Most initiators in the diaspora find it challenging when it comes to organizing a business community network.
However, Pierre Aleani has successfully done this by establishing the Palestinian Business Network International (PBNI); a fast-growing enterprising diaspora community which started in Sweden and aims to have a chapter in every European capital by 2025.
Pierre is a Computer Engineer, Project Manager and an accomplished Business Consulting Leader who does a lot of mentoring as well. With his interest in promoting development via diaspora communities, we are honoured to speak to him about his activities on PBNI and how he is using his skillset and experience to promote diaspora engagement.
PBNI – How it all started
Narrating the genesis of the vibrant business network, Pierre says “We started in March 2016 in Gothenburg. The story was that I was supposed to move to the town and did not know anyone there. During my trip from Stockholm to Gothenburg, I made a post on a Facebook Group for Palestinians asking if any entrepreneur would like to meetup during the upcoming week. I got immediate responses by several persons and we quickly agreed on a date, time and place. Since I had previously initiated business networks in my hometown Uppsala and Stockholm, I strictly saw the need and potential of an International Palestinian business network and during the three-and-a-half-hour train trip I actually created the first name, logo and presentation. Three days later twelve women and men gathered in a conference room in the heart of the city owned by a construction engineering company, and hosted by the manager who was a Palestinian and today one of the core founders of PBNI.
Our mission is to strengthen the national Palestinian identity by Palestinian talents and their success stories. We believe that by having a strong and successful community we can empower our members in the society they live in. Standing strong on both legs, we can then become a great supporter for others.”
Growth of the Business Network
Currently, PBNI holds network sessions in five European cities.
According to Pierre, “This month is our five years anniversary. During the past years, we have focused on finding the right framework for the network to create a profit driven organization. We have twisted and turned and found out that current model is the most suitable for the phase we are in at the moment.
Our success is based on the business focus excluding all usual discussions that normally surround Palestinians. Today we have chapters in Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmo and Copenhagen with upcoming plans to operate in Amsterdam and London.”
Connecting with the homeland
Pierre continues by saying, “being part of the Palestinian diaspora business network provided me with my first opportunity to visit Palestine. As soon as I put my foot on the soil, I literally felt the connection to the homeland and everything felt in place. I have spoken to other Palestinians in the diaspora who also had the same experience.”
The future of PBNI
Since the goal of PBNI is to have a chapter in every European city by 2025, it has initiated a program where a ‘Network Ambassador’ takes the lead in that city and is also a facilitator of the network sessions. Pierre also shares his thoughts on this: “our goal is to become an international business network driven by Palestinians and open for everyone that share our values of transparency, equal rights and progressive givers gain mindset. Our first major target is to have physical chapters in every European capital by end of 2025.
Every chapter will have one or several Networking Ambassadors who will have the responsibility to recruit new business owners, startup teams, professionals and university students who will all gather in collective empowerment mainly by holding educational monthly meetups.
The same Ambassadors are matchmakers and support the members with anything they might need just by being the matchmaker.
We are continuously searching for ambassadors in different geographical locations that could start new chapters and offer an effective process to initiate a sustainable way to maintain a chapter.
During the past five years we have had successful startups and marketing campaigns that have created growth for our members, employment matching and leadership empowerment. This is only the beginning and just a tip of the iceberg.
We also welcome partnerships with other organizations that will benefit from a global business network.”
Advice to up and coming diaspora-based network groups
In conclusion Pierre advices that, “for anyone who wants to replicate what PBNI is doing as an organisation for their local diaspora community, focus on delivering business not only about the cause. The business aspect will help you to be in the right network, occupation and integrate into the family and society.
Secondly, focus on being stronger in the society you live in by taking a personal interest in its activities.”
Pierre studied tailoring and design at a point for a University degree. This he says has helped him to provide tailor-made business consultancy to people because he understands the importance of all parts coming together in the right place to create sustainable organisations. Though his role at PBNI as an organisation is not his full-time job, he puts in a lot of effort in driving the network forward. As an entrepreneur himself, he runs an IT Consultancy and Supply Management based firm in Sweden with key account managers across Europe and Asia helping Swedish Companies to find alternative suppliers.
When he is less busy, he finds joy in being part of his daughter’s life and is involved in activities such as following her to practices. Pierre is also interested in trying new trends in different markets, and so enjoys reading a lot. He also a lover of nature and loves to work out regardless of it being winter or summertime!
By: Theresa R. Fianko
Image Attribution: Pierre Aleani