Adriana Lima, celebrity model, and activist, visited Lebanon on an advocacy mission to shed light on communities touched by the Beirut Port explosion centering her visit on selected schools and businesses on the highly-impacted Gemmayze Street.
Berytech accompanied Lima on her visit to businesses that are currently benefitting from the ‘Support to MSEs affected by the Beirut Blast’, an ongoing initiative in partnership with the United Nations Development Program. Funded by the Government of the United Kingdom, the initiative targets micro and small enterprises affected by the Beirut explosion in the hospitality, design and crafts, food production, and retail sectors.
Rebuilding after the explosion
Lima’s visit started at the ‘The Barn’ restaurant, where she met with the owner of the restaurant, Chantal Salloum who spoke about the tragic experience of losing her newly built restaurant as a result of the explosion: “We were three days away from opening day. Everything was ready. On August 7 we organized a party for friends and guests. On the day of the explosion, my partner and I were so exhausted that we decided to close the restaurant and give the staff a rest day before the official opening. The explosion happened soon after we left, destroying our dreams and hard work in seconds.”
“The impact of the explosion, the size of the destruction, and the pictures of the victims were very difficult for all of us,” explained Lima. She also stressed on the great efforts made by the United Nations Development Program and its partnership with Berytech to support business owners in rebuilding.
With Lima, the team inspected the restoration operations of the damaged institutions that benefited from the initiative finishing it with a visit to ‘Mayrig’ restaurant where she met with students who received from educational grants under a support program by ‘Education Above All’. Aline Kamakian, the owner of Mayrig, explained to Lima the tailored support she and 50 other businesses received from the ‘Support to MSEs affected by the Beirut Blast’ initiative covering business development and training in addition to financial grants.
Support to SMEs
In Lebanon, over 90% of enterprises active in the economy can be categorized as MSEs, employing more than 50% of the working population. They are crucial players for economic growth, local development, employment, and income generation.
For the past ten years, Lebanon has been severely affected by multiple crises; starting with the refugees, political, financial, and economic instability, and most recently the health challenges following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. This has culminated with the massive blast that occurred on August 4, 2020, and the subsequent damages and repercussions on businesses operating in Beirut.
This initiative helped restore livelihoods by supporting the recovery of the local MSEs affected by the Beirut Blast. The multidimensional support helped MSEs increase their access to customers and online markets aiming to strengthen business continuity, job retention, and growth.
About the Initiative
‘Support to MSEs affected by the Beirut Blast’ is a UNDP initiative funded by the Government of the United Kingdom and implemented in partnership with Berytech, targeting micro and small enterprises affected by the Beirut Blast through the provision of business development support and conditional cash grants to help sustain or create jobs and support local livelihoods.