NNA - On May 25, the Lebanon Export Academy hosted a graduation ceremony at Le Royal Hotel - Dbayeh awarding 50 Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), cooperatives and start-ups, of which 54% are women-led, with certificates of participation in its 9-Modules roadmap to unlock export potential.
The graduation ceremony was held in the presence of Ms. Chantale Akl, Head of the Minister Office and Head of Industrial Parks and Zones Bureau, representing H.E. Mr. George Bouchikian, Minister of Industry; Ms. Zeina Harake, Head of Foreign Trade Department, representing H.E. Mr. Amin Salam, Minister of Economy and Trade; Ms. Gloria Abi Zeid, Director General of the directorate of cooperatives, representing H.E. Abbas Hajj Hassan, Minister of Agriculture; Mr. Imran Riza, United Nations Deputy Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator; Mr. Jamie Schnurr, Head of Cooperation, Embassy of Canada to Lebanon; Mr. Emmanuel Kalenzi, UNIDO Representative to Lebanon, Jordan and Syria; Ms. Melanie Hauenstein, UNDP Resident Representative in Lebanon; and Mr. Maroun Chammas, Berytech CEO.
The Lebanon Export Academy is implemented by UNIDO and UNDP in partnership with Berytech, as part of the Productive Sectors Development Programme (PSDP), a UN joint programme generously funded by the Government of Canada. The programme aims at supporting gender-responsive job creation and helping to generate economic opportunities in the agri-food and agriculture sectors in Lebanon, with a specific focus on women and female youth in disadvantaged areas.
"The PSDP has gathered all of us here today to celebrate the 50 agri-food MSMEs and cooperatives who are graduating from the Lebanon Export Academy. This academy illustrates an excellent example of Private and Public Partnership (PPP) and of an innovative e-learning platform that is available and accessible to all," said Riza in his opening remarks. "With your persistence and enthusiasm, you are helping lay the foundations for Lebanon's economic recovery, and very importantly with women at the center," he added.
Since the launch of the Lebanon Export Academy in April 2022, the academy has benefited 70 SMEs, cooperatives and start-ups, 60% of which are women-led, and has equipped them with the tools, insights and tips to enable them to export their agri-food products to new international markets.
Through in-person and online flexible modalities of learning adapted to their needs, the training packages addressed the challenges identified by experts and MSMEs in this field across the export value chain.
"Today the success of the Academy is the result of the drive and motivation of businesses, the high caliber of its trainers, and the experience of the local partner. Continuing to manage this learning platform together with the support of our government partners, we hope this success will continue in the long-run" said Ms. Alexandra Santillana, Senior Development Officer at the Embassy of Canada to Lebanon.
The courses offered by the academy have been delivered by top-notch Lebanese experts and practitioners in the field of export, who have transmitted their know-how and expertise to help MSMEs avoid export-related challenges, while maximizing their export potential. The modules have covered all export processes and procedures, ranging from researching new markets to documentation, trade agreements, quality requirements, pricing strategies, and more, making the Lebanese Export Academy a key pillar to ensuring the sustainability of the sector in the long-run.
"We believe that export-led growth is key for Lebanon's economic recovery. In this endeavor, the Lebanon Export Academy plays a significant role as it is a vital enabler and a fundamental building block. The Academy's ability to nurture and enhance the export capabilities of businesses in Lebanon aligns directly with UNDP's mission for a people-centered recovery that capitalizes on Lebanon's enormous potential", said Hauenstein.
"In the current economic situation in Lebanon where foreign exchange is increasingly needed for businesses to survive, supporting export-oriented initiatives such as the Lebanon Export Academy is of critical importance to help MSMEs sustain their businesses in the local and international markets," said Kalenzi.
For her part, Akl said: "Today, more than ever, the importance of export for Lebanon's growth and prosperity has to be emphasized. Our industrial sector holds tremendous potential, and tapping into international markets with the right knowledge and expertise is the key to unlocking that potential. Today's event truly embodies this commitment and constitutes a great example of the efficiency of Private Public Partnerships".
The role of the academy has become essential today to equip start-ups, micro, small and medium enterprises and cooperatives providing them with the needed support to ensure their project feasibility and financial sustainability while lowering their risk of failure amidst the country's current economic and financial crisis.
"Integration into the world economy has become more challenging today due to the new upcoming trade policies governing international trade. In this context, we think that the "Lebanon
Export Academy" will play a vital role in facing these challenges by supporting MSMEs working in the agri-food and agriculture sector, providing a variety of in-person and online training courses covering a series of topics related to export readiness, conducting market research, understanding export documentation and legal requirements, setting export prices, and finding suitable financing options," said Harake in her opening remarks.
"We appreciate the efforts exerted to establish the Lebanon Export Academy, because of its positive effects in terms of enhancing the chances of achieving some of the strategic goals set by the Ministry of Agriculture, especially in terms of reviving the livelihoods of farmers and producers, increasing productive capacity, as well as enhancing the efficiency and competitiveness of agricultural and food production chains," stressed Abi Zeid in her statement.
The graduation ceremony was also an opportunity to present the Lebanon Export Academy's innovative e-learning platform that offers business leaders online digital tools to boost their learning in a self-paced manner.