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MEDA focuses on reducing barriers to economic inclusion for excluded populations, especially women, youth and rural populations. We work with diverse partners, particularly the private sector, to create sustainable market access for our end clients.

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International Women's Day Series
Sep
24

A conversation with my son: Early marriage in Jordan

Jordan - child marriage conversation

To mark Canada's first Gender Equality Week 2018, MEDA is highlighting important issues and voices around women’s economic empowerment and gender equality in the area of economic development. This is the first installment of our #EveryoneBenefits blog series. This is a conversation between one of our Jordan staff members and her son on the topic of child marriage. 

On a Saturday night, I was reading the National Report on Early Marriage Status in Jordan, going through all the surprising statistics made me so sad. Just like other kids, my 10 years old son – Obada - tends to rush through dinner as he usually can’t wait to get back to “hot wheels cars”. But looking at my sad face this time he stuck around to know what makes me feel depressed. When he asked I thought to listen to his opinion, his perspective and thinking about early marriage.

So, we had the following conversation:

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Sep
04

Our Gender Outcome Mapping Journey: Now we count them…

gender meeting jordan menGender Outcome Mapping exercise held in Jordan, as part of the JVL project. Recently, I traveled to Um Qais (North Jordan) to conduct focus group discussions as part of a Gender Outcome Mapping1 pilot, implemented by the Jordan Valley Links (JVL) project. Preparing for the trip, I mentally prepared myself for the potential responses and reactions that my colleague and I would receive to the question: “What is an empowered woman?”

As it turns out, that can be even more complex than we imagined.

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Jul
18

Continuing the Discussion: GROW Works with Regional House of Chiefs to Promote Women’s Access to Land in Ghana

GROW land eventMeeting with the Regional House of ChiefsOn Monday July 9th, the GROW project supported the Regional House of Chiefs of the Upper West Region in conducting a Land Tenure Advocacy Meeting hosted by the House of Chiefs. As a GROW staff member, I witnessed firsthand the momentous occasion of 26 Chiefs and 25 Queen Mothers coming together on a Monday morning specifically to discuss increasing land rights in the Upper West region.

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Jun
25

Oak Forests and Olive Trees: Conservation and Sustainable Livelihoods with Jordan Valley Links

olive tree jordanA Roman Olive stands guard over the wild oak in the village of Wadi Al Tawaheen, Kufranjeh in Ajloun, Jordan

Now that we have captured your attention we would like to bring you on a road trip through Northern Jordan. The journey starts in Jordan’s capital, Amman, and brings you through the Jordan Valley and into the Ajloun mountains where you discover the connection between Jordan’s wild oak forest, a biscuit house and a precious 500-year-old Roman Olive grove.

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Jun
11

Small Grants to Kick-start Youth-led Businesses in Nigeria: The Youth Entrepreneurship Business Support Plan (YEBSP)

cycle1granteesGrantees of the YEBSP 1st Cycle
Since 2014, MEDA has partnered with Cuso International in Nigeria on the Youth Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Access and Development (YouLead) project. The Youth Entrepreneurship Business Support Plan (YEBSP) is just one of the many activities aimed at improving financial inclusion for young entrepreneurs in Cross River State.

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May
31

Saving for Good: Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA) on the GROW Project

VSLAThe perception that microfinance is improving the lives of low income families has been a hot topic among development professionals for the last decade. There are many debates and arguments in the media about whether microfinance has positive or negative impacts on the livelihoods of economically disadvantaged communities. There is no one right answer to this question. It all depends on the institution’s mission and purpose. In fact, there are various financial services providers who have been part of the movement for all these years, some for social reasons some for profit.
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May
07

Youth-led Business: Investing in the Future

YouLead Cuso International

***This blog was originally posted on YouLead's Facebook Page, by Author Chris Stanley***

When the labour market fails industrious youth often seek to stand on their own. However, young entrepreneurs face numerous barriers; one major challenge is access to finance. Kate Ekpeyong, can stand proud as a woman entrepreneur who is proving to both peers and financial institutions that the youth of Cross River State are a worthwhile investment.

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Mar
20

International Women's Day in Myanmar

myanmar1To mark International Women’s Day 2018, MEDA is highlighting important issues and voices around women’s economic empowerment and gender equality in the area of economic development. This is the fourth in our “Press for Progress” blog series celebrating the power of women entrepreneurs and their partners around the world.

This is an important day for me, my first time to celebrate International Women’s Day in Myanmar since I came in June 2017. I have been in development work for more than 25 years and been working on women-focused development projects in different countries – from Philippines, Bosnia, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Ghana and now here in Myanmar.

