COP27 – Why Moving too Slow on Climate Change is not an option

In 2015, the world came together in Paris, France at the 21st Annual Conference of Parties (COP21) to implement the Paris Agreement. This legally binding international treaty on climate change committed 196 countries to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels. It was expected that every COP after the COP21 would build on this impressive achievement.

Despite the ambitious start, there have been great setbacks. This year at COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, countries failed to agree to phase out all fossil fuels. British politician Alok Sharma, who presided over COP26, was clear about this failure at COP27: “Emissions peaking before 2025, as the science tells us is necessary? Not in this text. Clear follow-through on the phase-down of coal? Not in this text. A clear commitment to phase out all fossil fuels? Not in this text.” Instead, there was a loophole created in the final CoP27 text that omitted any reference to phasing out fossil fuels. As a result, it was argued that oil and gas executives, greenwashing corporations, and large emitting countries ended up winning at this year’s COP.

We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator

– Antonio Guterres

At the opening of COP27, Secretary-General António Guterres summed up the progress of climate action: “We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator.” Guterres is not being sensationalistic. According to Climate Action Tracker, there is a 95% probability that the world will not meet the agreed goal of containing global temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius. In fact, the world is on a trajectory of +2.7 degrees Celsius by 2100.

The key takeaway from COP27 is that we are not ready to seriously reduce our emissions, and more specifically, phase out fossil fuels. Fortunately, we are ready to address the impacts of our climate inaction with compensation.

Above: A visual representation of climate warming projections (Photo credit: Climate Action Tracker)

What was achieved at COP27

The most significant achievement that emerged from COP27 was to provide “Loss and damage” funding for countries most impacted by climate disasters. This Loss and damage funding will play an important role at alleviating the environmental harm that countries in the Global North have made on the planet, at the expense of countries in the Global South who have contributed the fewest emissions yet are paying the highest price for climate change.

“‘Loss and damage’ is a term used by the United Nations to describe the harms inflicted by climate change that go beyond what people can adapt to. It can include lives lost; monetary costs from the destruction of infrastructure, buildings, crops and other property; and the loss of entire places or ways of life.”

MIT Climate Portal

Another positive outcome of COP27 was the recommendations from the High-Level Expert Group on the Net-Zero Emissions Commitments of Non-State Entities (HLEG). Set up by the UN Secretary General Guterres and chaired by former Canadian environment minister Catherine McKenna, the group proposed ten standards and criteria that organizations needed to meet to achieve net zero emissions. An important purpose of the group is to ensure that corporate net-zero pledges are met and to combat “greenwashing” or misrepresenting one’s company or organization’s environmental efforts. The group will further ensure businesses cannot pick and choose what they want to measure and as a result, claim to be net zero while expanding fossil fuel or deforestation activities.

Above: Members of the the High-Level Expert Group on the Net-Zero Emissions Commitments
of Non-State Entities (HLEG) and UN Secretary General Antonio Gutteres.
(Photo credit: United Nations Climate Action)

The impact of climate change around the world

The global mean temperature in 2022 is estimated to be about 1.15°C above the 1850-1900 pre-industrial average, making it the 6th hottest year on record. This year, while not the hottest on record, provided the Global North with a glimpse of what a warmer world will look like. The U.S., Canada, and Europe experienced historic floods, heat waves, extreme weather events, and drought. This summer, major rivers in China, the US, and Europe dried up.

The extreme impacts of climate change are being felt most severely in the Global South, Small Island Developing States (SIDS), and Least Developed Countries (LDCs). Here, countries are the most vulnerable and have the fewest resources to adapt. Large floods impacted countries in South Asia this year, with Pakistan suffering unprecedented floods. One-third of the country was underwater during the historic floods that affected the country since the monsoon season began in mid-June. Floods have affected approximately 33 million people and killed at least 1,718 as of Oct. 14th. Soon after the floods subsided, the country was hit with a withering drought that wiped out its remaining crops. Despite being responsible for less than 1% of global greenhouse gas emissions, Pakistan is among the countries worst affected by extreme weather events due to climate change.

Above: Data provided by the United Nations Satellite Centre which shows large areas of Pakistan
impacted by floods. (Photo credit: ABC News Graphic: Jarrod Fankhauser).

Africa is one of the most vulnerable continents in the world to climate change. In 2022, the continent has experienced countless extreme weather and disasters, including devastating droughts and floods that have affected millions and killed thousands.Media has consistently covered the multi-year drought affecting the Western U.S. while far less media coverage has been given to the multi-year drought affecting the East and Horn of Africa.

Above: The surviving solar array at Mamboleo farms, a Tanzanian company supported through the SSBVC project.
A devastating flood in 2021 knocked out the newly installed solar pumps and most of the farm equipment.

What does this mean for MEDA?

Climate change greatly impacts our work. MEDA’s projects are on the front line in the fight against climate change as it strives to create decent work within agri-food market systems. Climate change worsens vulnerabilities and reduces the resiliency of our clients, particularly women, youth, and other marginalized groups.

Yet, despite the challenges, MEDA is committed to fight climate change and ensure that its clients around the world can adapt. In Part Two, we will look at where and how MEDA can create positive impacts for our planet and our clients in the Global South.

Stay connected with us to read our second installment that will be released soon. If you’re interested in reading more, look no further. Check out MEDA’s Storehouse for more great content about how entrepreneurs and farmers are using their skills and talents to build prosperous businesses and livelihoods.

MEDA promotes gender equality at an impact investing forum in Guatemala

Antigua, Guatemala – MEDA was a co-sponsor and presenter of the Gender Lens Investing Forum and the Latin America Impact Investment Forum 2022 (GLI Forum LATAM) in Latin America. This forum took place from November 7th-10th. In partnership with The Latin America Impact Investment Forum (FLII), and co-organized by Pro Mujer and Alterna, the forum served as a key platform for learning, discussion, and networking on impact investing in Latin America and the Caribbean. The event focused on how gender lens investing is an effective driver of equality and economic development in the region.

