ICC-ESCWA Centre of Entrepreneurship

Beirut and Paris, 9 October 2020

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) have launched the ICC-ESCWA Centre of Entrepreneurship to inspire entrepreneurial innovation and improve the business environment for SMEs and startups in the Arab region.

Based in Beirut, the Centre will work with various stakeholders to connect local entrepreneurs to global markets and enhance regulatory conditions for SMEs to thrive. From developing the skills of young people who face uncertain employment prospects to mentoring local startups and entrepreneurs, the Centre of Entrepreneurship is devoted to improving the livelihoods of citizens in Lebanon and the rest of the region.

The Centre will serve as a platform to scale globally the most successful local and regional entrepreneurial initiatives.

In addition to ICC and ESCWA, the Centre will be supported through partnerships with local, regional and international actors, including Berytech, Beirut’s start-up incubator; Facebook, the social media platform;  Mind the Bridge, the global innovation advisory firm; and Pearson, the educational provider. These partnerships will strengthen the Centre’s mission and purpose, as well as strengthen public-private initiatives to rebuild Beirut, digitize SMEs, improve livelihoods, and create new economic opportunities for those living in the Arab region.

“As the institutional voice of 45 million businesses around the world, ICC is deeply committed to providing SMEs – in Lebanon and beyond – with the necessary resources and tools to survive and thrive. In the aftermath of the Beirut blast, the ICC-ESCWA Centre of Entrepreneurship will offer the Lebanese people resources to confront the country’s lack of employment opportunities, structural inequalities, and flagging economic development. With SMEs comprising nearly 90% of all businesses in the Middle East and North Africa, the Centre will empower businesses to expand their operations globally, enable entrepreneurs to transform their innovative ideas into reality, and improve livelihoods in the region,” said ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton AO.

“This Centre ushers in a new phase of ESCWA work in supporting SMEs in the Arab region. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development promises to leave no one behind. We believe that creating jobs through vibrant entrepreneurship, particularly for women, is crucial to achieving this ambition. The Centre will provide much needed assistance to link SMEs to regional and global value chains so that they benefit from emerging opportunities. SMEs have been badly hit by COVID-19 and need urgent and concerted support. Our partnership with ICC, through the Centre of Entrepreneurship, aims to provide exactly that,” said ESCWA Executive Secretary Rola Dashti.

“We are proud to empower – through our capacity-building programs – the ICC Centre of Entrepreneurship and provide support in scaling up the Lebanese startup ecosystem by developing international connections with the Silicon Valley and other global tech hubs,” said Mind the Bridge Chairman Alberto Onetti.