Media Centre / Press Releases

MEDA using mobile phones to fight malaria in Tanzania

Mother and children on bike with bednetFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 22, 2014

WATERLOO, ON - Malaria remains a major threat to global health. Worldwide, in 2012 there were an estimated 207 million cases of malaria. In Tanzania, approximately 100,000 deaths are attributed to malaria each year. The overwhelming majority of these deaths are among children under five. Pregnant women and young children bear by far the highest risk of dying from malaria. Long lasting insecticidal bed nets can assist in preventing malaria infections and save lives if they are accessed and utilized by the consumers who are at risk.

Since 2011, the Tanzania National Voucher Scheme (TNVS) has used SMS text messaging with mobile phones to provide pregnant woman an electronic voucher that can be redeemed for a bed net at a participating retailer for a nominal fee (33 cents). Tanzania's approach to fighting malaria includes the private sector to ensure that bed nets are always available, unlike some nations.

The successful implementation of the TNVS has made a significant impact on malaria control in Tanzania, but gaps in coverage still exist and about 40% of women do not redeem the e-voucher. In their quest for more complete net coverage, researchers and others have been asking, why the gap? Do they have enough nets in the home? Did they misplace their e-voucher? Could they not even afford the modest price? Or don't they understand the protection a net offers?

Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA), an international economic development organization that creates business solutions to poverty, is an implementing partner of the TNVS. With the help of a global health researcher at Queen's University, the organization wants to increase the efficiency of the distribution system, focus it more intensively in areas of high malaria risk and examine how the remarkable SMS-based delivery system could be applied to additional health threats of growing importance, such as hypertension.

MEDA and Dr. Karen Yeates of Queens University in Kingston, ON, have designed a cluster randomized trial that will test the effectiveness of a text message (SMS) dialogue with the women who are issued an e-voucher, sending them reminders to redeem their nets. The team will also collect data about usage and barriers, and investigate potential solutions.

This will not only indicate if SMS is an effective method to ensure redemption, but will also investigate why some women do not redeem their net voucher. Involving the end user will ultimately lead to better management and improve the electronic delivery method, reducing the burden of malaria for women and children.

"Africa's health challenges, like malaria and hypertension, are challenges too big for a government, or the private sector, to solve alone," notes Thom Dixon, Director Business of Health at MEDA. "With GCC's funding, this team can apply action-oriented market research skills that lead to more effective commercial bed-net delivery and promotion, so more households—particularly those with pregnant women and children—sleep safely under bed-nets. Moreover, GCC's funds will enable piloting of e-vouchers to fight hypertension, a growing threat in Africa."

"The innovation lies in the fact that we are putting the people most at risk, pregnant women, in the driver's seat, enabling them to help us create a better system, and to improve not only their lives but the lives of other people," says Dr. Karen Yeates of Queens University.

Grand Challenges Canada is awarding a $792,000 grant, supplementing funds by MEDA internal resources. Total financing secured by MEDA is $1.5 million.

###

For more information, please contact:
Linda Whitmore -
Jaclyn Stief -
519-725-1633

About Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA)
MEDA is an international economic development organization whose mission is to create business solutions to poverty. Founded in 1953 by a group of Mennonite business professionals, we partner with the poor to start or grow small and medium-sized businesses in developing regions around the world. Our expertise includes a full range of economic development tools: financial services, improved technology, business training, better access to markets and equity investment. Our work most often focuses on women, youth and the rural poor. We believe that all people deserve the opportunity to earn a livelihood and that unleashing entrepreneurship is a powerful way to alleviate poverty.

Climbing for a cause: MEDA president leads Kilimanjaro trek to alleviate poverty, create opportunity around the world

Allan in Kilimanjaro GearFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 24, 2014

WATERLOO, ON – MEDA – Mennonite Economic Development Associates – supporters have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity this summer to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania along with president Allan Sauder to aid MEDA’s work in creating business solutions to poverty around the world.

“I’m excited to be part of this fundraising climb, which gives our supporters the chance to contribute to our work in a unique way,” says Sauder. “We have set an ambitious goal of raising $250,000.”

