• Opinion by Jean AbiNader

Time to Gig Up with Lebanese Talent!

Just wanted to take a few minutes to talk with you about Lebanon’s best and brightest who are staying home and trying to survive the awful economic and health crises in the country. We all know the situation: mounting national debt led to significant erosion of the Lebanese currency; inflation has soared; the cost of living has pushed more than 50% of Lebanese into poverty; and COVID-19 has disabled the educational system, closed many businesses, and left more than 35% of the country without jobs.


Since only 45% of the workforce is in the formal economy and therefore have some eligibility for social services, the rest have to rely on savings that they can only withdraw in small amounts from the banks, if they have savings left at all. It’s a catastrophe and there’s no sense of optimism as the political oligarchy have already indicated their reluctance to support an IMF-mandate reform plan that would eat into their patronage systems.


As one of Lebanon’s leading women entrepreneurs put it, “When there is so much talent in Lebanon, why am I ruled by the least competent & most careless…I keep wondering!” And this is from someone who went back to Lebanon hoping she could make a difference, employ local artisans, and give hope to small businesses by sourcing locally. Her story is repeated over and over again by the more than 70% of Lebanese who say their only futures are outside of the country. That’s a sad statistic, made even worse by the decline in remittances from abroad which had propped up the currency and provided some liquidity to the banking system…that’s gone and with it the ability to provide funding for business start-ups and economic growth.


We Zoomed recently with leaders of Jobs for Lebanon to understand what can be done to keep talented and skilled Lebanese in Lebanon. They walked us through their presentation and the statistics are daunting. There are currently 600,000 people unemployed in Lebanon, an estimated 35% unemployment rate and climbing. Youth, women, and graduates are particularly affected as well as those who are part of the 76% who usually work in the services sector. Since the government is broke, there are no large-scale interventions to prop up the economy; and even those that exist for the poor and small and medium-sized businesses are underfunded. Despite these challenges, in just a few months, the Jobs for Lebanon website lists some 2550 candidates and over 250 jobs.


So let’s talk about what you can do to access these talented people to give them opportunities while filling needs that you may have as your business scales back up. Jobs for Lebanon, as this video explains, has a jobs matching website, powered by Smartrecruiters, which is used by more than 4000 companies worldwide. It provides a scalable recruiting platform to match jobs and job seekers. It’s easy to use for both job seekers and employers and can be accessed from anywhere in the world. It is a key element in today’s gig economy wherein tasks can be contracted out to remote workers. As workforce decentralization in response to COVID-19 has demonstrated, productivity and quality are not affected by remote work, and employing Lebanese gives you access to vetted talent pools committed to performance and satisfaction.


You don’t have to be a Lebanese expatriate employer to use the matching service. Any business can take advantage of their talents. Initially, Jobs for Lebanon is targeting overseas Lebanese in 137 countries, working through a network of 14 representatives (“Ambassadors”), and doing outreach through organizations like ATFL. It is partnering with mentoring organizations to provide applicants with knowledge needed for interviews; remote learning sources for professional enrichment courses; and groups that provide vetting services to select talented applicants.


This is the opportunity to help your business recover and grow by employing talented Lebanese who otherwise have few options for using their skills and expanding their horizons. Again, you can find them at https://www.jobsforlebanon.com/


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