Field Visit - Dec 2020

Aleb co-founder Sarjoun Skaff and Al Majmoua CEO Youssef Fawaz visited two families in Beirut's Hay El Sellom neighborhood on 31 Dec 2020. The level of destitution we witnessed was heartbreaking. However, their story also crystalized how we can help them get to self-sustainability.

One of the families is headed by a father and mother of two children. The father is a chef who used to work in Beirut restaurants and make $1,200/month. He was a recipient of Al Majmoua's microcredits that he used to even out his cash flow and always repaid them on time.

Once the economy collapsed he lost his job and income. He and his wife sold all their furniture to buy food - they have no fridge, stove, or even couches. To survive, they now rent a cart on which they sells vegetables from 3:30am to 7pm, 6 days a week.

Their rent costs LBP 350,000/month ($44), they rent the cart for LBP 5,000/day ($0.6), buy vegetable on credit, and are able to make LBP 35,000 / day ($4) selling it. This is just enough for rent and food, but leaves them no time or resources to improve their position. They are too destitute to even qualify for a micro loan.

Aleb's $200/month (LBP 1.6M) can help by not only providing for basic necessities, but also by allowing them to purchase the cart for LBP 1M to avoid renting it, and to purchase a first inventory of vegetables to avoid high interest rates. This would lift them up just enough for self-sustenance, and possibly to quality for micro loans to further improve their situation.

There are so many similar cases around the country, and it is striking how much $200/month can help. This is why this initiative is so important and why our country needs us expatriates so much right now.

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