Diaspora Initiative Comes To Lebanon’s Aid With A Sustainable Solution

Diaspora Initiative Comes To Lebanon's Aid With Dollars And A Promising Plan
AFP

The Lebanese diaspora is once again extending its capable helping hand to Lebanon. With the new “Cedar Oxygen Fund,” ex-pats hope to provide a sustainable solution to their homeland’s deteriorating industry sector.

For the national industry to flourish, it certainly needs vital raw materials, which Lebanon regularly imports for an average annual cost of $3 billion.

However, the economic crisis and its effects have dealt a powerful strike to the industry sector, leaving industrialists to face the inevitability of loss as they watch their national currency crumble.

At current prices, 1,000 Lebanese pounds can buy roughly less than half-a-bar of soap.

After securing $100 million in funding from Banque du Liban, the Cedar Oxygen Fund hopes to soon provide some breathing space for Lebanese industrialists and a chance to revive their ailing businesses.

The Fund was started earlier this year in Luxembourg and involves a number of Lebanese expatriates from around the world, in collaboration with the local Association of Lebanese Industrialists (ALI).

Its official launch was only postponed due to the pandemic, until recently.

The promising initiative revolves around the principle of filling the funding gap that is the US dollar, which is currently inhibiting many Lebanese industrialists’ ability to import their required raw materials.

Its CEO, Alexandre Jihad Harkous, explained in a press conference, which he held alongside ALI President Fady Gemayel on Monday, that exporting industrialists will have the option to deposit part of their revenues in the Fund, instead of foreign banks as some of them do, in return for interest.

Additionally, these industrialists can benefit from the foreign currency that the Fund will provide for their imports in return for a guarantee that they will return a portion of these funds to Lebanon via the Fund’s fintech platform.

This allows the Cedar Oxygen Fund to redirect fresh money to help the less-fortunate non-exporting industrialists, who usually have to buy dollars at the very high exchange rates of the black market.

In turn, this flow of hard currency and its positive effects on the national industry sector helps support the purchasing power of the average Lebanese citizen in Lebanon.

In case the Fund achieves profit, it will distribute it among the industrialists who join its platform, in order to strengthen their production capacity and increase the volume of their exports, Harkous noted.

We are a group of Lebanese expatriate specialists from all over the world; our loyalty is to Lebanon only. We seek to help our country in this crisis that it is going through.

Alexandre Jihad Harkous, Cedar Oxygen Fund CEO.

Notably, the Cedar Oxygen Fund intends to attract Lebanese and foreign investors from around the world to boost its funding until it reaches its goal of $750 million.

This would tremendously benefit Lebanon’s industries and alleviate the effects of the economic crisis on the Lebanese.

However, as Harkous pointed out, investors will not be interested unless they see commitment and cooperation from the Lebanese industrialists themselves. This is why the Fund needs everyone involved to work together, diligently, to make it succeed.

The Cedar Oxygen Fund is expected to launch within 10 days.

Its announcement comes a couple of weeks after over 50 prominent Lebanese expatriates held a meeting in Brussels to discuss the diaspora’s role in rebuilding Lebanon.