Sectoral Studies

Salary Scale Study of the Finance Sector

InfoPro was commissioned by a large Micro-Finance Institution (MFI) to evaluate its salary scale for a set number of job positions. InfoPro, after extensive deliberations with the client, decided on the sectors which can be considered as direct competitors. InfoPro then sent the job positions and job descriptions to all comparators similar in profile to the MFI. Companies with a low number of matches were eliminated and in-depth interviews were conducted with the rest. During the in-depth interviews, InfoPro assessed the profile of the companies considered to be comparators and the salaries that they provide. InfoPro also investigated the company benefits and allowances provided including educational allowance, transportation allowance, housing allowance, meals, medical insurance, profit sharing schemes among other pertinent benefits. Working conditions and discrepancies in providing benefits and allowances across skill set and education were also assessed. Eventually InfoPro formulated a salary scale for the MFI highlighting its salary scale vs. the competition. The salary scale allowed the MFI to re-assess its internal salary sale and take action accordingly.

Promotion of social dialogue in Lebanon

InfoPro conducted a study for GOPA consultants under the ‘Promotion of Social Dialogue in Lebanon’ project which is a part of the EU funded program ‘Promotion of Social Justice’. The program is currently implemented by the Ministry of Labor (MOL) with its main partners being the Labor Inspection Department of the MOL, the National Employment Office (NEO), and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The main purpose of the project is the enhancement of the capabilities of the Government of Lebanon, and specifically the technical capacities of the MOL, and Lebanese Social Partners and Civil Society to be promoters of social dialogue. Two sectors with high potential for growth and unmet demand with regards to a qualified workforce were therefore selected. InfoPro’s mandate was to conduct in-depth interviews with 290 firms belonging to those two sectors.

Impact of the Ban of Turkish Wafers

The Lebanese government banned the import of wafer and biscuits and detergents from Turkey. This was done in a bid to protect Lebanese industries from the devaluation of the Turkish lira which has caused these products in specific to become very cheap. At the time, InfoPro was approached by a large FMCG with the request to assess the effect of the ban on the Lebanese economy as well as to determine whether there was real dumping in the local market that could justify the ban. InfoPro, to reach the objectives of the study, recommended a multi-faceted methodology which entailed a combination of desk research, in-depth interviews with manufacturers / importers, interviews with large supermarkets in the Greater Beirut area, and field visits to retail shops in Lebanon and in Turkey. The desk research segment provided basic information such as figures on imports and exports (in size and value). The in-depth interviews with manufacturers / importers provided a general overview of the biscuits and wafer market including available products, pricing, trends, growth rates, and future expectations. The interviews also provided details on the internal manufacturing structure and financials of the various players. The Interviews with large supermarket and retailers provided information on market share of the various products and on consumer behavior and preferences. While the field visits to retailers in Lebanon and in Turkey helped to provide clarify on whether there were signs of dumping.

Assessment of a High- End Chocolate Coffee Shop Concept

The client was interested in opening a new high end chocolate coffee shop in the Ashrafieh area. The outlet was to import high-end chocolate and also to offer drinks such as coffee / tea with chocolate pastries and biscuits. The client was interested in conducting a study to gauge the feasibility of the concept by assessing the following specifics:

  • Assess the competition in the area under study and their offerings
  • Assess the client profile of the competition
  • Assess the types of chocolate most in demand and any upcoming trends
  • Assess customers habits when it comes to high end chocolate / coffee shops

In order to achieve the above objectives, InfoPro, at first, mapped all retailers in the Ashrafieh area and gathered key information from those considered to be potential competitors. InfoPro then compiled a list of the chocolate brands / outlets which are considered to be high-end and set up in-depth interviews with some of the most prominent ones. The in-depth interviews provided information on their offerings, products that are most in demand, the habits and profile of their clientele among other prominent factors. InfoPro also conducted focus groups with high-income individuals. The focus groups provided insights on client habits and preferences with regards to high end chocolate. They also provided information on client’s reasoning and decision making process when it comes to purchasing high-end chocolate. In total, InfoPro interviewed 10 high-end chocolate retailers and conducted three focus groups with high-income individuals in the Ashrafieh area.

