For 60 years, Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) has created business solutions to poverty around the world. Rooted in our faith values, we firmly believe that unleashing entrepreneurship is the best way to alleviate poverty.
MEDA has been in a period of unprecendented growth and innovation, developing new products that reach more of the world's poor. Much of what we have done and learned in the past is now part of mainstream development programming by government, non-government and business organizations around the world.
MEDA is striving to make innovative differences
in these eight strategic areas of focus:
1 • Agriculture • 2 • Rural financial services • 3 • Investment in small and medium (SME) businesses • 4 • Business of health • 5 • Youth and financial services • 6 • Deposit mobilization • 7 • Women’s economic development • 8 • Engaged and growing association
More than half of all households in the developing world depend on small-holder farming, and there is a need to double food production by 2050.
MEDA’s goal – Deliver more scalable, replicable market-driven solutions to help millions of farmers compete profitably in local and global markets.
Despite relatively rapid urbanization, over 50% of households are still rural in many developing countries – and they remain the most disadvantaged communities in terms of all human development indicators. The world's demand for food is expected to double within the next 50 years, while the natural resources that sustain agriculture will become increasingly scarce, degraded, and vulnerable to the effects of climate change. MEDA will build on its long-time success in agricultural development around the world, and develop innovations that meet today’s challenges and deliver scalable, replicable market-driven solutions that enable millions of small farmers to compete profitably in local and global markets. By 2013, MEDA will assist 50,000 farmers annually.
Access to rural financial services in vital to improve small-holder agriculture and create rural off-farm incomes, especially for women and youth.
MEDA’s goal – Help partners expand services to rural clients and develop the innovative financial services they need.
Off-farm incomes are increasingly important to reduce rural poverty, create opportunities for women and youth, stem migration to overcrowded slums, and limit pressure on land resources. In almost all cases, these populations have no access to financial services to support these initiatives. MEDA has significant experience in providing financial services for micro, small and medium businesses in rural value chains. MEDA will seek partners eager to expand their services to rural clients and develop innovative, high-quality rural, agricultural, and value chain financial services and products that combine farm and non-farm components to develop the rural economy, serving 150,000 rural poor.
This sector is the missing or underdeveloped driver in many developing economies.
MEDA’s goal – Convince more global investors that the SME sector is an investible asset class with great returns for the poor.
The small and medium business (SME) sector is the missing or underdeveloped driver in many developing economies. Investment in the microfinance sector has been successful in stabilizing and improving millions of microenterprises in the informal sector worldwide. However, significant investment is needed in the SME sector in order for many countries to develop the employment, tax and economic base that only the SME sector can provide.
Unfortunately, SMEs are often regarded as being too small to serve as significant drivers of economic growth (and therefore unworthy of policy consideration by governments), yet too large to benefit from non-profit and microfinance investments. However, even in developed economies with vibrant private and public sectors, small business is considered to be an engine of prosperity. MEDA will create a significant investment vehicle to attract and invest the capital that this sector requires, while providing the economic, social and environmental returns that investors require.
The economies of many countries continue to be disrupted by endemic diseases that can be substantially reduced through improved availability of drugs and health services.
MEDA’s goal – Diversify and expand our market-based health product delivery systems beyond insecticide-treated nets, and add three countries.
Sub-Saharan Africa struggles to develop while its economy is disrupted by endemic diseases – HIV, malaria and tuberculosis – as well as extremely high maternal death rates. MEDA’s growing expertise in the business of health (e.g., accredited drug dispensing outlets, insecticide treated nets, pharmaceutical value chains) will be extended to new areas for a double development impact – increased incomes for those who participate in the business as well as economic productivity for households that would otherwise be negatively impacted by disease and death. For example, with up to 250,000 women a year dying due to child-bearing in Sub-Saharan Africa alone, more effective private sector innovations may be possible. MEDA will diversify and grow business of health revenues and impact by expanding MEDA’s expertise beyond ITNs and by adding three new countries, including one in Asia.
The worldwide youth population is growing, restless and often unemployed.
MEDA’s goal – Build on our track record for innovative youth entrepreneurship products and help financial services providers respond to this burgeoning market.
Ironically, while there is a growing unemployed youth population, there are global shortages of skilled workers. In fact, 31 percent of employers worldwide have been found to have difficulty filling positions due to the lack of suitable talent. In addition, youth repeatedly express interest in beginning their own enterprise rather than working in underpaid positions with poor opportunities for advancement. MEDA will build on its experience in Egypt and Morocco to become an innovator and leader in youth entrepreneurship products and services, serving at least 150,000 disadvantaged youth with financial and nonfinancial services.
Savings is critical to sustain households, small businesses and communities – especially for the poor who lack safety nets.
MEDA’s goal – Help more microfinance partners to develop savings programs and transform into regulated banks.
Savings is critical to the economic sustainability of individual households, small businesses, and to the community’s financial stability. Deposits also represent a diversified, local, and stable funding base for the financial institutions. As a result donors and investors are increasing their funding for microfinance transformation and development of deposit-taking services. MEDA has been increasingly called upon and has developed expertise to help microfinance partners develop deposit mobilization programs and to transform into regulated banks. MEDA intends to be a leader in this area and help at least 300,000 poor entrepreneurs access a full range of financial products and services.
Women-headed households are among the poorest; in many societies, women’s potential to contribute economically is constrained by barriers that MEDA has helped overcome.
MEDA’s goal – Replicate our successful approach in at least three countries to incorporate women as respected, valued participants in market systems.
As evidenced by the condition of women in relation to the millennium development goals, the gender issue is far from being overcome. Women-headed households still make up the poorest strata of society. In many societies, women’s potential to contribute to the economic sustainability of their families and community is often diminished by barriers that, as MEDA has proven, can be effectively overcome. MEDA intends to help 50,000 women in at least three countries become respected and valued participants in market systems.
A key MEDA strength and competitive advantage is our association of supporters.
MEDA’s goal – Engage and broaden our support base, including young people and other Christian denominations and business/professional people in North America and Europe.
One of MEDA’s key strengths and competitive advantages is our association. We need a growing and diversified association of supporters. In some regions, chapters need to be started or revitalized, and with an estimated 75% of MEDA members over age 60, MEDA needs to reach out and engage younger associates. MEDA has also been challenged to reach beyond Mennonite circles to other Christian denominations, as well as to young business/professional people who have left the traditional churches but still wish to be involved in a helping mission. The key to attracting this group will be tangible opportunities for hands-on engagement and visible results for their financial support. MEDA is also reaching into new geographic regions, particularly in Europe. By FY13, we intend to engage 10,000 individuals in MEDA’s mission and raise $7 million in private donor support.