MSME development policies and programs in Lebanon

MSMEs are the economic drivers constituting 97% of total enterprises in the private sector in Lebanon. The roadmap to strengthen the MSME sector is the setup a vision for SME growth and job creation, ensure long term sustainability for businesses, facilitating access to finance and access to markets. Numerous initiatives have been created to boost the SMEs such as the UK Lebanon Tech Hub, Berytech, Bader Youth Entrepreneurs Program, Start-up ESA, the diaspora network LebNet, Kafalat credit guarantee company and The Economic and Social Fund for Development. From the financial market’s perspective, several measures have been taken such Beirut Stock Exchange was re-launched in 1996 with upgraded trading systems and support from the “Bourse de Paris”. Despite these efforts, Lebanese capital markets remain largely nascent. Going forward, efforts will continue to focus on the provision of capital, developing capabilities, and addressing the legal and regulatory framework, as well as research and innovation dimensions for start-ups and early stage companies. In 2020, BDL launched the “Lebanese Economy Oxygen Fund” initiative to raise $750 million and a sustainable and scalable lending program of $3 billion per year to finance small and medium sized industrialist’s raw material imports.

MSMEs supporting measures to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic crisis

As a response to the Covid19 pandemic outbreak in February 2020, the Lebanese government has taken a raft of measures including the suspension of tax deadlines, deferral of the payment of social security contributions and the partial 2-month exemption from custom duties, notably for health care equipment and inputs for laboratories. The Banque Du Liban (BDL) allowed banks and financial institutions to extend five-year zero percent interest loans in national currency or US dollars to SMEs that hold credit facilities but are unable to meet their short-term obligations due to the downgraded market conditions. In return, the BDL will provide banks and financial institutions five-year zero percent interest rate credit lines in US dollars. The Lebanese Ministry of Finance allowed SMEs to use fintech services by file their tax reports. READ MORE

Small Business Act Coordinator and MED MSMEs’ working group

The National Small Business Act coordinator – SBAC in Lebanon is Ms Manal Yassine, Economist at the Lebanon Ministry of Industry. The SBA Coordinator has formed the national working groups for access to finance and SME internationalization to coordinate in the implementation of the Programme objectives. The working groups are composed of the Ministry of Economy and Trade, Kafalat, IDAL, BDL, ESFD, IRI, Chamber of commerce in Beirut and Mount Lebanon, Speed Accelerators, Syndicate of Textiles Industrialists in Lebanon and Safadi Foundation and UNIDO.

The Working Groups (WG)

In order to ensure that the regional level activities integrate the national priorities on the two specific topics and translate into impact at the country level, the Programme implementation will rely on the establishment - under the coordination of the SBA Coordinators - of at least two working groups in each of the partner countries, one for MSME Access to Finance and one for MSME Internationalisation.

These working groups are formed of relevant policy makers, regulatory bodies, public agencies, representatives of the private sector and – when possible – representatives of the national legislative body; the EU Delegation representatives and relevant development partners will be invited to participate to the working sessions. The working groups will not exceed 15 members of which at least one third will be women.

The working groups are responsible for:

Providing a consultative input on the technical deliverables.

Assisting in the production of the national roadmaps for implementing the tools developed at regional level.

Facilitating the collection of relevant programme information at national level.

Facilitating the mobilization of stakeholders, programmes, resources and instruments that can gear up the implementation of the road maps at country level.