A new partnership to boost productivity and employment of small and medium enterprises in the agro-food sector

The ILO and the Jordan Chamber of Industry have partnered in an initiative, supported by the Government of the Netherlands, to enhance the productivity and resilience of agro-food SMEs employing or serving refugees and host community members.

Press release | 21 February 2022
Amman, Jordan (ILO News) The International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Jordan Chamber of Industry (JCI) have launched a new joint initiative on Monday to support the development of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Jordan’s agro-food subsector, in efforts to help them improve their productivity and working conditions.

Supported by the Government of the Netherlands under the PROSPECTS partnership, the pilot initiative will provide technical and financial assistance to some 20 enterprises whose activities have been impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, mostly in the Mafraq and Irbid governorates. Employment of Syrian refugees and host community members, investment in job retention and workforce reskilling programmes for business continuity and growth, and improvement in working conditions are among the main eligibility criteria for enterprises to join the initiative.

The new collaboration, which will run until the end of 2022, will address some of the major bottlenecks impacting productivity in the sub- sector, which will be identified based both on an assessment of the regulatory framework and relevant policies and of business operations at the enterprise level. The ILO is set to provide tailor-made financial and technical assistance to the selected SMEs in collaboration with JCI throughout the initiative, supporting the development of improved occupational safety and health (OSH) measures, trainings, business continuity and expansion plans, among other activities.

“JCI looks forward to strengthening the local agro-food sector and achieving widespread and positive change across its supply chain by empowering the companies operating under its umbrella and securing their constant progress,” said JCI Vice President Mohammad Walid Aljitan. “It is our pleasure to conduct such an intervention to support one of the country’s leading sectors, whose pivotal role has become even more evident during the ongoing pandemic, when local enterprises had to step in to meet the country’s needs and increase their exports amid global supply chain disruptions.”

“As part of efforts to advance employment, productivity, and working conditions in Jordan’s agriculture and agro-food sectors, the ILO under PROSPECTS welcomes this new collaboration with JCI, one of its key social partners in the country,” said Shaza Jondi, ILO's Chief Technical Adviser for PROSPECTS in the Arab States region. “Through this intervention, we are not only supporting selected SMEs in the agro-food sector to address specific needs, but we are also working closely with JCI to institutionalize productivity enhancement services within their broader portfolio.”

PROSPECTS is a strategic four-year global partnership that supports host communities and displaced populations in eight countries across East and North Africa and the Arab States. It brings together the Government of the Netherlands, ILO, the International Finance Corporation, the World Bank, UNHCR and UNICEF and focuses on three key pillars: education, employment and protection.

Under the partnership in Jordan, the ILO supports the improvement of working conditions for refugees and host community members, alongside enhanced productivity at the sectoral level. Interventions also support workers to gain skills and certification for better jobs; improve labour market governance and promote a transition to formal employment.