Empowering Communities through Economic Development

From 2008 to 2011, Relief International worked with USAID to strengthen local governments by stimulating small businesses in their community. After the 2006 war, Lebanon was left fragmented but with a lot of economic potential. This program’s aim was to tap into this potential for self-sustained economic growth.

Small and large municipalities were joined together in nine different groups, with viable industries identified in each group. Mushrooms, kiwis, sweet corn, poultry, dairy and tourism were identified in the northern region of Akkar. To the south, in the district of Jezzine, pine nuts, apples, dairy and eco-tourism were targeted.

With priorities outlined, local specialists were hired to work with local business owners and strategists to identify gaps in these potentially productive sectors. Community learning centers were established for people working in these industries to further develop their business skills, and grants provided the opportunity for people to start and grow their own businesses. Training sessions and local economic development (LED) committees used the learning centers to exchange ideas. Through these centers, local industry leaders gained the skills and connections to grow their businesses.

Key accomplishments of this program included:

  • Training 3,100 people in local governance principles, 35% of whom were women
  • More than 100 economic development project proposals were created and 99 business were established
  • Nearly 1200 famers and entrepreneurs received technical training
  • Nearly 750 people received basic business training and roughly 650 women were trained as leaders
  • $2.7 million in grant money was used to create 79 public-private partnerships (PPPs) and nearly 700 jobs