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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How do you measure happiness? We find the answer in Ukraine.


What is happiness?

Is it a feeling? A choice?

What brings people happiness?

These are questions that inspired MEDA’s Ukrainian Horticulture Business Project (UHBDP) team to create a happiness survey for their clients.

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Nigeria WAY digs into Earth Day

Earth Day

When you think of plastic, what springs to mind?

A plastic water bottle?


A toy?

Since its inception in 1907, plastic has become an international phenomenon with increasing global ramifications.

This year, Earth Day is a call to action to end plastic pollution. Our consumption of plastics is poisoning our oceans and land – injuring marine life and affecting the health of our communities.

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Green Finance, why it matters.

Kenya Green Microfinance

Temperatures are breaking records around the world. In fact, Earth’s global surface temperatures in 2017 ranked as the second warmest since 1880, according to an analysis by NASA. When temperatures rise, ice melts and water from glaciers and ice caps flows to the seas. When ocean water warms, it expands in volume and, consequently, sea level rises. Warmer seas also mean more precipitation, and sea level rise is more likely to make future coastal storms, including hurricanes, more damaging. [1] It is no coincidence that hurricanes occurring in some regions including the North Atlantic have increased in intensity over the past two to three decades.

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Canadian government commits over $873M for blended finance initiatives. Here’s why that’s good news for MEDA.


According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, it will take between $5 - $7 trillion US. On their own, current levels of Official Development Assistance are not enough, resulting in an investment gap in developing countries of about $2.5 trillion.

That’s a challenge. But MEDA, in partnership with Global Affairs Canada, is tackling this issue head on through blended finance.

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MEDA launches GEM Framework to empower women through business growth and impact

Gender Equality Mainstreaming Framework

Women are key drivers of economic growth, engaging in business as consumers, employees, leaders, suppliers and community stakeholders. Yet, women are frequently overlooked and underrepresented in the private sector throughout the world. 2017 marked the first year that the Global Gender Gap – an index measuring 144 countries’ gender disparity in health, education, politics and the workplace – worsened since its inception in 2006 (WEF). Recent events like the #MeToo campaign signal a sea of change for the world, including the corporate sphere. This is good news, since $28 trillion could be added to annual global GDP by 2025 if women participated in the economy at the same level as men (McKinsey, 2015). Businesses and investors who seek to understand and respond to the barriers women face will be rewarded – both in terms of growth and impact. 

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All hands on deck for international social enterprise

HITCH deployment Nigeria

Uche Onuora is the Co-Founder of HITCH, a start-up out of Velocity, a leading entrepreneurship program at the University of Waterloo. HITCH has developed technology to provide internet services in rural Africa, where broadband data is increadibly expensive. MEDA is excited about this emerging technology and the opportunity to explore its use in upcoming projects. 

To a casual observer skimming news headlines it may appear that the world is heading in the wrong direction. But look deeper and you will see that humanity is on the precipice of achieving something unprecedented: the elimination of extreme poverty in the next two decades.

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International Women’s Day: Bauchi women leaders #PressForProgress

Nigerian muslim girls

To mark International Women’s Day 2018, MEDA is highlighting important issues and voices around women’s economic empowerment and gender equality in the area of economic development. This is the fifth in our “Press for Progress” blog series celebrating the power of women entrepreneurs and their partners around the world.

At MEDA, we are proud to hire local staff in our offices around the world. Our Nigeria office is no exception.

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International Women's Day in Myanmar

myanmar1To mark International Women’s Day 2018, MEDA is highlighting important issues and voices around women’s economic empowerment and gender equality in the area of economic development. This is the fourth in our “Press for Progress” blog series celebrating the power of women entrepreneurs and their partners around the world.

This is an important day for me, my first time to celebrate International Women’s Day in Myanmar since I came in June 2017. I have been in development work for more than 25 years and been working on women-focused development projects in different countries – from Philippines, Bosnia, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Ghana and now here in Myanmar.

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Discussing gender equality with families and communities: MEDA’s Male Gender Activists

Ghana, women empowerment

To mark International Women’s Day 2018, MEDA is highlighting important issues and voices around women’s economic empowerment and gender equality in the area of economic development. This is the third in our “Press for Progress” blog series celebrating the power of women entrepreneurs and their partners around the world.

Globally, gender inequality remains one of the fundamental challenges of the 21st century. Despite awareness about the importance of women empowerment growing globally, women are still economically, socially and politically routinely disenfranchised. Even though women often become the main or sole supporter of their households, men continue to dominate decisions at the household level which has caused increased poverty and lack of independence for women.

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#PressForProgress: how one young woman is challenging norms in her village

International Women's Day #IWD2018

To mark International Women’s Day 2018, MEDA is highlighting important issues and voices around women’s economic empowerment and gender equality in the area of economic development. This is the second in our “Press for Progress” blog series celebrating the power of women entrepreneurs and their partners around the world.

International Women’s Day is an occasion to celebrate the achievements of remarkable young women, women like Mebrehit Hagos. Mebrehit is one of the recipients of the first round of grants provided to graduating agricultural students in in Ethiopia to start their own businesses. This program is being implemented by MEDA and Dalhousie University through the Agricultural Transformation Through Stronger Vocational Education (ATTSVE) project. The project, funded by the government of Canada, is intended to better prepare graduates from 4 selected agricultural colleges across the country to gain employment after graduation, including self-employment through entrepreneurship. The grant program is a key part of the project’s strategy to support Ethiopia’s budding young entrepreneurs.

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