Hikers from across North America will travel the Lemosho Route through five eco-systems – including rainforest, alpine desert and glaciers – giving them the feeling of hiking from the equator to the North Pole in just 10 days. Unlike Everest, Kilimanjaro is not a technical climb requiring ropes and ladders, so any person in reasonable physical shape with a dose of perseverance can make it. The group, led by expedition company Tusker Trail, includes participants in their 20s to those in their 70s.

The climbers also will visit MEDA project sites in the country. One of these facilitates the distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets to protect against malaria in pregnant women and young children. “Over the past decade this project has created sustainable commercial distribution channels for nets,” says Sauder. “More than 35 million nets have been put in the hands of Tanzanian families, saving an estimated 200,000 lives!

“A few of us will also have a chance to visit a new project that is helping farmers develop disease-resistant and disease-free varieties of cassava – a staple crop for poor families.”

While they come from different locations and will bring unique perspectives to the upcoming journey, participants all share one common motivation – MEDA:

“My primary goal is to summit with my wife, Trinda, raise money for MEDA and gain some friendships with other MEDA supporters along the way.” – Tom Bishop, Denver, Colorado

“I had never put Kilimanjaro on a “bucket list,” but when the fundraiser was announced I could not resist the combination of hiking on a mountain, supporting MEDA and returning to Tanzania for the event of a lifetime.” – Kevin Neufeldt, Coaldale, Alberta

“MEDA is a relatively new experience for me. I have now attended two conventions and was impressed and inspired by what the organization is doing to help people. This has grown a passion in me to help others as well, and open my eyes to new things.” – Nicole Pohl, Waterloo, Ontario

With just over 10 weeks to go, MEDA has 16 trekkers committed to make this remarkable journey. So far, they have raised more than $82,000. To learn more about the MEDA Kilimanjaro Climb or to sponsor a climber, visit www.meda.org/climb.

###

For more information, please contact:
Linda Whitmore -
Jaclyn Stief -
519-725-1633

About Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA)
MEDA is an international economic development organization whose mission is to create business solutions to poverty. Founded in 1953 by a group of Mennonite business professionals, we partner with the poor to start or grow small and medium-sized businesses in developing regions around the world. Our expertise includes a full range of economic development tools: financial services, improved technology, business training, better access to markets and equity investment. Our work most often focuses on women, youth and the rural poor. We believe that all people deserve the opportunity to earn a livelihood and that unleashing entrepreneurship is a powerful way to alleviate poverty.

New MEDA project supports global enterprise development

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 17, 2014

Minister Christian Paradis announces $19.9M Canadian government commitment at Mexico City summit

WATERLOO, ON - MEDA - Mennonite Economic Development Associates – is partnering with Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD) and two other Canadian organizations to promote sustainable economic growth globally. The initiative is made possible through a $19.9 million DFATD contribution, announced by the Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, at the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation meetings being held this week in Mexico City.

Impact Investing in Frontier Markets (INFRONT) is a public-private partnership that sees MEDA working with Sarona Asset Management and the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing to reduce poverty by supporting small and medium enterprise development over the next five years. Small businesses are vital to job creation and wealth generation in developing country markets.

Central to this initiative is the Sarona Frontier Markets Fund 2 LP, managed by Sarona, which is paired with technical assistance from MEDA and includes a social innovation grant fund and mentorship program. MaRS, with experience and extensive networks within the Canadian private equity investment community, will be a significant partner in the collaboration.

The DFATD commitment provides:
  • $15M for Sarona to invest in emerging and frontier markets – namely in Asia, Africa and Latin America – through its Frontier Markets Fund 2LP;
  • $4.75M to MEDA, as executing partner agency, for technical assistance;
  • and $200,000 for project monitoring and evaluation.
"We are excited and pleased to have the support of DFATD is this new venture with Sarona and MaRS," said MEDA president Allan Sauder. "In launching INFRONT, we are building on MEDA's long experience in impact investing, which started with our investment in the Sarona Dairy in Paraguay in 1953. Through this initiative, more than five million women and men in emerging and frontier markets will have access to products and services that will be delivered more effectively and by more socially responsive firms."

