MEDA @ 70 Impact Report

70 Years in 70 Countries

For more than seven decades, MEDA (Mennonite Economic Development Associates) has been a beacon of hope and empowerment around the globe. Through your generous support, MEDA has transformed lives, communities, and entire economies. This report, titled “70 Years in 70 Countries,” aims to showcase the profound impact your donations have had on MEDA’s work and the people it serves.

Looking Back

Our Origin: Providing a Fresh Start

In the aftermath of World War II, thousands of Mennonites sought refuge in Paraguay and Uruguay. MEDA’s story began when the Mennonite Central Committee, with the assistance of individuals from North America, helped these refugees establish themselves. While initial aid provided essentials for survival, what was needed was capital for economic development.

The refugees had skills and dreams of entrepreneurship but lacked financial resources. A group of ten Mennonite businessmen committed financial support to helped bridge this gap and lay the foundation for MEDA’s mission. And thus, MEDA was born.


Guiding Small Businesses to Success

During its early years, MEDA adopted a direct business development approach, connecting international experts with entrepreneurs in Mennonite communities worldwide. In Paraguay, donor support nurtured the dairy industry, creating lasting economic change.

As the years progressed, MEDA expanded its efforts, reaching more clients through cooperatives and enhancing market access for farmers.


Embracing Sustainability through Social Enterprise

In the 1990s, MEDA embarked on a journey towards sustainability by embracing a social enterprise model. This approach aimed to establish profitable businesses that benefited entrepreneurs experiencing poverty, circumventing middlemen and increasing market access.

Financial contributions from private donations, paired with institutional funding, helped establish joint ventures and the MEDA Trade Company, driving positive development impact and valuable lessons.


Impact Investing for Sustainable Change

The third phase saw the introduction of Small and Medium Sized Entrepreneurs (SME) ‘impact investing.’ MEDA partnered with organizations like Sarona Asset Management to provide catalytic financial mechanisms, business development Technical Assistance (TA), and enhanced monitoring and evaluation systems.

Support from donors like you, made projects like ‘Impact Investing in Frontier Markets’ a reality, creating a lasting impact on SMEs worldwide.

The Road Ahead:
2020 and beyond

Investing in Decent Work Opportunities

MEDA’s vision for the future focuses on creating decent work opportunities for 500,000 people by 2030. The agri-food market is at the heart of our efforts, and we’re committed to shifting power from the Global North to the Global South.

These principles align with the fundamental guidelines established by MEDA’s founders and underscore our commitment to community-based development.

Together, we continue to strive towards our 2030 vision of creating and sustaining decent work for 500,000 people in the Global South, empowering communities, driving economic growth, and making a lasting difference around the world.

Why Your Investment Matters

Your contributions have played a pivotal role in MEDA's journey, and they continue to shape our mission. Your partnership ensures individuals and communities have access to the tools and resources they need to build brighter and more prosperous futures.

Your gifts continue to support…

A Legacy of Empowerment

Since its inception in 1953, MEDA has been committed to placing communities at the heart of our work, recognizing their innate potential and resilience. By empowering individuals, especially women and marginalized groups, with the tools they need to create sustainable livelihoods, we can foster lasting change.

Agriculture and Food Security

MEDA's journey began with agricultural projects aimed at increasing food production and improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. Your contributions have enabled us to provide vital training, access to markets, and innovative solutions, resulting in higher crop yields and food security for countless families.

Clean Energy

In a rapidly changing world, sustainable energy solutions are critical. MEDA has championed the adoption of clean energy technologies, such as solar power and biogas, in underserved communities. Your support has helped reduce carbon emissions, improve health outcomes, and create economic opportunities through renewable energy projects.

Empowering Marginalized Groups

Entrepreneurship is a powerful tool for inclusivity. MEDA's focus on gender-inclusive entrepreneurship and support for marginalized groups has broken down barriers and created opportunities for those who were previously excluded from economic activities. This approach not only promotes social equity but also taps into the untapped potential of diverse perspectives and talents.

We believe in the power of women as agents of change. Through microfinance programs, vocational training, and business development initiatives, MEDA has empowered women to break down gender barriers, become entrepreneurs, and lift their families out of poverty. Your donations have been instrumental in creating opportunities for women and youth to thrive economically.

Empowering Entrepreneurs for a Brighter Future

At MEDA, we firmly believe that entrepreneurs are the driving force behind economic growth and sustainable development. Your support of our work with entrepreneurs around the globe has been instrumental in shaping prosperous and resilient communities.

Our work extends beyond traditional sectors. MEDA has embraced entrepreneurship and innovation to drive economic growth. With your support, we've established business incubators, fostered startups, and promoted digital solutions, allowing communities to adapt to evolving markets and technologies.

Global Impact

MEDA's reach extends across 70 countries, from Africa to Asia, Latin America to the Middle East. Your generous contributions have touched the lives of millions, fostering resilience, reducing poverty, and promoting sustainable development.

The impact of our entrepreneurship initiatives goes beyond economic statistics. It fosters hope, creativity, and a sense of purpose among individuals who dare to dream. It strengthens communities, empowers women and youth, and contributes to global efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. In essence, entrepreneurship is a catalyst for positive change.

Local Solutions to Global Challenges

Entrepreneurs often serve as innovators, addressing local challenges with creative solutions. MEDA's support for entrepreneurship has led to the development of technologies and business models that tackle critical global issues, from sustainable agriculture practices to clean energy solutions. These innovations have far-reaching implications, demonstrating the potential for locally-driven solutions to have a global impact.

Job Creation and Community Growth

Entrepreneurs are job creators. By nurturing entrepreneurship, MEDA has helped generate employment opportunities within communities, reducing unemployment rates and alleviating poverty. As businesses grow, so does the prosperity of the regions they operate in, leading to improved infrastructure, education, and healthcare for all.

Economic Resilience

Entrepreneurs are the backbone of thriving economies. Through our entrepreneurship programs, MEDA has equipped individuals with the skills and resources needed to start and grow successful businesses. By doing so, we've not only improved livelihoods but also created economic resilience that can withstand adversity, whether it be economic downturns or environmental challenges.

Thank you

for being a part of the MEDA community, where entrepreneurship is a driving force for positive change. We extend our deepest gratitude to each and every one of you for your continued trust and support. Your contributions, whether large or small, are a testament to the power of collective action.

Together, we look forward to the next 70 years of transforming lives and creating a more just and prosperous world.