Search our Site

May
27

Myanmar, a country of kindness

Teresa in Myanmar

In the beginning in a new place you feel like you’re floating because everyone else is busy. They are not used to including you in their plans and you don’t have any of your own busy-ness yet. My first day in the MEDA office in Kayin, Myanmar there was a matching event between rice millers and milling equipment suppliers. With so many people around, it took me awhile to figure out who my colleagues were! In my first interactions, Burmese people came across as very kind and often shy. I felt shy too because I couldn’t express myself in the ways I was used to; but whenever I smiled at someone I received a genuine smile in return and I couldn't shake the feeling of being so very lucky to be in such a beautiful country.

Continue reading
  278 Hits
0 Comments
278 Hits
  0 Comments
Dec
24

GROW Intern Spotlight: Farida Latif

intern farida2

At MEDA's GROW (Greater Rural Opportunities for Women) project office in Tamale, Ghana, we understand the importance of practical teaching opportunities, which is why both the Tamale and Wa GROW offices host local interns throughout the year. Since January of 2018, the Tamale GROW office has had the pleasure of hosting a Monitoring & Evaluation intern, Farida Latif. Farida is a student completing a post graduate diploma in Community Development. As part of her curriculum at the Trent-In-Ghana Program offered at the University of Cape Coast, Farida was required to complete a 3-month mandatory internship with a non-government organization. Farida had a list of a dozen organizations to choose from and decided to apply to three organizations in the Northern Region. The two organizations she heard back from were MEDA and CARE International. She decided to proceed with the opportunity at MEDA.

Continue reading
  935 Hits
0 Comments
935 Hits
  0 Comments
Aug
23

10 things you might not know about MEDA

1. We started doing economic development before it was cool.
Economic empowerment isn’t just a phrase that we pull out at parties. MEDA has been creating business solutions to poverty through impact investing, microfinance, agricultural and entrepreneurship training since the 1950s, and it doesn’t look like that will change anytime soon.
Continue reading
  3087 Hits
0 Comments
3087 Hits
  0 Comments
May
12

Meet the women growing soybeans and progress in northern Ghana

GROW
GROW2
GROW3
GROW4
GROW5
GROW6

Agro-entrepreneurs. An intriguing word for those like myself entering the business world and being enthralled by realities of nonstop work-education. So far today, I have been talking to 12 agro-entrepreneurs on the four-hour bus ride through stark Sahel countryside in northern Ghana, and I have come upon a meaning for this word. For these women, today, and everyday, it means: leader remade. Meet the GROW women: 12 Lead-Farmers who represent over 20,000 women agro-entrepreneurs who have chosen to remake their gruelling hours tilling the fields to work to their benefit - and in the process, revolutionize the idea of the women business leader.

I feel bonded to these remarkable business leaders through our collaborations on the GROW project. The acronym stands for Greater Rural Opportunities for Women and today we ride to the city of Tamale for the 2016 Annual Pre-Season Conference: a semi-annual business expo for agro-entrepreneurs, equipment suppliers, soybean processors, and financial backers. As we pass anthills the height of single-storey buildings, my thoughts keep returning to how best to do something I have not yet attempted and which just so happens to be my prime task of the day: marketing for agro-entrepreneurs.

Continue reading
  2327 Hits
0 Comments
2327 Hits
  0 Comments
Dec
24

Women as Catalysts for Change: Reflections from a former GROW intern in Ghana

grow blog

Why do you focus on women?

Over the last year, living here in Tamale, Ghana, and working with rural women farmers on our Greater Rural Opportunities for Women (GROW) project- I’ve expanded my understanding of the gender issues in northern Ghana drastically. Here, women and men face many cultural barriers, social expectations and a lack of opportunities due to poverty. In short, gender issues here are complex, messy and deeply rooted in daily routines.

Continue reading
  2279 Hits
0 Comments
2279 Hits
  0 Comments
Nov
13

Intern training

Pic 1 Safety Manual and Lecture Notes

Hello MEDA fans!

This is Janelle and I am one of your newest interns from the November 2015 cohort. There are four of us, of which three are travelling to Ghana (one leaving around the end of the month, two leaving in mid-January) and one travelling to Tanzania (also mid-January). We are an eclectic bunch, one from Ottawa, one from Kitchener (that’s me!), one from Saskatchewan (currently living in Barcelona) and one from Kenya (currently living in Mississauga). We all met for the first time the last week of October when we undertook a whirlwind training regime in Waterloo at MEDA headquarters. But you will hear from each of us as we get our internship and our travelling underway. Be very excited because these are top-notch individuals!

As I mentioned earlier, we all met in Waterloo for an intensive training program October 26-30 where we were introduced to MEDA, connected with our in-country program managers and underwent security and first-aid training. Every day was jam-packed with sessions from a combination of MEDA vets, newcomers who had been hired out of the intern program and many others who will be instrumental in helping us make the most of our internships, both for MEDA and for our careers.

Specifically, we were introduced to MEDA as a whole by the current President Allan Sauder, and the organization’s key operating divisions, such as Private Sector Development, Cross-Cutting Services, Economic Opportunities and Engagement, among others (it can be a bit difficult to keep everything straight). I was very impressed with this dedicated, intelligent and passionate group of people who are responsible for ensuring the programs are running effectively and objectives are being met. Our first few presentations were complete with PowerPoints, but we were able to convince a few to forego the formality and take on a more conversational tone. Apparently a rumour was going around that we were asking all of the presenters to tell us about their trajectory into economic development work. As someone interested in the potential of stories to illustrate organization effectiveness and educate others, I was especially interested to hear how presenters had ended up interested in international development and how MEDA fits into their values, both personal and professional.

While the goal of this training week was preparation for our upcoming deployments (some sooner than others), it ended up becoming much more. When I apply for jobs, I prefer to physically go to the office rather than meet over Skype (whenever reasonably possible), which gives me the opportunity to check out the “vibe” or “energy” of the office (it sounds kind of hippie-ish but is more of an overall feeling and first impression). I could not have been more impressed by MEDA! Our first morning, Melissa (human capital generalist, training organizer and all-around great person) gave us an office tour and introduced us to any staffers who were in their offices. Everyone was more than willing to tear themselves away from their computer screens, actually got out of their chairs to shake our hands, ask us where we were travelling and find out more about what drew us to MEDA. If we weren’t MEDA converts after having our lunches provided, as well as hotel and transport for those from out of town, we willingly accepted the “Kool-Aid” after meeting the staff and being introduced to the candy drawer.

I could go on about facts and figures or provide an outline of the organization based on what I have learned, but I’m sure you (like me) are more interested in the people who passionately carry out MEDA’s economic development work all over the world. However, I will mention our sessions on Thursday and Friday: safety, security and first-aid training geared at a Third World context. Over these two days we learned how to work safely in volatile circumstances and how to react in crisis situations (don’t worry Mom, I’m going to Ghana and am unlikely to encounter anything “volatile”). However, MEDA does work in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan, or in other contexts where events such as Westgate Mall or a kidnapping situation could potentially happen (thankfully it never has!). This is a training regimen required by all MEDA staff and our “core four” of interns were joined by a few full-timers. We worked through topics such as kidnapping, emergency situations such as shootings, and walked through what to do during an event such as a robbery. While other staffers may have referred to this training as “Did Scott scare the crap out of you yet?” I found it very informative and feel very prepared for any event I may encounter in the field (whether likely or not). FYI, MEDA does not pay ransoms, and this is actually a good thing!

Continue reading
  2308 Hits
0 Comments
2308 Hits
  0 Comments