Client Stories

Read some of the stories of people changed through the work we do at MEDA with your help:

Leadership training for women farmers benefit local communities in Myanmar

Myanmar Daw Thu

When Shwe In Thu (SIT), a nongovernmental organization in Myanmar, introduced the Improving Market Opportunities for Women project to the village of That Yet Sin, the women responded to the opportunity by forming the Village Saving and Loan Association. Daw Thu was eager to join, but her husband did not support that idea. She was very determined and persuaded him by agreeing to finish all her household chores first, before attending the group meeting. Daw was also responsible for taking care of her in-laws, as well as her two children. But she managed. She enjoyed the group and signed up for their gender and leadership training. Daw Thu gained in skills and confidence, and eventually became well-known as an eloquent speaker during village meetings.

But Daw Thu didn’t stop there.

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Better accounting skills open doors for woman agricultural producer in Myanmar

Myanmar Daw Nan

Poverty kept Daw Nan Hla Tin from getting an education when she was a child. After she married, she found work as a domestic laborer in Thailand, but returned to Myanmar after the birth of her first child. At home, she used her savings to open a tiny grocery store, but her income was not stable and she often ran out of operating funds because she didn’t know how to budget or keep accounts.

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#TechForGood: what is innovation?

Davies and Mr Keya Innovation is one of those buzzwords that has gained a lot of traction in recent years. It is easy to associate this word with technology or something that is unique and complex. But at its core, innovation is simply a new method, idea or product. It doesn’t have to be a crazy idea (although these are good too).

At MEDA, many innovations may seem simple, but really, they are complex and nuanced. A project that perfectly highlights this idea of innovation is MEDA’s BEST Cassava project.

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Local businesses know what they're doing - that's why we trust them


Coconut oil.

You can find it in supermarkets across North America.

But have you ever wondered where it comes from?

In 2016, Kenya exported 1.3% of the world’s coconut oil. The majority (88%) of that was destined for the United States.

Kwale County, Kenya, is known for its abundance of coconut palms, which thrive in the area’s highly nutritional soil and fresh air coming off the Indian Ocean.

Kwale Coconut Processors Limited (KCPL) is a certified fair trade organic producer of coconut oil. Based in Kenya, Kwale Coconuts strives to “continuously develop and maintain a highly productive base of certified organic coconut farmers and a professional production facility.”

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MEDA and Black Panther: why representation matters


With the global success of Black Panther, audiences are sending a clear message – representation matters.

But it extends beyond Hollywood.

Representation is important in all fields. When a young girl sees herself as a director, scientist or business owner, it affirms that her dream is valid, and more importantly - possible.

Too often, women have been written out of their own stories. That’s why representation is integral. It completes the story through visibility.

Jane Maina knows how important representation is in her community.

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Kenya: Gloria turns failure into success

Kenya Equator6

With the unemployment rates in Kenya hovering around 11% and unemployment among youth (ages 15 – 24) double that at 22.1% - many look to agriculture, construction and extractive sectors for viable employment. However, while many job opportunities exist in Nairobi, there are limited opportunities outside the capital.

MEDA’s Maendeleo Sawa (M-SAWA) project is actively working to combat this statistic by empowering people through private equity investment (PEI) and matching grants.

M-SAWA’s PEI capital has made over $18 million CAD available to SMEs in partnership with the Canadian government. Their matching grant program is currently benefiting 20,000 of these small enterprises – 52% of which are led by women.

Gloria is one such young woman.

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Libya: stories of innovation & strength



Rihab, a university student in English, her sister Rayan, an anesthesiologist, and their friend Nalhla, an architect, are all graduates of the project’s business and entrepreneurship training program.

After graduation, they established a business designing scarves, which they now proudly call Scarfy Fashion. The three ladies have created a solid partnership and officially registered their brand at the Chamber of Commerce in Tripoli.

Scarfy Fashion creates fashionable designs for Libyan women who wear a hijab and like to stand out. The scarfs are produced in Dubai to ensure they are high quality. These three women entrepreneurs recently used Facebook and Instagram to advertise online, appealing to younger women.

After successfully launching their business and receiving a number of online orders for their specially designed scarfs, they’re now trying to broaden their range of products to meet what young Libyan ladies are looking for in the world of fashion. This has led them to include unique scarf designs and abayas, loose robe-like dresses, embellished with high-quality crystals in the product offerings.

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Assibi Sumani: farmer, mother, provider

Assibi Sumani and her family

Assibi Sumani, a soybean farmer, is married and lives with her husband and five children in northern Ghana. Before Assibi became involved with MEDA’s GROW (Greater Opportunities for Rural Women) project, life had many financial challenges for her family. The couple struggled to pay their children’s school fees and lacked the resources to make basic improvements to their home.

“Good shelter was a problem to me and my family,” said Assibi. “The roof I was lying under was very bad and my children and I were at the mercy of bad weather. My children were frequently attacked with malaria and sometimes dangerous reptiles.”