Market Analysis for the Shouf Biosphere Reserve

The Shouf Biosphere Reserve (SBR) stretches from Dahr Al Baidar to Niha with an area of 50,000 hectares. As part of its roadmap, the SBR was working on a program which promotes sustainable practices including composting, use of organic pesticides, use of homemade pesticides, promoting rain-fed agriculture and free-range animal production, in addition to other alternative cropping systems and best ways of water management in the Shouf mountains. SBR, which offers around 82 high quality products, harvested by farmers and five cooperatives located in the surrounding areas was looking to limit the number of products produced by the cooperatives and small-scale farmers in order to concentrate on those with high potential for growth and job creation. The SBR was therefore interested in conducting a market study that would provide the following: (1) a macro-economic overview of the organic/ high quality market, (2) a deep dive into the agriculture activity in Al Shouf area, including assessment of small-scale Lebanese farmers and Syrian refugees, and (3) a review of fair trade practices in Lebanon. To analyze the current market situation, InfoPro at first conducted a mapping exercise of all stakeholders involved in organic/ high quality agriculture in Lebanon. InfoPro then conducted 15 in-depth interviews with key stakeholders. These interviews aimed at assessing market demand and supply, identifying barriers, and validating regulations and requirements needed in the local and export markets. In addition, InfoPro contacted leaders of surrounding municipalities to collect insights on the high quality and eco-friendly farming markets in their respective villages as well as to gather the contact information of Lebanese farmers and Syrian refugees located in the Shouf region. Finally, a total of 170 interviews with Lebanese small-scale farmers and 170 interviews with Syrian households were conducted to assess their living conditions and whether they have access to credit with a focus on micro-credit institutions in the area. InfoPro was eventually able to provide the SBR with an overview of the organic / high quality market in Lebanon including the most prominent players and those that can be considered as competitors to SBR, market demand and supply, barriers to trade, and market requirements and regulatory framework needed for local and export markets.

Market Assessment and Feasibility of New Cars in Lebanon

A company representing car brands was planning to expand its business to Lebanon by introducing a new car brand on the market. The client commissioned InfoPro to conduct a study on the automotive market in Lebanon and its evolution in the past couple of years. To reach the objectives of the study, InfoPro conducted a Competitive Analysis which entailed that InfoPro gather information through desk research and conduct in-depth interviews with car dealers. The desk research provided InfoPro with figures on the car market and its evolution in the past couple of years. It also provided information on custom tariff rates, taxes and registration fees. The in-depth interviews provided an overview of the competition, their offerings, their strategies in the market number, their incurred costs and the current profile of their end consumers.  InfoPro also conducted a feasibility study in order to estimate the feasibility of the models under study. The objective of this phase was to provide the client with information as to whether or not they can afford to go ahead with entering the Lebanese market. The feasibility study assumes a worst case, average and best case scenario by using the quantitative data collected from the in-depth interviews.

Mapping and Assessing Needs of Existing Rural Hospitality Businesses

InfoPro was commissioned the study by American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA). The project concentrated on rural tourism and alternative lodgings. It aimed to expand, solidify and institutionalize the rural hospitality infrastructure and encourage activities of responsible tourism to contribute meaningfully to the local Lebanese economy.  The first step for ANERA was to create a set of standards that local alternative lodgings would have to adhere by. InfoPro, through desk research, mapped lodgings all over Lebanon. InfoPro then carried out face-to-face interviews with the owners of 60 of the lodgings. InfoPro, as part of its mandate, assessed the conditions of the buildings and grounds to see whether they conform to statutory and safety requirements. InfoPro also mapped the services provided by the guesthouses and the support services available in the direct vicinity of the lodgings. Capacity and occupancy rates as well as booking methods and prices were established. In addition, the survey assessed the marketing tools utilized by the lodgings and the linkages with other local attractions. The information gathered allowed ANERA and InfoPro to formulate a gap analysis which helped identify the volume and high level boundaries of work needed on the ground to improve the physical infrastructure, service quality, and ancillary services of the sector.

