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Women’s Economic Participation in North Lebanon and Mount Lebanon (WEP)

Society Sustainablity

Female entrepreneurship in Lebanon is still relatively weak and the majority of women-owned businesses in the country operate in the informal sector, making it more difficult for women to access any form of financing. Women tend to use their personal savings to start their businesses and their expansion is limited to investments that can be made from subsequent earnings

One of Eedama’s targets is supporting women in rural areas of Lebanon in developing new and innovative ideas, and launching their start-ups, that would also create new job opportunities. Beyond startups, Eedama also wants to help existing SMEs that are beneficial to society to expand and learn how to sustain their businesses especially during crises.

The Women Economic Participation in North and Mount Lebanon (WEP) project addresses women’s limited access to, control of, and ability to benefit from economic opportunities. The project is funded by the Government of Canada and in partnership with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Lebanon. The aim of this program is to widen the prospects of employment and contribute to the sustainable development process in rural areas by fostering the culture and mindset of entrepreneurship, helping women advance in their careers and preparing them to become business leaders, innovators and major contributors to the social and economic well-being of their local communities.

The project will include training of the beneficiaries on entrepreneurship and business planning, where a technical jury will choose a certain number of startups and SMEs who will win a grant. This project provides incubation services for women who want to scale up their businesses and enhance their marketing, financing and networking opportunities. Selected value chains are either agricultural such as land cultivation, small ruminants, and honey, or non-agricultural such as handcrafts, renewable energy, and information, Communication Technology (ICT).

As we are currently running this program, we can certainly say that there are a lot of amazing energies out there in Lebanon and we are proud to help them become real companies. The participants have lots of potential and lots of love, they are very passionate, professional, dedicated and full of commitment. Most of them have high knowledge in the market and the next steps that should be taken. Examples of some interesting ideas that we met are “Apple Natoura”, a baby food products business that started out of the need to save the apples of Lehfed regions, Better English with Manar, who decided to kick off an online english education course, ID Think Tank, who organizes workshops related to interior design, and Architecture in a Box, which is a psychological game for kids and teenagers to learn about cities and architecture while having fun.

For this project, Eedama was asked to develop the following:

1- Group trainings for quality assurance: Selected applicants were invited to attend a full day virtual session to evaluate their needs, identify their level, and train them on a framework that they will have to submit.

The first session of the program was not only an introduction to the program and its objectives, but also a session dedicated to the participants to introduce themselves and their ideas in front of the group as well as understanding the participant’s previous knowledge and awareness level in order to know how to proceed throughout the program. The session included an explanation of the lean canva framework and each participant was asked to create a lean canva for their business that they’ve learned throughout the training and to present it in the one to one session later. This exercise was created for the beneficiaries to make it easier for them to get a clear and simple idea of what they’re doing.

2-Needs assessment with assigned coach: Selected applicants were invited to attend a 1-1 session to evaluate their needs, level, and assess their commitment to the program.

An assessment form including a grading system and recommendation was developed by Eedama and used by the business coaches to assess each startup and SME which makes it easier to choose the winners later on.

In the coming weeks, the winners will be selected and the incubation phase will start. The selected applicants will be invited to attend a group virtual session to kick off the program in addition to a one to one session to assess their needs and level. And later on, grants up to 30,000 dollars will be given to start or expand their business based on their needs.

Moreover, training and workshops will be given for the winners in the fields of business, marketing or their own domains if needed.

Finally, The Women Economic Participation in North and Mount Lebanon (WEP) project was designed to ultimately support the economic mobility of women in Lebanon, helping them to grow profitable and sustainable businesses that are market oriented and scalable and which will facilitate job creation. Moreover, the whole program will allow women to gain strengthened capacities to integrate into market value chains according to the Lebanese labor law. We are proud of the participants and their efforts in wanting their businesses to grow and become competitive in the market.