The project on "Promoting Competitiveness in Micro and Small Enterprises" (MSE) was initiated in 2000 by the Economic Research Forum, with the main objective has been to expand the knowledge on this sector in the Middle East and North Africa region, with the ultimate aim of designing relevant policies and specific programs to help this sector fulfill its enormous growth potentials. Constituting an average of 95% of the number of enterprises in the region, it is presumed that promoting this sector will have a positive spill-over effect on the economies of the region.
Discussions on the results of the project have pointed to an emerging consensus that it will be filling a knowledge gap related to the micro and small enterprises sector in the MENA region. Policies and strategies designed to promote this sector have not been adequately targeting their needs, and thus this project is considered to be of great relevance to the policy making process.
Specifically, the main contributions may be summarized as follows:
1) The database gathered through the project based on field surveys is considered unique, as to the number of enterprises covered (18,000), and the information produced, including information on the enterprise, the entrepreneur and the household. A special focus on women entrepreneurs have been made throughout the survey. This mine of data will undoubtedly provide background information that enables policy makers to design relevant policies.
2) The "Policy Briefs" gives a concise summary of the outcome of each country study and highlights the recommendations reached based on the analysis.
3) The current Country reports series is prepared based on the findings of the surveys, detailed information about the performance of the enterprises, determinants of success and prospects for the future are given. Special focus on the status of women entrepreneurs is also made.
4) The Synthesis report will have a comparative analytical approach of the case studies of the four countries. This report will asses the MSE sector in the four countries and will draw relevant policy recommendations for the region.
It has been evidently shown that promoting this sector could contribute to the solution of the increasing unemployment problem in the region, and a means to alleviate poverty through income
generation. The spillover effects that this sector if properly developed will positively affect the development of the countries concerned. However, the real level of knowledge about the MSEs is
Similar to most countries in the region, economic growth and technological progress have been slow in Lebanon, with a predominance of small scale enterprises in the economy. The private sector has traditionally been a major partner in the development of the country, also with a dominance of small and micro enterprises5 that constitute the bulk of private sector activity. The MSE sector has, thus, the potential of providing substantive support to the development of the country in the medium and long terms. This is especially true as a large proportion of new jobs generated are in the informal sector – a sector characterized by low productivity, poor working conditions, and high vulnerability to shocks.
Research on the topic in Lebanon is scarce, making this research endeavor the largest known MSE research project undertaken in the country in the past decade or so. The earlier desk reviews and the data base gathered in the field survey will enable policy makers and researchers to understand the characteristics of MSEs, to appreciate the constraints faced by the sector, and to realize the potential laden in some of the niche activities and enterprises.
The main objective of the study is to expand the knowledge of the economic and social characteristics under which the informal and MSE sector operates in Lebanon in order to address its contribution to growth and employment generation, especially for the poor. In this context, the study examines the sectors’ current status, existing constraints and potential for growth. This enhanced understanding is expected to permit the formulation of policies and programs that would allow this sector to fulfill its
potential growth with expected spin-off effects on the national economy. Such a framework is crucial, especially given the substantial share of the said sector in the economy of Lebanon and in light of the changing environment towards globalization and trade liberalization, and the subsequent threat to the protection of traditional incomes and livelihoods of a major disadvantaged segment of society. The study specifically intends to provide insights into the factors determining the competitiveness of
MSE, suggest effective ways for the involvement of the various levels of government to support higher income and competitiveness of the sector, identify constrains and potential linkages with the formal private sector, and determine gender differences in the sector. The analytical variables included in the conceptual framework of the study include inputs (human resources, facilities, technology, financial status, marketing, and information), environment (enabling and inhibiting factors- infrastructure and regulatory framework, and linkages), processes, and outputs (contribution to economy, employment, and income).
Kind of Data
Sample survey data [ssd]
Unit of Analysis
Small and Micro Enterprises
Covering a representative sample of the six major administrative units (Mohafazat) of Lebanon (Beirut,Mount-Lebanon, North, Bekaa, South, and Nabatieh).
The survey covered a national sample of Micro and Small Enterprises (i.e. Micro and Small Enterprises -enterprises with less than fifty employees).
the scope of work excluded the following activities:
1. Agricultural activities
2. Non-market activities
3. Illegal activities
4. Production for own use
5. Mobile vendors
6. Domestic services
7. Professional services (doctors, lawyers and accountants)
8. Enterprises employing more than 50 workers.
Producers and sponsors
Economic Research Forum
Consultation and Research Institute
European Commission (through the FEMISE 2 project)
Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development
International Development Research Centre
Consultation & Research Institute, Lebanon
Project’s Advisory Committee
Michigan University, USA
Project’s Advisory Committee
Project’s Advisory Committee
A. Evaluation of the existing data
The target population of the study is the MSEs (i.e. Micro and Small Enterprises -enterprises with less than fifty employees). In accordance with the terms of reference of the study, the scope of work excluded the following activities:
-Production for own use
-Professional services (doctors, lawyers and accountants)
-Enterprises employing more than 50 workers.
