashes to new heights of growth. He moved to the industry as a young man, where he made his career. Under his leadership, in 27 years, The Net grew from an express courier company representing SkyNet Worldwide Express into a regional group specialized in global Express Courier Deliveries, Domestic and International eCommerce solutions, Freight-Forwarding, Warehousing and other Logistics services, covering the entire supply chain across various industries in the MENA region. Today, it operates a diverse portfolio of unparalleled logistics and freight solutions in over 190 countries across the globe, under one commercial brand: NET.

In addition to being the CEO of NET, Mourad is the CEO of Transforum, promoting a regional ecommerce ecosystem and bringing together the congregating worlds of eCommerce, Logistics, Payments and Retail.

Besides that, Mourad has been the president of the Air Express Association in Lebanon (AXAL) since 2002. He is also a member of the board of the Lebanese Businessmen Association (RDCL) and SkyNet Worldwide Express Global Board of Directors since 2007.

Mourad holds an MBA from USJ and is currently enrolled for a DBA in eCommerce from Toulouse Business School.

Knowing the above about Mourad who has the knack of handling almost any critical situation, it is important to add that the company consolidated all its logistics and freight divisions, namely SkyNet, Net Logistics, Net Critical, Net Express, and Net Projects, under one commercial brand: The Net, bringing its customers one simplified approach to new opportunities and more efficient service solutions. The Net believes in customer-centric philosophy, fully integrated systems and uses the industry best practices. The Net provides its customers with comprehensive solutions to grow its businesses and achieve operational efficiency in order to save time and money.

Mourad Aoun spoke with BUSINESS LIFE for a cover story about his career, privilege and his perseverance to expand The Net throughout the world.

Read the entire interview with Business Life magazine. 

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