MEDA Blog

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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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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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.

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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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10 Reasons to support MEDA

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  1. We’re sustainable. We believe the best way to help the poor is by developing local institutions and businesses that have, as their goal, becoming independent of North American help. In other words, we don’t want our projects to depend on perpetual handouts from us for survival. MEDA’s goal is to start projects, nurture them as programs and then “graduate” them to become independent businesses that no longer need us. Like proud parents, we take satisfaction in the growth and independent businesses in places like Ethiopia, Ukraine, Tanzania, Kenya, Nicaragua and many other countries.
  2. We affirm the dignity and self-worth of people. Aid can erode agency and promote dependency. By creating opportunities where people can support themselves, a sense of personal agency and ownership is restored. They aren’t getting handouts – they’re working to help themselves and support their families. They aren’t aid recipients – they are our clients. It’s a business relationship, not a relationship built on charity.
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MEDA Business as a Calling Convention 2017

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What was the best part of convention?

“Sharing our stories and seeing God’s work through his people in so many ways.”

“The presentations were stellar.”

“Variety of seminars! So hard to choose one!”

“Being with like-minded people all focused on the same goal of supporting MEDA and business solutions to poverty.”

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Convention 2017 - Building Bridges to Enduring Livelihoods

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Vancouver.

Considered one of the top five worldwide cities for livability and quality of life, this bustling city on the Pacific coast is an exciting place to host our #MEDACon2017. This fall, MEDA is hosting Business as a Calling: Building Bridges to Enduring Livelihoods. What could be better than world-renowned speakers, fine dining, tours of local businesses and times for networking with emerging and seasoned leaders alike?

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Samantha Nutt: doctor, humanitarian & author

SamNuttEditIn this TEDtalk, Dr. Samantha Nutt, founder of the international humanitarian organization War Child, explores the global arms trade -- and suggests a bold, common sense solution for ending the cycle of violence. "War is ours," she says. "We buy it, sell it, spread it and wage it. We are therefore not powerless to solve it."

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MEDA on the move!

MEDA is on the move. With projects in 60 countries around the world building on partnerships with hundreds of local leaders and businesses, there is no shortage of MEDA momentum as staff strive to alleviate poverty through savvy business solutions.

The flurry of activity is not limited to seemingly far-away corners of the world.

MEDA supporters in the United States and Canada interact with MEDA’s mission through an increasingly diverse lineup of year-round events utilizing local leadership.

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#MEDACon16: A Convention to Remember

MEDA’s 2016 Convention, Business as a Calling: Women Changing the World, wrapped up just about two weeks ago. We’re not over the excitement quite yet, so we’re sharing some of our favorite moments from #MEDACon16 with you!
UnknownMEDA supporters take a river barge through downtown San Antonio
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Convention 2016 - You're not gonna want to miss this.



Everything is bigger in Texas – including this year’s convention! This fall, MEDA is hosting Business as a Calling: Women Changing the World. What could be bigger than world-renowned speakers, fine dining, tours of cutting edge businesses and times for networking with emerging and seasoned leaders alike? Nothing of course!While the seasons are changing at home, jump back in time with us to sunshine and warm weather as you bask in the history, music and culture of San Antonio. The city’s famous Riverwalk and historic sites provide a premier backdrop for the festivities to come.

Among these festivities are a group of world-renowned speakers, women who will share about emerging topics at the intersection of faith and business. This year, we are ecstatic to hear from Leymah Gbowee, 2011 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Sara Wenger Shenk, Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary president and Sally Armstrong, winner of three Amnesty International Canada Media Awards.

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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.
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5 Reasons San Antonio is probably the coolest place to be this October

We hope you'll join us for Business as a Calling 2016: Women Changing the World in San Antonio, Texas, October 27-30! If you're on the fence about coming to the MEDA Convention this year, here are five reaons why San Antonio is the coolest place to be this October.

1. The Weather

San Antonio is one of the southern-most cities in the continental United States. That means warm (ok, HOT) weather year-round. But there’s good news! In October, the average temperature in San Antonio ranges between 60 – 80 degrees Fahrenheit or 15 – 27 degrees Celsius. For many, that’s the “Goldilocks zone:” Not too hot, not too cold, but just right.

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Announcing: 10 Young Women Changing the World

Over the last two years MEDA’s 20 under 35: Young Professionals Changing the World Initiative has recognized 40 young professionals under the age of 35 for their demonstrated commitment to faith, service and an entrepreneurial spirit. We've had the opportunity to honor people like Chris Steingart, a web designer from Kitchener, ON, who finds his foundation for business in Mennonite faith values. Economist Kaylie Tiessen was recognized in 2015 for her dedication to improving lives through economic justice and growth.

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My Story

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I have just graduated from American University with a Master in International Development at American University. I did my freshmen year of college in Dakar, Senegal and at the time, my major was undecided. In others words, I knew I wanted to study in the international field but I did not know what exactly. I decided to study in development because at an early age, I was exposed to the field as a result of my mothers’ professional career as a human right’s activist. Without a doubt, my mother’s career was my true inspiration. In fact, hearing stories about places like Darfur, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and many other African countries in crisis, made me realize that this is what I wanted to do. I want to contribute to the economical, political and social development of developing countries like my home country, Burkina Faso. I transferred to Suffolk University in Boston in 2006 for my sophomore year and despite some initials struggles with English language, I caught up really fast. After one year in at Suffolk University I decided to relocate to La Roche in Pittsburgh, a smaller city and smaller educational environment where I could focus more on my studies. After my graduation in May 2009, I thought getting a job would be easy, but reality taught me otherwise. In fact, finding an internship or a job is not simple. However, during my program at American University, I had the opportunity to intern with two great two great organizations but I was still looking for an internship that would tie everything together and put me in a position where I could really use what I have learned in the last two. MEDA’s Project Coordinator internship came at the right time. I have been with MEDA for just a month and I am already impressed. Unlike many internships where you are just sitting by the copy machine, I get to work on ongoing projects and attend staff meetings. Right now, I’m working on developing and updating MEDA’s entrepreneurship toolkit for the financial services. I have learned so much already and I am looking forward to the rest of my experience with MEDA.

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Top 15 Things You Observe Moving to the Big City

1) Your life is run by rush hour and traffic

2) Use Crosswalks

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The Void

“The Void”- That’s the term my sister uses to describe the time of life that I am in. ”The Void” is this tricky time right after you graduate college and suddenly your future is completely open. It is an exciting time and a scarey time. It is also a time of questions, question like:What do I really want to do with my life? Where do I want to live? Do I move to be near friends or a job? Now wait, what are my life values? How do these values shape how I live and work? What am I really passionate about? How do I even go about finding a job? How do I afford to pay off my debt and still manage to eat? How do I find a place to live and people to live with? What should I be pursuing? How do I figure this all out? How do I weigh the decisions between my dreams of adventure and what reality presents me with?My journey hasn’t been easy. Its been invigorating at times and quite dark at times. It feels like I am in the middle of the ocean struggling just to stay above water. But, even if I manged to get above the waves, I would still be lost in the open ocean.All that to say, this MEDA internship is a lifeboat in the open ocean of life. It is a chance to explore and define my interests and passions. It is an opportunity to learn from my co-workers and the projects they are involved. It is a chance to work for something greater than myself. And that, in and of itself, is truely life giving. Thank you MEDA.

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