The picture is almost always the same. When you arrive in a place where women parboil rice, the first thing you notice is large pots on an open fire. The pots are made from an oil drum cut in half, cast aluminum purchased from the market, or fabricated out of sheet metal. The second thing you see is a large pile of firewood, purchased by the bundle or by the ton. When firewood is not available, or is too expensive, it is substituted with maize stalk or cow dung. Looking back at the fire you can see it is carefully managed between the three stones the pots rest upon and, of course, there is the acrid smell of smoke.
Sorghum is used in many parts of the world today. In parts of Africa and Asia, Sorghum is used to make flatbreads. In the United States, sweet sorghum syrup is known as molasses.
With the demand for sorghum on the rise, farmers around the world have expanded their land by 66% to satisfy demand.
In Kenya, Smart Logistics Solutions Ltd. (SLS) is an agribusiness that is capitalizing on this burgeoning market, while also making social change at the community level in rural areas of the country.
Did you know that coffee is the most consumed beverage among adults in Canada – even more than water?
According to McCafe, more than one-third of Americans indulge heavily in this popular beverage.
But do you know where your coffee beans come from?
These sacred beans come from countries like Ethiopia, South Africa and Kenya.
“My husband was my first customer”, says Intisar, a new food entrepreneur selling pickles in Balqa governorate in Jordan, northwest of the capital Amman.
To get to where she is today, Intisar had to get past a few barriers that usually stop women from entering the business world in Jordan. The main constraint was the way the community criticizes her as a woman who leaves her house to earn a living. Another was her lack of knowledge in business management and fear of failure.
In 2005 the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) established a one-of-a-kind ecolodge in the heart of Wadi Feynan in Dana Biosphere Reserve named Feynan Ecolodge. Four years later, a partnership was initiated between the RSCN and EcoHotels, a local Jordanian company, who took over the management and operational responsibilities of the lodge and transformed it to internationally acclaimed ecolodge. Feynan, with more than 20 international awards, provides visitors with a plethora of unique and authentic experiences while contributing to the conservation of the Dana nature reserve.
When Shwe In Thu (SIT), a nongovernmental organization in Myanmar, introduced the Improving Market Opportunities for Women project to the village of That Yet Sin, the women responded to the opportunity by forming the Village Saving and Loan Association. Daw Thu was eager to join, but her husband did not support that idea.
Poverty kept Daw Nan Hla Tin from getting an education when she was a child. After she married, she found work as a domestic laborer in Thailand, but returned to Myanmar after the birth of her first child. At home, she used her savings to open a tiny grocery store, but her income was not stable and she often ran out of operating funds because she didn’t know how to budget or keep accounts.
Innovation is one of those buzzwords that has gained a lot of traction in recent years. It is easy to associate this word with technology or something that is unique and complex. But at its core, innovation is simply a new method, idea or product. It doesn’t have to be a crazy idea (although these are good too).
At MEDA, many innovations may seem simple, but really, they are complex and nuanced. A project that perfectly highlights this idea of innovation is MEDA’s BEST Cassava project.
You can find it in supermarkets across North America.
But have you ever wondered where it comes from?
With the global success of Black Panther, audiences are sending a clear message – representation matters.
But it extends beyond Hollywood.
Representation is important in all fields. When a young girl sees herself as a director, scientist or business owner, it affirms that her dream is valid, and more importantly - possible.
Too often, women have been written out of their own stories. That’s why representation is integral. It completes the story through visibility.
Jane Maina knows how important representation is in her community.
With the unemployment rates in Kenya hovering around 11% and unemployment among youth (ages 15 – 24) double that at 22.1% - many look to agriculture, construction and extractive sectors for viable employment. However, while many job opportunities exist in Nairobi, there are limited opportunities outside the capital.
MEDA’s Maendeleo Sawa (M-SAWA) project is actively working to combat this statistic by empowering people through private equity investment (PEI) and matching grants.
M-SAWA’s PEI capital has made over $18 million CAD available to SMEs in partnership with the Canadian government. Their matching grant program is currently benefiting 20,000 of these small enterprises – 52% of which are led by women.
Gloria is one such young woman.
Assibi Sumani, a soybean farmer, is married and lives with her husband and five children in northern Ghana. Before Assibi became involved with MEDA’s GROW (Greater Opportunities for Rural Women) project, life had many financial challenges for her family. The couple struggled to pay their children’s school fees and lacked the resources to make basic improvements to their home.
Ruslan Panchenko, 21, is following his family's farming legacy and has been growing grapes for the past 5 years.
"My father was engaged in grapes initially. He planted a few bushes for himself, but he has no time take care of them," says Ruslan. Growing started as a hobby but soon developed into a passion for the business of grapes.
Migdonia Caballero has lived more than 50 years in Guacucal, close to Mombacho Volcano, on the outskirts of Granada. She’s been a farmer since an early age, because her parents were also farmers.
She is a mother of eight adult children, six girls (two of whom are twins) and two boys. She has 11 grandchildren. Migdonia raised her children alone for 10 years after her husband passed away. She’s taught them about farming, through which four of them support their families today.
As part of the MicroLead project, MEDA worked with UGAFODE Microfinance in Uganda to provide a safe and regulated savings environment for their clients.
Owen Mugyerwa has worked at the UGAFODE Lyantonde branch for over a year. While he started as a sales and marketing officer, he now serves as one of the branch’s credit officers. Before working at UGAFODE, Owen worked at both Stanbic and Crane Bank as a contract employee, but he is much more excited about his permanent position at UGAFODE and the security he now has.