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EBRD and EU boost support for SMEs in Lebanon

By Stasha  Igrutinovic

  • EU funds to support SMEs’ access to technical assistance
  • New advisory programme focuses on knowledge-building and innovation among SMEs
  • EBRD and EU celebrate milestone of supporting SMEs in Lebanon

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the European Union (EU) are bolstering their support for Lebanon’s private sector, with a new advisory programme that aims to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to innovate, grow and become more competitive.

The Bank will deploy EU funds to help SMEs and start-ups connect with research and development institutions and generate innovative products and processes.

The new five-year programme will focus on innovation as a key lever for growth, helping SMEs compete on the international stage, increase their market share, create more jobs and support Lebanon’s economic resilience.

The programme builds on the success of the first phase of the EU-supported Advice for Small Businesses programme in Lebanon which launched in 2018. To date, it has helped almost 180 SMEs access the critical know-how they need to address market challenges and support their productivity and turnover.

Local and international consultants specialising in a broad range of areas, from strategy and marketing to energy efficiency, operations, quality and financial management, have helped SMEs enhance their green, digital and inclusive business practices. After the completion of projects, 54 per cent of beneficiary SMEs reported an increase in their labour force and 41 per cent noted a rise in their turnover and exports.

Furthermore, local consultants have also benefited from a variety of capacity-building activities, which aim to strengthen their skillset and help them deliver tailored business advice for SMEs.

More than 130 members of the business community (including SMEs), the EU Ambassador to Lebanon Ralph Tarraf, consultants and the media attended the new funding ceremony at the InterContinental Phoenicia hotel in Beirut.

Richard Jones, EBRD Director for the SME Finance and Development Regional Network, said: “SMEs play an essential role in supporting a sustainable and competitive private sector in Lebanon, and we are proud that our partnership with the EU has helped small businesses adapt and grow, especially in such challenging market conditions. We look forward to continuing to help L ebanese SMEs deliver unique value and impact, building a stronger, more inclusive and more competitive economy.”

Ambassador Tarraf commented: “The EU is committed to facilitating and supporting SMEs’ adoption and development of innovation, hoping that, in turn, it will bring much-needed added value to the country, boosting the local economy and, hopefully, contributing to Lebanon’s economic recovery.”

The Bank has 25 years of experience in engaging with SMEs across its regions and supporting their growth and development with access to expertise and financing.

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