Project DescriptionIn view of the long-term structural challenges that Lebanon is facing as well as the profound effects that the subsequent crises are having on its economy, there is ongoing need to support job creation and inclusive economic growth especially for women and youth in the most disadvantaged areas.
The Productive Sectors Development Program (PSDP) is funded by the Lebanon Recovery Fund through the contribution from the Government of Canada and implemented by ILO, UNIDO FAO, UNDP, UNWOMEN and UNICEF with support from the RCO in overall coordination.
It presents a comprehensive approach to supporting the manufacturing (agro-food) and agriculture sectors in Lebanon, identified as having a high potential for job generation for women and youth.
The PSDP consists of activities that are implemented at three levels, namely at National policy (Macro level); Access to Markets (Meso Level); and Direct beneficiary support (Micro level). These entail the following three-fold outcomes, namely:
(1) To improve an enabling policy environment for women’s economic empowerment and participation in the productive sector (Macro level);
(2) Improve access of women and men-led Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to markets in the productive sector (Meso level);
(3) Improve the capacity of women and men farmers, women-led cooperatives, women-led micro, small and medium enterprises, as well as male-led entities, in creating and sustaining gender equitable job opportunities and adopting environmentally sustainable practices (Micro level).
Under the PSDP framework in Lebanon, the ILO has been implementing the activity of rolling out gender sensitive business support services and coaching to existing and newly created MSMEs prioritizing women and youth starts ups in priority value chains (fruits, vegetables, & nuts).
ILO AchievementsTo date, the ILO has conducted a progressive training cycle, starting with 218 women-led and men-led MSMEs and Entrepreneurs who received a training developed by the ILO regional office entitled “Women Do Business”, followed by an advanced “business resilience” workshop with 100 selected beneficiaries who presented a business plan at the end of their participation, subject for evaluation and selection for the business plan competition event.
About Women Do Business: This program targets women entrepreneurs/owners of existing micro-enterprises, or women working in income-generating activities for more than a year who wish to develop and grow their activities into micro-enterprises. The programme presents key issues related to gender and equality between men and women, how to take advantage of opportunities and address the difficulties women face in the context of their quests to start or improve their businesses.
Phase 1: Pre SelectionThe initial 218 beneficiaries were selected out of 1026 applicants. 182 were Lebanese and the remaining beneficiaries were Syrian. 206 were female and 12 were male. Out of these, 149 were MSMEs, and 69 were entrepreneurs or involved in start-ups.
Phase 2: Business Resilience Training
108 were selected to attend 4 different courses on business resilience covering the following topics: sales, self leadership marketing, communication crisis management and record keeping.
102 beneficiaries succeeded in submitting a feasibility study and 40 projects selected based on a panel evaluation to take part of the “Women Do Business Experience” Business competition organized by the ILO.
Phase 3: The Competition
On Tuesday 11th of October, 2022, the top 40 evaluated MSMEs and Entrepreneurs presented their businesses and ideas in front of a jury composed of 8 judges from different organizations and technical backgrounds. The jury scored throughout the competition the performance of these participants, and 20 beneficiaries were announced as winners and received a grant (total USD 60,000) and business development coaching led by ILO's implementing partner the LEE Experience.
Business with eligible products also received a seed-fund to use testing facilities and equipment at IDRAC* in Tripoli as an incentive to encourage agro-food sector beneficiaries to access business development services and improve the quality.
The objective of the business plan competition event was to promote the learning journey explored by PSDP beneficiaries at the micro-level and to encourage the entrepreneurship spirit of the 40 targeted and selected beneficiaries into a real-life business-oriented competition.
The event carried a theme entitled “The Women Do Business Experience” and took place at an audio-visual production studio. This event also featured a synergy of activities between the participating UN organizations from micro and meso levels, with a particular exercise promoting the “Lebanon Export Academy” at the Meso level, which is a platform developed to benefit agro-food sector practitioners with export related practical learning.