EBRD supports high-potential start-ups in Lebanon

By Nibal Zgheib

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Lebanon is the latest economy in the southern and eastern Mediterranean region (SEMED) to join the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s (EBRD) Star Venture programme.

The initiative provides innovative start-ups with tailored advisory services to unleash their potential. In Lebanon, the programme is supported by the Republic of Korea through the EBRD’s Small Business Impact Fund (other donors include Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, TaiwanBusiness – EBRD Technical Cooperation Fund and the United States of America).

Five enterprises were selected from Lebanon’s start-up scene to join the Star Venture programme’s growing cohort of high-potential early-stage companies across Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia and the Western Balkans. The companies come from a broad range of sectors, including educational technology, cloud computing and sustainable fashion.

The Star Venture programme mobilises international experts, mentors and local advisers who work with selected start-ups to improve their performance and accelerate their lifecycle. The programme also provides access to technical assistance, mentoring and advice on financing mechanisms to help young companies enter international markets and grow.

The programme connects accelerators and local advisers to mentors who enhance their capacity to train start-ups and improve their business performance. Heike Harmgart, EBRD Managing Director, SEMED, said: “The Star Venture programme supports some of the most innovative start-ups in the SEMED region that are embracing the latest technologies to grow and provide solutions to emerging challenges. Extending the programme to Lebanon will help foster the local start-up scene.”

Ines Rocha, EBRD Director, SME Finance and Development, said: “We are proud to launch the Star Venture programme in Lebanon today and welcome its new cohort of start-ups catalysing digital transformation. It has already supported more than 200 early-stage companies in other countries and helped start-ups develop their potential, drive strong results and kick-start their internationalisation. This support comes at a crucial time as start-ups adapt their business models to the challenges of the Covid-19 crisis.”

Since the start of its engagement in Lebanon, the Bank has invested €775 million in the country, supporting private sector development, promoting sustainable energy and enhancing the quality and efficiency of public service delivery. Supported by the European Union, the Bank’s Advice for Small Businesses programme has helped transform more than 130 small and medium-sized enterprises in Lebanon.

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