The selection of the representative sample faced three main constraints:
a. The lack of reliable gender-disaggregated data that could be used as a base for the gender distribution of the sample, as this dimension has not been addressed by the 1996 census;
b. The lack of updated data since 1996, which effectively did not take into consideration the significant changes that occurred in the sector over the period 1996-2004;
c. The absence of an exhaustive list of MSEs' addresses, which made it impossible to apply a full randomization approach in selecting the sample MSEs.
The above necessitated conducting a preliminary field survey to address the above constraints and obtain the exact list of addresses, as well as the needed data that would allow the determining of
sampling rates pertaining to gender distribution, updated geographical distribution, and size distribution (number of employees).
B. Sampling methodology of the preliminary field survey
A representative sample of clusters ("ilots" or Primary Sampling Unit) was selected. In each of the selected clusters a census of all existing MSEs was undertaken and a database was established. The data gathered through a small questionnaire included the following variables:
a. Name, address and phone number of the MSE
b. Name and gender of the entrepreneur
c. Detailed sector of activity
d. Number of employees
The selection of clusters sample was constructed as follows:
Lebanon is administratively divided into six major administrative units (Mohafazats) and twenty six districts or smaller administrative units (Caza). Each Caza is also composed of smaller administrative units called "Circonscription Foncière" (CF) with a total number of 1403 CFs all over Lebanon. Furthermore, each CF is divided into smaller geographic units called "îlots", or clusters or primary sampling unit, bordered by streets and/or natural barriers, each enclosing around 40 buildings. Hence, Lebanon was divided into around 13,000 clusters representing around 518,000 buildings.
The sampling methodology used for the selection of the sample of clusters was implemented as per the following four phases:
a. Phase 1: The preliminary field survey selected a sample of 100 CFs based on MSE's distribution per Mohafazat. For example, Beirut represents 12% of total MSEs, therefore the preliminary study selected 12 CF in Beirut. In Mount-Lebanon the study selected 36 CF knowing that Mount-Lebanon represents 36% of total MSEs in Lebanon.
b. Phase 2: In each Mohafazat, CFs were sorted by the number of MSEs included in each CF (based on the results of the "Census of establishments and buildings, Central Administration of Statistics-1996"). The study selected CFs with high density of MSEs.
c. Phase 3: The study then listed all clusters included in each selected CF. Taking into account time and budget constraints, 200 clusters were selected, based on a randomized process. All clusters had the same probability to be selected in each selected CF. The study selected 2 clusters in each CF of the sample.
d. Phase 4: Finally, a national sample of 200 clusters was prepared. A technical team prepared GIS maps for each selected cluster. Maps included the following information: CF boundaries, cluster boundaries, layer representing main and secondary roads, and topography map.
A more detailed description of the different sampling stages and allocation of sample across governorates is provided in the Methodology document and the full report available among external resources.
Deviations from the Sample Design
The correction methodology concerned with the sample design deviation began when all completed questionnaires were already coded, filtered, and entered into the database. The final sample distributed by gender, size, and Mohafazat. The correction was made for each cell. The following examples detail the approach:
The number of MSEs in Beirut (male and 1 employee) is 144 in the sample. It should be 115 according to MSE Distribution per Gender, Size, and Mohafazat. Therefore, 29 questionnaires should be deleted from the sample. The study decided to delete randomly questionnaires rather than changing weights mainly because of rounding problems. In fact, changing weights leads to results where the number of respondents could have decimals. In order to avoid this problem, the study selected randomly from the 144 sample, 29 questionnaires and deleted them.
The number of MSEs in Beirut (male and [2-4] employees) is 126 in the sample . It should be 162 according to MSE Distribution per Gender, Size, and Mohafazat. Therefore, 36 questionnaires should be added to the sample. The study selected randomly 36 questionnaires out of 126 and duplicated them.
Finally, correction was implemented based on these two procedures (random delete or random duplication).
A more detailed description of the sample correction used in order to generate results at the national level is provided in the full report available among external resources.
The completed questionnaires amounted to 2,948 compared to 3,021 previously selected. Therefore,the study has a non-respondent ratio of 2.4%.
Dates of Data Collection
Data Collection Mode
Economic Research Forum
Economic Research Forum (ERF) - 21 Al-Sad Al-Aaly St., Dokki, Giza, Egypt
To access the micro data, researchers are required to register on the ERF website and comply with the data access agreement.
The data will be used only for scholarly, research, or educational purposes. Users are prohibited from using data acquired from the Economic Research Forum in the pursuit of any commercial or private ventures.
Licensed datasets, accessible under conditions.
The users should cite the Economic Research Forum as follows:
OAMDI, 2013. Micro and Small Enterprises Survey (MSEs), http://www.erf.org.eg/cms.php?id=erfdataportal. Version 1.0 of Licensed Data Files; Lebanon MSEs 2004. Egypt: Economic Research Forum (ERF).
Disclaimer and copyrights
The Economic Research Forum has granted the researcher access to relevant data following exhaustive efforts to protect the confidentiality of individual data. The researcher is solely responsible for any analysis or conclusions drawn from available data.