Call to ActionThe Beirut explosion on August 4, 2020, was a huge wake-up call that we had been living amid a ticking time bomb for seven years. The epitome of negligence and corruption led to an attack that took the lives of 200 people, wounded 6,000, and rendered 300,000 people homeless. Economic loses are estimated at 3 billion USD, whereas 1,500 small- and medium-sized enterprizes (SMEs) were partially or totally damaged, risking the jobs of thousands of employees.
The nature, timing, and extent of the bombing and its implications are unparalleled in human history. We had no guide book or roadmap to adopt or import. We had to rebuild our community ourselves.
DescriptionKhaddit Beirut is a national grassroots initiative launched the day after the explosion by a group of activists and experts who came together to develop a community-led, evidence-based, and locally driven roadmap for recovery. Khaddit Beirut connects experts to grassroots movements and citizens in order to develop an achievable roadmap in four areas: health, environment, education, and support to SMEs.
Given the importance of SMEs in the development of local economies, as well as the need to create employment opportunities and provide sustainable income for a large part of the population, the SMEs Impact Initiative within Khaddit Beirut aims to develop a short-term and medium-term plan to support SME recovery in the affected areas and to send a positive message of hope.
Hosted at the Olayan School of Business (OSB), the SME Impact Initiative consists of professors at OSB, professors from other faculties, SME owners, experts, students, and volunteers. Following the blast, an impact assessment of over 120 SMEs was completed and used to inform our work with SME owners, support organizations, and community leaders to set priorities for reviving the area. From a short-term standpoint, the objective is to reopen as many SMEs as soon as possible.
The goal is to do things better than previously, whereby we rebuild in a sustainable and more inclusive way while also ensuring an equal level of support to women and men business owners. For the long term, the objective is to develop standards and policies for inclusive, green, and innovative revival of the streets of Beirut.
In the first two months following the blast, we established a key strategic partnership with Backbone Initiative and worked together to create our intervention framework; build a cohesive and multidisciplinary team of academics, experts, and volunteers; establish trust and open dialogue with the SME owners; and coordinate efforts with support organizations.
Concretely, we have achieved the following impacts:
- Developed an intervention framework.
- Established the Khaddit Beirut SME Impact Initiative team composed of professors, experts, business owners, students, and volunteers.
- Assessed more than 120 SMEs employing 1,600 employees.
- Begun rebuilding three SMEs and finalized the support needs for 30 others.
- Established partnerships and open dialogue with 10 NGOs and initiatives supporting SMEs.
- Documented the process and related history.
- Developed standards and policies for inclusive, green, and innovative revival of the streets of Beirut.
- "OSB-AUB Reacts to Blast by Creating Khaddit Beirut," Suliman S. Olayan School of Business News