In just eight years, 1.4 million forced migrants have arrived in Jordan, making roughly 1 in 14 people in the country a refugee. , This influx, along with ongoing regional instability, has meant historic unemployment rates, disrupted trade with key markets, and stagnated economic growth. In addition, the majority of Jordan’s refugees live in urban areas, which has increased competition for finite resources and job opportunities— creating tensions between refugee and host communities. Given its precarious position, if these issues are not addressed, the country may be further exposed to social and economic volatility that affects Jordan and the surrounding region.
However, Jordan’s small and medium-sized enterprises tell another story.
Jordan’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which constitute 97 per cent of businesses in the country’s private sector, are not only demonstrating optimism about the future, they are also responding to new demands by the refugee community and supplying much needed livelihoods. In fact, this research found that Jordanian-owned and refugee/migrant-owned SMEs are creating on average 15 and 18 jobs, per annum, respectively. Compared to micro or large enterprises, SMEs are also hiring more people who were not previously working, bringing a higher percentage of unemployed individuals into Jordan’s workforce.
Alongside this, the government has made important progress upgrading the country’s economic infrastructure, which has been aided by openness to trade and investment. Internationally, Jordan has received unprecedented support and interest from donors, the private sector, and investors. Jordan is also emerging as a technology hub, has a dynamic young population, and its financial services and regulatory landscape are continuously improving. Further, the country has been one of the most progressive governments in the region in terms of the refugee response, making concerted policy efforts to turn the crisis into an opportunity that can benefit all.
With an enabling environment, and a local private sector that can capture market demand, Jordan is positioned to not only generate the social and economic dividends that can place the country on a path of prosperity, it can also become a leader in the region. However, to unleash this potential, Jordan’s SMEs and entrepreneurs cannot be ignored; this includes refugee newcomers who have brought with them new talents, networks, businesses, and skills.
This report provides an overview of the Jordan market while shining a light on these firms, their contributions, and how they can be better positioned to spur Jordan’s recovery and growth.