Press Releases

Cuso International and MEDA invest in Nigeria’s future leaders

MEDAs YouLead project in NigeriaFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 23, 2015

YouLead project spurs youth entrepreneurship and financial inclusion

WATERLOO, ON – Youth unemployment is endemic to many developing countries. In southern Nigeria's Cross River State (CRS), 45% of youth are unemployed or underemployed.

But MEDA – Mennonite Economic Development Associates – is working with fellow development organization Cuso International to assist youth who are trying to break into the labor force and build a life for themselves.

While Nigeria is Africa's largest economy, only 21% of youth have access to a formal bank account, 17% save formally and 2% have received a formal loan.

The mismatch of youth education/skills and those required by the natural resource industry, coupled with gender barriers and unsafe, poorly compensated work pose significant challenges to youth searching for economic opportunities.

A new project, YouLead (Youth Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Access and Development), promotes youth employment and entrepreneurship in natural resources sectors, such as agriculture, forestry, ecotourism and aquaculture. By providing skills training, tools and access to finance, 7,000 working and entrepreneurial youth in CRS be able to prosper economically.

Over five years (2014-2019), MEDA will work with Cuso International to help local financial service providers better respond to the needs of young adults in CRS.

"YouLead is a great opportunity to build on MEDA's success and learning with the YouthInvest project in Morocco and Egypt," said MEDA's Jen Denomy, director of Youth Economic Opportunities. "Working with local MFIs, we will improve their ability to offer inclusive financial services for Nigerian youth, especially those looking to find a job or start their own business. We are excited to be working with Cuso International on this project."

The project is funded by the Global Affairs Canada (GAC), Cuso International and MEDA supporters.

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For more information, please contact:
Linda Whitmore - lwhitmore@meda.org
Jaclyn Stief - jstief@meda.org
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 Cuso International
Cuso International is a non-profit international development organization that works to improve the lives of people living with poverty and inequality around the globe. Each year we mobilize hundreds of volunteer professionals who work with local partners to create positive lasting change. Established in 1961, Cuso International is a registered charity in Canada and the United States.

MEDA’s GROW Soybean Farmers clean up at the Farmers’ Day Awards

GROW farmers at Farmers Day AwardsFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 19, 2015

Pictured: Memuna Kusiau, Hawa Sumani supported by a family member, MEDA Staff (country project manager Catherine Sobrevega, Hilda Abambire, Joseph Zakpalah Derry and Kevin Linklater) and TUDRIDEP program manager Aloysius Kanchog

GHANA - In Nadowli, Ghana on a sunny Farmer's Day 2014, crowds gathered to celebrate a successful harvest and recognize the best farmers selected by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA). Mennonite Economic Development Associates' (MEDA) Greater Rural Opportunities for Women (GROW) farmers were strongly represented. MEDA's GROW project assists women farmers in growing soybeans and forging market linkages to increase their incomes. Currently, GROW works with 10,000 women farmers in 151 communities in the upper west region in Ghana, where 4,000 women have already planted soybeans.

Nine GROW women were among those recognized at Farmer's Day, including two regional winners and seven district winners. Memuna Kusiau from Nabulo, Sisaala East won Best Woman Farmer and Hawa Sumani from Nyimeti, Sisaala West took the award for Best Soybean Farmer. Additionally, Issahaku Afisa from Tarsaw won District Best Woman Farmer and six other GROW women farmers received the award for Best District Soybean Farmer, including Madam Assibi Bakewie, Banka Jamila, N-mello Abena, Aamurokuu Sabiana, Baamoyor Seitu, and Sortona Jutuo.

MEDA's GROW staff and local partners CARD, PRUDA, TUDRIDEP, PRONET and CAPECS shared in the joy and celebration of this unprecedented accomplishment. The Regional Best Woman Farmer, Memuna, smiled from ear to ear as she explained that she grew an impressive 20 acres of maize, two acres of soybeans, 12 acres of ground nuts, rice and yams. Next year, she plans to grow even more! A true GROW farmer with 10 years of farming experience, she wants to inspire other women to farm. Memuna said, "I will advise my fellow women to try as much as possible to be farming – it is a good thing for women to help us look after our children and our life."

The Regional Best Soybean Farmer, Hawa, was also thrilled about her success. When asked why she grows soybeans, she noted: "Soybeans are a good nutritious food, so everybody should try as much as possible to grow soybeans." Although Hawa had grown soybeans before, she decided to join MEDA's GROW project because she didn't have access to markets to sell her soybeans. She also wanted to learn how to use soybeans and be part of a women's group to benefit from the exchange of knowledge.

Hawa also attributed much of her success to MEDA's GROW project, explaining that she learned many agronomical practices through the training. For instance, she now knows how to sow in lines and space the soybeans, and understands the importance of weeding. Hawa had harvested over 50 maxi bags already and was still finishing threshing her remaining soybeans when she received the award.

It was a joyous day to be remembered for everyone involved with the GROW project. Catherine Sobrevega, MEDA's GROW country project manager, shared her feelings after the celebration: "We were very excited to give support to two of our GROW women farmers who were recognized – Best Soybean Farmer and Best Woman Farmer! It was very overwhelming and we were all very happy to be there for our women. We also heard that there were seven awardees in the four districts where we are working!"

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For more information, please contact:
Linda Whitmore - lwhitmore@meda.org
Jaclyn Stief - jstief@meda.org
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.