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Helping businesses and farmers face the pandemic
As the novel coronavirus COVID-19 spreads around the globe, we all worry about the terrible impact the stealthy virus is wreaking upon the economy. MEDA’s work in market systems and supporting entrepreneurs around the world will help businesses weather the storm.
Supporting our clients is key in the face of this pandemic. One study out of China recently found that two thirds of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) would not survive beyond three months, without a return to business. What might MEDA, an organization that creates business solutions to poverty, be able to achieve in the face of one of the world’s greatest health challenges?
One example comes from Ghana, where MEDA works with 36 SMEs to promote a sustainable supply chain of quality tree crop seedlings. With the Farmers Economic Advancement Through Seedlings (FEATS) Project, we work with cashew and rubber nurseries to promote better quality trees, which will speed up and improve the resulting cashew nuts and latex, both prized commodities these days.
MEDA Ghana is supporting the response to the pandemic in that country in both the private sector and with farmers.
Here are just a couple ways MEDA is doing this:
- Radio messaging. MEDA is concerned about the safety of farmers in the light of COVID-19. The FEATS project broadcasts messages about how best to plant quality seedlings and where to get them. Now, FEATS has engaged all its partner radio stations to include in the live presenter mentions, a message on COVID-19 and how farmers can stay safe as they work on their farms. Certainly the season will slow as trade and labour are reduced in Ghana and worldwide.
- Mobile monitoring of partners. MEDA provides matching grants to SMEs, who are incentivized to invest in their nurseries with things like shade netting, bore holes, and business development training. As we continue to work with the private sector during this time, we are connecting weekly with partners to first check in on their health, the welfare of their employees, and only then their sales and production. Continuing to build trust with our enterprises is important for the relationship in these turbulent times. We use technology, namely mobile phones and offline data collection tool to aggregate this data and publish it. This will help us and our clients understand the effects of the pandemic as they shift into survival mode.
Check out the screen shot so far:
For now, MEDA is monitoring the situation in Ghana and across the world, and we will continue to adapt and innovate as the situation unfolds. What is clear is that governments, development organizations, and the private sector need to work together for resilient and sustainable economies across the world.