Gender Equality and Social Inclusion
Ghana has emerged as one of Africa's economic success stories with steady economic growth during the past two decades, particularly in its agriculture and mining sectors.
Jordan is of great geo-political significance in the Middle East and is considered a ‘pocket of peace’ in a region that is otherwise highly unstable – both politically and economically. The Jordanian economy suffers from structural unemployment and weak labour market governance.
Libya economic empowerment (LEE)
2012 - 2019
MEDA, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) are collaborating to contribute to the growth of the Libyan non-oil private sector through strong, knowledgeable and competitive business women and youth who operate successful and job creating enterprises.
In Libya, business support networks for entrepreneurs in general, and for youth entrepreneurs in particular, are weak. As a result, promising entrepreneurs in need of mentoring, access to finance, and improved general business acumen are failing to commercialize good ideas and to develop job-creating businesses at a time of heightened economic fragility in the country.
Innovation and risk-taking suffer from lack of encouragement, infrastructure, and cultural restrictions. Women and youth in particular, face barriers to access to credit and market systems.
Low farm and enterprise productivity is partly attributable to inadequate use and access to technology. As found in the 2011 Fourth Agriculture Census, only one to 2% of Nicaraguan small-scale farmers have access to basic technologies, such as improved seeds and irrigation.
Technology finance for farmers and enterprises is also in short supply. Equipment distributors and agri-food processors with growth potential find it difficult to access the capital, technical and mentoring assistance they need to grow into vibrant, competitive engines of equitable growth. Nicaragua needs to spur export growth, and thereby sustainably expand livelihood opportunities for small-scale farmers with special attention to women producers.
To address this, MEDA, in partnership with USAID, is establishing an SME (Small and Medium Enterprises) development program which will provide business-oriented youth with the capacity building training required to develop their businesses and take these to the next level. Women and youth owners of SMEs will develop and expand their businesses through training, coaching/mentorship, networking opportunities and buyer engagement. A matching grants fund will help propel the most promising businesses forward towards growth and job creation. The project also strives to partner with and help build nascent Libyan civil society organizations; a new possibility in post-Gadhafi Libya.
After 7 years of relentless and exciting work, the Libya Economic Empowerment (LEE) programme has reached the end of its journey.
While we say goodbye, we would like to thank all those who have honored us with their presence during their effective participation at our activities. We would also like to extend our gratitude to the individuals and institutions who partnered and implemented the various activities of the LEE project in many Libyan cities, (east, west and south) without whom this would not have been possible. We have indeed learned immensely from you. You are so many which is why we will not be listing the names here, but your achievements are already available on our page over the years for everyone to see and read about.
Additionally, we cannot forget that the most important factor for success is the teamwork and perseverance. So let us raise a special thanks to all the members of the MEDA Libya team since 2013 up to now- each one of you have left their special mark on the project and we are proud of your cooperation with us.
As we say goodbye to everyone today, we wish you all the best, success, health and well-being.
Project undertaken with the financial support of United States Agency for International Development.
Improving market opportunities for women (IMOW)
2015 - 2021
MEDA in partnership with Global Affairs Canada is increasing women’s participation in the country’s evolving economy and facilitating opportunities for them to become active, respected and empowered economic actors and leaders.
Myanmar is a country in transition with a rapidly changing economy after emerging from decades of relative isolation. The country is slowly becoming an important actor in Southeast Asia but remains among the world’s poorest and least developed countries.
Myanmar is still primarily a rural country, relying heavily on agriculture as a source of national income. Women play a significant role in agricultural production and engage actively in markets. However, while gender equality exists in laws relating to marriage, inheritance and ownership, gender equality in practice is a different story and gender-specific barriers still exist, keeping women from fully participating in the economy.
Women and girls remain primarily responsible for household chores and a wide wage gap exists between women and men. Women often lack mobility and they face challenges to accessing financing, market information, and higher growth markets. The ownership and control of land and property remains a challenge for women in rural areas.
Significant political reforms are under way and the pace of change with new infrastructure projects and business opportunities is tangible. Myanmar is a gateway country, bordering the superpowers of China and India, and with significant natural resources and a motivated workforce. Investment into the country is on the rise and opportunities within the local business environment are increasing. Technological advancements and adoption are happening at an exponential rate and an influx of foreign aid is also moving into Myanmar with increased demands for coordination and impact.
