SME Trade Academy in Libya
Libya’s young people are strongly attracted to entrepreneurship. Data shows that 40% have already made an attempt to start a business, while half of the remaining 60% have thought about it but have taken no action due to insufficient funds.
While young Libyans question the capacity of the public institutions to support entrepreneurs, the majority of them want to receive support from such institutions when they are able to provide it. But courses teaching entrepreneurship and related business skills to university students in departments (other than business departments) remain almost non-existent.
Although the total entrepreneurial rate is high, the number of companies actually operating remains small and mostly informal, with limited impact on general employment rates because most of them do not employ staff. Demand for entrepreneurship education is strong.
In 2019, as part of a technical assistance project in Libya, ITC’s SME Trade Academy developed a 100-hour online training curriculum in Arabic. The team designed a particularly innovative platform for Libya called Libus.
The Libya project was just one example of how ITC leveraged innovation in its SME Trade Academy in 2019. From the production of online courses, to the development of new virtual learning platforms, through the production of narrative videos featuring people involved in African cross-border trade, there are no less than 20 ITC projects which have benefited from innovation in technologies for distance education.
For example, an ITC project in Zambia provided an opportunity to use videos to educate women small traders in rural areas in ways to protect themselves against harassment and corruption at the border. Video tools are often the most effective means of raising awareness among the large number of men and women involved in cross-border trade who may have low levels of literacy.
In another example, the SME Trade Academy team used web technologies in Guinea in 2019 to host not only various online training courses in French for sectoral interest groups, but also workbooks that are used in workshops onsite. Using this technology, project managers are able to collect information on all beneficiaries, whether these are online learners or participants in onsite training, allowing them to monitor participants’ progress, adapt, and refine technical assistance according to needs and feedback.
In Libya, the Libus platform was well-received with one user saying ‘since I started this course, I have felt that I can indeed rely on myself and arrive to the best business model or product alternative to effectively compete in the market’.
As of late April 2020, 7,300 young Libyans – including over 1,000 women – had enrolled on the Libus platform and collectively undertaken more than 100,000 hours of learning, with the most advanced students submitting business plans for review by ITC and its implementing partners.
The SME Trade Academy was gratified to hear from many participant testimonials that the Libus platform represented a valuable lifeline of learning for them in a time of challenges.
‘I think this platform is a leap in the entrepreneurship field in Libya,’ said one user. Another commented: ‘The module on Why Entrepreneurship? has opened the door for my self-development and the development of my business.’
The Libus platform remains online and is gathering more participants every day. According to the project plan, impact will be assessed in April 2021 and will aim to gauge the size of entrepreneurship networks formed on Libus, as well as the number of businesses which have been started, either directly or indirectly, as a result of activities on the platform. In any case, for the foreseeable future, the training contents on Libus will remain available free of charge to all who want to benefit from them.