MEDA releases key insights from its seven-year project in Kenya

Above: M-SAWA clients preparing their chili products for Lead firm, Equator Ltd.

Waterloo, ON– Today, MEDA released its Maendaleo Sawa (M-SAWA) project learning series. This learning series contains valuable insights from the M-SAWA project, which ran for seven years in Kenya, concluding in the latter half of 2022. M-SAWA aimed to increase the prosperity of 290 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and 20,000 small entrepreneurs (SEs) in 20 counties by providing access to finance, technical assistance, and matching grants to build thriving farms and businesses.

Since 2015, MEDA has partnered with Global Affairs Canada (GAC) to provide decent work opportunities for women and men farmers and micro and small entrepreneurs, ultimately exceeding its targets and reaching more than 54,000 SEs (54% women) and 716 SMEs.

M-SAWA provided:

  • Matching grants for SMEs selected as lead firms to support thousands of SEs in their supply/distribution chains
  • Business development service grants for SMEs and matching grants for business associations to support their SME members
  • Access to growth capital for businesses
  • Training for businesses to fulfill environmental and gender requirements for international markets
  • Access to more efficient technologies so women can participate in the workforce and engage in their domestic household responsibilities

The M-SAWA project is an important part of MEDA’s strategy to create 100,000 decent work opportunities for farmers and entrepreneurs in East Africa over the next three to five years. It will also play an important role in fulfilling MEDA’s long-term strategy to create or sustain decent work for half a million people by 2030. Overall, through the M-SAWA project and by working with the private sector and policymakers in the government to strengthen the enabling environment, MEDA can support long-term systemic change. MEDA looks forward to continuing to work in Kenya with GAC and applying learnings from M-SAWA through the recently launched Leveraging Equality for Gender-Inclusive Economic Development (LEGEND) program.

The M-SAWA Learning Series follows the release of MEDA’s past learning series projects, such as the Agricultural Transformation Through Stronger Vocational Education (ATTSVE), Improving Market Opportunities for Women (IMOW), The Strengthening Small Business Value Chains (SSBVC), and the Greater Rural Opportunities for Women in Ghana (GROW). These learning series highlighted key insights from their projects that can aid current and future international development practitioners in the agrifood market system sector.

“Agriculture remains the backbone of economic growth, especially for countries from the African continent. Strengthening the systems that support small-scale farmers and businesses, from lead firms to policymakers, will enable these farmers and businesspeople to adapt to large-scale shocks, such as climate change and future pandemics. Building resiliency is key for these businesses and farmers to deliver value and prosperity for themselves, their families, and their communities. I’d like to give my sincere thanks to Global Affairs Canada not only for their financial support but for their expertise as a development partner. Their support was truly invaluable in delivering the services and resources that made M-SAWA a success.”

– Helal Ahsan-Ul-Haque, Senior Regional Director, Eastern, Southern, and Central Africa (ESCA) Programs MEDA

Project quick facts

Funder: Global Affairs Canada
Partners: Lundin Foundation, Business Partners International
Project Length: 2015-2022

M-SAWA Key Learning series areas include:

  1. Best practices and lessons learned in delivery of Business Development Services (BDS)
  2. Collaboration between Business Associations and Lead Firms
  3. The impact of COVID-19 on SMEs and Lead Firms
  4. The impact of Technology Adoption Grants (TAGs)
  5. Access to Finance for Women-led SMEs
  6. Business Case for Gender Equality Mainstreaming (GEM)
  7. Use of Environmental Action Plans (EAPs) with SME Partners
  8. Impact of Environmental Sustainability Grants (ESGs)
  9. Promoting Investment in the SME sector in Kenya

M-SAWA project achievements:

  • Lead Firm grants awarded to 25 SMEs to support SEs within their supply/distribution chains
  • Over 54,000 SEs (54% women) supported for decent work opportunities
  • Business development services support and technical assistance for 314 SMEs (177 women)12 SME alliance/association grants awarded (7 of them being women-led)
  • 144 SMEs linked to third-party financing (130 being women-led)
  • Matching grants for 12 business associations (four women) to support their SME members
  • 43 SMEs (13 women) assisted to access investment capital through PEI funds

MEDA’s M-SAWA Learning Series shares best practices and learnings from our partnerships and programming in Kenya, amplifying the voices and perceptions of our clients. Read more or watch the promo video.



  • MEDA (Mennonite Economic Development Associates)

    MEDA is an international economic development organization that creates business solutions to poverty. We work in agri-food market systems, focusing primarily on women and youth in rural communities in the Global South. Our success is measured by income, improved processes, increased knowledge, and the creation of decent work.

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