During the forum, MEDA led discussions related to innovative finance solutions that can spur long-term economic, social, and environmental impact. Jessica Villanueva, MEDA’s Senior Director for Technical Areas of Practice, served as moderator during “The Unattended Segment: Using Innovative Financial Models to Reach Women-Led SMEs in Central America” seminar, with the participation of Veronica Herrera from MiCredito, Lauren Murphy from the International Center for Research on Women, and Maria Denise Duarte from Agora Partnerships. Jessica also represented MEDA in the panel “Reimagining Inclusive Finance with Gender Lens” alongside David Cabrera and Margarita Zaldaña from Centromype, and Alex Silva and Georgina Vasquez from OMTRIX. Catherine Walker, MEDA’s Senior Manager, Global Program Operations, moderated the “From ESG integration to impact: understanding gender-climate nexus in sustainable finance” panel with the participation of Magaly Lamyin from The Deetken Group, Cynthia Leon from Add Value, and Alejandra Ramirez from NESsT.

The forum focused on the access to financing challenges women-owned SMEs face when making their businesses more competitive and environmentally sustainable. Despite SMEs’ vital role in emerging economies, there is still a $300 billion financing gap worldwide for formal, women-owned businesses. Women-owned businesses from the Global South also have difficulty accessing climate finance to become more climate-change resilient. Access to climate finance is critical – women are highly vulnerable to environmental impacts, including climate variability and natural disasters.

By providing women with greater decision-making powers and access to capital, they can act as “agents of change” in their households and communities to foster sustainable development. Access to these resources can also enhance their economic potential, reduce inequality, and strengthen climate finance’s impact and effectiveness.

MEDA ensures its projects create equitable and sustainable economic growth for communities in Central America and beyond. With support from Global Affairs Canada, MEDA’s WE4CA project will reach 5,000 women and young women in Central America, including rural and indigenous populations in the regenerative agriculture and light manufacturing sectors as well as support the continued uptake of GLI approaches within the region. We further support rural people, especially women, in Nicaragua through the Technolinks+ project.

MEDA’s Gender Equality mainstreaming Framework (GEM), provides a practical toolkit for assessing gender equality, and identifying, implementing, and measuring gender equality mainstreaming strategies within companies while applying an environment and climate change lens. The toolkit was recently updated to include a more integrated approach to Gender Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (GEDI) with a stronger environmental lens.

Nadia Guerch, MEDA Senior Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, enthusiastically supports the role of the forum in facilitating meaningful conversation and ideas among like-minded partners in the gender lens investment space.

“MEDA is pleased to co-sponsor and participate in this forum alongside like-minded practitioners and investors to continue building the business case for gender lens investing,” says Nadia Guerch, MEDA Senior Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean. “With a focus on agri-food systems, MEDA seeks to contribute to sustainable and equitable economic growth, leveraging investment strategically in areas that can promote greater gender equality and empower individuals to manage natural resources sustainably and address climate change.”

– Nadia Guerch

MEDA firmly believes that combining climate and gender policies can unlock huge untapped opportunities, provide good investment returns, and contribute to positive social and environmental outcomes. Using this approach, we can help build healthy and sustainable livelihoods, businesses, and decent work opportunities for small-scale farmers and entrepreneurs.

Five lessons we learned from the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) Investor Forum in the Netherlands

My colleague Vymala Thuron and I were pleased to attend the GIIN Forum 2022 as MEDA representatives. For MEDA, using finance for social and environmental change is critical as we work in agri-food systems where we need to ensure these considerations are mainstreamed in each of our interventions including when deploying capital.

Gender equality and climate action were at the center of every conversation this past week. Everyone at the conference (regardless of the sector, region, or size of the funds) believes that gender and climate must be a part of the business model. However, as Colleen Ostrowski from Visa Foundation mentioned, translating these concepts to achieve meaningful and comprehensive integration in the investment decision-making process is still a work in progress.

Here are five lessons that I learned from the event

1. Building community requires radical collaboration and intentionality

Amit Bouri from GIIN explicitly requested everyone in the room to make a commitment to help each other to achieve success even with small actions. GIIN is a large network and looking at the diversity of participants at the event was promising. It is clear that to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, we need collective effort, shared goals and values, and partnerships that use creative delivery models.

2. Redefining impact is necessary

We need to redefine what impact means for each business and how we will refine the strategy to achieve and measure impact. Concrete results are critical to illustrate impact but also recognize that it is a journey, and the journey is different for everyone. Yet, we need clear roadmaps and ambitious goals to push ourselves to be bold and better every day. Erica Orton from the Fair Food Network shared how impact goals at the level of each person/family are critical when it is related to food security and agriculture. When small-scale producers earn living wages and their families can secure basic services, this change can make a concrete difference in their communities and future.

3. Standardization is relevant, and simplicity is best

It was clear that we need to develop principles and indicators that could apply to the industry as a whole and that we can all align with not only benchmarking but to improve our models and have shared guidelines to shape our interventions. Maria Teresa Zappia from Blue Orchard emphasized how donors and investors can find data overwhelming. Lean data can do a better job of showcasing impact and illustrating the progress that is being made.

4. More demand side participation and conversations are needed

Conversations are happening with an authentic desire to meaningfully contribute with investments to create a better and sustainable world but still within the offer side (capital providers). I would love to see more active and intentional participation from the demand side and the women-led businesses and producers that are accessing or not accessing capital voices from the Global South. Being intentional in bringing these voices to conversations will help to deploy capital in different ways, such as capital that is used to transition to sustainable agriculture.

5. Localization matters

Promoting and catalyzing local capital is critical for low-and middle-income countries to prosper. Most funds are still located in Europe or North America, and hopefully, we can incentivize local capital providers and decision makers to develop policies and regulations to promote more local capital. Organizations like the Collaborative for Frontier Finance (CFF) are doing a great job of promoting local capital in Africa.

