Delegation of the European Union to Lebanon

YOUth CAN!: Promoting Youth Economic Empowerment in Lebanon

12/11/2020 - 12:13

The project aims to foster young women and men’s fair economic participation and strengthen the sustainability and competitiveness of youth-led enterprises


  • Budget: € 555.556 (€ 500.000 EU contribution)
  • Location: Northern Lebanon
  • Date of project: March 2020 - March 2022
  • Implementing Partner: OXFAM Italy

Lebanon is facing the worst unemployment crisis of its history, both structural and cyclic, compounded by domestic and regional instability. Lebanon's youth unemployment rate is over 35% compared with 25% international average. Northern Lebanon has the highest rate in-country. Obtaining a university degree does not guarantee employment opportunities. Should they find a job in the formal sector the educated youth receive a salary which rarely meets the costs of living. Main reasons for youth unemployment are low or currently negative economic growth due to financial, economic and political instability; lack of job opportunities due to the investment and business climate; weak career guidance and counselling, lack of thorough market information and statistics, and pressure on jobs exacerbated by the refugee situation.

In the past few years, Lebanon witnessed the development of a start-up ecosystem supporting entrepreneurs, especially youth, in the shift to financially sustainable and profitable enterprises. These efforts have mostly focused on early-stage ideas and on growth, equipping entrepreneurs with innovation tools and design-thinking expertise. However, the challenges are numerous, especially outside of Beirut. Scattered efforts and provision of individual support result in limited social impact and influencing power, as well as an inability to compete at a national scale. This leads to low survival rates and limited opportunities for scaling up the enterprise.

With this project the European Union is facilitating youth access to the labour market and promoting youth economic participation in Lebanon. The project aims to tackle the low survival rates of youth-led enterprises and youth social enterprises due to limited access to tailored and innovative financial and technical support. On another hand, it aims to have the young entrepreneurs’ voices heard, by promoting opportunities for youth to play their role at policy level.


  • Foster young women and men’s fair economic participation, promoting long-term investments in creativity and innovation in Lebanon
  • Strengthen the sustainability and competitiveness of youth-led enterprises with high potential for inclusive job creation and social innovation in Northern Lebanon
  • Promote youth participation in the labour market through active engagement of policy-makers and key private and public stakeholders, at local and national levels


  • Youth-led start-ups and micro enterprises or social enterprises (consisting of 1-10 employees each) in Northern Lebanon, at least 50% of which are women-led or with high potential to create jobs for women
  • Stakeholders and  youth entrepreneurs (50% women) participating in the advocacy, roundtables and peer-to-peer actions
  • Youth-led start-ups and enterprises or social enterprises benefiting from financial support


  • Capacity building and individual coaching session for young entrepreneurs
  • Financial support for youth led start-ups, enterprises and social enterprises
  • Piloting of an innovative financial mechanism for diaspora
  • Investment in youth-led start-ups, enterprises and social enterprises
  • Activities regarding advocacy, networking and influencing capacity for youth entrepreneurs
  • Awareness raising and mutual learning visits
  • Roundtables with youth entrepreneurs' representatives and key stakeholders


  • Increased entrepreneurial skills of 50 young entrepreneurs
  • Increased financial sustainability of 10 youth-led start-ups, enterprises or social enterprises
  • Increased advocacy, networking and influencing capacity of young entrepreneurs
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