With IESC Support, Lebanon Establishes First Microfinance Association
BEIRUT, LEBANON – On January 12, Lebanon’s Ministry of Interior and Municipalities officially approved the creation of the nation’s first microfinance association.
The new association is made up of eight microfinance institutions that will work to strengthen the microfinance sector and increase access to finance for micro and small business owners throughout Lebanon.
The petition to establish the association was sponsored by the Lebanon Investment in Microfinance Program (LIM), an economic development program funded by the United States Agency for International Development.
Although Lebanon has a fairly advanced consumer banking system, loans for small businesses are not widely available.
The new association is the result of five years of training and other microfinance events organized by the LIM Program and more than two years of work focused specifically on creating the association.
“Lebanon’s leading microfinance institutions have come together to improve financial services for the most vulnerable Lebanese citizens,” said Mahmoud Elzein, who leads the LIM program.
The association will promote communication and coordination among the member institutions, conduct market research, provide training and other services to microfinance professionals, and raise public awareness about microfinance in Lebanon. The association effectively serves as the new unified voice of the sector, where previously there had been none.
The founding members of the association, all of which received technical assistance through the LIM Program, include the following: Association for the Development of Rural Capacities, Association d’Entraide Professionnelle, Al Majmoua, Entrepreneurial Development Foundation, Emkan, IBDAA, Makhzoumi Foundation, and Vitas.
The Lebanon Investment in Microfinance Program is funded by the United States Agency for International Development and implemented by the International Executive Service Corps through the Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance. Since 2009, the LIM Program has awarded $9.5 million in grants to Lebanese microfinance institutions, which in turn have disbursed a total of $32 million across nearly 14,000 micro-loans. As a result, the program has impacted more than 21,000 jobs, including 3,000 new jobs.