Pulling the Road Forward: PNB-NAPEO Summit

Lisa Canning, Founder of, and


Well, today I leave for Washington for my first PNB-NAPEO (Partners for a New Beginning- North Africa Partners for Economic Opportunity) Summit. Madeline Albright will kick off our meeting and then we will spend two days in meetings that range from a PNB overview from the ground to Entrepreneurship for Women in the Middle East to clean water initiatives. Great stuff.

IAE is supported by Partners for a New Beginning’s North Africa Partnership for Economic Opportunity (PNB-NAPEO), a public-private partnership created by the U.S. Department of State.  The mission of PNB-NAPEO is to build a network of entrepreneurs and business leaders in the United States and North Africa where both communities can identify projects that will foster entrepreneurship and job creation, especially for youth.

The meeting will be loaded with a lot of business folks interested in PNB’s mission from different vantage points. Gosh, what a big help this is going to be to The IAE. And what fun it is going to be attending such a high-voltage education oriented networking meeting. This will be a great opportunity to grow my network of support for The IAE and continue the transformation process- from idea into reality. Are YOU ready to transform from a caterpillar with 16 legs into a butterfly who, with just a single pair of wings, can fly?)

At the Summit, I am looking forward to meeting Naeem Zafar. Check out this blog post he wrote about the initiative.

The Four Minute Mile

It was called the greatest sporting achievement of the 20th century by many.  No one believed that a human can run a mile in under four minutes.  The belief was considered an ultimate barrier for generations.  This disbelief was until one fateful day in 1955 when the British medical student Roger Bannister broke the barrier by a hair.  He ran a mile in just under 4 minutes.  Unbelievable feat!  Never in the history of mankind had such had an accomplishment ever taken place.

But within one year the record was broken again.  By seventeen other people!
What does this tell us?  The clarity is profound for me as an entrepreneur.  The barriers are often mental.  We convince ourselves that it cannot be done.  It is not until we see others do it that we believe it  might  be possible after all.  Such was the turning point for the entrepreneurs in the Middle East and many Muslim majority countries when Maktoob, an Arabic language web portal and email service, was acquired by Yahoo for $160M last year.

“Tell the stories”   – telling simple stories about how somebody did it makes a huge difference in somebody’s life – some place far far away.  This was my main message as I attended and spoke at the TechWadi event at the presidential summit on entrepreneurship in Washington DC this week.  This was a follow up from President Obama’s historic speech in Cairo on June 2009 when he promised a new beginning on how US communicates with the muslin majority countries in the world.  Obama asserted that a new chapter in US foreign policy that is based on mutual respect and dialog will usher a new era.  Well this was the follow up and it was a great week. We had the opportunity to hear so many stories from entrepreneurs from 55 countries on how they innovated and created compelling companies.

I was moved by the story of Puni, an Indonesian entrepreneur who invented, sold and installed 60 micro power plans that can generate water if there is a water fall of 3 meters or more.  She told the story of how it brought electricity to remote villages and how that changed lives.  I was also moved by  the story of a Turkish entrepreneur who started a service to enable remote order taking and delivery of food from restaurants by signing up 4000 restaurants.  He is doing 22,000 transactions per day and is very profitable.

Several initiatives were created and the US State department is encouraging collaboration and providing the infrastructure now that should make America’s greatest strength and innovation (Entrepreneurship) its strategic piece of diplomacy.


Check out these ebooks that Naeem has written. I can’t wait to meet him. Imagine the possibilities for art and culture, as a ‘sector’, to create innovative new businesses and job strands in the U.S. and North Africa? I am.

Get a Reality check on your big idea for under $100. By Naeem Zafar, University of California, Berkeley

Entrepreneurs don’t like to do market research. Whether they find it unnecessary, think it takes too much time and money, or are simply terrified by the idea, they often start up their businesses without the necessary preparation or understanding of exactly what they are getting into.

But market research doesn’t have to be an expensive, unbearably time-consuming nightmare. It is an essential aspect of starting a new business that can be conducted quickly and easily if you know what to look for and where to look. Market Research on a Shoestring is full of techniques, tricks, and secrets that will help you ask the right questions and find the answers you need to better understand your business and the market it faces. If you want to raise funds for your startup or simply maximize your chances of success, you need this book!


Get Funded!

