MEDAx Trailblazer: Get to know Corine Graber-Alvarez

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To keep up with Corine Graber Alvarez, you’re going to need to move quick.

At 26 years old, this professional accountant and newly-minted MBA candidate is on the move—and has been since an early age.

Graber Alvarez was born in Puerto Rico, spent adolescence in the Philippines, Texas and Indiana, launched her professional career in Chicago, and this fall will begin a new chapter as an MBA candidate at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College (N.H.).

She isn’t sure when exactly she first came across MEDA, but between one adventure or another, she found a natural fit with MEDA’s 65-year-old tried-and-true tradition of ‘creating business solutions to poverty.’

Her interest was solidified when she served as a volunteer accountant for a MEDA-started financial institution in Nicaragua.

“I’ve seen the value, firsthand, of the projects and people supported by MEDA,” she said.

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Paving the way in the Land of the Pure


The word Pakistan literally means “Land of the Pure” and I am blessed that, through MEDA, I am able to serve the people of my native country while enjoying what life in Canada has to offer. Maybe it is not a coincidence that the PAVE Pakistan project deals with purity – the purity of seeds – where the cycle of food production is first given birth and takes root.

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La finance verte, c'est important!

Kenya M-SAWA

This blog was originally posted in English. Read the original here.

La finance verte, c'est important! Les températures battent des records de chaleur dans le monde entier. En fait, les températures de surface de la Terre en 2017 se classaient au deuxième rang des températures les plus chaudes depuis 1880, selon une analyse de la NASA. Lorsque les températures augmentent, la glace fond et l'eau des glaciers et des calottes glaciaires s'écoule vers les mers. Lorsque l'eau de mer se réchauffe, elle augmente en volume et, par conséquent, le niveau de la mer augmente. Les mers plus chaudes amènent également plus de précipitations, et l'élévation du niveau de la mer est plus susceptible de rendre les tempêtes côtières, y compris les ouragans, plus dommageables. [1] Ce n'est pas une coïncidence que les ouragans qui se produisent dans certaines régions, y compris dans l’océan Atlantique nord, se soient intensifiés au cours des deux ou trois dernières décennies.

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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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How business support helps emerging-market enterprises reach lower-income customers



Beyond Aid is a series from MEDA and ImpactAlpha exploring new tools for sustainable development. 

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Impossible or incredible? MEDA's rolling baseline methodology


Imagine starting a business with the mandate of having 20,000 customers within the first week. Sounds incredible, right?

Customer bases build over time through advertising, word of mouth, new partnerships, and sometimes expansion into new product lines or geographies. It makes good business sense to start small, test a business model, and improve it as you expand.

MEDA approaches business development the same way.

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Harmony Myanmar Agro Group: in tune with the land

Myanmar Kayin State

In Myanmar’s Kayin State, much of the fresh produce comes from neighbouring Thailand where it is grown on large farms and chemicals are applied without restraint. Until recently, people in Myanmar knew little about the potential health risks from ingesting harmful pesticides and herbicides, but times are changing and vegetable customers in Myanmar are increasingly connected and informed. As they become aware, there is more demand for locally-grown, chemical-less (or when it’s available, chemical-free) produce.

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Evolution of Data Tools: YouLead’s Journey with Data Collection

data collection mobile phoneMEDA Staff conducting an interview using iFormBuilder on her smartphone

MEDA constantly encourages its staff and clients to seek innovative technologies that can not only save time and resources but also provide new information for improved programming and livelihoods. MEDA’s staff strives to be leaders in economic development by learning and adopting the latest tools, technologies, and frameworks to ensure success. Many of MEDA’s projects utilize a wide suite of innovative tools that assist our teams to be proficient problem solvers and well-organized data collectors. One example of efficient data collection can be seen with the YouLead project, implemented by Cuso International and MEDA. Youth Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Access and Development (YouLead) has a mandate to empower the lives of youth in Nigeria’s Cross River State, and one activity for better financial inclusion for youth is the Youth Entrepreneurship Business Support Plan (YEBSP) grants.

