Press release

9 Oct 2020


ICC and United Nations launch Centre of Entrepreneurship in Beirut to support small businesses in the Arab region


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 (CoE) to inspire entrepreneurial innovation and improve the business environment for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the Arab region.
Based in Beirut, the Centre will work with various stakeholders, including businesses, chambers of commerce, academic institutions, intergovernmental and governmental agencies, 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 start-ups and entrepreneurs, the ICC-ESCWA 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 driven by chambers of commerce and innovative partners. Leveraging digital connectivity, the Centre will pair entrepreneurs with experts from the United Nations and ICC’s global network to provide virtual mentoring and coaching. The Centre will also draw upon the strength of chambers of commerce in over 100 countries, ICC’s Knowledge Solutions Department, and ESCWA’s Knowledge Hubs.
“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 enhance economic development by addressing employment challenges and structural inequalities. With SMEs comprising nearly 90% of all businesses in the Middle East and North Africa, the Centre will empower companies 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.
The Centre will host a series of talks for entrepreneurs, chambers of commerce, businesses, banks, and Governments, to address the structural challenges facing emerging and developing markets, including youth employment, gender inclusion, and education. By bringing together thought leaders, businesses, and entrepreneurs, the Centre will create a thriving community of professionals devoted to bringing their innovative ideas to life.
“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.
In addition to ICC and ESCWA, the Centre will be supported through partnerships with local, regional and international actors, including Berytech, Beirut’s ecosystem for entrepreneurs; Facebook, the social media platform;  Mind the Bridge, the global innovation advisory firm; and Pearson, the world’s learning company. 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.


Media Contacts:
Timothy Conley
International Chamber of Commerce
T: +33 6 45 12 82 62
Rania Harb
United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA)
T: +961 70 008 879
About the International Chamber of Commerce
The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) is the institutional representative of more than 45 million companies in over 100 countries. ICC’s core mission is to make business work for everyone, every day, everywhere. Through a unique mix of advocacy, solutions and standard setting, we promote international trade, responsible business conduct and a global approach to regulation, in addition to providing market-leading dispute resolution services. Our members include many of the world’s leading companies, SMEs, business associations and local chambers of commerce.
One of five United Nations regional commissions, ESCWA supports inclusive and sustainable economic and social development in Arab States, and works on enhancing regional integration.

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