As part of its wider initiative to support small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) through to economic recovery, Facebook is launching the #LoveLocal Lebanon SMB Program. The program was developed in recognition that SMBs in Lebanon have been among the hardest hit by the current economic situation as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in the wake of the explosion at the Port of Beirut last year. The multi-faceted effort will provide SMBs with financial support and capability building programs aimed at enabling their economic recovery as they navigate challenging times.
Facebook partnered with Strategy&, the global strategy consulting business that is part of the PwC network to gain better understanding of local SMB needs amidst the prevailing socio-economic complexities in the Lebanese market, in order to tailor the program optimally for Lebanon. The #LoveLocal Lebanon SMB Program involves a number of elements – the first is a contribution of $600,000 made up of cash and Facebook ad credits. The cash donation of $300,000 to LIFE, a not-for-profit Lebanese diaspora organization that works towards a brighter future by establishing bonds among active Lebanese professionals. Using its experience and network on the ground, LIFE will allocate the donation to SMBs in Lebanon, supporting them during these unprecedented times. 3QA, a Lebanon-based third sector quality assurance organization, will offer support during the vetting and proposal stages.
In addition to the donation, Facebook partnered with Ecomz, a Beirut-based ecommerce platform tailoring for the MENA region, that enables merchants to sell and grow online and Mindshare, the global media and marketing services company, to launch Ecommerce Start – Lebanon,a bootcamp program developed to support 100 SMBs as they look to build their e-commerce presence and become cross-border businesses. Additionally, selected SMBs will be eligible to receive an ad credit coupon.
In collaboration with Seedstars, a series of free webinars will also be made available to SMBs through Boost with Facebook, guiding them through the basics of digital marketing and enabling them to advance their skills as they boost their business on Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger. The program track will consist of two modules that will enable business owners to be more comfortable to improve their digital presence and reach a wider audience. The first module provides direction to SMBs on how to get started on Facebook’s platforms. The second module offers SMBs the opportunity to learn more about using ads to expand their reach.
Facebook is also collaborating with the International Chamber of Commerce-United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia Centre of Entrepreneurship (CoE) in Beirut to support outreach to the SMBs in Lebanon and the overall #LoveLocal Lebanon SMB Program. The ICC-ESCWA CoE is a pioneering initiative to prepare and mobilize the next generation of entrepreneurs in the Arab world. Relying upon ICC and ESCWA’s strong network of local businesses and chambers of commerce, the Centre will work together with Facebook to ensure that the #LoveLocal Lebanon SMB Program is accessible for SMBs in Lebanon.
Ramez Shehadi, Managing Director, Facebook MENA, said: “Small and medium businesses (SMBs) are at the heart of our communities as well as the economic health of the region. We care deeply about the challenges they are facing and how well they are equipped to handle them. Businesses in Lebanon are particularly in need of support as they charge ahead through many layers of obstacles resulting from the Beirut blast months earlier and the many other compounding socio-economic complexities. In light of this backdrop in Lebanon and what the evolving global digital landscape can bring to bear, we at Facebook are committed to help SMBs react, recover and rebound – from improving online presence, reaching new customers across borders, adopting new tools and developing skills to drive and scale commercial growth online and beyond. Our #LoveLocal Lebanon SMB Program, has been curated specifically with the needs of Lebanese business owners in mind, to maximize the impact possible and to contribute their survival and prosperity online.”
Ensuring that SMBs have the right tools in place to navigate Facebook’s family of apps, Facebook had recently launched a coaching program matching SMBs to Facebook marketing experts in 1:1 sessions. This program will provide guidance to SMBs on their enquiries, in addition to support in the form of a $100 advertising coupon provided to help each business attract more customers who may be interested in their products and services. Facebook plans to extend these sessions to support up to 1000 SMBs.
In parallel to the launch of the program, Facebook established a dedicated SMB hub that provides business owners with a platform to access information on the program’s various initiatives, including its donation to SMBs, Boost with Facebook, digital marketing workshops, Ecommerce Start – Lebanon bootcamp, and one-on-one coaching sessions.