Ninth time is the charm for Ghassan Halawa

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Entrepreneur Ghassan Halawa can be seen in this undated photo. The businessman and entrepreneur said he attempted to start eight businesses before finally launching PARACHUTE16. (Photo: Handout)
AMMAN — PARACHUTE16, an impact design house specialized in entrepreneurship and innovation, was founded after a series of failures that cost Ghassan Halawa everything he owned.اضافة اعلان

“I lost everything and I entered a phase of depression,” he said in an interview with Jordan News. “I didn’t have the option of failing. I had no choice but to work in order to live. I didn’t really have money to fall back on.”

This is what Halawa referred to as the “sense of urgency” that distinguishes an entrepreneur. Being a curious and passionate learner also helped him get back on his feet.

“PARACHUTE16 was the result of an accumulation of readings, research, and observations. I realized that I didn’t have financial resources, but I did have knowledge and connections,” he said.

The “spark” after that realization was a video by Fadi Ghandour, Halawa’s friend and Aramex founder. In the video, Ghandour said that the Arab world lacks startups that serve other startups.

This, in addition to the excitement around the idea of entrepreneurship in the region at that time, inspired Halawa to establish his ninth business: a network that empowers entrepreneurs.

“My personal statement in life is to use all of my network, knowledge, capabilities, and resources to make people happier, stronger, and more successful. I love being a part of people’s lives, opening doors for them and helping them achieve their dreams and ambitions,” he said.

This is what PARACHUTE16 is all about, according to Halawa. 

“Any person who wants to start a new endeavor, it’s like jumping from a parachute. And in order to jump, you need willpower, passion, as well as skills and connections,” he explained. “We offer those skills, connections, and resources for you to jump.”

He added: “16 is the number of power, while number 1 on its own means new beginnings and number 6 means serving people with passion.”

Halawa continued to explain the work of PARACHUTE16 by breaking it down into five main categories: building business incubators and accelerators, designing interactive edutainment (a cross between education and entertainment) programs for entrepreneurs, connecting communities to create opportunities, providing technical support and mentorship for startups, and, finally, giving training in corporate innovation. 

“We provide services that we were never able to find ourselves. We give the support we didn’t receive,” Halawa said. 

One project he is particularly proud of is Google Skills, for which the PARACHUTE16 team worked in collaboration with Injaz Al-Arab to train 20,000 youth in 14 different countries in the Arab world. 

“This project, listening to everyone’s stories, it was very inspiring. We are very proud to have built a system the entire world can implement. It really proved to us how strong our capabilities are,” he said. 

The founder credits his and PARACHUTE16’s success to God, his “wonderful” team, and the community that surrounds him.

Whether it is randomly finding out that they were the inspiration behind a donut shop in the corner of the street or receiving a surprise visit from Queen Rania, Halawa said he is proud to be an empowering and active part of entrepreneurship in the Arab World. 

“When you’re part of communities that have such great energy, it lifts you up. Our work helped us meet the best people in every field. It’s very exciting being a part of that and being surrounded by people who light your fire,” he said.

When looking towards the future, Halawa is certain about one thing only: he wants to keep growing and learning. 

“Nobody knows what the future holds. It would be wrong of me to tell you that I would know where I would be in five years. It’s all propaganda. We are just happy to be working with people and for people and not ahead of people or in front of people,” he concluded.