Jordan: Overview & Impact


Country Context

  • Population: 10.209 million (IMF, 2020)
  • Languages: Arabic
  • Monetary unit: Jordanian dinar (JOD)
  • Main exports: textiles, potassium, phosphates, fertilizers, vegetables, and pharmaceutical products
  • GDP per capita: $4,330 (World Bank, 2019) 
  • ODA received: 2.524 billion (World Bank, 2018)
  • Human Development Index ranking: 102 out of 189 (UNDP, 2018)
  • Estimated GDP growth: 1.3% Q1 2020 (World Bank, 2020)

A Challenge and an Opportunity 

The ongoing conflict in Syria has severely disrupted Jordan’s economy and regional trade - with annual growth far below the average achieved pre-crisis. The country also now hosts one of the largest refugee populations, per capita, in the world. As a result, limited resources are stretched thin and joblessness is significant. An already elevated unemployment rate has risen to 23% in Q2-2020 compared to 19.3% in Q1-2020 (World Bank).  

At the same time, refugees have brought new skills to the market, spurred consumer demand, boosted consumption, and attracted investment. This year, the economy is also expected to benefit from an increase in exports, remittance inflows, and tourism.

Products & Services

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In any market, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are one of the most powerful drivers of stability, growth, and job creation. In Jordan, they represent 97% of businesses, and worldwide, they are responsible for more than 50% of employment. When this sector thrives, it can draw in new investment and have a significant positive impact on Jordan’s high rate of unemployment and broader economic growth. In particular, SMEs led by refugees have the potential to be a catalyst for job creation that pulls other refugees into the formal labor market. Given the high number of refugees that Jordan is hosting, along with the country’s labor market challenges, it is imperative that efforts to increase employment opportunities for Jordanians and refugees are prioritized.

Recognizing this challenge and opportunity, the Government of Jordan launched the Jordan Compact to “turn the Syrian refugee crisis into a development opportunity that attracts new investment, creating jobs for Jordanians and Syrian refugees while supporting the post-conflict Syrian economy”. 

In order to achieve these goals, a deeper understanding of the country’s SMEs, their needs, and their capabilities, was required. To address this, Building Markets: 


2018-19: Conducted a Market Assessment to Bring Visibility to Jordanian and Refugee-led SMEs

    • This included in-person surveys and verification of more than 350 Jordanian and refugee-led businesses.
    • Produced a public report offering market and business insights, recommendations for supporting the growth of enterprises in Jordan (link below).
    • Identified businesses with high growth and investment potential.
    • Created unique online profiles for more than 300 SMEs on the organization's matchmaking platform:
    • Designed and published a Company Guide that highlights SME market and investment asks (link below).

Building Markets plans to scale its work in Jordan by:

    • Expanding its verified network of SMEs from 350 to 2,000.
    • Offering one-on-one advisory services and intro/advanced training courses both in-person and virtually on, for example, how to bid on and win tenders, financial management, and sales and marketing.
    • Ensure businesses have access to digital toolkits that will expand their customer and market research during and after COVID-19.
    • Provide matchmaking services that fast-track local procurement and spending by connecting buyer needs/requirements with vetted suppliers.
    • Enable capital flows by identifying companies that are well-positioned for investment or loans.

Learn more about our work in the region on our Turkey and Lebanon pages.


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