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Mar
14

Discussing gender equality with families and communities: MEDA’s Male Gender Activists

Ghana, women empowerment

To mark International Women’s Day 2018, MEDA is highlighting important issues and voices around women’s economic empowerment and gender equality in the area of economic development. This is the third in our “Press for Progress” blog series celebrating the power of women entrepreneurs and their partners around the world.

Globally, gender inequality remains one of the fundamental challenges of the 21st century. Despite awareness about the importance of women empowerment growing globally, women are still economically, socially and politically routinely disenfranchised. Even though women often become the main or sole supporter of their households, men continue to dominate decisions at the household level which has caused increased poverty and lack of independence for women.

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Mar
09

#PressForProgress: how one young woman is challenging norms in her village

International Women

To mark International Women’s Day 2018, MEDA is highlighting important issues and voices around women’s economic empowerment and gender equality in the area of economic development. This is the second in our “Press for Progress” blog series celebrating the power of women entrepreneurs and their partners around the world.

International Women’s Day is an occasion to celebrate the achievements of remarkable young women, women like Mebrehit Hagos. Mebrehit is one of the recipients of the first round of grants provided to graduating agricultural students in in Ethiopia to start their own businesses. This program is being implemented by MEDA and Dalhousie University through the Agricultural Transformation Through Stronger Vocational Education (ATTSVE) project. The project, funded by the government of Canada, is intended to better prepare graduates from 4 selected agricultural colleges across the country to gain employment after graduation, including self-employment through entrepreneurship. The grant program is a key part of the project’s strategy to support Ethiopia’s budding young entrepreneurs.

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Mar
08

#TimeisNow but GROW has been working for years

To mark International Women’s Day 2018, MEDA is highlighting important issues and voices around women’s economic empowerment and gender equality in the area of economic development. This is the first in our “Press for Progress” blog series celebrating the power of women entrepreneurs and their partners around the world.

IWD1GROW client, Rahama, selling her soya kebabs to MEDA staff

It is an exciting time for women around the globe with awareness of women’s rights activism on the rise through movements like #TimesUp and #MeToo bringing attention to overlooked harassment and treatment of women in the workplace. Additionally, it is an especially exciting time for rural Ghanaian women partaking in MEDA’s GROW program. Considering the United Nation’s International Women's Day (8 March) theme “Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women's lives”, MEDA’s Greater Rural Opportunities for Women project (GROW) has been doing just that in the Upper Western Region of Ghana.

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Jan
12

Empowerment Mainstreamed: Applying Gender Equity Across the ESG Standard

While impact investing has become a buzzword in global development in recent years, the concept and practice had been around for decades before the sector even had a name. To take one perhaps under-recognized example, Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) was launched as an investment club in 1953, when a group of North American Mennonite business people joined together to support the development of businesses in Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina.

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Nov
27

The Future of Women’s Financial Inclusion: Three Key Takeaways from #MFWW2017

wwb 01croppedDesigning for Behaviour Change panel Last month, I had an amazing opportunity to attend the Women's World Banking 2017 Making Finance Work for Women Summit (MFWW). Over 300 participants gathered in Dar es Salaam from across the African continent and the globe, representing various organizations, institutions, and firms, to engage and deliberate on key trends, topics, opportunities and challenges concerning women's financial inclusion. I was inspired by the speakers and panelists who shared their stories, insight and vision for the future of women's financial inclusion.

In this post, I want to share three key takeaways I have reflected on after returning from the Summit. My hope is that they give a glimpse of the event and speak to my own learning about the state of women's financial inclusion and what the future may hold.

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Nov
20

Knowing How To Help - Data, Aid and Impact

binary data

White foam washes gently up the beach on an idyllic Mediterranean island. In the darkness, a young woman struggles ashore. Clearly exhausted, she is missing many of her heavier clothes, sacrificed to the struggle to stay alive in the dark sea. But she is on shore now, and safe. For now. One treasure she has clung to – a small plastic bag with a few things tightly wrapped in it. It is the first thing she reaches for when she reaches the beach. Relief floods her body when she discovers that not only does she have the bag, but it is dry inside. The old Huawei smart phone shows a low battery warning and won’t start.

 

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Sep
25

A New Era of Farming: Unlocking Innovations for Smallholders Via Non-Traditional Finance

b2ap3_medium_Ethiopiafarmer-Nov2014-786ClaraYoon MEDA - Page 2

 

 This post was originally published on Next Billion

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Jun
21

Business for Good: Women-led Social Enterprises in Africa and the Middle East

Traditional Maasai Beaded Jewelry, Sidai Designs, TanzaniaTraditional Maasai Beaded Jewelry, Sidai Designs, Tanzani
What is a Social Enterprise?