Two years ago, Assibi joined GROW. She still remembers the field officers coming to her community to conduct a training session on financial management. The field officer told the women a story about a Mr. Abu and his wife who were trying to manage their resources to achieve their plans. The couple sat together and budgeted so that they could reach their goal.

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21 year old Ruslan turns hobby into a viable business


Ruslan Panchenko, 21, is following his family's farming legacy and has been growing grapes for the past 5 years.

"My father was engaged in grapes initially. He planted a few bushes for himself, but he has no time take care of them," says Ruslan. Growing started as a hobby but soon developed into a passion for the business of grapes. 

Ruslan regularly visited MEDA's UHBDP (Ukraine Horticulture Business Development Project) project events to network and to exchange lessons learned with other UHBDP participants. He wanted qualitative and systematic information about growing grapes, notably how to select and breed new varieties.

". . . the people who work in the project, are very open - they always meet clients' needs. All the selection of grapes is a private development, everything that I know I learned from owners in private business."

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MiCredito helping to light the way for Migdonia

Migdonia Nicaragua 2017 83 low resMigdonia Caballero has lived more than 50 years in Guacucal, close to Mombacho Volcano, on the outskirts of Granada. She’s been a farmer since an early age, because her parents were also farmers.

She is a mother of eight adult children, six girls (two of whom are twins) and two boys. She has 11 grandchildren. Migdonia raised her children alone for 10 years after her husband passed away. She’s taught them about farming, through which four of them support their families today.

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Persistence and follow-up pays!

Owen Pic Best

As part of the MicroLead project, MEDA worked with UGAFODE Microfinance in Uganda to provide a safe and regulated savings environment for their clients.

Owen Mugyerwa has worked at the UGAFODE Lyantonde branch for over a year. While he started as a sales and marketing officer, he now serves as one of the branch’s credit officers. Before working at UGAFODE, Owen worked at both Stanbic and Crane Bank as a contract employee, but he is much more excited about his permanent position at UGAFODE and the security he now has.

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Building a team for savings

Generous Pic Best low resAs part of the MicroLead project, MEDA worked with UGAFODE Microfinance in Uganda to provide a safe and regulated savings environment for their clients.

Generous Atwemerireho has been working at UGAFODE for 12 years. She started straight out of university as a credit officer and has been a branch manager for eight years. She is responsible for UGAFODE’s operations in Lyantonde, one of its largest branches.

Lyantonde was one of four branches selected for the GroupSave product pilot in part due to its strength and size as a branch. The branch currently has 3,050 in active voluntary depositor clients and 1,763 active borrowers.

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Selling benefits of savings, one group at a time

Jokas 1

As part of the MicroLead project, MEDA worked with UGAFODE Microfinance in Uganda to provide a safe and regulated savings environment for their clients.

Jokas Nuagabe, 34, is a sales and marketing officer at UGAFODE Microfinance Limited. Jokas currently lives in Kampala with his wife, Gloria, and two children. Jokas was born in Ntungamo and moved to Kampala 10 years ago to work in commercial banking.

One year ago, Jokas made the shift to microfinance and UGAFODE. He is the savings supervisor and a key member of the team developing and launching UGAFODE’s savings product for informal savings groups called GroupSave.

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AirSave brings discipline to business

Mugagga Sekyanzi Best Pic low res

As part of the MicroLead project, MEDA worked with UGAFODE Microfinance in Uganda to provide a safe and regulated savings environment for their clients.

Mugagga Sekyanzi, 26, is a born entrepreneur. Beginning with his organic sugar business at age 13, he has invested and reinvested his experiences and resources into the business he manages today, Mugagga Industries Uganda Ltd.

“I failed 100 times plus. Other people started laughing at me, saying, ‘You know, now, you have failed 100 times. Why don’t you give up?’ But for me, whatever mistake I did, it was a step forward in my sight. I would discover one way that does not work. If I make 100 mistakes, it means I have discovered 100 times which would not work.” Now based in Mhoro, he manufactures and supplies a diverse portfolio of products, including soap, jelly, organic sugar, perfume, and eucalyptus.

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Staying ahead in the savings race

As part of the MicroLead project, MEDA worked with UGAFODE Microfinance in Uganda to provide a safe and regulated savings environment for their clients.

Kagadi Boda SG Best pic2 smallKagadi United, a group of 22 boda boda (motorcycle) drivers in Uganda, was created when it joined UGAFODE Microfinance two years ago. For many members, UGAFODE has been the first bank they have ever interacted with. The group has been dedicated to saving as a group, meeting weekly, and transferring the money to their joint account.

After a year of saving in their GroupSave account, the group divides the money and begins its next cycle. They have taken their savings practices further, with some participating in secondary savings groups intended to solve “quick problems.” The group shows it’s possible to save big no matter what your job or circumstances, with some setting aside as much as 10,000 shillings per week (about $2.75 US) for their GroupSave account, 20,000 per month in an ordinary savings account, and 20,000 per month in another informal savings group.

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Solomon: Credit Guarantee Success (Ethiopia)

Ato Solomon is a processor in Woreta town, in a village called Menhar. His residence is located next to his business site.

He has been in business, collecting grains and selling to processors, for 15 years. Since 2007, he established his own processing business and engaged in grain processing—focusing on rice. In addition to rice, he processes and wholesales oats and rough peas. He has two rice de-hauling/polishing machines and four employees.

Solomon is married and he has two daughters. His sister and a housekeeper are other members of the family that he supports financially. His wife helps him with the business activities.

SolomonWith his loan from Bunna Bank, Solomon is able to compete with large rice processors in town.

He has received working capital loan from Bunna International Bank, a private bank in Ethiopia, of 180, 000 birr (about $10, 000). His previous loan history is from a local microfinance institution called Amhara Credit and Saving S.C, with a maximum amount of 5,000 birr.

The loan from Bunna Bank is the first of its type and amount in his life. This loan enables him to buy and process in bulk, which has increased his revenue to a large extent. He is able to collect more paddy rice by giving cash advances to 15 farmer-traders for 5,000 birr each. Furthermore, he is engaged in buying processed rice and wholesaling to retailers in Addis.

Now he is able to compete with other big processors in town. This is a result of his added financial capacity to attract more customers with the immediate cash payments he can make. Even though he has accessed the loan recently, already he is able to see the difference in terms of increased numbers of customers and the higher revenue generated. He believes that he will make his monthly loan repayments without any delay. Solomon anticipates more benefit from the additional working capital and realizing the impact of the loan in his life in the near future.

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I had great support and encouragement from other GROW women

amanduAsetu Tipeani Amadu, is a soybean farmer and the lead farmer of her group in the Nyoli community of Wa West District in MEDA’s GROW project.

Through her active participation in the Naamwin Sunte group (meaning “God help us”), Asetu became a Lead Farmer and had the opportunity to participate in training sessions in the areas of best agronomics practices, group dynamics and soybean utilization. During the farming season:

“I successfully cultivated 0.5 acre of soybean for household consumption due to its high nutrition. I also adopted no-tillage farming to make my production cost lower. I have increased my farm to one acre this year and expected to harvest about seven bags at the end of the season.”

Asetu is one of the only nine women to win an Assembly seat and will represent the silent voices of more than 600,000 women and children when she helps the Assembly make investment decisions.

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Dancing with joy...

GROW DancingAnd in the villages they dance with joy. We were honored again and again with music and dance and clapping and singing. We were thanked for coming to see them and for being supporters. And we brought Mary Fehr and Sarah French, who cycled across Canada last summer as part of Bike to GROW to raise money for them and other women like them in the GROW project.

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They started small and their success grew...

Ghana Lead FarmersThis group of a village’s lead farmers don’t have to be coaxed to come forward!

The upper Wa Valley, where GROW works, has over 1,000 lead farmers. Some were chosen for their farming/leadership ability; some came forward when they heard of an opportunity to do something new.

They all have similar stories: They started small and their success grew. These lead farmers each have a group of 15-30 other women farmers that 'report' to them. The program already reaches over 20,000 women farmers. Thanks to them and their local partners and MEDA, they can now see:

  • that soya is better for the soil,
  • that soya is more nutritious than maize,
  • that an acre field of soya creates a larger yield than the same acre of maize,
  • and that this extra production allows them to have some for their families and some to sell.
Through MEDA and their local partners:
  • They have been taught better ways to plant and grow the soya.
  • They have been taught many new nutritious ways to prepare the soya for their families, which provides a marked improvement in their diets.
  • They have learned about value chains – understanding that they can't just grow their crops but need sustainable ways to sell and market them. MEDA has created incentives/loans to local people who want to 'risk' becoming entrepreneurs as well.

One man has begun a soy milk processing plant; other women have been growing soya seeds to sell and they are locating markets to sell their soya, and so again the sustainable chain continues to grow.

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She brings pride to her family and village

Mary BabeleThis is Mary Babele from Tendoma, one of GROW’s lead farmers. Is there any question that this woman is confident? Look at her stance. Not only is she a lead farmer – she is a Ghana soybean farmer of the year!

Here is a common lead farmer story: As it is her husband’s land, she has to ask for half an acre. When she does well, she asks for one acre, then three, and now is aiming for 10, then 30!

Dayi first won a district soya farmer award, and she received a bicycle and tools that she needed for her farm. Then she won soya farmer of the year! Not only did she earn the bike and tools, but she won a cell phone that makes it easier to coordinate with her other farmers.

She also won money. And as we hear over and over, the money that she earns she brings back to her village and family: Her children can go to school, the family can afford better food, she can work more with her other farmers. And of course she brings pride to her family and village. And this is how the sustainable model of MEDA grows.

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