Despite the Dangers, This Founder Is Staying in War-Torn Syria to Help Entrepreneurs

Sami Ismail refuses to leave, wanting to instead continue supporting local entrepreneurs who are trying to succeed.
Source: Courtesy of Sami Ismail
Courtesy of Sami Ismail

This article is part of our 50 Most Daring list. To see who else made our 2017 list, head over this page.

Entrepreneurship is challenging in any context. But for Sami Ismail, it’s challenging in a way few others can understand: His company, Intellect Events, which puts on cultural, business and networking events for entrepreneurs, is based in Damascus, Syria. “We’re living in a war zone,” Ismail says. 

Ismail, 27, is a scene, having launched his first company, Findbook, in 2010. He conceived of it as a sort of Amazon for Syria, but when a promotional book fair for the brand brought in more money and buzz than the actual brand did, Ismail realized the entrepreneur community was hungrier for intellectual events and safe spaces to gather and network. So he closed Findbook and launched with a partner in 2011.

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from Entrepreneur

Entrepreneur3 min read
Why This Franchisor Invests in Franchisees Who Have No Experience
Home Franchise Concepts CEO Shirin Behzadi knows what it's like to be underestimated -- so now, she gives everyone a fighting chance.
Entrepreneur3 min read
Evernote's Silicon Valley Headquarters Offer Company-Wide Collaboration (and Lego-Building Classes)
The open space and cross-departmental gatherings creates an office culture where colleagues are constantly learning from each other.
Entrepreneur4 min read
What You Can Learn From Some of the Best Company Cultures in America
From emotional team building talks to a dunk tank reserved for the boss, here's how these employers keep their teams happy.