Strategy& partners with Facebook on Lebanese SME initiative

17 March 2021 3 min. read

Facebook has launched a new initiative to support struggling small- and medium-sized businesses in Lebanon, with leading global consulting firm Strategy& among the program partners.

While many smaller businesses around the world were still coming to terms with the global pandemic, those in Lebanon were in August last year suddenly dealt another devastating blow; the powerful Port of Beirut explosion which levelled city blocks and left behind $20 billion worth of economic damage.

Not surprisingly, the impact from the blast is still being felt by small and medium businesses today, especially when coupled with the country’s already tattered economy. Aimed at helping such enterprises get back on track and build stronger for the future, social media giant Facebook has launched a new multi-faceted initiative, the #LoveLocal Lebanon SMB Program.

Strategy& partners with Facebook on Lebanese SME initiative

Together with its program partners, including leading global consultancy Strategy&, the package will see Facebook donate $600,000 in cash and ad credits to ailing SMBs along with providing individual coaching and training in areas such as ecommerce and digital marketing.

“Running a business is tough at the very best of times, but the last few months have been especially challenging,” said Facebook’s Middle East & North Africa managing director Ramez Shehadi in an address to local business owners, outlining the company’s hope that the support measures would allow their businesses to not only survive, but thrive. “We want to do what we can. Small businesses are the backbone of the global economy, and your financial recovery is a priority.”

As a first step, Facebook and Shehadi, who took on the MENA managing director role at the end of 2018, turned to Shedadi’s one-time former employer, Strategy& (then Booz & Co, prior to its rebranding upon joining PwC). Strategy&, which has an office in Beirut among its five in the Middle East, was brought in to give expert advice on the socio-economic complexities of the Lebanese market in order to best tailor the program to the specific needs of local SMBs.

And it is not the first time that Strategy& has provided pro bono support in response to the fatal explosion. In the immediate aftermath, the firm volunteered its resources to conduct an impact and needs assessment to aid local and international donors and humanitarian agencies to most effectively channel their relief efforts. In addition to providing other online updates and resources, Strategy& team members also supported recovery organisations with their on-the-ground responses.

Half of Facebook’s $600,000 financial support package has already been donated in the form of cash to the worldwide non-profit Lebanese diaspora organisation LIFE (which is also politically unaffiliated). LIFE will leverage its local knowledge to allocate the funding to selected SMBs, with Lebanon-based third sector quality assurance organisation 3QA in turn offering support during the vetting and proposal stages.

Other program partners of #LoveLocal include Seedstars, Mindshare and Ecomz.