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In Jordan and Lebanon, Social entrepreneurs reach-out to refugees



           

Jordan and Lebanon, two of the main host countries regarding the number of Syrian refugees, have seen an increase in vocations with social impact during the past two years. A different kind of entrepreneurs has continued to multiply, promoting mutual aid and solidarity rather than profit. A few months ago, Femise published a study on this phenomenon. An analysis which is more topical than ever with the Covid-19 pandemic which calls into question our current systems and sees the reinforcement of new behaviors focused on humanist values. Version française




Safaa plumbing breaks down prejudices and even taboos! Founded by a single Syrian refugee, this company employs women plumbers. ©HCR
Safaa plumbing breaks down prejudices and even taboos! Founded by a single Syrian refugee, this company employs women plumbers. ©HCR
Who are these social entrepreneurs, what are their motivations, their objectives and the means implemented to achieve them? What financial or administrative difficulties are they facing? So many questions analyzed by Femise which studied the case of Jordan and Lebanon, two countries on the front line for the reception of refugees since the Syrian war.

The study (FEM44-12), led by Katarzyna Sidlo and jointly conducted by the Center for Social and Economic Research in Poland and the Royal Scientific Society in Jordan, highlights the role of social entrepreneurship in these countries. Although not very structured, it contributes to improving the situation of refugees with a real impact. Take the example of Sharqi Shop, a network of craftsmen founded by a Syrian refugee, or Crave Home, a Lebanese online platform that offers the sale of typical dishes concocted by women refugees. Safaa plumbing breaks down prejudices and even taboos! Founded by a single Syrian refugee, this company employs women plumbers.

So many opportunities for Syrian refugees to "start a new career" or to continue their professional education started in their country of origin. “The opportunities offered are particularly precious for women refugees. They find it difficult to manage both family responsibilities and professional life while facing various socio-cultural constraints, ”adds the report. Online catering platforms that offer cooking for others while staying at home are increasing.

Creation of social value

The opportunities offered are particularly precious for women refugees. ©HCR
The opportunities offered are particularly precious for women refugees. ©HCR
The authors of the report were able to identify a certain number of characteristics making it possible to qualify social entrepreneurship: a sector essentially based on "creation of social value rather than on creation of purely market value", which seeks to "Be financially viable" and identified as a social enterprise. In a 2018 Econostrum dossier, Constantin Tsakas, general manager of Institut de la Méditerranée and secretary general of Femise, stressed that "faced with youth unemployment, the informal economy, inequalities and lack of economic diversification, social entreprises have the potential, which is still weakly exploited, to be an accelerator of socio-economic development by taking advantage of innovative approaches.The FEMISE EuroMed report, published in June 2019, also offered an overview of the great potentials of this sector but also the obstacles it faces.

Because despite this rich potential, social entrepreneurship faces many obstacles, the foremost of which is the lack of recognition as a legal entity and the consequences thereof. Opting for the status of a for-profit organization means giving up any tax deduction, the possibility of receiving grants and donations (tax-exempt). Choosing the status of non-profit associations hinders social enterprises in their ability to generate income. In fact, they are constrained in access to finance and deprived of the benefits of incubators and accelerators. Another major handicap is the granting of work permits to refugees.
Although social entrepreneurship is not the only answer to the refugee crisis; thanks to a favorable legislative environment, it is likely to become an important player in particular thanks to new technologies which make it possible to intensify their activities and potentially maximize their impacts ", advocates Femise.
The report is available for download here.


Nathalie Bureau du Colombier, MARSEILLE


Wednesday, April 1st 2020



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