Gender-based violence and #AidToo: A time for reckoning and action in the development sector

Kenya Equator

To mark Canada's first Gender Equality Week 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 instalment of our #EveryoneBenefits blog series. 

On the final day of Canada’s inaugural Gender Equality Week comes a topic that has received a great deal of media attention in 2018: Gender-based violence and the prevalence of sexual assault and harassment in the aid industry. Springing from the #MeToo movement - where a number of high-profile celebrities and public figures were thrust into the spotlight, their indiscretions exposed running the gamut from sexual harassment to sexual assault - came #AidToo. #AidToo was a discussion that developed from the Oxfam GB scandal [1]. Consequently, a space for dialogue has opened in the aid industry, meriting an in-depth examination of the effects of gender-based violence both in the communities we work within and within our industry.

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10 Facts & Figures: Economic Empowerment

Kenya - #EveryoneBenefits

To mark Canada's first Gender Equality Week 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 installment of our #EveryoneBenefits blog series. This is list is sourced from UN Women's Facts and Figures: Economic Empowerment page.

  1. When more women work, economies grow. An increase in female labour force participation—or a reduction in the gap between women’s and men’s labour force participation—results in faster economic growth.

  2. Evidence from a range of countries shows that increasing the share of household income controlled by women, either through their own earnings or cash transfers, changes spending in ways that benefit children and communities
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A conversation with my son: Early marriage in Jordan

Jordan - child marriage conversation

To mark Canada's first Gender Equality Week 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 first installment of our #EveryoneBenefits blog series. This is a conversation between one of our Jordan staff members and her son on the topic of child marriage. 

On a Saturday night, I was reading the National Report on Early Marriage Status in Jordan, going through all the surprising statistics made me so sad. Just like other kids, my 10 years old son – Obada - tends to rush through dinner as he usually can’t wait to get back to “hot wheels cars”. But looking at my sad face this time he stuck around to know what makes me feel depressed. When he asked I thought to listen to his opinion, his perspective and thinking about early marriage.

So, we had the following conversation:

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Dar es Salaam – a city of hospitality & entrepreneurship

Tanzania - SSBVC project

Moving across the world to a new city has been both an overwhelming and rewarding experience. As I settle into a new routine and learn to navigate a new city, I reflect on the people and experiences I have had thus far.

Let’s just say, it’s been amazing!

I arrived in Dar late on a Wednesday evening. The next morning, I arrived at the office to meet staff and receive orientation and training on MEDA’s SSBVC project.

SSBVC stands for Strengthening Small Business Value Chains (Kuza Biashara Sawia) project. This project aims to contribute to Tanzania’s economic growth and increase job creation by sustainably improving the business performance of small, growing businesses (SGBs) and small entrepreneurs.

You may be asking, how is MEDA involved in this process?

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"I missed this energy. It was nice to be back."


The first month of my internship with MEDA has served as a great reminder of the vast contrasts the world contains.

In 2012, I immigrated from Kenya to Canada, and for the past six years, I have called Canada home. These years have been filled with wonderful experiences and I quickly became accustomed to the “Western lifestyle”.

Here in Mwanza, Tanzania I am reminded of my childhood. The atmosphere is very different than I am accustomed to – even as a child of Nairobi. The drive from the airport to my residence was a trip down memory lane as I watched the boda-bodas (motorcycles used to transport people and goods) weave through traffic. As I whizzed through Mwanza in the night, I saw street-sellers hawking their wares. I reflected on how entrepreneurship is interwoven into the very fabric of all societies around the world. The hustle of entrepreneurs in cities like Mwanza make the world turn.

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Our Gender Outcome Mapping Journey: Now we count them…

gender meeting jordan menGender Outcome Mapping exercise held in Jordan, as part of the JVL project. Recently, I traveled to Um Qais (North Jordan) to conduct focus group discussions as part of a Gender Outcome Mapping1 pilot, implemented by the Jordan Valley Links (JVL) project. Preparing for the trip, I mentally prepared myself for the potential responses and reactions that my colleague and I would receive to the question: “What is an empowered woman?”

As it turns out, that can be even more complex than we imagined.

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Let us introduce you to our new interns!

 InternsFrom left to right: Rameesha, Davies, Chrissy and Rilian

At MEDA, we believe in the next generation of development professionals. That's why we invest in their careers and help them to gain practical, hands-on international experience that compliments the skills they have learned through their education. 

Let us introduce you to these four amazing people!

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Does kindness matter over time?

GrammaMy grandma and I with my favourite dump truck. I remember the seashell below the table, and her many plants and doilies. She also had great fuzzy slippers.


I wish you could have met my godmother.

I call her grandma as I have known her all my life. She was a stout German lady with kind eyes and hugs. She would give me ’S’ shaped shortbread cookies (my initials are 'SS'), a funny card, and a dollar for every year I was old on my birthday. She was all the things I dream a grandma should be.

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MEDAx Trailblazer: Get to know Corine Graber-Alvarez

niles gallery images 5

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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