How to preserve employment and develop economic growth in productive industries
Posted on 2021 Apr,09

A series of five consecutive roundtable discussions took place on March 30 and 31, organized by Executive Magazine in partnership with the United States Agency for international Development (USAID). The roundtables gathered experts and key players from five industries from manufacturing to knowledge enterprises. 

More than 50 high-powered stakeholders and industry experts, between 8 and 15 per roundtable, convened over two days of intense communication in hybrid on- and offline deliberations at the Gefinor Rotana hotel in Beirut, Lebanon.

The five industries were previously selected by a project Steering Committee comprising high-powered Lebanese experts in development economics, finance and management.

The five roundtables focused on the following industries: 

  • Manufacturing 
  • Food Processing and Agro-Industrial Production
  • Media, Publishing and Content Creation 
  • Food & Beverage and Hospitality 
  • Technology and Knowledge Enterprises 

They each face sets of complicated challenges. However, these interrelated challenges reveal a strong potential for synergetic development of the industries under discussion if they help each other deal with the barriers that each industry is hindered by Lebanon’s industries could benefit immensely from a national private sector action plan and synergetic economic action. Several industries today are leading in potentials for job creation and productivity.

The overall stakeholder objective of the project is the publication of a comprehensive report and action plan under a consultative and collaborative Lebanese approach. The report and action plan are scheduled for completion and release within three months from the convening of the five roundtables.  Among recurrent topics that came up throughout the five roundtables was the need for a structured system; a government that would provide support to these industries in regulating the fluctuating value of the Lebanese Lira, and to facilitate incoming funds from BDL and outside investors.

Yasser Akkaoui, Managing Director and Editor in Chief of Executive Magazine, emphasized the need for this plan of action to get the ball moving, to get unstuck and revitalize the much-needed Lebanese job market. “We cannot survive at this pace and we cannot wait on a government to start building a better tomorrow,” he said.

Borhan Kreitem, Senior Development Consultant and MEL Director at the USAID Lebanon Enterprise Development Project, describes the many challenges faced by Lebanese industries as opportunities to build on and grow from. “We cannot dwell on the issues at hand and stay put, we need to plan forward for the revitalization of the sector and the economy, and we can do that with the support of all stakeholders” he explained.

The participants tapped into various solutions from a hopeful and optimistic point of view; such as the opportunities to export goods and services regarding many industries from Agro-industries to Fin-tech. Also they tapped into organizing the private sector to seize opportunities, and plan/take actions with the support of the donor community. 

Participants also ventured into financial solutions, from equity funding in “fresh dollars” by foreign and diaspora investors to mobilizing bank dollar funds (lollars) that are held in Lebanese bank accounts. Other financing avenues presented by roundtable participants pertained to impact investment and the role of the Cedar Oxygen ESG fund. 

While most roundtables saw the fulfillment of public sector responsibilities and enactment of a reform-oriented government as an absolute necessity, participants expressed their determination for self-reliance and the pursuit of private sector initiatives. The prevailing attitude among roundtable participants was affirmations of respective industry’s resilience and hope for better future throughout.

Accessible in live streams via dedicated social media channels hosted by Executive Magazine, the roundtables attracted live audiences of high quality and are being optimized as abridged as well as full recordings.