The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) celebrated the achievements of its microfinance aid project – the Livelihoods and Inclusive Financial Expansion (LIFE) project. The project improved economic opportunities for low-income people and microenterprises in the North, South, Bekaa and Mount Lebanon regions, improving the business skills of small entrepreneurs and expanding their access to financial services. The event was attended by US Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea, USAID Mission Director Eileen Devitt; LIFE Party Leader, David Holdridge; and representatives of the microfinance sectors and non-governmental organizations.
This event was an opportunity to highlight the achievements of the LIFE activity of $ 20.3 million over the past five years. The project benefited approximately 40,000 beneficiaries through business development services, in-kind grants as well as direct and indirect loans to micro and small enterprises. He highlighted the positive impact of partnering with microfinance institutions (MFIs) to provide a safety net for vulnerable businesses, in addition to supporting the livelihoods of small business owners through the establishment of regional revitalization centers. Through these centers, USAID has provided intensive and long-term training and equipment to more than 5,000 micro and small enterprises to improve their sustainability and their ability to survive the current economic crisis.
The event also highlighted the responsiveness of the project to the many challenges encountered over the past three years. Since October 2019, LIFE has continuously adapted its investments to provide the necessary support to the microenterprises that need it most. LIFE has provided more than 15,000 affordable loans and fixed assets to the unbanked micro and small business community desperate by the economic crisis. In August 2020, following the explosion at the Port of Beirut, LIFE was among the first responders to support microenterprises affected by the explosion. Through its partners, LIFE has provided technical support, in-kind grants, affordable loans and, in some cases, psychological counseling to more than 350 microenterprise owners whose businesses were destroyed after the explosion.
In her opening remarks, Ambassador Shea said, “The US government, through the US Agency for International Development, has long made the development and promotion of Lebanese small businesses a priority. For example, in 1997 USAID was the first donor to engage microfinance institutions and support the microfinance sector in Lebanon… I am particularly proud of our microfinance partnerships, which have endured despite the dire economic situation in Lebanon. Lebanon. We look forward to continuing to strongly support the Lebanese private sector, especially micro and small enterprises, which are playing a key role in the recovery of the Lebanese economy.
For his part LIFE COP, David Holdridge posed a vision of a resilient and modern Lebanon …
The ceremony included a 30-minute roundtable discussion on some of the most important topics related to the future of microfinance and livelihoods in Lebanon. The panel was composed of the president of the Union of people with physical disabilities (LUPD), Sylvana Lakkis; President of the Michel Daher Social Foundation (MDSF), Marleine Daher, CEO of Al Majmouaa, Dr Youssef Fawaz, Executive Director General of EMKAN, Dr Mayada Baydas.
The ceremony ended with remarks from Ms. Eileen Devitt, USAID Mission Director, who said: “It has been an inspiring journey to work in partnership with our microfinance institutions to benefit marginalized businesses over the years. last five years. I am convinced that this support is crucial for their long-term sustainability and for the economic renaissance of Lebanon.