Congratulations to the GIIN team for this event and its thoughtful agenda. We learned from diverse experiences around the world about how impact investing is making a difference in the lives of many people, especially in emerging markets.

If you’re looking for something else to read, look no further. The Storehouse is packed with content that discusses how entrepreneurship can improve businesses and livelihoods for businesspeople and farmers in the Global South.

Leaving no one behind on World Food Day 2022

This year’s growing season was particularly difficult for farmers around the world. With supply disruptions caused partly by sanctions against Belarus and Russa, synthetic fertilizer prices skyrocketed, doubling their prices at the beginning of the growing season in April and May 2022.

This past summer was also among the hottest years on record, with many parts of the Horn of Africa, Europe, China, and North America experiencing severe droughts, while South Asian countries like Pakistan having devastating floods. These issues, combined with an ongoing pandemic and international tensions, have affected global food security.

But there are still many unanswered questions. Questions like what else is driving food insecurity? And how are our current practices within the agri-food market systems contributing to the problems in the first place? And lastly, how is the agri-food sector contributing to climate change and market shocks?

Considering the theme for this year’s World Food Day is “Leave NO ONE behind,” we’ll look more deeply into understanding what factors are driving these issues and what we can do to make our food systems work better for everyone.

Food market prices

Above: shoppers at a busy market

Many countries expanded their agricultural policy in the last decades to increase crop production to cope with increased food demand from higher population growth. As a result, between 1965 and 2000, agricultural production doubled, but mainly but mainly through extensification (using more land for agriculture) rather than intensification (growing more crops or raising more animals on agricultural lands). This extensification has led to an increased need for arable land and subsequent deforestation. Yet, despite all the negative impacts of agricultural production on our natural ecosystems, the prices of most food commodities have decreased in the last century. A family in the United States (US) in the 1940s would have spent on average 20% of its disposable income on food. Now, this number is less than 10%. Comparatively, income wages in the US have increased by more than 45% in the last four decades. This decrease in the percentage of income for food shows us how the full cost of food is not fully reflected in international markets. On the other hand, some households in the Global South, like in Nigeria, spend over half of their household income on food. Understanding these discrepancies in economic growth and the cost of food will help us value food more fairly.

Climate change and biodiversity loss

Above: the impact of climate change

Our global food system is an important contributor to climate change and the primary driver of biodiversity loss. Indeed, approximately 26% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions result from food and agriculture, and agriculture was identified as the main threat to 86% of the 28,000 species at risk of extinction. Yet, looking to indigenous ecological knowledge practices might provide a solution. Understanding how indigenous populations can safeguard 80% of terrestrial biodiversity on only 22% of the Earth’s land surface will support us to build more resilient food systems.

A dependence on synthetic fertilizers

Above: a farmer spraying vegetables in the garden with herbicides.

The surge in chemical fertilizer prices affected farmers because our agricultural lands have become dependent on chemical fertilizers and pesticides. With the advent of synthetic fertilizer use, which has increased steadily since the 1950s and 60s, the health of our soils and water ecosystems has decreased. Chemical fertilizers kill beneficial microorganisms in the soil that convert detritus into nutrient-rich organic material, ultimately leading to a decline in soil organic matter. Nitrogen, phosphate, and potassium-based (NPK) fertilizers leach into groundwater and increase their toxicity, causing water pollution. They also disrupt aquatic ecosystems by seeping into bodies of water, such as rivers and lakes, causing massive algal growth which can lead to dead zones.

Chemical fertilizers are also important contributors to climate change since more than 80% of nitrogen is lost to the environment prior to food consumption (e.g., during food production). When combined with oxygen, nitrogen becomes a potent greenhouse gas and nitrous oxide (N2O) is 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Understanding this dependence on synthetic fertilizers and minimizing their use will lead to more prosperous food systems. A paradigm shift is required in how agricultural production is organized from chemically produced to organic food production.

High tillage and soil compaction

Preparing land for agriculture is not an easy task. With the emergence of new tools and technologies, the last century saw a change in farmland preparation methods from shallow-hand and livestock-plowing of land to deep, tractor-plowing. High tillage, compounded by the change from fallow rotational systems to permanently farmed systems, has led to important issues such as soil compaction. Soil compaction increases the density of the topsoil, hampers water infiltration and retention, and minimizes seedling emergence and root growth, ultimately reducing yields. Minimizing tillage and building soil structure for water and nutrient flow and microbial activity will promote healthy food.

Food loss and waste

Above: food waste

Our food distribution systems and consumption patterns are leading to food loss and waste, which also amounts to 6% of total greenhouse gas emissions. The global percentage of food lost after harvesting at the farm, transport, storage, wholesale, and processing levels was estimated at 13.3% in 2020, while regions such as sub-Saharan Africa face losses as high as 21.4%. In fact, it is estimated that 3.4 billion acres (1.4 billion hectares) of land – 28% of the world’s agricultural area – is used annually to produce food that is eventually lost or wasted. Understanding the root causes of food loss and waste will increase the efficiency of our global food systems.

Financial strain

Currently, the global food system compromises the food security of food-producing communities. In addition to leading to dire consequences for the natural ecosystems and climate change, many of the problems lead to financial strain on farmers. Climate stressors and dependence on chemical fertilizers and pesticides affect not only our ecosystems but farmers’ financial health and overall well-being as well. The growing problem of suicide among the international community of farmers has received well-deserved media attention in recent years since farmers and ranchers are at a higher risk for suicide than others. As women and youth farmers are included and empowered within our global food systems, these issues cannot be taken lightly and must be considered when supporting farmer resiliency.

How to address global food insecurity

Above: healthy soil

Food production is critical to making food available everywhere in the world without leaving anyone behind. However, simply producing more food is not a solution. Food must also be produced in an environmentally sustainable manner. In fact, the quality of production is essential for healthy diets. Food is more nutritious when produced regeneratively and when the soil in which it is grown is healthy. The careful use of inputs for production that keep the ecosystem in balance is essential. There is enough food that is already produced, but loss and waste are an issue. Making food available while leaving no one behind requires efficient food distribution systems.

MEDA acknowledges the drivers of food insecurity and the interconnections between market and financial constraints, gender, and social barriers, and environmental and climate issues. As a result, MEDA promotes a Triple Impact Approach for Decent Work in Agri-food Market Systems.

In the technical assistance provided to farmers, MEDA makes sure to understand the drivers and challenges that they face. We then identify areas within the agricultural production systems where best practices – e.g., as relates to water, soil, and crop management – can be implemented. By strengthening the capacities of farmers on these environmentally sustainable practices, providing access to finance and incentives to acquire appropriate technologies, and fostering market conditions that are inclusive, MEDA creates the conditions for food security, healthy agricultural systems, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and decent and sustainable work for farmers and entrepreneurs worldwide.

Looking for something else to read? Check out our Storehouse to read blogs, news and other content that focuses on providing farmers and entrepreneurs with the tools to create prosperous livelihoods and businesses.

Why MEDA works with rural women

On the International Day of Rural Women, it is important to highlight the contributions that women make in agricultural sectors around the world. They grow, process, and produce much of the food that fuels our societies. Yet, they are often unrecognized and marginalized because of restrictive gender norms.

Celebrating the International Day of Rural Women is an important step in bringing to light the critical challenges that rural women face. Below we discuss the important impact that rural women make in the agri-food sectors around the world, the challenges they face, and ways to overcome these challenges to make our agricultural systems more equitable.

The impact that rural women make in the agri-food sector

Agricultural production is dominated by women. On average, women comprise more than 40% of the agricultural labor force in the Global South and rural women make up more than 40% of the labor force in many low-and middle-income economies. Women account for about 70% of total agricultural production and marketing in Ghana, making them central to food security and economic development.

The hurdles rural women face in the agri-food sector

Despite their importance to the labor force of agri-food market systems, rural women are disproportionately affected by poverty, and face many barriers to participating in the agricultural labor market. Two of the biggest hurdles that prevent women from gaining economic empowerment and gender equity include their lack of access to resources (land, finance, and education) and the social norms that prevent them from participating in household and community decision-making.

A lack of access to resources

Women face challenges in gaining equitable access to resources within the agri-food sector. They often lack access to higher-quality land and financial resources to purchase technology and have limited access to quality inputs and high-value market opportunities.

The patrilineal kinship, inheritance, dowry systems, and other practices mean that access to resources and privileges consistently favors men over women. This is supported by the alarming statistic that less than 15% of the world’s landholders are women. The adult male-centered systems of governance (chieftaincy-based, pluralist democracy) leave women under-represented in important decision-making forums.

Women also lack equitable access to other important resources, such as education, entrepreneurial training, and finance. This reality is compounded by inadequate government and private sector services including extension, market information, and health services. In addition to these barriers, there may be an expectation that women are subservient to male family members, meaning they have fewer opportunities and less control over their agriculture efforts and their benefits.

Restrictive social norms

Women’s contributions are often overlooked or ignored by their husbands, fathers, brothers, and sons, as well as community leaders, extension workers, agricultural planners, and policymakers. Traditional norms, religious beliefs, and social practices dictate that men inherit land rights, leaving women controlling very small amounts of highly unproductive land – just six percent in the Northern Region of Ghana, for example. Wives and daughters are obligated to contribute significant labor in the fields of their husbands and fathers, but men retain control over major agricultural decisions.

In Ghana, productivity is also constrained by social norms that dictate that women plant their plots only after men’s plots have been planted. Frequently, this means women miss ideal planting times. Even after planting is complete, they must often work on their husband’s land before tending to their own crops.

Men, women, government authorities, and extension service providers do not consider women to be farmers. Rather, the most common term used to describe women’s role in agriculture is ‘supplementary’ to the efforts of male farmers. This bias against recognizing women’s full contributions and rights goes well beyond agriculture.

Yet, the benefits of fully harnessing the economic potential of women in the agri-food sector are significant. A study by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimated that if women had access to the same productive resources as men, yields on their farms could be increased by 20 to 30%. This, in turn, could raise total agricultural output in low-and middle-income countries by 2.5 to 4%, reducing global hunger by 12 to 17%.

Moving forward – how to make agri-food markets more equitable

To improve equity for rural women, we should create conditions by supporting men and women to have a voice in how resources are used in development. It also means positioning them to participate in decision-making that will guarantee policies that promote fair access to agriculture and natural resources. Gender, poverty, and institutions are interlinked and cannot be dealt with independently. Recent themes from the International Day of Rural Women, focusing on claiming rights to sustainable development and cultivating good food for all, remain relevant and appropriate. Supporting rural women to secure access to productive resources, decision making among others will address some of the root causes of marginalization. At national levels, governments need to move beyond rhetoric to take practical measures to address the challenges of women. At the community and household level, women and men’s voices should both contribute to decisions on how resources are accessed and utilized.

MEDA prioritizes working with rural women to support them to overcome these persistent and systemic barriers. In the face of these multiple challenges, MEDA supports rural women to build and grow enterprises in the agri-food market system by pushing key levers of change, including:

  • Women’s access to and control over resources, including productive assets, skill building opportunities, market opportunities, appropriate and reliable inputs and services
  • Women’s agency, or the ability to make and act on decisions related to resources, and to participate in household decisions on business, agriculture and income
  • A more just and equitable enabling environment, including positive and enabling attitudes, behaviors, social norms, policies and institutions

MEDA’s programs reflect these priorities. Examples of our work include GROW2 in Northern Ghana, building on the success of the recently completed GROW project, which increases women’s access to productive land, vital agricultural inputs, and higher value markets for their products. In Nicaragua, the Technolinks+ project is enhancing the economic empowerment of rural women by strengthening their knowledge, skills and attitudes through training, economic incentives, access to technology and business entrepreneurship. The RIISA project in the Philippines aims to support 5,400 smallholder farmers (40% women) with market linkages and training to increase their farming incomes.

To truly recognize the value that rural women around the world bring to agricultural systems, we need to address the systemic barriers that prevent them from achieving their potential. Creating awareness of rural women’s participation in the development process with a focus on their needs and rights, highlighting their contributions to sustainable development, promoting household food security, safeguarding traditional knowledge, biodiversity, and peacebuilding are important steps to make our agri-food systems and societies more equitable and prosperous.

For more content regarding our international development projects and stories, check out the Storehouse.

Celebrating the partnership between the De La Finca and Jose Alfredo Zeledon- makers of one of the world’s most popular beverages

With millions of cups of coffee consumed yearly, coffee remains one of the most popular beverages in the world.
Yet, the unsung heroes that bring us our “morning perk” are our farmers and entrepreneurs. Spread out over the world, they work tirelessly, rain or shine, to bring us that delicious morning brew.

For World Coffee Day, we’re focusing on the unique partnership between De La Finca and Cooperativa Jose Alfredo Zeledon (JAZ) from MEDA’s Technolinks+ project in Nicaragua. In the lush setting of San Juan de Rio Coco, Nicaragua, coffee-making runs deep – families have been growing coffee in this fertile region for over 100 years.

Below we explore how De La Finca and JAZ partnered through the Technolinks+ project and the path they traveled together to create prosperity for themselves and their families.

How De La Finca and JAZ got started

De La Finca

Created in 2012, De La Finca’s business model produces, processes, and prepares coffee and honey products. De La Finca started by selling 13 lbs. of roasted coffee beans and ground coffee to small supermarkets and convenience stores. Eventually, they opened their first store in the garage of their house and hired 12 people. De La Finca then became the first specialty coffee shop in Nicaragua. Despite their success, they still had challenges: they didn’t have the equipment to process their coffee, so they had to pay others in Nicaragua to do it.

JAZ

Sixteen years before De La Finca formed, the José Alfredo Zeledón (JAZ) Cooperative was created on April 12, 1996, in Las Vegas, San Juan del Río Coco, Nicaragua. JAZ produces and markets organic coffee. Thirty-five associates formed JAZ, made up of six women and twenty-nine men. After 25 years of work, it has 399 coffee producer members, 120 women, and 279 men. JAZ has 1,400 hectares of coffee and produces an average of 20,000 lbs. yearly.

In 2020, De La Finca and JAZ partnered through the Technolinks+ project for one year. The partnership allowed these businesses to improve their production processes and strengthen their business models. De La Finca would teach the cooperative’s producers about more profitable and environmentally sustainable production and roasting practices. Through the partnership, De La Finca would acquire a coffee laboratory, the De La Finca Coffee Lab, and purchase coffee from the cooperative’s producers. This would allow them to expand their supply chain and guarantee high-quality products.

Roadblocks they faced along the way

Like all agricultural farmers and entrepreneurs, JAZ and De La Finca dealt with the effects of climate change. More unpredictable weather negatively affects coffee yields. Yet, through the Technolinks+ project, the project worked to mitigate the impact of climate change. Then there was the economic slump that affected Nicaragua because of the pandemic.

The fruits of the JAZ and De La Finca partnership

Despite some initial hurdles, the partnership was a success. De La Finca shared its knowledge with 300 JAZ members to improve the coffee quality and fermentation processes and practice sustainable environmental practices. JAZ also bought a coffee roaster and strengthened its staff’s knowledge of the roasting process. Through the project, JAZ developed new lines of business, such as producing and marketing plantain, selling coffee roasting and grinding services, brand positioning, and selling finished products through the JAZ SABORES DE MADRIZ brand, and selling coffee in local and national markets.

For De La Finca, working with the JAZ cooperative provided it with a sustainable and high-quality supply of coffee. It also allowed JAZ and De La Finca to improve their coffee production and processing. As a result of higher quality products, De La Finca expanded its portfolio of products and services. It also analyzed coffee samples, roast analysis, barista training, cupping, and roasting.

Jaz and De La Finca hired more women workers. Before the project, De La Finca had only 20% women in its workforce; now, thanks to the project and its gender plan, half its workforce are women. The partnership also enabled JAZ to create opportunities for women-led enterprises. Women running their own businesses can lead to positive ripple effects. Women can make changes in their households’ economy.

Both businesses also were able to become more environmentally sustainable. Their producers recycled coffee pulp to generate new products and income, and they also used more organic fertilizers and vermicompost, which reduced their environmental footprint.

“Through the grant, we were able to obtain the technology that our cooperative required; today, we are a reference in our territory for our brand JAZ SABORES DE MADRIZ. Our challenge is to position our brand at the national and international level.….”

– Francis Gonzalez

Overall, JAZ and De La Finca thrived through the partnership: they gained new knowledge, skills, and technology to build more prosperous businesses. The partnership was the right boost that JAZ and De La Finca needed to create decent work and improve their families’ and community’s quality of life.

Looking for something else to read from MEDA? Drop by MEDA’s Storehouse to check out more stories and news about hardworking entrepreneurs and farmers worldwide.

Why The International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste (IDAFL) matters

Every day, we waste good food. Globally, about one-third of all food produced for human consumption is either lost or wasted. This amounts to around 1.3 billion tons every year that is wasted.

While enough food is produced to feed the world, more than three billion people worldwide do not have access to healthy food. Nearly 690 million suffer from hunger, while two billion consume unhealthy diets that cause micronutrient deficiencies and contribute to a substantial rise in diet-related obesity and noncommunicable diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

As the world’s population grows and incomes rise, there will be greater demand for food. But to meet this growing demand for food, the global agri-food system needs to change. The International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste (IDAFL), is an important call to action for everyone in the food system to work together to cut food loss and waste for a more sustainable agri-food system.

The causes of food loss and waste

So, what causes food loss and waste (FLW)? In short, many things. One of the main causes is inefficient agri-food systems. From production to consumption, food waste occurs in our food systems.

There are many direct causes of FLW. They include inadequate resources in production, poor scheduling and timing of harvesting operations, less efficient harvesting and handling practices, and substandard storage conditions and temperature management around perishable products.

Then there are the secondary causes. These include inadequate equipment, transport, and storage capacity, inefficient organization, coordination, and communication between food supply chain actors, and inadequate infrastructure.

There are systemic causes too, which happen when the structures that enable food to be produced and delivered to consumers break down or are inefficient. This includes inadequacies in the institutional, policy, and regulatory frameworks that are required to coordinate actors, enable investments, and support the adoption of improved practices along the food supply chain. Emergencies and crises such as pandemics, natural disasters, and conflicts can disrupt food supply chains and can also lead to increased levels of FLW.

The impact of FLW

The impact of food loss and waste is severe on many fronts. FLW takes a huge toll on the economy. The annual market value of food that is lost or wasted globally is estimated to be hundreds of billions of dollars. FLW can also lead to a lower gross domestic product (GDP) in the agriculture sector. And the economic costs of FLW for households are severe. Money spent on food that is thrown out is also felt by households, as well as by businesses along the food supply chain.

Food loss and waste also take a significant toll on the environment. It contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and represents a waste of resources used in food production, such as land, water, and energy. FLW is responsible for an estimated 8 percent of annual greenhouse gas emissions and consumes one-quarter of freshwater used by agriculture each year. Food that is lost or wasted also uses significant expanses of land, degrades natural ecosystems and contributes to biodiversity loss. Producing excess food also means more CO₂ emissions being released, which worsens the effects of climate change.

FLW can impact food security and nutrition. It does this by reducing the global and local availability of food by limiting food access for those food supply chain actors who face FLW-related economic and income losses. It can also result in unsustainable use of natural resources on which future food production depends. FLW further impacts food quality and nutrient losses along food supply chains and the stability of food supplies.

The way forward

What can we do to tackle this problem? For starters, as the world’s population continues to grow, our challenge should not be how to grow more food but how to reduce the food we already lose and waste.

To make our agri-food systems more sustainable, we must focus on reducing food loss and waste. Investing in climate-smart innovations, technologies, and infrastructure to reduce food loss and waste is key to increasing efficiency and reducing food system emissions. Reducing food waste is one of the most impactful climate solutions we can adopt.

We should also embrace the circular economy. By applying circular practices, lost and wasted food can be converted to compost or used to produce biogas, which avoids harmful methane emissions. To do this though, we need good governance, human capital development, collaboration, and partnerships to maximize the positive impacts of reducing food loss and waste.

There are also better storage methods. Using simple, low-cost storage methods can drastically cut food loss, especially for small-scale farmers in the Global South, who frequently lose food to pests, spoilage, and transportation damage. For example, a system developed by researchers at Purdue University in which grain is stored in three interlocking plastic bags locks out pests and keeps grain fresh for months. Even using a plastic crate instead of a plastic sack during transport can dramatically cut losses by preventing bruising and squashing.

If we want to achieve the goals of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, we need to transform our agri-food systems. Through its programs, MEDA is committed to achieving the UN’s SDGs by creating linkages among key actors in the global agri-food system. These linkages enhance agriculture productivity, encourage producers to use efficient technology for value addition and storage, and reduces post-harvest losses along the entire agri-food system. This approach can also create decent work for thousands of people and uplift entire families and communities.

By reducing production costs and increasing the efficiency of food systems, it can improve food security and nutrition, contribute to environmental sustainability, and reduce FLW hunger and malnutrition that will benefit future generations. We must reduce food loss and waste for the well-being of the people and the planet.

Why you don’t want to miss Convention 2022!

Entrepreneurs dare to take an idea, turn it into a business, and share it with the world. They create jobs and drive prosperity for society. In the Global South, they play an especially vital role in raising living standards and uplifting communities.

At this year’s Convention, we’re celebrating Entrepreneurship and highlighting its essential role in our communities worldwide. If you’re still deciding whether to join us at Convention, here‘s why you should reconsider.

Our seminar speakers are experts in the areas of business, faith, and international development and they want to connect with you!

Convention seminar speakers have decades of experience in their respective fields. By joining us for their seminars, you can learn more about their entrepreneurial journeys, how faith plays a role in their work, and how business is a means to a more just world.

You can also learn more about the inner workings of MEDA’s programs from MEDA’s Executive Leadership and Senior Management teams. They’ll share program updates, key learnings, and stories of entrepreneurship around the globe.

Join us for our engaging seminars this year and learn from various experts on how businesses can uplift communities and provide decent work for people experiencing poverty in the Global South and beyond.

An outstanding pitch competition, a must-attend event that empowers the next generation of business leaders!

There are many reasons why our pitch competition continues to be a draw for many young entrepreneurs and our attendees. Our pitch finalists can win over $15,000 in prizes, increase their business exposure, expand their network by meeting a ton of great, like-minded experts in agriculture and business and potentially boost their venture even further with the capital they need. The successful pitch competition winner will be awarded $10,000 to fuel their great business. You can also read about last year’s winner, Lucy Cullen and her social enterprise, EarthPup.

Three great keynotes

Ndidi Okonwo Nwuneli

There’s our Saturday Keynote Speaker, Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli. With roots in Nigeria and the United States (Lancaster, Pennsylvania), Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli is a seasoned entrepreneur and expert on social innovation, African agriculture and nutrition, and youth development. After starting her career in Chicago, New York and Johannesburg, she returned to Nigeria to serve as the pioneer executive director of FATE Foundation, a Nigerian business incubator and accelerator for young entrepreneurs.

Dr. JoAnn Flett Executive Director, Center for Faithful Business Seattle Pacific University

JoAnn is a frequent speaker, collaborator, and organizational consultant, teasing out the intersection of faith and business that promotes human flourishing. Her most recent collaborative projects have been with B-Lab, Local First, Sojourners, and Solidarity Capital, who together are envisioning a Sacred Economy.

Kenneth D. Hochstetler, President, and CEO of Everence

Ken joined Everence in 2014, following a 22-year career at Univest Corporation in Souderton, Pennsylvania, where he held a variety of executive leadership positions related to advisory services, foundation services, insurance agencies, investments, municipal pensions, asset management services, and retail and commercial banking. Everence helps individuals, organizations and congregations integrate finances with faith through a national team of advisors and representatives.

Three days of tours!

Eat, walk, and take in the historic sights and sounds of the city and county of Lancaster, P.A. with your fellow attendees. Here’s a glimpse of what you can expect.

Historic Lancaster Walking Tour

This engaging walk through downtown includes historical commentary about the events over a period of almost 300 years of Lancaster’s history. There are many stories about Lancaster’s connection to the Civil War and the historical events. Lancaster was even the U.S. capital for one day! Marvel at the well-preserved architecture of the public buildings, churches and private homes that are still in use today. Also included is a stop at the Prince Street Café for a beverage and a sweet treat. Wear comfortable shoes and join us for this informative walk from the hotel.

Farm to Table

We will begin with a guided tour of Lancaster’s Central Market, the oldest continuously operating farmers market in the United States, dating back to 1730. You will learn about the market’s history, from its open-air beginnings to the current market house built in 1889 and listed on the national register of historic places. We will interact with stand-holders, learn about their operations, and have some time to explore the market before beginning our guided, driving tour of the countryside, where you will learn about the agricultural history of the region. Along the way, we will visit the properties of two Central Market vendors for an in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at their unique farm-to-table businesses.

Roads Less Travelled

Join us for a trip to Lancaster County and learn more about the lifestyle of the Amish people. This tour features commentary from Beth Graybill who has been researching topics related to Mennonite and Amish women for the past 20 years. Visit a buggy shop, an Amish quilt shop, as well as a variety store which some refer to as the Amish Walmart. Ask questions and explore the lives of the Amish people. A delicious box lunch will be provided on the coach.

Lots of networking!

Meet with likeminded, energetic people with a passion for alleviating poverty through the power of business. Our MEDA Convention 2022 seminars are bite-sized, one-hour sessions that include insider knowledge and expert advice from industry leaders in business, faith, and international development. Each year, we explore a wide variety of topics, so make sure to scroll to discover what piques your interests!

Our Friday + Saturday Seminars

From business + faith to business issues, international development to professional development, this year’s Convention boasts a variety of seminars that’ll be sure to meet all attendees’ interests. We will have seminars on Friday November 4 at 10:30AM, 2:30PM, 4 PM, and Saturday November 5, at 2:30 PM.

Women Networking Opportunities, Women Entrepreneurs, and Seminar Speakers

Women play a vital role in business but often don’t have the opportunity to connect. So, we’re carving time out just for you! If you’re looking to expand your networks, wanting to connect with like-minded women entrepreneurs, or want to celebrate the incredible contributions of women around the globe, we invite you to join us Friday, November 4, from 5:00-6:00 PM.

Don’t miss MEDA’s event of the year — join us!

“Getting a foot in the door”: How internships provide job experiences for young people that pay off

Around the world, youth unemployment remains a lingering problem, with millions of young people unable to contribute their time and talent to the workforce. In the long term, this means trouble: without a sense of purpose and experience, young people will be locked out of the labor market. This can quickly lead to increased poverty, especially among already marginalized groups, and floundering economies.

Amidst these challenges, young people are adapting and striving to gain the experiences that will shape their future careers and our world. These include internships or short-term work opportunities. Internships have traditionally been a way for young people to get work experience and offer young people a variety of benefits, including developing solid work experience, honing skillsets, and building networks.

We talked to some talented interns who worked for MEDA during the last four months. Below is a glimpse into what motivated our interns to apply for work at MEDA, their experiences, and what they’ll take with them in their future careers.

Values

What motivates young people when looking for work? In a word, values. Where a company or organization stands on particular issues and how they treat their employees are increasingly seen as important drivers of what propels millennials and Gen Z to apply for work and stay at organizations.

Values are what drove Khola to apply for an internship at MEDA. As a fourth-year business student at Wilfrid Laurier University’s Lazaridis School of Business and Economics, she was looking for an opportunity to contribute her skills to social good.

“Large corporations can negatively contribute to social, political, or environmental issues, making it a priority to work somewhere that had morals that aligned with my own.”

– Khola

MEDA’s values mattered to Ryan too. A 4th year Science student at the University of Western Ontario, Ryan was drawn to what MEDA stands for.

“I thought that MEDA would be a good fit for me because I believe we share similar values. For example, we both believe in social entrepreneurship.”

– Ryan

Learning Opportunities

There are the skills you learn from a university, and then there are the skills you can learn from the workforce. Brooke discovered this at the onset of her internship. As a third-year university student in the Global Business and Digital Arts program, this internship provided her with an array of new skills that she hadn’t yet acquired.

“Working at MEDA has taught me the essentials of working in an office and corporate environment, as it is my first time in a role like this. From etiquette and communication with colleagues to working in a team and being delegated different tasks, the experience has been essential for my future career. I have also learned the basics of the non-profit sector, and the role MEDA specifically plays as an NGO.”

– Brooke

Brittany, a fourth-year Global Studies major, was also looking for a way to gain real-world experience before graduating.

“I have always been deeply interested in international development and was extremely excited to see an opportunity in this field. Another reason I applied was because I wanted to expand my understanding of the functions of NGOs, specifically those focused on international development.”

– Brittany

Kai, another intern with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering and a master’s degree in Environmental and Resource Management, cited the opportunity MEDA provided him to work in diverse areas.

“I was able to work on projects not only on an Environmental approach, but also looking into International Development and the business aspects of each project.”