In agriculture, the often unrecognized role that women play as producers, traders, buyers and more can lead the country toward sustainable development, peace and poverty reduction if supported with the right skills, market access and a thriving agricultural market system.
The project runs for five years, from 2015 to 2020, working within agricultural value chains and markets where women are already active participants. It will support 25,000 women in Shan and Kayin states to become active, respected and empowered economic actors and leaders.
MEDA will work with local partners to improve the standard of living and the business environment for another 125,000 indirect clients who will benefit from the improved household incomes of producers and enhanced goods and services provided by strengthened micro small and medium sized enterprises (MSME) in the agricultural sector.
Changing An Economy Through Partnerships in Myanmar
Youth Entrepreneurship and Women's Empowerment in Northern Nigeria (WAY)
2017 - 2022
MEDA and Global Affairs Canada (GAC) are collaborating to support women and youth-run businesses in the processing sector and food industry in rice, peanut, and soybean value chains in Bauchi State, Nigeria.
Nigeria’s Bauchi state is in the north-eastern region of the country. Dryer and more arid than the southern states, Bauchi is susceptible to climate change and desertification. Although Nigeria is considered one of the wealthiest African nations, economic advantages are unevenly distributed, and the northern regions have higher unemployment and greater economic and gender inequality as well as incidences of violent conflict.
Currently, the Federal Government of Nigeria is investing in agricultural development across Nigeria. Production and harvests have increased, and the local economy is growing. However, Bauchi state lacks an agricultural aggregation structure and few corporations aggregate agricultural produce there. It is mainly middlemen who purchase at the farmgate. Women producers are particularly disadvantaged as gender and social norms constrain their mobility to effect market linkages and many women market through proxies. This means they also lack credible market information and rely on social networks to learn about the marketplace.
Although agriculture is the dominant economic activity for both women and men of all ages, market systems are informal and market actors are ill-informed in terms of credible market information and business training. This problem is more acute for women farmers who have time constraints due to family responsibilities, lower literacy levels, smaller business networks and limited mobility. The challenge for women is compounded due to unwelcoming public spaces and business environments, whose productivity is undermined by gender norms which demand a rigid division of labour and generational inequities.
Rice, peanuts and soy food crops that provide for both domestic consumption and processing for the market. They are accessible to women who farm these commodities, are highly nutritious and can be used to combat food insecurity in a region facing climate change and political instability.
With increased access to productive technologies and business services, greater financial inclusion and inclusive community dialogues, Nigeria WAY supports women and youth-led businesses to transform their contribution to their households, their communities, and the economy.
Women and girls also face the added social custom of early and forced child marriage due to poverty and the prevailing social norms of conservative society.
The economy of Bauchi state is a classic dual economy that includes traditional subsistence farming and informal market systems. Although there is a growing agricultural industry, there are few agro-processing and modern manufacturing facilities; most processing and value-added activities such as rice parboiling, soy processing or peanut pressing to create oil are undertaken by women in rural households with limited resources and market access to sell their products.
In addition to supporting women-led micro and small businesses, the project also raises awareness of the risks of early and forced child marriage. This is achieved by working with families and communities to better understand the benefits of engaging women and youth in entrepreneurship though awareness campaigns, gendered discussions and community groups, employment and entrepreneurship skills building, provision of safe spaces and networking.
The WAY project works through private sector-led initiatives to reduce barriers and constraints faced by economically active women and youth in accessing markets.
Through initial research, MEDA realized that the rice, soy, and peanut value chains offered opportunities and potential for business growth. These three value chains were chosen due to their accessibility to women producers and processors, local market demand for products/by-products, potential to partner producers with businesses that can deliver products or services and the high value/yields per hectare the crops provide.
An analysis of barriers and obstacles agro-processors face informed a tailored approach to facilitate market linkages and improve the business environment focusing on environmentally sustainable and climate-smart agro-processing practices.
The WAY project supports small scale businesses and entrepreneurs by:
- Building the capacity of small-scale businesses and other value chain actors so they can engage with other entrepreneurs through networking forums and stakeholder meetings, to create linkages among value chain actors
- Forging market linkages and providing access to green technologies, and green finance • Facilitating community and family dialogue on gender equality women’s economic empowerment and sharing how empowered women strengthen the family unit
- Supporting women as they build their business capacity and increase their income
- Support the development of life skill programming for young girls to teach life skills, business development services, financial literacy and youth savings