MEDA (Mennonite Economic Development Associates) is an association of compassionate business women and men who invest in the lives of families living in poverty around the world. Through MEDA, faith-oriented business owners, executives and leaders are able to integrate their life values with business in practical ways to help the poor. They are committed to using their faith and abilities in their businesses, communities, and around the world.
For more than 50 years, MEDA has been designing and implementing innovative and effective market-driven economic development programs that improve the livelihoods of millions of people living in poverty around the world. Founded in 1953 by a small group of service-oriented business people, MEDA has grown to become a large, dynamic international organization comprised of thousands of members and supporters across North America and Europe. We are a recognized leader for establishing best practices in financial services, investment fund development, market development and solving poverty by responding to each population’s unique needs.
- Financial Services: Rural Finance, Youth & Financial Services, Deposit Mobilization – Enabling poor entrepreneurs to earn sustainable livelihoods by increasing access to financial products and services – MEDA is a pioneer in microfinance, having played a critical role in the development of financial institutions in several countries, and in the process, serving more than one million clients living in poverty.
- Market Linkages: Agriculture, Health, Women’s Economic Development – Strengthening market linkages that the poor depend on for their livelihood and wellbeing – MEDA understands that the world's poor depend on markets. We devote ourselves to technical excellence in market-led development, as the key to prosperity often hinges on the equity and efficiency of the businesses that serve the poor.
- Investment: Sarona Asset Management (SAM) – Establishing private investment as an effective solution to global poverty and the environment – SAM is a wholly owned for-profit company commissioned to lead our investment fund development activities and continue to create business solutions to poverty. SAM supports a whole range of micro, small and medium-sized businesses, encouraging economic growth and vibrancy for poor communities.
MEDA focuses on those who lie on the periphery of the world's financial system, targeting entrepreneurs who are economically active in developing countries. MEDA focuses on both urban and rural poverty, especially farmers and agriculture suppliers and distributors.
MEDA has 310 FTE employees. In North America, 70% of staff are female and occupy 52% of North American management positions. MEDA’s 23-member Board of Directors includes 35% women. MEDA is headed by CEO Allan Sauder, and its board is composed of a bi-national team of Canadians and Americans. MEDA is headquartered in Waterloo, Ontario. Our professional, committed staff has grassroots experience, a business orientation and the ability to work at large-scale development issues.
In fiscal 2009, MEDA’s work extended trust and hospitality to 2.8 million families in 44 countries, in partnership with 120 locally owned and managed organizations. Families in places as remote as
Afghanistan and Tajikistan have all benefited from increased incomes, new skills and better health. We have developed friendships and better understanding – relationships based on trust that are surely the building blocks to peace.
Our goal: Business solutions to poverty for 4.4 million families
Our work is not done until it has proven to be sustainable, scalable, replicable and measureable. In support of this goal, by FY13 we plan to see:
- 10 thousand individuals engaged in MEDA's mission
- $7 million in private contributions raised annually
- $35 million in matching funds contracted annually
- $7.5 million invested in risk capital equity
- $350 million in assets under management
MEDA has a strong organizational commitment to protect the environment while fostering economic development. Before mandated by donors, MEDA developed an environmental management system (EMS), conducted environmental reviews of projects, trained partners on environmental impact assessment and established procedures for collection of data. Current guiding documents in MEDA’s EMS include an environment policy, environmental management plan, guidelines for implementing environmental impact assessments, environmental impact assessment training for partners, and agrochemical safety training. These highlight the importance of analyzing environmental impacts at all stages of planning and implementation.
When Butool signed up for a microfinance loan, she thought she would just be helping herself and her family...
The loan enabled her to purchase the supplies and materials she needed to open her own tailoring business in her village. Microfinance was a new idea to Butool, but she was willing to try - anything to help her family rise out of the poverty they'd been living in for so long.
"My husband always struggled to find work. He had never learned to read and so finding a good job was really hard," she says. "I had been raising our two children and also trying to earn money to support us. But we had very little - every day was a struggle."
Butool had always enjoyed sewing. What if she turned her hobby into a business?
She worked very hard to develop and promote her business to people. Soon, Butool had a regular list of customers eager to have her hem and repair their garments. Women in her village loved wearing the dresses she created. Butool and her husband still struggled to provide for their children, but they noticed that every day was becoming less and less of a challenge. She was soon able to pay off the loan and decided to take out another one to further develop her business.
As her neighbors watched Butool, they were impressed with her hard work and success. Many of them, too, were living in poverty, but were inspired to apply for their own microfinance loans. Butool showed them they could also have opportunities and hope. Family by family, Butool's community is being changed as they take steps to build an empowered, sustainable future.
Butool remembers the difficult times she, her husband and her children have faced.
"The microfinance program has been essential for us. We can now cope with the hard times of life. We know we can find our way out."