MEDA's origins are rooted in the aftermath of the second World War when thousands of Russian Mennonites fled as refugees to the country of Paraguay. There, they established strong communities that were grounded in peace, justice and entrepreneurship. Many of the people that fled violence in Russia were skilled craftspeople and capable farmers and were eager to set up their own businesses, but they lacked financial capital, and key resources.
Mennonite Economic Development Associates was born out of the need to provide small businesses with capital, business training, microloans and investment. That's what we continue to do today.
In 1969, the founders of MEDA moved their services and expertise to countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The members realized that other communities around the world were struggling with some of the same challenges the Mennonite refugees faced in Paraguay - lack of access to finance, credit, business training and investment. As businessmen, they understood that it was not lack of will, rather, it was lack of access to knowledge, skills and capital. They realized that they could be part of the solution and help people raise themselves out of poverty by supporting small businesses all over the world. This new awareness inspired a new mission and vision - to create business solutions to poverty.