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How to host a world night (or is that Rain?) market

It was a beautiful evening, the quintessential kickoff to summer: clear skies, light breeze, and just hot enough that the 5,000+ people at MEDA’s first-ever outdoor World Night Market were excited for ice cream, lemonade, and tea.

Drums echoed from the stage, lines snaked endlessly from food truck to food truck, and hanging lanterns shimmered as dusk settled over Lancaster, Pa.

That was 2017.

Fast-forward a year, and two-time World Night Market Committee Chair, Laura Bomberger, found herself facing a rather different set of circumstances.

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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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Inviting women to the table and men to the conversation - a conversation with Lydia Ameh

Nigeria WAY
Lydia Ameh, Gender Coordinator for Nigeria WAY

According to UNICEF in 2017, 17% of girls in Nigeria are married by the age of 15 and 44% are married by 18. MEDA's current project in the Bauchi State of Nigeria works to combat this statistic by focusing on women and youth (WAY) empowerment through economic independence. The project also works to raise awareness of the social restrictions that women face under patriarchy in Bauchi, specifically pertaining to Early and Forced Child Marriage.

Culture and traditions in many regions of developing countries, such as Bauchi State, have heavy patriarchal influence. In many situations, young women and girls do not have many options other than early marriage. In Bauchi, if they are not married by 14, they are placed in precarious social positions to make money, such as hawking. Hawking is a term for selling goods on the street, often resulting in the vulnerability of young girls to sexual harassment and unwanted pregnancies.

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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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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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Greening Microfinance Banks in Nigeria: Environmental Sustainability Plans (ESPs)

Trees and coinsAs the global population continues to recognize the negative implications humans have inflicted on our environment, organizations such as MEDA remain committed to environmental sustainability. The YouLead (Youth Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Access and Development) project is just one of MEDA’s many projects with crucial environmental objectives. MEDA and Cuso International are partners for better financial inclusion for youth on this project. YouLead has a mandate to promote economic growth by increasing the number of green income opportunities for youth in Cross River State, Nigeria.

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The Book Business: How to measure market performance?

Ethiopian girls reading

Confession time: sometimes I buy books on Amazon.

I like the convenience of it.

While there is nearly nothing as delightful as perusing the bookshop aisle, daily demands sometimes dictate a few taps on my phone over finding the nearest Chapters or independent bookstore.

What does this mean for the book business?

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From Communications to Catfish - A Cycle 3 Update

YouLead Cycle 3 1In May 2018, MEDA and Cuso International finalized another successful cycle of the Youth Entrepreneurship Business Support Plan (YEBSP) as part of the YouLead (Youth Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Access and Development) project. YouLead aims to reduce youth unemployment by promoting entrepreneurship and sustainable economic development in the natural resource sectors in Cross River State, Nigeria (to learn more about the YEBSP grants and previous cycles, visit this blog).

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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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Building peace through entrepreneurship

Soy flower

There are more similarities between farming and selling books than you might think.

Entrepreneurs all over the world are providing for their families and communities as they design, launch and run their businesses. With dedication and passion for their work, they build capacity, instill agency and create a robust economy.

This happens all over the world every day.


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Respecting the environment isn’t just good for our planet, it’s good for business


In Canada, summer will soon be upon us. As temperatures rise, over 55% of households across Canada will turn on their air conditioners.

Between 1928 and 2010, the most common coolant in our air conditioners and fridges was Freon, a refrigerant comprised of chlorine, fluorine and carbon – or chlorofluorocarbon (CFC). Although Freon was most commonly used in refrigeration, it was also widely used in aerosol-spray containers. Due to its negative impact on the earth's ozone layer, the Canadian government began to phase it out in 2010. 

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MEDA launches innovation fund in Myanmar

Myanmar farmer

Myanmar is a country in transition. After emerging from decades of relative isolation, Myanmar is becoming an important economic actor in Southeast Asia.

With funding from Canada and MCIC (Manitoba Council for International Cooperation), MEDA (Mennonite Economic Development Associates) is implementing a five-year project in Myanmar aimed at increasing women’s participation in the country’s evolving economy and becoming active, respected and empowered economic actors and leaders.

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