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As printed in The Marketplace - 2018 - September/October

Indy photoIntersections, Roads to Enduring Livelihoods is the theme of MEDA’s annual Business as a Calling convention, to be held Nov. 8-11 at the JW Marriott Hotel, in Indianapolis, Ind.
Greg Brenneman, a corporate turnaround expert who is executive chairman of private equity firm CCMP Capital and author of the book Right Away & All at Once (see excerpt, pp. 8-9), will provide the opening plenary address on Thursday evening.

Brenneman’s career has included stints as chief executive officer of Continental Airlines, Burger King, PwC Consulting, and sandwich chain Quizno Sub.
Friday’s lunch panel will explore intersections between small-scale farmers in North America and in develop- ing regions. The session will feature:

  • Lali Hess of the Juniper Spoon, a full-service catering firm serving central Indiana. Juniper Spoon grows some of its own food and purchases most of its ingredients locally.
  • MEDA board member Marianne Unruh. Her company, Fresh Solutions, provides on-the-ground buying services to retailers and food service vendors in several US states.
  • Rose Mutuku, the founder of Smart Logistics Solutions, a Kenyan firm that partners with MEDA’s M-SAWA (equitable prosperity) project. Since her 2009 start-up, she has expanded to work with 5,000 farmers. Smart Logistics sells large volumes of cereals and legumes to large firms and processes legumes, packaged for retail, targeting households of modest means.
  • Sarah William Kessy, managing director of Halisi Products (see photos, pg. 14), a Tanzanian food processing company. Halisi is a lead firm that partners with MEDA’s Supporting Small Business Value Chains (SSBVC) project in Tanzania. Halisi manufactures food products by sourcing raw materials from farmer suppliers in three main categories: cereals, legumes and bee products. It currently partners with 1,000 small-scale Tanzanian farmers.

Saturday evening’s program will celebrate Allan Sauder’s 31 years of service with MEDA. Sauder, MEDA’s longest-serving president, will retire at the end of 2018. He joined MEDA as a field project manager in 1987, later working as director of international operations (see story, pp. 6-7).

Shannon Dycus, co-pastor of First Mennonite Church in Indianapolis, will present the Sunday morning message. She will speak on the theme “Intersections: Her Touch, Our Faith and the Power of Jesus.”

Dycus is active with Faith in Indiana, a network of faith communities seeking justice, and holds multiple leadership positions with Mennonite Church USA.

The convention will also include MEDAx, a conference for young professionals under the age of 40. The MEDAx track will include a panel discussion of business professionals and social justice activists and a competition where social entrepreneurs and community innovators can pitch their business to a panel of judges for a chance to win $5,000.

David Richert of Richert Racing will take part in a Thursday tour to the Indianapolis Speedway, Friday seminars and the MEDAx kick-off event. Richert, who has spent the last few seasons racing on circuits through Europe, including the Monaco Grand Prix Formula 1 race, will talk about how racing, business and faith intersect in his career.

A range of seminars will allow attendees to hear about MEDA’s projects and philosophy, business, faith and philanthropy.

Among them:

  • Creating business solutions to poverty in an age of climate change
  • Gender equality and business — how women enhance business growth and impact
  • Youth for growth: transforming economies through agriculture
  • Thoughts on excellence in philanthropy
  • Which is easier: cross-cultural connections in business or the church?
  • Stories from the field, by MEDA staffers
  • From driving tractors on the prairie to driving cars in Monaco
  • How MEDA’s EMERTA project is touching Ethiopian lives
  • Lead firms: leading small entrepreneurs to prosperity
  • At the crossroads of culture ◆