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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.

By Adam Elder

This story appears in the November 2017 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

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 veteran of the region's startup 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 Intellect Events with a partner in 2011.

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