NNA - The "Strengthening Social Entrepreneurship for Migration and Development” (SEMD) project held its closing ceremony in Amman, Jordan at the St Regis hotel. The event was attended by his excellency Ahmed Hanandeh, the Jordanian Minister of digital economy and entrepreneurship, and Ms. Caroline Tissot, Regional Head of Cooperation, at the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). Participating also were the project’s key partners, stakeholders and actors in the social entrepreneurship ecosystem across Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon.
During the event, the project’s key activities, learnings, achievements and recommendations for future regional programmes were showcased. It was also an opportunity to highlight the impact created by the SEMD supported social enterprises which resulted in creating 1,635 job opportunities, supporting 23,698 migrants and refugees, and impacting the lives of 40,670 people.
The Minister of digital economy and entrepreneurship thanked SDC and GFA Consulting Group GmbH for their continuous support in organising important workshops aimed at enhancing coordination and exchanging expertise in the field of social entrepreneurship at the national and regional levels. This support is intended to strengthen the capacity to support social enterprises, which have a direct impact on society. He emphasised that social enterprises have both economic and social value and make significant and diverse contributions to the economy.
He also emphasised the role of the ministry in creating a friendly, nurturing, and stimulating environment for entrepreneurship in Jordan. He affirmed the importance of social entrepreneurship projects, which represent a comprehensive form of development and have the ability to empower young men and women by providing various employment opportunities.
To conclude his note, the minister stated, "We look forward to the implementation of advanced stages of the SEMD project to sustain and reap the fruits of the project's efforts."
Caroline Tissot, Regional Head of Cooperation at SDC, said “The SEMD program over the past 3 years has been a dynamic platform gathering the relevant and like-minded stakeholders towards a strengthened social entrepreneurship ecosystem in the region, thereby enabling the initiation, development, implementation and capitalisation of innovative solutions addressing migration and development challenges towards more inclusive social impacts”.
She added “While this is a concluding event of the program, we hope that it has indeed contributed to advance the cause of social entrepreneurship in the region with the multi-level approach that it took both at the national and regional levels and with the linkages and collaboration opportunities it created for social enterprises, we are confident that it will inspire future ideas, engagements, and programs”.
Ahead of the ceremony, a Final Regional Roundtable Meeting (RRM) was organised under the topic “From Startup to Scaleup: Enabling Social Enterprise Sustainability and Scale through Strategic Maturity” to assist social enterprises in their transition from the start-up to the scale-up phase, and empower them with opportunities for growth and sustainability beyond the SEMD project. The regional meeting brought together more than 30 founders of SEMD supported social enterprises, with representatives of social entrepreneurship support structures, investors and entrepreneurship experts from the three countries.
George Catinis, SEMD project team leader, said “The transition between start-up and scale-up stages has been identified as particularly challenging for most social enterprises. Developing a mature business model that has proven its financial and operational validity and sustainability and is ready to move to the growth stage where it can expand its operations, access new markets, create new partnerships, and acquire the funding necessary for such growth has proven to be a place where many social enterprises get stuck.”
Therefore, the RRM worked on 1) addressing common strategic gaps in social enterprise business models that hinder their sustainability and growth, 2) providing specific and targeted guidance to participating social enterprises on how they can address their own challenges, and 3) enabling regional networking and collaboration between participating social enterprises, support structures, investors, and ecosystem builders, in order to foster regional cooperation, encourage knowledge and best practice sharing, and create new business and expansion opportunities for social enterprises across the region.
The RRM included roundtable discussions, panels, fireside chats, and workshops around topics such as Strategic Mindset Change, Regional Customer Acquisition and Market Entry Strategies, Investment Do’s and Don'ts, Regional Scaling Myth vs. Reality and Fundraising Plans, Tips and Tricks. It also featured testimonials of social enterprises and prominent entrepreneurs who have shared key learnings from their regional scaling and fundraising journeys.
The main objective of this project, which started in January 2021, is to contribute to strengthening the entrepreneurial ecosystem that enables the initiation, development, and implementation of innovative entrepreneurial solutions to migration and development challenges in Jordan, Egypt, and Lebanon in partnership with ACTED, Alfanar, and Changelabs.
The project is aligned with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) such as; SDG 5 “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”; SDG 8 “Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all”; and SDG 17 “Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development” and is fully aligned with SDC’s Programme Framework 2022-25 of the Section Migration and Forced Displacement (SMFD).