SPARK Program: Developing Entrepreneurship for MSMEs in Lebanon

Jul 23 2021

SPARK has created a program to develop entrepreneurship for MSMEs in Lebanon with a combination of financial and technical support to adapt to Covid-19. Implemented by Berytech, the selected MSMEs received through the program a cash grant and capacity building in the form of webinars and coaching sessions. 

The program was offered by SPARK, implemented by Berytech, funded by the European Union, the EU Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis, the EU Madad Fund, and Sanad. 

The objective of the program was to support struggling MSMEs affected by the numerous crises in Lebanon: COVID-19, political unrest, and economic collapse, and help them digitize and fast-track towards new trends. 

The focus was to provide technical assistance and business advisory services to the selected MSMEs to increase the impact of SPARK’s financial support, so they become more productive, efficient, and resilient. 

The six teams received online training workshops covering Sales & Marketing, Digitalization, Health & Safety, and Crisis Management. For the one-on-one coaching and mentoring sessions, teams were matched with experts to support them on business topics and specific technical topics. 

Running over 5 months, from December 2020 to April 2021, six MSMEs were selected to receive a cash grant of $6000 and capacity building in the form of webinars and coaching sessions.

From the 121 applications received, six made it to the finals and went through the program:  

FoodSight is an online platform that helps SME food manufacturers in overcoming their food safety challenges by enabling coherent communication and connection between food chain stakeholders, and experts while offering easy access to sector guidance and advisory services. 

Mezzmix is a startup working on developing a new way to consume garlic paste through a squeezable, bottom-up package that has a long shelf life and can be stored without refrigeration. Mezzmix garlic dip is real Lebanese garlic, in different flavors, with no mayo, no eggs, and no dairy. 

Zaka is on a journey to democratize Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the MENA region and globally through sharing knowledge, building solutions, and connecting people! It is a remote, community-driven AI company designed to be an inclusive guide for organizations and individuals into Artificial Intelligence. 

Instafix offers maintenance and renovation services for your home or office applying high standards, minimal duration, and competitive prices. 

Hadaf is a Football content media channel that football fans in MENA can use to share their content and experiences interactively. 

Special Miles is a multitasking platform to link therapists and special educators with children in need. Our mission is to give individuals with and without learning difficulties and mild special needs the opportunity to nurture and blossom their mental and physical abilities to progress and excel in life. 

“The trainers made learning in this program a wonderful experience” – Kassem Nehme, Hadaf 

“With the Spark program, we were exposed to new ideas and new concepts. Experts and trainers were up to the level of our expectations. They brought an added value to our business by giving us insights related to their area of expertise.” – Nemer Mansour, Mezzmix 

“A much-needed program! Helped us develop our entrepreneurship mindset further, with a focus on how to best manage a small business in times of crisis, digitize the operations, solidify our market positioning, and sell our services in a confident yet targeted way” – Fidele El Achkar, Foodsight

“The Spark Program helped revisit our company’s strategy and opened our eyes to new but important considerations to account for, specifically with Crisis Management planning within our firm.” – Reem Mansour, Zaka AI 

SPARK is an international non-governmental development organisation active in 14 regions throughout the Middle East, North and Sub-Saharan Africa. For over 25 years, SPARK has been creating pathways for young people to rebuild their futures.

SPARK provides opportunities for youth, particularly women and refugees, to study, work and grow their own businesses in fragile communities through the provision of higher (vocational) education scholarships, entrepreneurship development and SME support.

All SPARK’s programs are founded on close collaboration with local partner organisations.

Source: Berytech