The Beirut & Mount Lebanon Chamber of Commerce, Industry & Agriculture (CCIB) launched a seed capital, development and orientation fund named FARO Lebanon to support entrepreneurs and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the country.
The fund's idea is derived from an initiative by the French government to encourage innovation and cooperation among firms and entrepreneurs across the Mediterranean Basin and to create a network of similar funds within the framework of the Union for the Mediterranean project. The first FARO fund was launched in France in May 2010 with the cooperation of the French Development Agency (AFD), the Groupe Caisse des Dépôts, and OSEO, an organization that supports SMEs. The Faro fund has a budget of €1m and enables French entrepreneurs to study the feasibility of innovative projects undertaken in collaboration with partners from South Mediterranean countries.
Each project backed by the fund is allocated a subsidy of up to €20,000 to finance up to 50% of the total costs of the project.
FARO Lebanon will operate under the same precepts and will implement the same mechanism. The fund will have an initial budget of $500,000 that will be increased gradually, and will provide up to $20,000 per eligible project. Also, the European Union pledged to contribute €1m, or $1.3m, to the fund in 2013.
FARO Lebanon will be managed by a board of trustees that includes representatives from public and private institutions, and will be chaired by the president of the CCIB. In parallel, Lebanese entrepreneurs and SMEs are expected to provide an innovative product or service, or an innovative business model, in order to be eligible for the fund's support. Further, SMEs must have at least one partner from a European or Mediterranean country in order to qualify for the financial support.
The fund will be based at the CCIB, while the Chamber's Center for Economic Research will be in charge of reviewing applications and making relevant recommendations to the board of trustees. The center's responsibilities also cover identifying areas where applicants need support, such as preparing a business plan or a feasibility study. Lebanon is the second country after France to establish a FARO fund.
Lebanon This Week – Byblos Bank Research