Lebanon needs sustainable economic solutions that are appropriate for the country’s complex structure. Despite many political and economic crises, the country boasts enormous unused potential.
Research on the Lebanese market revealed that micro and small enterprises constitute 80 per cent of the local economy. The construction sector, defined by micro and small enterprises while also an important employer, was strongly affected by the economic crisis, a lack of financial resources, and the Covid-19 pandemic. To revive this sector and increase its efficiency, Swisscontact is developing a practical solution that links service providers with their respective client base, ranging from households all the way up to private corporations.
The Naaam Centre evaluates market dynamics in the sector, for example, the financial conditions, degree of technological progress, competition, market segmentation, and customer behaviour, in order to identify challenges faced by micro and small enterprises (MSEs), as well as to propose long-term solutions that could help these businesses achieve revenue and create jobs.
In the construction sector, most services are provided by subcontractors. The Centre has developed the online platform, naaam.org, as a digital tool to connect service providers such as plumbers, electricians, and carpenters with clients based on sustainable business models. The online platform offers technologies and training to these businesses, for example in financial management, digital competence, and accounting. This helps them to increase efficiency and income, thus they are in a better position to deal with crises and inflation. At the same time, harmful subcontracting practices are avoided.
To tackle the pitfalls in the agricultural sector, the Centre has developed the Izraa mobile app, which connects Lebanese farmers and producers directly with end consumers. The application helps them bypass existing distribution channels and gain new markets.
By the end of 2022, 219 MSEs were enrolled on the naaam.org online platform, while 257 farmers were registered on the Izraa app.
Lebanon differs from other countries in its lack of state support. This makes it difficult to collaborate with public entities. Therefore, Swisscontact is focusing on localisation, and not on collaboration with the government. This includes building the capacities of our partner organisations so they can take responsibility and ensure the sustainability of these solutions. Swisscontact supports national-level partners in various sectors to stimulate job creation in Lebanon through sustainable solutions for access to new markets. As an example, DROPS and a Lebanese NGO, The Nawaya Network, who had developed the Naaam Business Centre.
This work is part of the Tafawoq project, which is financed by the Leopold Bachmann Foundation, among other donors. The project is part of the Swisscontact Development Programme, which is co-financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA).