ReSt@rts promotes joint solutions for microfinance to boost

entrepreneurship scene in the Mediterranean


ReSt@rts project results were presented in the Information Event on June 20th in Sidon


SIDON, LEBANON - In the frame of ReSt@rts project, funded by the ENI CBC MED Programme, with one  million euros (90% of the total budget), on June 20th  the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture in Sidon and South Lebanon organized the Information Event in Lebanon at Chamber’s Premises (Sidon). The aim of the project is to bring support to generally non-bankable entities (young people and women) through providing tools of microfinance and different training programmes, utilizing and capitalizing on the experiences gained by partner organizations from previous ENI CBC Med projects such as MEDSt@rts, and GIMED.


The  event was attended by representatives of microfinance institutions in Lebanon, universities as well as socio-economic stakeholders, entrepreneurs and members of the administrative board of Sidon Chamber and a group of entrepreneurs and owners of small and medium enterprises.

The ceremony began with a speech by the President of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture in Sidon and South Lebanon, Mr. Mohamed Saleh, who welcomed the attendees and then talked about the scientific and practical development and challenges that today require providing support to the owners of projects and small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which constitute more than 85% of the Lebanese institutions because they do not need a large capital. He also referred to the initiatives of the Chamber as a representative of the private sector, which has taken upon itself guidance in the areas of economic development and has implemented many programs aimed at providing support to business owners and helping them access financing sources through many initiatives with regional and international partners, including the one with the European Union, ReSt@rts.


Then Mrs Rana El-Sayed, Development Advisor for the Chamber's programs, spoke about the expected achievements of the ReSt@rts project. These include conducting a study on the microfinance sector, and establishing an association that includes microfinance service providers in the Arab-Italian Cooperative Chamber in Rome. The committee's work will extend  until 2028 for actors and supporters of the microfinance sector and startups in order to provide a space for dialogue, exchange of experiences and promotion of new financing programs and mechanisms.

Mrs El Sayed introduced ReSt@rts project through its achievements so far that include, preparing a working paper on the microfinance sector and the policies covering obstacles, challenges, and possibilities to provide support in its three dimensions (material, technical, legal) and then developing recommendations to be submitted to the concerned official authorities.  Additionally, launching an online training course for entrepreneurs in the Mediterranean region on business plan, marketing strategy, investment costs, etc…, which acts as advisory support for entrepreneurs and SMEs. Furthermore, launching the 'Digital Market Platform' to showcase projects from entrepreneurs and connect them with funding opportunities. Finally, issuing an official statement on the principles of microfinance as well as providing technical support to microfinance sector institutions.

She also noted the distinguished cooperation between the members of the work team established by the Chamber for the project and the Association of Microfinance Association in Lebanon (LMFA).

To shed light on what LMFA is doing today, including the procedures and mechanisms required to implement this vision, Mrs Ola Hariri, Director of Programs at the Association of Microfinance Institutions in Lebanon, summarized the role of the association as follows:

The Association of Microfinance Institutions in Lebanon is primarily responsible for promoting and  advocating for the rights and issues of the microfinance sector, as well as providing technical assistance and support for Micro finance institutions (MFIs).

Mrs Hariri also highlighted  the association's efforts with the legislators to secure the issuance of laws and legislation for regulating the work of the sector, especially with the Central Bank of Lebanon as a main entity and with the government. Further to the need for coordination with local and international donors and networks to support entrepreneurship financing, where cooperation between the Association of Microfinance Institutions in Lebanon and the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture in Sidon and South Lebanon continues as partners within the ReSt@rts project to support the smaller finance sector and entrepreneurs.


Following a detailed presentation by the MF Policy Expert Mr Vartkes Keutelian, on the major challenges faced by the microfinance sector, as identified by the members of the Lebanese Microfinance Network through a series of meetings and studies conducted to analyse and propose solutions. The network is currently promoting these proposals to official bodies and the central bank (BDL) with the hope for integrating them into the government’s plan for economic and financial recovery. The challenges facing microfinance sector can be summarized as follows: the creation of  a national fund to finance targeted sectors of the Economy (SMEs), which microfinance institutions (MFIs) would have the right and ability to access  as an effective way to finance small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Other proposals include exemptions for microfinance institutions (MFIs) from any legal rulings , governmental or ministerial executive memoranda or BDL circulars that affect their capital or the reduction of bank accounts (prior to the crisis) in the Capital Control Law.  Further to the need to support SMEs in various economic sector and women -owned companies as a productive sector in the government strategy, and develop a comprehensive data- driven standards and definitions for social enterprise sizes in Lebanon. 

Then a member of the Chamber's ReSt@rts team, Business Consultant Bilal Arkadan, presented a video on how to register on the platform and its importance as an open digital marketplace that brings supply and demand together in a friendly business environment, and where many registered entrepreneurs will have opportunities to receive free technical services online and access to wide networks of financiers across the Mediterranean, through the platform

There were also interventions by some new entrepreneurs and those who have already benefited from the MEDSt@rt project.

The ceremony concluded with the signing of memorandums of understanding between the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture in Sidon and South Lebanon, represented by President Mohamed Saleh, and USEK University, represented by Prof. Nabil Nemer, Director of the Higher Center for Research at the University. The meeting concluded with a discussion session with the speakers managed by Ghada Ballout Zeitoun, during which a presentation of part of the projects of the participating entrepreneurs.


For further information:

+961 7 720123 ext(170)


This Publication has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union under the EI CBC Mediterranean Sea Basin Programme. The contents of this document are the sole responsibility of the Chamber, of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture in Sidon and South Lebanon and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union or the Programme management structures




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