Jordan: Overview & Impact

Launched
2018

Country Context

  • Population: 9,702,357 (World Bank, 2017)
  • Languages: Arabic
  • Monetary unit: Jordanian dinar (JOD)
  • Main exports: textiles, potassium, phosphates, fertilizers, vegetables, and pharmaceutical products
  • GNI per capita: $3,980 (World Bank, 2017) 
  • ODA received: 2,738,670 (World Bank, 2016)
  • Human Development Index ranking: 86 (UNDP, 2016)
  • Estimated GDP growth: 2.14% (World Bank, 2017)

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. In Q4 of 2017, unemployment was estimated at 18.5% and labor force participation averaged at 38.1%. 

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 in the Jordanian private sector and create 86% of new jobs worldwide. When this sector thrives, it can draw in new investment and have a significant positive impact on Jordan’s high rates of unemployment. 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 (740,160), along with the country’s labor market challenges, it is imperative that efforts to increase employment opportunities for Jordanians and refugees are prioritized.

Recognizing the 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 capabilties, 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: https://entrepreneurs.buildingmarkets.org 
    • Designed and published a Company Guide that highlights SME market and investment asks (link below)

2020-21: Offer Training to Increase Enterprise Commercial Knowledge and Competitiveness

    • Offer one-on-one advisory services and in-person training sessions
    • Enroll SMEs in tailored virtual training and mentorship

2020-21: Facilitate Investment and Supply Chain Opportunities

    • Expand our network by verifying and profiling 1,500 new Jordanian and Refugee-owned SMEs in high-impact sectors
    • Collect and share access to tender opportunities: https://entrepreneurs.buildingmarkets.org/tenders/
    • Generate on-demand business profiles that meet specifications for buyers, investors and other stakeholders
    • Hold events that bring buyers, investors, and local SMEs together to facilitate new business relationships.

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

Donors and Partners