The USAID-funded Lebanon Enterprise Development (LED) project, in partnership with PFC International, is developing an export strengthening strategy with the aim to facilitate the expansion of 19 selected Lebanese SMEs remotely offering engineering, architectural, and interior design services in foreign markets, with a special focus on Spain, Qatar, and Australia.
During the past few years, Lebanon has been facing many economic, financial, social, and healthrelated challenges which have been limiting the growth of its sectors. Additionally, due to the precarious situation within the Lebanese banking sector, both the construction and real estate industries have witnessed a downhill spiral, especially with the lack of funds invested in the housing sector. This has limited the demand for engineering, architecture, and design services and has therefore created an increasing need for the local SMEs to export their services and expand their market reach.
Furthermore, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the construction sector was booming in most of the GCC, European, and Australian regions. However, due to the implementation of different measures aiming to contain the virus, the construction sector’s activities have been reduced, thus affecting different industry stakeholders.
Therefore, under the USAID LED project, 19 local SMEs have been selected to receive tailored assistance, allowing them to fortify the export of their services. To do so, a customized expansion strategy is being developed based on the SMEs’ evaluated export readiness levels, taking into account their identified gaps in line with the dynamics of the targeted markets.
Based on the results of the gap assessment and market analysis, the selected enterprises will be going through a profile enhancement phase, will be grouped into several clusters, and will be undergoing a capacity building program in order improve their export readiness. Following that, the SMEs will be offered business development services to assist them in their market navigation. A business development officer will be assigned to carry out the market linkages between the local SMEs and the foreign contractors, sub-contractors, and local engineering companies in each targeted country. Simultaneously, the SMEs will be partaking in virtual events aiming to enhance their foreign exposure.
Once the project is completed with USAID’s LED project, the SMEs will have been equipped with the needed materials and tools to expand their market reach and export their services abroad and will have a direct link with the business development officers in each targeted country. The performance and impact of this project will be evaluated based on several indicators that will contribute to the level of exposure and the sustainability of the local SMEs in the construction and real estate sector.
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