ELCIM achievements since 2005
ELCIM directly offers services to manufacturing firms in Lebanon. To date, the project’s Business Advisers are in the process of assisting companies with 278 actions. A breakdown shows that 226 are receiving expert advice on eligible activities; 196 are preparing for technical and financial specifications; and 59 have been provided with a brief business analysis.
The implementation of ELCIM actions began in September 2006, with 75 business improvements currently underway, out of which 36 have already been completed. It is expected that by May 2007, an additional 80 actions would have been finalised. A total of 155 SMEs have received beneficial business assistance from ELCIM, or are expected to do so within the next two months. On an individual level, it is clear that the services offered by the project have proven invaluable to industry in Lebanon.
“The Lebanese industry needed ELCIM urgently,” explained Mr. Farid Kamel, managing director of Kameltan, a leather production company. “We were in deep need of financing because we were receiving our business rates from the banks, which were much higher.” Kamel approached ELCIM for loan assistance to purchase new machinery for his factory. Kamel also requested a complete feasibility study, profit and loss studies and guidance for the future of the company, including investment opportunities and tips on management and marketing. Without the intervention of ELCIM, the desired results would have been, “much, much more difficult, especially financially,” he claimed.
In total, 200 companies have formally applied to ELCIM requesting a total of 356 actions, of which 278 are eligible. These specified actions include financial assistance; marketing and export development; quality management and certification; improvement of production; energy saving measures; product development; training; reorganisation; and strategic business assessment. In fact, the area of financial assistance is ELCIM’s most requested action, with a total of 101 applications. Joint collaborations with Kafalat and Lebanese banks have allowed ELCIM to bolster their financial support system.
“Approaching banks for facilities and/or loans these days without the assistance of reputable institutions, such as ELCIM, would have been very difficult,” said Mr. Mohammad Ghandour, general manager of MCG the Dairy, sal, which produces Dairiday, Lebanon’s first bottled fresh milk. “Banks would have requested more supporting documents to accept our file and would have imposed strict conditions – like assigning one of its internal departments or third-party institutions to conduct the necessary analysis and risk assessment – which requires more time, longer delays and higher costs.” Ghandour added that he found the programme ELCIM proposed to industrialists on the whole beneficial, especially actions concerning a feasibility study for new investment opportunities.
Another major area ELCIM covers is improvement of Quality Management Systems, with a total of 75 action requests. In such cases, ELCIM is able to offer assistance in receiving international certification, including applications for ISO, HACCP and related licenses. Among the sectors benefiting from such services are food processing manufacturing, printing and packaging, as well as cosmetic/ chemical metal processing.
Dr. Fady Gemayel, the chairman and general manager of Gemayel Freres, operates one of the country’s leading packaging companies, with a staff of 300 employees and technically advanced machinery. Although the company independently received ISO certification in 1998, Gemayel approached ELCIM for two projects: to benefit from the foreign professional expertise offered through training programmes and team building intervention to improve the effectiveness of middle management.
“We appreciate the fact that ELCIM allowed us to have top-notch people in the field,” explained Gemayel. “ELCIM has also intervened on a sector level, which benefits all our companies.” Gemayel went on to add that ELCIM’s intervention in the sector on the whole has greatly benefited the packaging industry, especially through its business studies on the region and feasibility studies for export opportunities.
ELCIM has also provided invaluable assistance in the area of franchising, working closely with the Lebanese Franchising Association (LFA). According to Mr. Charles Arbid, president of the LFA, ELCIM’s services benefit all members by helping develop their franchising system to promote their products and concepts. Through the project, Mrs. Chantal Zimmer, the general secretary of the Federation Française de la Franchise (FFF), was invited to assist launching the LFA, which led to the signing of a friendship protocol between the two organisations. In his capacity as owner and general manager of RECTANGLEJAUNE, Arbid has requested ELCIM’s assistance with bringing in a franchising and a production expert, preparations for which are currently underway. “ELCIM is helping us, as industrialists, to specify our needs, implement action plans and bring in the most suitable experts,” said Arbid.
Providing technical guidance to improve production development is a key element of the ELCIM project, with 14 requested actions to date. It is for this reason that Mr. Ziad Bekdash, owner and general manager of one of Lebanon’s leading printing companies OPP, approached ELCIM. In addition to receiving a financial plan for expansion and new investors, Bekdash also sought procedure guidelines from a production expert, currently in process, to improve the department and prepare for its complete computerisation. “The expert provided by ELCIM was excellent and very serious. All the ELCIM team is highly professional and ready to listen and carryout all individual requests.”
With a multitude of other actions provided by ELCIM over the past two years to benefit Lebanese industrial enterprises, the project is undoubtedly a proven success. “Industry is impossible in Lebanon because everything is high – labour is high, costs are high – it is very difficult,” said Kamel. “ELCIM is a very important project that helped the Lebanese industry stay alive.”