In a year when depressing economic news was more than mere statistics, too often translating into job losses, reductions in charitable giving and altered dreams of retirement, many of us tightened our belts and watched for signs of recovery. However, as the global recession deepened, we began to realize that we were seeing a new global reality: new economic and environmental frontiers that require new solutions.
Although some developing countries still forecast growth rates above those of the higher income countries, vanishing capital inflows, weak export earnings from commodities and reduced remittances from export workers are increasingly likely to reverse a decade of growth that has lifted millions out of poverty in poor countries. Martin Ravallion of the World Bank predicted that 65 million people will slip back below the $2 a day poverty line this year, and 53 million will fall below the $1.25 a day absolute poverty line (The Economist, Mar. 12, 2009). The consequences may be that as many as 400,000 more children will die annually between now and 2015.
At MEDA we believe that investing in the poor is our God-given mandate, and a proven strategy for creating sustainable livelihoods. Since 1953, MEDA has created business solutions to poverty. Today, our work is needed more than ever. Do we have the creative solutions needed for these challenging new frontiers? Our funding partners clearly believe that we do. This year we negotiated contracts totaling nearly $75 million, which will multiply many times over the annual contributions we receive from our generous contributors. During the next few years, these funds will translate into hundreds of thousands of women-owned enterprises supporting families in Afghanistan and Pakistan, improved health for millions of families protected from the scourge of malaria in Tanzania, tens of thousands of youth in Morocco and Egypt with new hope for employment and economic security, and a host of other programs that will create new solutions to poverty.
We also believe that our mandate extends to sharing our faith-based values. Will we one day see the greed and excess that characterized those who created the global crisis replaced by integrity and genuine concern for those in need around the world? Will entrepreneurs, large and small, one day see their role as creating wealth and sustainable livelihoods for all?
This year we created new solutions to poverty for 2.8 million families in 44 countries, in partnership with 120 locally owned and managed organizations. Families from Afghanistan to Zambia benefited from increased incomes, new skills, better health and new hope.
We were delighted that, despite the global economic crisis, 2009 was a year of continued growth for MEDA. Although contributions from our 2,900 members and 2,600 supporters were down 15% to $2.5 million, we were able to multiply those contributions with government contracts and other funding by a factor of nine to one, for total revenue of $25.1 million, up 36% from last year. Our newly opened European office accounted for nearly 6% of contributions.
Equally important, assets in the Sarona Risk Capital Fund increased 6% to $11.4 million, members' direct investment in MEDA programs increased 19% to $19 million, and assets under management increased 33% to $175 million.
Our net surplus of $808,000 resulted from a $385,000 operating surplus and a $423,000 appreciation in the value of our Sarona Risk Capital Fund investments. Most of these funds will be reinvested again and again in businesses that serve the poor.
We are immensely grateful to our members and our board who generously share their time, skills and resources to help MEDA explore New Frontiers: New Solutions. We invite you to join in this work.
Allan Sauder, President
Mel Stjernholm, Chair