MEDSt@rts promotes financial inclusion as a way to boost youth entrepreneurship in the Mediterranean


In the  frame of MEDSt@rts project, funded by the ENI CBC MED Programme, with 2.5 million euros (90% of the total budget), on November 4th the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture in Sidon and South Lebanon organized the public mid-term conference at Jiyeh Marina Resort (Sidon).

The hybrid event - also broadcast on Zoom and social media - was attended by the Programme Joint Technical Secretariat representative Ms. Dua'a Qurie, the Sidon Chamber president Mr. Mohamad Saleh,  ENI CBC MED National Contact Point at the presidency of the Council of Ministers (Lebanon) Eng. Mohamad Itani, President of Sidon Merchants Mr Ali Al Charif, Lebanese Micro Finance Association representative Mrs. Ola Hariri, company representatives, micro-finance institutions, project partners, beneficiaries and staheolders.

In the inaugural session, the Chamber of Sidon president Mr. Mohamad Saleh emphasised the importance of MEDSt@rts in supporting economic development and encouraging young people to take initiatives, build their energies and invest in them. Ms. Dua'a Qurie, Senior Expert for the Social inclusion and fight against poverty Thematic Objective of the Programme, highlighted how the creation and development of businesses will contribute to the social solidarity as a way to stimulate social inclusion and fight against poverty in the Mediterranean area. 

Speeches started with ENI CBC MED National Contact Point at the presidency of the Council of Ministers (Lebanon) Eng. Mohamad Itani, who stressed the project’s importance for offering subgrants to support young people and women entrepreneurs. He also pointed to the high technical and administrative standard of the Lebanese participants that allowed them to reach this stage and compete within the Programme. Then MEDSt@rts Project Manager Ms. Alessandra Feola (Fondazione di Sardegna) presented the results achieved so far while highlighting possible synergies and identifying good practices for stronger impact on the regional levels. After her, Mr. Luca Leonardi, territorial innovation manager at Consorzio ARCA, identified synergies by and between ENI CBC MED projects with emphasis on exchanged experience and knowledge and results developed under Euro-Mediterranean initiatives. 

A second session was entitled "Microfinance industry: lessons learned and perspectives in the area involved": six participants highlighted the status of microfinance in their respective countries with reference to ongoing incubation processes: Mrs Maria Rachele Ottonello (Project Officer at Arab-Italian cooperation Chamber, Italy), Mr. Piergiorgio Chelucci (MEDSt@rts mentor at SFIRS Spa, Italy), Ms. Ikram Makni (General Director at Sfax Chamber of Commerce, Tunisia), Mr. Imad Hamze (Financial Inclusion Expert for MEDSt@rts at Sidon Chamber, Lebanon), Mr. Panagiotis Vafeidis (MEDSt@rts Project Officer at the Chamber of Achaia, Greece) and Ms. Rand Abdalkader (Project Coordinator at LEADERS International, Palestine). 

The event ended with the testimonies of some beneficiaries, who presented their business projects in the tourism, ecodesign, agrifood and health care sectors: Mr. Fabrizio Ariu with Flamingo Services (Italy); Mr. Maazoun Malek, founder of the Coart Creative Container, a workspace for the creative community in Sfax (Tunisia); Ms. Arine Aprahamian with Muller Aprahamian (Lebanon); Mr. Eleftherios Georgoulas, founder of Aithra Spirits (Greece) and Ms. Deema Kilani with her TabibFind (Palestine).