In making the announcement, Minister Paradis noted, "We are proud to partner with civil society organizations to achieve our common goals, particularly when it comes to saving the lives of women and children. We are also working closely with the private sector to create jobs, mobilize private investment, and unlock innovative solutions to development challenges to ensure we can break the cycle of poverty."

INFRONT responds to the pivotal role small and medium enterprises play in driving economic growth in emerging economies and the challenges they face in accessing investment capital, adopting and implementing enlightened business practices, and measuring social impact.

###

For more information, please contact:
Linda Whitmore -
Jaclyn Stief -
519-725-1633

About Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA)
MEDA is an international economic development organization whose mission is to create business solutions to poverty. Founded in 1953 by a group of Mennonite business professionals, we partner with the poor to start or grow small and medium-sized businesses in developing regions around the world. Our expertise includes a full range of economic development tools: financial services, improved technology, business training, better access to markets and equity investment. Our work most often focuses on women, youth and the rural poor. We believe that all people deserve the opportunity to earn a livelihood and that unleashing entrepreneurship is a powerful way to alleviate poverty.

About Sarona
Sarona Asset Management is a private equity investor, investing in frontier and emerging markets around the world. Through its strategy of partnering with local private equity firms to invest in growth stage companies, Sarona is able to build top-performing companies that deliver excellent risk-adjusted returns. Sarona is based in Waterloo, Canada and Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Sarona and its predecessors have developed a wealth of experience and knowledge through 60 years of private investments in frontier and emerging markets.

About the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing
MaRS Centre for Impact Investing works to increase the awareness and the effectiveness of social finance with the aim of driving new capital, talent, and initiatives dedicated to tackling social and environmental problems. The centre is part of the MaRS Discovery District, a mission-driven innovation centre located in Toronto.

MEDA prioritizes engaging young adults

Ethan-Eschbach-PicFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 21, 2014

New role to inspire millennials with MEDA's mission


WATERLOO, ON - MEDA - Mennonite Economic Development Associates - is pleased to announce that Ethan Eshbach has joined the organization as Coordinator, Young Adult Engagement. Based in the Lancaster, PA office, Ethan will serve as a consultant to the entire MEDA Engagement team, which includes marketing, resource development and association engagement.

Ethan's appointment is part of MEDA's growing efforts to inform, inspire and involve youth and young professionals in sustainable economic development. MEDA hopes to build on current opportunities for youth engagement, which include an internship program and a student business case competition at the annual convention.

"MEDA is excited to make engaging with young adults - MEDA's future supporters – a priority," says Dave Warren, chief of MEDA engagement (CMEO). " Younger people are eager to get involved. Through Ethan's role, we look forward to filling that void and providing additional opportunities to connect with our work and our values."

"Ethan brings a fresh perspective on involvement and engagement of young adults to his new position," added Dave.

"I'm looking forward to inspiring young people to develop a meaningful and lasting relationship with MEDA's mission," says Ethan. "Young people have so much to give to MEDA, and MEDA can really benefit from young adults. I see a wealth of potential here."

Ethan recently graduated summa cum laude with a degree in communication from Messiah College, where he also interned in the office of the vice president for advancement and the office of annual giving. Most recently, Ethan completed an internship at Everence, where he assisted with their planned giving program.
###

For more information, please contact:
Linda Whitmore -
Jaclyn Stief -
519-725-1633

About Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA)
MEDA is an international economic development organization whose mission is to create business solutions to poverty. Founded in 1953 by a group of Mennonite business professionals, we partner with the poor to start or grow small and medium-sized businesses in developing regions around the world. Our expertise includes a full range of economic development tools: financial services, improved technology, business training, better access to markets and equity investment. Our work most often focuses on women, youth and the rural poor. We believe that all people deserve the opportunity to earn a livelihood and that unleashing entrepreneurship is a powerful way to alleviate poverty.