Historically, Lebanon has been a center of trade and culture. Due to a solid banking sector, Lebanon witnessed a growth spurt between 2007 and 2010, during which real GDP growth averaged around 8 percent. More than 28 percent of the population lives on less than $4 a day. Economic activities outside Beirut, such as agriculture and rural tourism, have not kept pace with international competition or with other parts of the Lebanese economy.
As increasing political and economic pressures compound the difficulties in rural Lebanon, USAID’s programs work to provide opportunities for jobs with competitive wages in these areas and to ensure that rural Lebanese share equally in the country’s prosperity. We work to lower production costs to competitive levels, improve productivity through new technologies and trainings, and expand connections between markets in rural economic sectors. Our goal is to enhance competitiveness for micro-, small- and medium-sized business so that individual incomes can rise above the national minimum wage rate.
Our impacts in this sector include:
- Providing capital assistance to a remarkable 80 percent of the formal microfinance sector in Lebanon through to eight Lebanese micro-finance institutions that disburse loans and provide business development services to micro-enterprises that do not normally have access to capital. Since 2009, USAID has provided three rounds of sub-grants to microfinance institutions that have made more than 6,000 loans, sustaining or creating approximately 9,800 jobs.
- Identifying and expanding Lebanese businesses’ access to markets and linking them with buyers.
- Supporting the development of tourist destinations, tourism promotion and ecotourism, including the Lebanon Mountain Trail (LMT). This 440-kilometer national hiking trail runs nearly the length of the country linking together three natural reserves–the Afqa Natural Reserve, the Tannourine Natural Reserve and the Shouf Cedars Natural Reserve–and connecting more than 71 villages. The USAID-funded LMT project trained 50 local guides, established 11 guesthouses, and engaged approximately 50 municipalities and 10 NGOs in communities along the trail who now are invested in ensuring it sustainability as a protected national treasure.