A Definitive Guide to Seeking the right funding at the right time and from the right source
By Naeem Zafar, University of California, Berkeley

Entrepreneurs need funding at various stages of their companies’growth. This to-the-point book is your essential guide to the funding process. Organized into three sections, this book outlines the likely sources of funding and how they operate, how to approach investors, and the 12-step process of getting funded.

As a valuable bonus, Get Funded! includes the names of several hundred angel investors and venture capital firms.

If you are serious about seeking funding for your startup or simply want to know your options, you need this book! This book is the complete guide to seeking and getting funding that all entrepreneurs look for and seldom find.


The Entrepreneur’s Legal Guide to Starting Up

By Naeem Zafar, University of California, Berkeley

A simple, to-the-point guide that outlines the decisions all entrepreneurs must make when setting up a legal entity. This eBook is packed with practical, time-tested tips and suggestions about incorporation, hiring the right lawyer, registering patents, and
minimizing your legal bill. The eBook includes a step-by-step guide to finding and hiring the right lawyer for your company and offers proven strategies that will save you thousands on your legal bill. There’s also an easy-to-understand chart explaining the differences between the various corporate structures and offering a quick guide to the most common legal issues plaguing entrepreneurs, as well as effective methods for overcoming them.

Knowing the ins and outs of setting up a startup and picking the right lawyer isn’t a matter of intelligence—it’s about experience and expertise. You may have a great deal of both when it comes to your industry, but most entrepreneurs don’t know much about the law. Your strengths lie elsewhere. As a result, you may find yourself intimidated by the idea of selecting legal counsel.


The Definitive Entrepreneur’s Guide to Lawyers:

35 Little-known facts, secrets, techniques, and tricks to making sure you get every penny’s worth of value from your lawyer By Naeem Zafar, University of California, Berkeley

Containing nearly three dozen money-saving, angst-minimizing tips, The Definitive Entrepreneur’s Guide to Lawyers is a go-to resource for the entrepreneur who wants to streamline the budget while leveraging the most effective legal services available. The guide includes a step-by-step guide to finding and hiring the right lawyer for your company, an easy-to-understand chart explaining the differences between the various corporate structures, proven communication strategies that will slash your legal bill by half each month, and a quick guide to the most common legal issues plaguing entrepreneurs, as well as effective methods for overcoming them.

Knowing the ins and outs of picking the right lawyer isn’t a matter of intelligence—it’s about experience and expertise. You may have a great deal of both when it comes to your industry, but most entrepreneurs don’t know much about the law. Your strengths lie elsewhere. As a result, you may find yourself intimidated by the idea of selecting legal counsel.


Finance Essentials for entrepreneurs:
A Simple Guide to Understanding and Creating Financial Statements for Your Business. By Naeem Zafar, University of California, Berkele

Finance Essentials for Entrepreneurs is a startup owner’s indispensable guide to basic finance. Zafar draws on two decades of entrepreneurial experience to create an eBook that offers a simple, proven method for understanding the most important elements of financial management for businesses. Zafar understands what entrepreneurs need to know about business finance. He also knows that their time is precious. In Finance Essentials for Entrepreneurs, he delivers that knowledge in practical, to-the-point language free of technical jargon and longwinded discourses. Spreadsheet examples
are clear and relevant.


About Naeem Zafar

  • A member of the faculty of the Haas business school at the University of California Berkeley, Naeem teaches Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the MBA program. Naeem is the founder of Concordia Ventures and focuses on educating and advising entrepreneurs on all aspects of starting and running a company. Naeem’s entrepreneurial experience includes working directly with six startups, and he has extensive experience in mentoring and coaching founders and CEOs. Naeem is now the president and CEO of Bitzer Mobile, a company that simplifies enterprise mobility.
  • Until 2007, Naeem was the president and CEO of Pyxis Technology Inc., a company specializing in advanced chip design software for nanometer technology. Naeem has also been president and CEO of two other high tech startups (Silicon Design Systems and Veridicom, a Bell Labs spin-off that invented the silicon fingerprint sensors today found on most laptops). Naeem has held senior marketing and engineering positions at several companies including Quickturn Design Systems that had an IPO in 1993 and grew to $125M in revenues.
  • Naeem holds a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from Brown University (magna cum laude), Rhode Island, and a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Minnesota.
  • Naeem is a charter member of TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs ).He is also a charter member of OPEN ( ) where he serves as the president.


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  • Lisa, Best of Luck to you and the group in Africa what an honor!!! And thanks for sharing the info on Naeem good stuff!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Nancy! We should catch up sometime. 

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