Interview with Dr. Salma Talhouk
Project's presentation and history.
I conceived of Daskara after conducting extensive participatory mapping with residents of a large number of villages in Lebanon. The idea was to map nature within the context of the village/town asset to be able to link spatially, culturally, and financially all the assets at the local and regional levels. Unfortunately, conventional maps and booklets had limitations and we needed to rely on digital technology to increase our impact and our reach.
grew out of this participatory research project Baldati Biati
which begun in 2010.
We worked with 80 Lebanese citizen councils to
produce maps of their respective towns reflecting local interests and knowledge
and including cultural and natural landmarks. With backing from ‘Fondation
Diane’ and its green investment fund, Viridis, this project underwent a digital
makeover to become the
Daskara is a free app for those who seek to explore and protect Lebanon’s nature and culture.
The information on Daskara is community-sourced and verified. Users can
explore and add locations under different themes including cultural
experiences, eco-solutions, food and lodging, nature encounter, recreation and
sports, local services, and a village page.
How did the idea of a green business occur to you?
As an ecologist and conservationist, my impact will not be tangible if I do not embrace an entrepreneurship approach while implementing projects and reaching out to society.
How did you become green entrepreneurs?
There is a lot of difference between a faculty member at a University and an entrepreneur in terms of how they plan and operate. In both cases, however, you need a clear vision, a team spirit, and a strong belief in what you are doing. I have successfully served as a faculty member since 1992, however, I engaged in entrepreneurship recently and am still learning how to become a green entrepreneur.
How do you think green businesses can help Lebanon and its citizens?
Lebanon is a small country and any practice that is destructive to nature and the environment is immediately felt. The country has no other option but to rely on green businesses for growth and development.
Why did you choose to partner with Fondation Diane?
‘Fondation Diane’ was the drive behind transforming my academic ideas into actual business opportunities that directly
serve nature and promote harmony with the environment.
How do you see the future of your business?
Daskara will help those who have a role in being part of a green Lebanon and want to be ‘put on the map’ and those who want to document and value nature and culture in Lebanon
Daskara will connect explorers and tourists to diverse localities throughout the country, helping them discover authentic places and experiences. It will also serve as a tool for those in the region or part of the Lebanese diaspora who want to actively engage in nature conservation and heritage preservation.
Daskara will help local small businesses and civil society initiatives to flourish by being discovered.
Do you appreciate Fondation Diane, and why?
We share the same hope, passion, and work ethics.
Do you have a message for future entrepreneurs?
Ideas and projects startups are the easy and exciting part of the process, perseverance, openness, passion, and patience are what is needed for the business to thrive.