MEDA Partners with Global Affairs Canada on six-year economic development project in the Philippines

August 12th, 2021, Waterloo, ON- Today, MEDA, with funding support from Global Affairs Canada, is launching its first project in the Philippines. Resilience and Inclusion through Investment for Sustainable Agrikultura (RIISA) is a 5-year project in the cacao sector of the Philippines, specifically in Mindanao and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). This project seeks to build more gender-inclusive, sustainable livelihoods and profitable agri-businesses by supporting 35,000 women and men small-scale farmers as well as cooperatives and associations, and public institutions in the cacao sector.


RIISA will engage, establish partnerships, and provide technical support for diverse actors in the agri-food market system. It will also include an assessment process that considers the needs of project stakeholders and incorporates an environment and gender equality focus. The insights from this assessment process will further support RIISA clients.

Mindanao and the BARMM experience the highest rates of poverty in the Philippines and are continuing to grapple with the economic downturn experienced due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which negatively impacted exports, tourism, and remittances, and disrupted agricultural supply chains.


Yet, despite the challenges, the region also presents great economic opportunities, especially in Mindanao cacao sector. This thriving sector produces 80% of the country’s cacao. By strengthening the ability of small-scale farmers and small business to create and sustain decent livelihoods and work, it will further contribute to fulfilling MEDA’s ten-year goal, embodied in its “Toward an Equal World” Strategic Plan to create decent work for 500,000 people in the agri-food market system. MEDA’s goal is also fully aligned with the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goal #8: Decent work and Economic Growth.


“As COVID-19 continues to impact every country of the world, projects like RIISA are critical to ensuring that women and men smallholder farmers and small businesses in the Philippines can recover, create and sustain inclusive and environmentally sustainable economic growth.”

Catherine Sobrevega, Country Director for Philippines, RIISA project

Project quick facts:

  • Funder: Global Affairs Canada

Project Length: 2021- 2026

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