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Changelabs Launches Lebanon’s Leading Impact-Centered Scale-Up Accelerator For Social Enterprises Who Impact Migrants, Refugees, And The Lebanese Communities


May. 17, 2021

Changelabs is announcing its flagship scale-up accelerator targeting top Social Enterprises within the framework of the SEMD (Social Entrepreneurship for Migration and Development) project implemented in Egypt, Lebanon, and Jordan. The Swiss Agency funds the program for Development and Cooperation (SDC), executed by GFA consulting group and ENDEVA, in partnership with Changelabs and Beyond Group’s support levels. Its overall goal is to strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem that enables the initiation, development, and implementation of innovative social entrepreneurial solutions for migrants, refugees, and Lebanese communities.

In Lebanon, Changelabs runs the program in partnership with FMO (the Dutch Entrepreneurship Development Bank), Al Asfari Foundation, Amazon, and a group of Lebanese corporations, NGOs, and other partners. The program will admit and work closely with 30 leading scale-ups in Lebanon across two cohorts (1 per annum). Each scale-up will receive funding, technology, and product build-out support and day-to-day hands-on operating partner that will help scale their businesses.

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“Lebanon is at the epicentre of the Middle East’s myriad struggles, and this has been a tremendous handicap for economic stability and growth - we’ve designed a one-of-a-kind program that takes a novel perspective, looking at the country’s challenges as potential opportunities. Where others see refugees and migrants draining the economy, we choose to see tremendous human capital and a growing target consumer. In addition, though accelerators and VCs are relatively common in Lebanon, there’s a huge gap in the scale-up and operating segments of the start-up support menu - we aim to bring together the right stakeholders to fill that gap,” says Karim Samra, founder, and CEO at Changelabs.

The program will focus on impact-centered scale-ups that develop products and services that serve migrant workers, refugees, and the national communities or are founded by migrants or that provide ‘gig’ employment. The program is particularly suited to the Lebanese and MENA markets. In this region, unemployment reaches skyrocketing levels leaving both nationals and refugees in dire need of support.

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“Changelabs decided to step into this untapped area to make a difference via empowerment and creating opportunities for growth and employment. This is at the core of our mission. We seek to establish synergetic impact through close partnerships with the key stakeholders and major players in this ecosystem,” says Hasan Youness, Lebanon Lead and head of programs at Changelabs. The program is currently in discussions with various local and regional partners from civil society, the private sector, academic institutions, and other ecosystem members to help achieve this ambitious task and deliver inclusive results.

Applications are currently open through the Changelabs website ( and will be considered on a rolling basis through Q2 2021.

About the program:

The Swiss Agency funds the program for Development and Cooperation. In the Middle East, Switzerland contributes to protecting and empowering conflict-affected and vulnerable persons, saving and reconstructing lives, reducing fragility, preventing and transforming violent conflicts, and creating economic perspectives. Switzerland focuses on four domains of intervention: Protection and Migration; Education and Income; Conflict Prevention and Peace Promotion, and Water and Sanitation.


About GFA:

Based in Hamburg, Germany, GFA Consulting Group is one of the leading European consulting firms active in the development cooperation sector. GFA has a good track record of providing practical solutions to the challenges in the global consulting market. Since 1982 GFA has implemented about 3,000 projects and studies worldwide. Leading development agencies, ministries, and public clients have entrusted GFA with helping them to manage projects financed through bilateral and multilateral funds. In cooperation with stakeholders in government, the private sector, NGOs, and citizens’ groups, GFA balances innovation and reliability to meet local needs. The company’s international recognition as a dependable partner is incorporated in a set of values, which focuses on performance, innovation, credibility, and quality. Having implemented many projects in the MENA region, GFA has acquired substantial contextual knowledge and has established a comprehensive network of contacts at the national, regional, and local levels in employment, private sector development, and entrepreneurship. Notably, GFA counts 60 past and current projects in Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt.


About Changelabs:

Changelabs is a MENA market leader that helps start-up and scale-up companies succeed through various on and offline learning programs. The company has worked with central European development banks, governments, and regional private sector partners. With financial headquarters in Cyprus and operating programs in Amman, Cairo, and Beirut, the firm has trained over 10,000 youth, launched over 40 start-ups, channeled more than $4m of funding, and provided more than 400 job opportunities thus far. Changelabs’ mission is to impact entrepreneurs with the tools they need to succeed while delivering a lasting impact on the MENA region.


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