Industry Potential and Job Creation in the Renewable Energy Sector in Lebanon

InfoPro was commissioned the study by UNDP / CEDRO. The aim of the study was to examine the current status of renewable energy projects in Lebanon, the situation of the industrial sector with regards to the manufacturing, assembly, and import of renewable energy systems (RES), and the physical and economic feasibility of renewable energy systems that can be implemented locally. The methodology used included the review of all available documentation on renewable energy, nationally and internationally. This was followed by in-depth interviews with stakeholders involved in the renewable energy process. The meetings with the stakeholders helped to identify current projects in the pipeline, support available, and the potential for renewable energy in Lebanon. A mapping exercise was then carried out to identify players involved in the assembly, manufacturing, and import of renewable energy systems. InfoPro interviewed companies that import and usually also assemble RES, as well as RES manufacturers. The interviews assessed the supply and demand of renewable energy systems, the availability or lack of labor with know-how in renewable energy, and the available infrastructure among other issues. A review of all renewable energy systems and their economic feasibility was carried out followed by an assessment of the current situation versus requirements across all renewable energy facets.  Another round of meetings was scheduled with the various stakeholders to inform them of the renewable energy systems deemed feasible and the requirements identified. The stakeholders shared their current and potential capabilities in supplying the requirements. The final selection of renewable energy systems was made based on the feedback of all players.

Consumer Electronics and Media Market Study

The company wanted to assess the feasibility of an international brand of electronics store opening in a large retail center and wished to gain in-depth information on the consumer media and electronics market in Lebanon across six product categories; CDs, DVDs, Books, Electronics, Household technology products, and gaming. InfoPro conducted a quantitative survey across the potential catchment area. The survey consisted of 2,400 door-to-door household interviews. InfoPro assessed individuals shopping behavior and patterns, in addition to consumer spending across the various product categories, as well as household income and its disposable income component. The survey provided the company with information on the shopping centers / outlets households regularly shop at across various product categories, frequency of shopping, level of satisfaction with the outlets they currently shop at, loyalty, and consumer demographics.

Market Assessment of the Agri-Food Sector in Lebanon and Cyprus

The Italian Trade Commission appointed InfoPro to conduct the study. The main objective of the study was to formulate a general overview of the agri-food (food and beverage) sector including major players and their distribution system. The aim of the study was to also identify opportunities for further growth and highlight the position of Italian food products in the Lebanese and Cypriot markets. Information for the study was obtained through a combination of desk research and in-depth interviews with experts and local companies in both countries. The desk research helped identify the most prominent players in both Lebanon and Cyprus. It also helped identify the import and export levels of food in both markets which eventually helped InfoPro estimate the market size and growth level of the sector. The desk research also helped clarify the legal issues that need to be taken into account when importing foodstuff into Lebanon and Cyprus. InfoPro then conducted a total 50 in-depth interviews with stakeholders in the agri-food sector, importers of foodstuff, and supermarkets in both Lebanon and Cyprus. The interviews helped identify the main Italian products on the market, their strengths and weaknesses, and suggestions to improve their positioning. The interviews with large supermarket chains also captured consumers’ eating habits and trends in the agri-food sector.

Developing Information and Communications Technology Core Indicators

The Lebanese government through OMSAR and with the support of the UNDP developed a National ICT Strategy that aims to “Establish Lebanon as the main hub for e-services, creativity and innovation, telecom and internet services” To support the implementation of this initiative, the Lebanese Presidency of the Council of Ministers established the National ICT Strategy Coordination, Office in July 2010, as the body responsible for designing and managing the implementation mechanism for the National ICT Strategy. One of the priority projects of The National ICT Strategy Coordination Office was the collection of ICT statistics recognized internationally and used to place Lebanon in the various international indexes. InfoPro was therefore commissioned to carry-out the study in 2011. The study consisted of both a household survey with 2,000 households and an enterprise survey with 500 enterprises all over Lebanon. The aim of the interviews was to identify the telephone, computer, and internet penetration of households and businesses in Lebanon. The study also assessed internet activities undertaken, type of information obtained, whether households and businesses engaged in any e-commerce activities, in addition to other pertinent issues. The outcome of the study helped the Lebanese government and UNDP provide core indicators which can be utilized internationally.

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