Since the conflict erupted in 2011, economic activity in Syria has halved as a result of the massive loss of human capital, the destruction of social and economic networks, the destruction of infrastructure, the decline in the quality of basic services and the disruption of trade. Suffered from the knock-on effects of COVID-19, prolonged drought and changing climatic conditions, rapid currency devaluation, high inflation and crises in Lebanon, Turkey and Ukraine. These factors have pushed up commodity and fuel prices, significantly reducing the purchasing power of the population, one of the main drivers of humanitarian needs. 5 The 2021 multi-sector needs assessment shows that the majority of NES respondents said they could not afford essentials in a market with high price volatility. 6 According to the Syrian Joint Market Monitoring Initiative, the price of the food segment has increased by 70% in the NES’ minimum subsistence expenditure basket over the past six months. 7 Insufficient income and lack of employment opportunities force NES households to rely on negative coping strategies, including borrowing to buy food or other necessities, sending children8 Two of the respondents reported a lack of job opportunities hindering them from finding a job, while another – a third of respondents in both cities cited high competition for jobs as a major barrier to finding a job. 9 In addition, 38% of ArRaqqa and 22% of Al-Hasakeh respondents said they would like to start their own business but lack the resources.
Against this backdrop, the NES Economic Recovery and Livelihoods (ERL) sector has prioritized the implementation of livelihood interventions to help households meet immediate needs and support socioeconomic actors, including individuals and MSMEs, to drive local Economic activity and employment growth10 This includes activities such as cash value grants to businesses, with a focus so far on micro and small businesses. In order to expand and better target such support to include a wider variety of business sizes and sectors, ERL participants need more information on the actual operating costs that MSMEs face in NES in different sectors, and the key challenges facing business owners maintain or grow their business.