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.

In February of 2018, the Canadian government announced the 2018 Canadian Budget which allocated $873M for innovative financing purposes over the next five years, and $291M per year thereafter. Blended finance – the use of public funds to mobilize private investment – is one of the key approaches that falls under innovative financing, and MEDA looks forward to the opportunity to further our blended finance partnerships with the Government of Canada and contribute to the achievement of the SDGs.

MEDA’s History with Blended Finance

Since 1953, when a group of business people formed a private investment company to invest in the Sarona Dairy in Paraguay – for both financial returns and social impact – MEDA has been on the path to becoming one of the trailblazers in impact investing and blended finance.

Over time, the original private investment company grew into an international economic development organization called MEDA, or Mennonite Economic Development Associates. In 2010, Sarona Asset Management spun out of MEDA through a management buy-out, to become a privately owned, independent investment firm. This decision was driven by the desire to build a more scalable business.

Sarona Asset Management

Today, Sarona is an institutional-quality investment firm with its management team’s interests fully aligned to that of its investors, and with MEDA retaining a 10% stake in the company. The objective however remains the same: to deliver capital to entrepreneurs in under-served markets and help them develop their companies and their communities profitably and sustainably.

Why the private sector?

According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the SDGs present a significant opportunity for the private sector to work alongside the public sector in order to mobilize more resources to end extreme poverty and mitigate the effects of climate change.

Through strong collaboration with public and private actors such as Global Affairs Canada and Sarona Asset Management, MEDA’s blended finance programs leverage development finance to mobilize private capital for SME growth and provide technical assistance to enhance investment impact for the benefit of small-scale suppliers including smallholder farmers, unskilled and skilled workers and bottom of the pyramid consumers.

MEDA’s GEM Framework

Further enhancing our blended finance programming is MEDA’s newly launched Gender Equality Mainstreaming Framework (GEM) – a practical toolkit to advance gender inclusion in companies while supporting business growth and impact.

The GEM Framework is a practical manual and toolkit targeted at investors and capacity builders for assessing gender equality, and identifying, implementing and measuring gender equality mainstreaming strategies within companies. The framework builds upon the environmental, social and governance (ESG) investment standard by mainstreaming gender across the ESG criteria, with the ultimate goal of transforming companies to be more gender equitable while supporting business growth and impact.

Women are the 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.

At MEDA, we are working to change that through our GEM Framework. By bringing awareness to gender inequality in companies, we open the door to dialogue, accountability and change.

See how your company measures up at


Government of Canada. (2018). Budget 2018: Chapter 4 – Advancement. Ottawa, ON. Retrieved from

Niculescu, M. (2017, July). Impact investment to close the SDG funding gap. United Nations Development Programme. Retrieved from

OECD (2018 January 29). Making blended finance work for the Sustainable Development Goals. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Retrieved from

Sarona (n.d.). Why small to mid-market companies? Retrieved from

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