The Syrian Enterprise and Business Centre (SEBC) is a Syrian non-profit making institution established in 2006 as an NGO according to Syrian laws, benefiting from a legacy of 10-year cooperation between the EU and Syria in developing the business sector in Syria (namely the Syrian-European Business Centre (1996-2006).
Evolving as a smooth transition from the “Five-A” extremely successful EU programme, SEBC is now the leading organisation supporting Syria’s reform by serving as an implementation agency for international partners’ programmes and focusing on developing the business sector through implementing socio-economic activities. In other words, SEBC is the catalyst institution for business sector development and growth in Syria.
Leading by example and serving as a role model, SEBC, The European styled, Syrian operated and managed business institution, adopts innovative styles, bottom up approach and demand driven techniques to achieve its set objectives. It managed over the past years to run and implement initiatives, programmes and projects exceeding in total 65 Million Euros. SEBC is considered by its beneficiaries, donors and partners as their technical arm which is due to the methodology SEBC uses and the close relation of partnership that SEBC believes in. From those partners:
The European Union: SEBC succeeded to expand its cooperation with the EU by implementing and hosting several EC Funded programmes (I.e. SME Support Programme, Trade Enhancement Programme, Business Environment Simplification Programme, and Quality Infrastructure Programme). It has cooperated with the European Training Foundation (ETF), not only on the TNA Study for Syria delivered by SEBC, but also on the design and implementation of the “SKILLS” programme, which became a well reputed success story in its own right. In addition, SEBC hosts, runs and manages the Syrian national network of the Enterprise Europe Network; and is working with ANIMA network in executing several Invest in Med Initiatives; and is part of the EBN/BIC. Briefly, SEBC acts as a channel and interface to EU TA aid to Syria.
The Syrian Public Administration: SEBC implemented several different-sized projects to the Syrian Public Administration including ministries and local authorities (just to mention for example, the National Quality Programme, Public Sector Reform Programme, preparing the Syrian national strategy to support SMEs, Developing Raqqa Governorate, and Citizen Service Centres in Damascus). All that made the Syrian Public Administration consider SEBC as its technical arm, resulting that many public entities approach SEBC to benefit from the trusted high quality services and expertise.
International Organisations: SEBC has powerful relations with several International organisations, e.g. the World Economic Forum through hosting its partner institute “the National Competitiveness Observatory (NCO)” which was chosen to cover Syria’s presence in the Global Competitiveness Report. SEBC has also delivered several projects and studies on Syria on behalf of the World Bank. Apart from being partner in the PSLO network, SEBC has worked for years with UNRWA, British Council, GEF/SGP, UNDP, GTZ, JICA, International Trade Centre, Mena 100 Competition…, offering them its experiences and implementing projects and activities on their behalf.
League of Arab States (LAS): SEBC has good relations with many LAS organisations. One of the success stories is the cooperation with the Arab Industrial Development and Mining Organisation (AIDMO) in developing and implementing many of its Initiatives which led to sign a MoU considering SEBC as the technical office of AIDMO and the organisation-in-charge of launching the Arab Union for Industrial Exports Development and the Euro Arab Business Council for SMEs.
Syrian Civil Society: SEBC works hand in hand with the civil society in Syria sharing with them its long accumulated expertise and know-how. Over the past 7 years, SEBC helped Business NGOs (such as Chambers, Bilateral Syrian Business council, Syrian Exporters Federation, Businesswomen, etc.) in addition to capacity development programmes to many NGOs (Syrian NGO Development Programme co-financed by GEF/SGP). CSOs in Syria consider SEBC as the model to learn from of an efficient, powerful and successful NGO.
Business Sector: SEBC offers its local multi-size business clients and foreign businesses interested in the Syrian market a wide array of services ranging from consultancy and business advice to incubation, coaching, mentoring, entrepreneurship, innovation, access to finance, and most notably, business management training. The services provided are either subsidised, at cost basis or free of charge. Local businesses, hence, regard SEBC as their first port of call when seeking support or business upgrading.
SEBC manages all this undertaking via its Head Office in Damascus, Branch in Aleppo, affiliated training centre and business incubators, relays and standalone initiatives. For almost 20 years, these activities and training courses have been covering all Syrian governorates.
Recently SEBC has expanded its activities in the social domain due to the new circumstances and the needs facing Syria. In cooperation with the British Council, SEBC supported the establishment of MOBADEROON, the Network of Active Citizens in Syria. This fresh born network hosted by SEBC, gathered more than 6,000 activists and community leaders from almost all the Syrian governorates, and supported them to work jointly and individually through small initiatives on the ground.
Finally, the continuous success of SEBC was a natural result of the strategy it has adopted from the early beginning. This Strategy is based on transparency, clear vision, and strategic integrity, combining social and economic development, partnership and networking with all actors. The capacity of our local experts and our worldwide network of international experts, the know-how of Syria’s real need and commitment through working up to international standards and continuous evaluation of work using the right set of quantitative and qualitative indicators are also main factors of our success. SEBC is compliance to ISO 9001:2008.
The new role of SEBC during the crisis
SEBC resolved to modify its mandate in a quest to adapt to the emerging needs of the Syrian crisis. Following a gradual re-engineering process, SEBC managed to transform itself from being Syria’s premier implementation agency of international partners’ economic reform programmes, into an integrated and full-fledged catalyst of socio-economic development. Furthermore, it has adopted a new trifold strategy to achieve the following targets:
Preservation of the economy: The Syrian crisis has dramatically affected the Syrian economy. Sanctions, the security situation and economic strains were immediate obstacles facing the Syrian Business sector. Therefore, SEBC responded accordingly by shifting the focus of its services from supporting clients’ expansion and globalisation plans to supporting the efforts geared at preserving and maintaining the present business community sector. This includes:
Providing different type of consultancy and business information services (e.g. alternative raw materials, new markets, technical expertise to develop products based on crisis implications, etc.).
Provision of consultancy services to help move businesses located in insecure areas to safer business areas within Syria.
Developing policies and initiatives to support the Syrian economy and business sector in compliance with current needs (the commercial mission to Russia and Belarus, Barter paper, etc.).
Representation of Syria in numerous regional and international events (EXPO, B2B, workshops, etc.).
Livelihood support: As many of Syrians have come to lose their livelihood, SEBC took upon itself in its capacity as the main business development leader to support the creation of livelihood streams for affected people. From these initiatives:
Vocational training for crisis affected individuals (IDPs) with the aim to equip them with new skills to start new careers.
Encouraging entrepreneurship through consultancy and advice, business training, incubation and acceleration of new start-ups and promoting social entrepreneurship.
Readiness to post-crisis period: fully aware that planning and preparation for post-crisis period should start from the day one of the crisis, SEBC reflected on this belief through a number of actions and projects:
Support to third sector organisations and NGOs as they are the vehicles of post-crisis recovery (SNDP, NGO training, etc.).
Studies to identify and assess the losses and potential recovery scenarios (lessons learnt from post-conflict reconstruction of other countries, cooperation with ESCWA NAFSP, etc.)
Enforcing recovery agents through provision of the necessary prerequisites needed to enable launching the rebuilding of Syria (training of social actors on peace and citizenship, Skills for reconstruction, training of trainers, training for engineers, the observatory of Syrian outbound FDIs, diaspora programmes, etc.)
As a Syrian NGO, and in accordance with SEBC’s statute, SEBC is a non-for-profit organisation that aims to provide services of public interest for the socio-economic development of Syria. Generated revenues, if any, are re-invested in the institution capacity building and expansion schemes and in support of new social initiatives.