Beirut, August 13, 2019 – The Lebanon Enterprise and Employment Programme (LEEP) funded by the United Kingdom Agency for International Development (UK aid) is a programme supporting Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Lebanon, helping them grow their business and create jobs by providing funding and Business Development Services (BDS). LEEP partners with banks, micro-finance institutions and BDS experts to stimulate growth-oriented financing and provide business support.
SMEs that took a loan in the past year (starting from December 1, 2018 and onwards) ranging between $8,000 and $75,000 from a bank or a micro-finance institution to grow their business, have the opportunity to obtain a LEEP grant that can match up to 50% of the loan. In addition, the LEEP grantees will benefit from business coaching from experienced business advisors that will help them implement their business plan, refine their business operations, access new markets and support them with management and hiring.
James Carty, LEEP’s Team Leader states “the UK government has designed the LEEP programme to help SMEs, the backbone of the economy, to grow and create jobs for all sections of Lebanese society, providing vital support to Lebanon in these challenging economic times”.
In addition, the programme stresses the importance of “Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI)”, promoting the inclusion of women and persons with disabilities (PwDs). Women are prioritized because of the scale and depth of gender discrimination in Lebanon, a reflection of the global trend that progress on women and girl’s empowerment remains “unacceptably slow”, according to the UN’s most recent report on the SDGs”. Persons with Disabilities are an excluded group that could constitute as much as 15% of the Lebanese population (UNESCO 2013), making their inclusion in the workforce a matter of economic importance as well as a question of social equity.
Arqam Lodhi, LEEP Deputy Team Leader encourages SMEs to apply saying “LEEP support is designed to be responsive to SME owners needs and more importantly, their vision for growing their businesses. We work with SMEs with varying financial and technical needs in all sectors across Lebanon. We understand that every business operates in a different context, faces different challenges and requires customized support. We are eager to work with SME owners and our partner financial institutions to provide most appropriate and relevant support that will help businesses grow sustainably and responsibly, while enabling Lebanese workers to get jobs”