Noura Dereki had always been interested in starting her own business. But like many in Lebanon, the country’s economic crises forced her into it. When her husband lost his job the family couldn’t afford to keep her daughter in school, let alone support herself. The crisis presented her an opportunity to start a business selling jarred produce that are staples in many homes. Lutheran World Relief will connect her to mentors and training that can help her realize her dream of opening a store. “I have extra energy now because I want to support my kids,” she said.
Lutheran World Relief has worked at the nexus of humanitarian assistance and development in the Middle East since 1948.
In late 2017, we began working in Lebanon to address diminishing economic opportunities and improve social cohesion between Lebanese locals and Syrian and Iraqi refugees. When an explosion rocked Beirut in August 2020, we rushed to help thousands affected to recover stronger.
Lebanon has one of the highest overall gender gaps in the world. Only 1 out of every 4 women have employment, compared to 3 out of every 4 men, and women face significant barriers in accessing the marketplace.
We provide women entrepreneurs with the network, investment and training they need to succeed.
- Noura supports her children
- Amal’s caring heart
- Lauren’s next chapter
The plight of Syrian refugees and others who are disadvantaged spoke to Amal al Hilabi. “I have a love of giving,” she said. “I wanted them to have some income, and so I started this business.” Now her kitchen features eight women who cannot make frozen kibbeh fast enough to keep stores stocked. We’re helping Amal broaden her business to employ more people in need, making the kitchen where women talk and laugh while cooking even more crowded. “It wasn’t food, humanity brought us together,” she said. “My mission is for anyone who wants to work to be able to come and work.”
Cooking is one way Lauren Faress copes with her husband’s recent death. But when friends encouraged her to start making meals to sell, she discovered renewed purpose. “I wanted to work. I needed to work, I like working,” she said. So she’s transformed her kitchen into a foodie paradise. We’re leaning on her talent, and her son’s social media marketing skills, to provide tools and training that will help her business grow past her kitchen table.
Refugee and host community livelihoods
Syria’s prolonged civil war, prolonged conflict in Iraq and continued instability in Palestinian territories have forced scores to settle in neighboring Lebanon, with 1 refugee for every 4 Lebanese nationals. The burden of hosting at such a challenging time places significant strain on host communities.
We provide immediate assistance while promoting livelihood and economic growth programs that are open to refugees and host communities alike, so that peace is maintained and prosperity is a realistic, and shared, goal.
When emergencies strike, like the August 2020 explosion in Beirut, Lutheran World Relief rushes to respond to immediate needs and help those affected strengthen their resilience for the long-term.
In addition to offering emergency food assistance, quilts and personal care kits after the Beirut blast, we repaired damaged dwellings, returning nearly 2,000 families home in less than 9 months. We also helped small businesses, especially women-owned, in the blast area recover to re-open and serve their communities.
- Camille Cababe’s story
- George Flouty’s story
An illicit contractor strung along Camille Cababe for three months after the Aug. 4, 2020, Beirut port explosion. Yet when she connected with Lutheran World Relief staff about the possibility of repairing her home, she finally felt secure. “Without you, I have no idea how we would have done it,” she said. “No one here can just repair their homes. A lot of people still haven’t gotten their houses back. Thank you so much for helping. Without you all I wouldn’t have been able to return home.”
George Flouty works as an accountant in a hospital but cannot access the funds in his bank account, following the government’s financial collapse. “I was thinking how am I going to be able to pay, with the financial and banking situation in this country?” With USAID support, Lutheran World Relief was able to step in and help Flouty to make significant repairs so he could return home. “Just to be back in the space with my same neighbors who shared the experience with me, I think it helps a lot.”
Returning Evacuees To Urban Residences Now (RETURN)
Through the RETURN project, funded by USAID’s Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance, Lutheran World Relief facilitated the safe return of 1,986 of the most vulnerable survivors of the Beirut blast to their residences, repairing damaged homes to habitable status and affording some stability to families already coping with economic, political and pandemic crises.
Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP): Expanding Women’s Labor Force in Lebanon (EWLFL)
This W-GDP project supports women entrepreneurs as catalysts for positive change in business, as well as in their families and communities, with gender-appropriate and gender-specific interventions. Through the project, Lutheran World Relief provides a gender-focused, tailored, externally accredited certification to the women entrepreneurs of USAID’s private sector development programs in Lebanon, some of whom may not have access to higher education or other formal certification programs, to demonstrate their knowledge and gain external corroboration for their businesses in the market. Lutheran World Relief also carries out complementary activities to improve the enabling business environment and link the women to business opportunities that strengthen their resilience capacities.
As part of a multi-pronged response to the August 2020 Beirut port explosion, Lutheran World Relief funded the 3ammer Jdid project and implemented activities at and around the epicenter of the blast zone in close collaboration with local partner the Georges N. Frem Foundation. Prioritizing women-led businesses, the project rebuilt and refurbished 90 affected micro and small enterprises (MSEs), such as mini-markets, hairdressers, car mechanics, small shops, bakeries, tailors, etc.
Agriculture for Peace in Lebanon
Through the Agriculture for Peace in Lebanon project, Lutheran World Relief offered Lebanese families and Syrian refugees specialized training on crop production, quality control and marketing, as well as employment opportunities, including an opportunity for women and men to learn how to produce crops in greenhouses. Lutheran World Relief also employed the local work force to repair and improve irrigation canals and water networks. This work was complemented by training in conflict resolution and prevention techniques, easing social tensions between Lebanese locals and Syrian refugees through income generating collaborations.
Improving the Livelihood Conditions of Host Communities & Syrians Working in Agriculture
Lutheran World Relief worked with Lebanese farmers from host communities and Syrian refugees working in agriculture to strengthen the capacity of 52 small and medium enterprises. The project installed drip irrigation networks and provided technical training to the Lebanese farmers and Syrian refugees. By the close of the project, participants were effectively using water from the drip irrigation schemes, producing higher quality crops with higher yields and saving money.
Conflict Management and Community Livelihoods Development
The goal of this project was to defuse tensions between Lebanese locals and Syrian refugees through mutually beneficial local economic development. Key municipality staff and Lebanese and Syrian community leaders were trained in local resource management and conflict prevention to help mitigate resource-based tensions and defuse local conflicts as project participants engaged together in agriculture-based livelihood strengthening activities.