To mark this milestone, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) hosted an event under the patronage of His Excellency Saad Hariri and attended by Minister of State for Women's Affairs Mr Jean Ogassapian, Mrs Julia Koch De Biolley, Deputy Head of Mission at the Delegation of the European Union to Lebanon and Ms Janet Heckman EBRD Managing Director for the southern and eastern Mediterranean. More than 100 guests representing the business community, international donors as well as the media attended the launch.
The Advice for Small Business Programme in Lebanon will support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with business advisory services to boost their performance and sustainability, enhance their creativity and help foster innovation, competitiveness and create jobs, as well as ultimately increase their chances to access the finance they need to grow. In Lebanon, SMEs constitute over 90 per cent of the private sector, representing the backbone of the economy. Offering support to this sector is a priority for the EBRD and the European Union in the country.
The advisory programme links SMEs with local and international consultants. Business advice can range from strategy, marketing, operations, quality management, energy efficiency, to financial management and others. The Bank also carries out training programmes for local consultants to strengthen their capacity and contribute to a broadened range and improved quality of advisory services.
In over 25 years, this engagement has provided more than €400 million of donor funds to assist nearly 22,000 SMEs in countries where the EBRD invests. Lebanon became a recipient of EBRD investment in 2017, where the Bank has invested €70 million. The EBRD has also launched its operations this year in the West Bank and Gaza, joining Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia as part of the Bank’s southern and eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) region, where the EBRD has invested nearly €8 billion in 191 projects.