A social enterprise is an organization with two primary and interlinked goals: to generate revenue, and to achieve positive social or environmental outcomes. In attempting to balance profit generation with social goals, a social enterprise straddles the private and volunteer sectors.1
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Mar
23

And the Winner of MEDA's International Women's Day Poster Competition is...

To mark International Women’s Day 2017, MEDA hosted a poster competition between its international projects to highlight the gender equality and women's economic empowerment work MEDA does around the world. In total, there were 11 posters submitted from MEDA's various projects, and each one of them highlighted how the project is working towards gender equality by showcasing a partner, lead firm or woman who is being bold for change in their community.

b2ap3_large_IMOW-IWD-Poster-Competition-1st-Place MEDA - Page 2

Mo Bi is one of our female-lead farmers on MEDA’s Improving Market Opportunities for Women (IMOW) project in Myanmar. This means that Mobi is a model farmer who serves as a leader to a group of women farmers and demonstrates good agricultural and business practices to her community. Along with other lead farmers, Mo Bi receives technical training, leadership and mentorship training, and are linked to savings to improve their financial literacy. MEDA works with key facilitating partners, like METTA in Shan state of Myanmar, and provides technical support and gender sensitization trainings for staff and key market actors. These key market actors include: agricultural extension workers, input suppliers and commodity collectors, who are all members of the IMOW community, but may not have engaged with women before working with MEDA on IMOW.

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Mar
08

Partners in Life and Success

To mark International Women’s Day 2017, MEDA is highlighting important issues and voices around women’s economic empowerment and gender equality in the area of economic development. This is the sixth in our “Be Bold for Change” blog series celebrating the power of women entrepreneurs and their partners around the world.

The Jordan Valley Links project, implemented by MEDA, supports 25,000 women and youth in the Jordan Valley to seize new opportunities in targeted sectors and to become economic actors. The goal of the project is to increase the contribution by women and youth to Jordan’s economic growth. The project focuses on three sectors: clean technology, food processing and community-based tourism. Over five years (2016-2021), MEDA will improve women and youth’s entrepreneurial and business acumen through capacity building and market linkages; and working with communities, families, and market actors to reduce entry for enterprise development for women and youth. One of the activities of the project is to highlight roles models within the areas that we operate and here is one of those stories of gender parity.
b2ap3_thumbnail_Enas MEDA - Page 2
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Mar
02

Celebrating the resilience of Libyan women

To mark International Women’s Day 2017, MEDA is highlighting important issues and voices around women’s economic empowerment and gender equality in the area of economic development. This is the fifth in our “Be Bold for Change” blog series celebrating the power of women entrepreneurs and their partners around the world.

Since the Libyan revolution and ensuing conflict erupted in 2011, damage, theft, and alleged sabotage has plagued the infrastructure in Libya resulting in power outages and basic challenges for a stable life.

Electricity is essential for a stable life. We have grown accustomed and formed adaptive solutions for the increasing number of rolling brownouts over the last three years, with outages ranging from two hours up to twenty hours at a time. In January 2017, twenty hours without electricity became the daily norm for some of us and keeping warm became an exercise of the absurd - if it were not tragic - as we were dressed for the “north pole” in our homes, but we were not able to keep food and medicine cold. Libya is also dependent on electric pumps for water, which adds to the challenges of daily life. Water travels from thousands of kilometers away in the south through the Great Man Made River pipelines, and without electricity, there is no way for the water to reach the tanks in our homes. Adding to these woes is a shortage of cash, which has prevented ordinary citizens from accessing their money in banks, plus a skyrocketing foreign exchange market and an inflation index of over 29% that has made accessing alternative means of electricity, water, and fuel nearly impossible.

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Mar
01

An Easy Sell? Women's Economic Empowerment in Ghana

DSC04949

Empowering women in rural, northern Ghana—where nearly 80% of women have never attended school, is no small feat. With some smart marketing and production support for farmers, agribusinesses are now buying the idea.

Greater Rural Opportunities for Women (GROW) is a six-year project funded by both the Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) and Global Affairs Canada (GAC). The main goal of the project is to improve food security for families in the Upper West Region of Ghana by assisting women farmers to increase productivity, link to sustainable markets, and improve nutrition practices.

The implementation of the GROW project started in 2013 with a goal of reaching 20,000 women farmers using a value chain approach. Through a mixed methods data gathering approach including interviews and surveys, MEDA recently developed and published a case study that examines the role of market actors and their profitability as they have engaged with the GROW project and female farmers. This blog shares some of the results.

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