FAQs

We're here to help! Browse our answers to frequently asked questions.

MEDA – Mennonite Economic Development Associates – is an international economic development organization whose mission is to create business solutions to poverty.

We alleviate poverty by creating sustainable livelihoods for women and men, measured by income, improved processes, increased knowledge and the creation of more jobs.

Our methods have been proven time after time over our 65 years of experience. We’ve worked in 62 countries helping 103 million families, creating jobs for people, improved access to suppliers and customers resulting in broad impact on entire industries such as agriculture, tourism and food processing.

We believe that all people deserve the opportunity to earn a livelihood and that unleashing entrepreneurship is a powerful way to alleviate poverty.

MEDA was founded in 1953 by a group of Mennonite entrepreneurs, we partner with people living in poverty to start or grow small and medium-sized businesses in developing regions around the world.

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.

MEDA was founded in 1953 by a group of Mennonite entrepreneurs, we partner with people living in poverty to start or grow small and medium-sized businesses in developing regions around the world.

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.

MEDA’s mission is to create business solutions to poverty. Our vision is that all people may unleash their God-given potential to earn a livelihood, provide for families and enrich communities. This is achieved through mutual values:

  • Collaboration: We value inclusive and diverse partnerships regardless of income, gender, race, class, ethnicity, nationality or religion. We build relationships of trust and peace.
  • Accountability: We manage human, financial and environmental resources with care and integrity.
  • Respect: We treat clients, colleagues and partners with respect and dignity.
  • Entrepreneurship: We seek sustainable innovation. We promote justice by partnering with entrepreneurial people experiencing poverty to attain business success.

Yes! Currently, the MEDA Network has many different hubs across North America, and you can find the list here (link). If you are looking to start a hub in your area, check out our toolkit (link) to learn ways to get started.

Typically, hubs are made up of a committee of volunteers in the community, who work together to plan, strategize, and host events and ways to get engaged with MEDA locally. Typically, hubs have one or two leaders and a treasure, and meet throughout the year to coordinate efforts to engage other volunteers in the planning and the community in participating in the initiatives you come up with!

Hubs look very different depending on the preferences of the group that starts them. If you’re not sure where to start, email events@meda.org to start a conversation and ask your questions!

Starting a hub can be a great way to:

  1. Learn more about and stay engaged with MEDA’s work,
  2. Create a space for like-minded individuals to gather and get involved in the local/global community
  3. Get to know others in your community interested in “business for good”.

In creating a hub, you are putting your values into a action with a commitment to involving others in your efforts. Learn more about starting a hub with our toolkit (link) or email events@meda.org for more information.

When you participate in a hub committee or attend hub events, you

  1. Help to raise awareness about MEDA’s work and poverty around the globe;
  2. Learn about efforts to incorporate your values into your professional life;
  3. Meet and build relationships with other like-minded individuals, who are passionate about social justice, equality, entrepreneurship, and business not as usual.

Whether it’s a bake sale, book club, or an annual gala, there is sure to something that speaks to your passion for MEDA’s work and fits your interests! Looking for ideas? Email Liz at lmiller@meda.org. Our staff can help you formulate ideas, send you resources about our projects around the globe and activity suggestions!