MEDA Technical Director, Jessica Villanueva, spoke at Innovative Finance Conference to explore more sustainable ways of funding projects in the international development sector

Waterloo, ON– On September 16th, MEDA’s Senior Director, Technical Areas of Practice, Jessica Villanueva, participated as a panel speaker at the Innovative Financing for International Development Panel. This panel was a part of the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation Conference 2022 “Trailblazing new paths to inclusive development” event from September 16th-17th, 2022.

The panelists for the event included Serge Levert-Chiasson of Sarona Asset Management, Susan Spronk from the School of International Development and Global Studies, University of Ottawa, and Cam Do, from Climate Finance, Global Affairs Canada. Christina MacIsaac, Director of Innovation of The Fund for Innovation and Transformation, was the panel’s moderator.

The panelists discussed the need to examine new and sustainable means of funding. New funding methods can positively impact clients, including women entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs and businesses in lower and middle-income countries, especially women, often lack access to finance, preventing them from starting or growing profitable companies. Funding can make their businesses grow over time and improve their quality of life.

Closing the finance gap is essential to MEDA’s work. MEDA uses a finance model that considers economic, social, and environmental factors that prevent women from receiving funding. It then works with financial partners to change how they provide finance and women-led businesses to make them more eligible.

“MEDA uses finance as a way to catalyze change in the system where a women entrepreneur operates, not just individual enterprises. We recognize local partners have deep knowledge of how markets work, including the ways that finance can address the barriers within these markets, and we reinforce in our partnerships the need to translate this knowledge into an ability to analyze gender equality and environmental issues in markets and identify how they hinder market potential and fuel inequities, and how the power of finance can support the shifts needed to make the market work.”

– Jessica Villanueva

Innovative finance is one of the ways how MEDA will achieve its ten-year goal of creating or sustaining decent work for 500,000 people in the Global South. Equipping entrepreneurs and farmers, especially women and youth, with access to finance can support them in building prosperous and sustainable businesses and livelihoods.

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  • 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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