– Kai

Exploring the job market

Looking for work can be daunting for many reasons, including the stress of not hearing back, rejection, and the repetitive nature of applying. And then there is the sheer number of options out there, which can be daunting too. Sophia understood this well. Majoring in Gender & Social Justice and Political Science, she was unsure which career path she wanted to take after graduating.

“I didn’t have a solidified idea of what path I wanted my career to take, however, I knew more schooling was in my future, either a master’s degree or law school. This internship opened my eyes up to the NGO world and all the career possibilities that lie within it.”

– Sophia

A positive working experience

Perhaps just as important as compensation, room for advancement, or the role itself, is workplace culture. Positive work culture plays an important role in driving organizational performance. It matters so much that fostering a positive organizational culture can bring many benefits, including greater profits, productivity, and wellbeing among employees. Despite the diversity of roles and responsibilities that each intern had, they all pointed out MEDA’s positive work culture. This positive sentiment was echoed by Tianyu, a master’s student in Quantitative Finance at the University of Waterloo.

Above: Some of MEDA interns having lunch with other MEDA staff members.

“I would highly recommend MEDA to other future interns because it is a great opportunity to improve yourself and work with all these awesome people, meanwhile you can also dedicate yourself in making a difference to fight against poverty and some of other global issues.”

– Tianyu

As our interns previously highlighted, the opportunity to do a job that gives you fulfillment and purpose is important and is something that MEDA strives to do in its work. Our interns all played an essential role in supporting MEDA’s mission and driving the change that will create decent work for half a million people in ten years. As outlined in its strategic plan, Towards an Equal World, by 2030, we’re trying to do exactly that: provide half a million people with the ability to create or sustain decent work that will lift themselves, their families, and communities out of poverty.

If you think you’d be a good fit for our team, please visit our careers section at MEDA and see how you can make a difference for people experiencing poverty.

To read more engaging content from MEDA, check out the Storehouse.

My Internship at MEDA

My name is Tianyu Wu, and I am the Monitoring and Impact Measurement team’s intern. I am currently pursuing a master’s degree in Quantitative Finance at the University of Waterloo. Apart from my academic life, I have many hobbies, for example singing, playing badminton, and reading.

“Happiness is the meaning and purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.”

– Aristotle

I love reading; I believe what the 17th century English writer Joseph Addison said about this activity, that “reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” Moreover, reading gives me the opportunity to communicate with some of the greatest souls from past centuries. One of them is Aristotle, who once said “happiness is the meaning and purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.” I truly believe this and I think to achieve this ultimate goal, we, as human beings, must first meet our basic needs. Hence, addressing poverty becomes the first and foremost mission for humankind. I deeply appreciate MEDA’s mission, since it manages to incorporate business solutions to poverty and presents chances for people, like me, to use what we have learned to positively impact the community. This is one of the main reasons I wanted to join MEDA and thankfully, I have been given this opportunity to make my contributions.

“A great learning opportunity, a professional and positive company culture, and a super-friendly and caring community.”

Looking back on the past few months, I would like to summarize my internship with three phrases: a great learning opportunity, a professional and positive company culture, and a a super-friendly and caring community. Firstly, I have gained a great learning experience during my internship. By interacting with co-workers inside and across teams, I have improved my interpersonal skills greatly, including effective communication and efficient coordination skills. I have also practiced my professional writing skills during my support for the GROW2 project. Regarding this technical area, I have learned a new data processing tool, called Power BI. This is a very strong application, which is part of the Microsoft Suite. After connecting Power BI with Dynamic 365 data, real-time data refreshing becomes available, which means whenever the data in Dynamic 365 is changed, a Power BI report can reflect this change in no time. I have learned how to update the “Telling MEDA Story” by building a Power BI report which compares the actual data result with target data from Dynamic 365, and to present them by using the built-in Power BI visualization tool. The “Telling MEDA Story” could later serve as a database for Partnerships and New Business Development (PNBD) and Global Programs. Overall, this internship in MEDA has enriched me with many learning experiences, which will benefit me very much in my future career.

” I think a professional and positive company culture sets a cornerstone for its success in business and MEDA’s core values are one great example.”

Another aspect I am highly impressed with is MEDA’s professional and positive company culture. I will always remember the core MEDA values: collaboration, accountability, respect, and entrepreneurship. I appreciate these four words as I can see from my internship that MEDA is practicing its values not only in their business decision-making, but also in their day-to-day operations and their interactions with other businesses and the public. I think a professional and positive company culture sets a cornerstone for its success in business and MEDA’s core values are one great example. This core MEDA value helps create a working space that is professional and inclusive, embracing creativity and inspiring innovations.

Lastly, I appreciate MEDA’s super-friendly and caring community. During my internship, I have received support from both inside and cross teams. My manager set up a welcome meeting on my first day here in MEDA, where I met my awesome team members. We even had this great chance of getting together on site in June. It was so fun that we got to meet each other in person and shared interesting life stories together, not to mention the ongoing support and warm caring from all my team members. Thank you, Yasir, Nicole, Rolene, and Rhode, that I have this sense of belonging and home-like feeling. I am much appreciated for it, and it is definitely one of my precious memories in my work life.

“I will definitely miss these open and sincere conversations, as well as this super-friendly, caring, and compassionate community.”

In addition, I also know we have the Green Team that helps raise awareness for environmental protection and the Club MEDA that holds awesome activities such as MEDA cookbook, Acronyms Trivia and even the Ice Cream Social. Moreover, we also have the close and loving intern group for 2022. During the past few months, we regularly had our intern check-in meetings where we had many fun icebreaker games and we were free to talk about anything regarding work or life, whether it is a problem or is something we achieved. I will definitely miss these open and sincere conversations, as well as this super-friendly, caring, and compassionate community.

All in all, my internship at MEDA was fulfilling, constructive, and fun. I am very grateful to be given this opportunity to be part of this great community and to meet these lovely people. I wish all the best for everyone and MEDA in the future. I will miss MEDA and always think of it fondly.