MEDA’s EMERTA project is committed to increasing sustainable employment and income generation for women and men in the Amhara Region of Ethiopia. The project improves the business performance of agricultural producers and of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) that buy and supply inputs, equipment and services. Simultaneously, the project will help business service providers, training institutions and government bodies.
The agriculture and gemstone sectors of the Ethiopian economy are poorly developed. In the agricultural sector, there are challenges with lack of modern machinery, seed systems and agricultural techniques which result in poor quality rice and vegetables that cannot compete with international produce. In the mining sector, typical challenges include lack of modern techniques and machinery for production, undeveloped marketing systems, lack of quality inputs, antiquated practices in sourcing and handling gemstones and illegal trade in mined gems. Both sectors receive little attention and oversight to product quality.
EMERTA focuses on these challenges to create opportunity for those participating in the rice, vegetable and gemstone value chains: rural growers, processors, traders, wholesalers, lapidaries, jewelry makers, etc.
EMERTA also encourages positive policy change at the national level which can help small private business succeed. Much attention is needed to the regulatory and governance aspects of supporting small businesses in Ethiopia, so EMERTA works closely with government partners – from both local and national levels -to encourage positive policies and decision-making. EMERTA’s market systems development approach closely aligns with Ethiopia’s Growth and Transformation Plan II which considers agriculture and gemstones as a key driver of employment and economic growth.
To achieve the project’s goal, EMERTA strengthens the competitiveness and profitability of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). EMERTA plays an important role by identifying gaps and needs in the existing value chains supported by the project. EMERTA employs an opportunity-led business development approach leveraging the team’s expertise, partnerships, and resources to participate in helping clients overcome some of the greatest impediments to business success in Ethiopia. This approach identifies opportunities, demonstrates viable business models, and encourages market actors to take advantage of these opportunities.
A central principle of the project is -to deliver impact through existing entities. For example, rather than delivering training directly to farmers, the project will focus on building the capacity of rural extension agents. Farmer Training Centers (FTCs) already exist in rural communities and these are used effectively to demonstrate new crop varieties and promote promising agronomic practices. This resource offers women and men farmers a reliable, local source of information that will better prepare them to meet the quality and quantity demands of the market. To strengthen its work in value chain development, EMERTA also integrates gender and environmental sustainability in all three EMERTA sectors.