MEDA has a long history of successfully integrating vulnerable populations into markets. We focus on supporting women, youth and rural populations as they work to overcome barriers that stand in the way of business success and improved livelihoods. We work with diverse partners, particularly the private sector, to create sustainable market access for vulnerable populations. Through training and technical assistance, MEDA builds the capacity of local partners as an investment in the communities where we work.
Serving young people effectively is a strategic priority for MEDA, and we have developed specialized expertise in access to finance, entrepreneurship and employability skills for youth. The world's population of young people aged 15 to 29 has grown to 1.8 billion, the largest cohort in history. Approximately half survive on less than $2 per day.1 Unemployment rates for youth are consistently two to four times higher than adult unemployment rates.2 Though the number of youth in school and training is steadily growing globally, youth unemployment and underemployment reaches alarming levels in some countries and Sub Saharan Africa's labour force grows by approximately 8 million people per year.3 In response to these market realities, innovative solutions are required to increase the number of youth engaged in productive employment and livelihoods activities.
MEDA is also known for our women-centric economic development approach, founded on respectful interaction with cultures and communities and rooted in thorough market research. Recognizing that women are frequently the major drivers of economic and social change at the community level, MEDA specifically designs projects that directly target women and the unique obstacles they face to greater economic inclusion. Investing in women and girls creates more equitable conditions, but it also makes economic sense:
- Eliminating barriers that discriminate against women working in certain sectors or occupations could increase labour productivity by as much as 25 percent in some countries.4
- Giving women the same access as men to agricultural resources could increase production on women's farms in developing countries by 20 to 30 percent, reducing the number of hungry people in the world by 12 to 17 percent, or 100 to 150 million people.5
Our leadership in value chain development expands the business potential of women producers, micro entrepreneurs and small and medium scale enterprise (SME) owners. MEDA also recognizes the importance of technological innovation to support women’s economic empowerment; as the global digital divide increases, an estimated 2.1 billion women and girls will be left behind and become increasingly vulnerable.
- Field-based gender and youth assessments
- Gender inclusive value chain development and Making Markets Work for the Poor (M4P) approaches
- Women- and youth-centric project design and management
- Catalyzing investments, access to finance and mobile technologies
- Ensuring gender considerations are incorporated into design and implementation of investment-led projects
- Stimulating women’s entrepreneurship and SME growth
- Soft skills training, including financial literacy and life skills
- Workplace safety assessment and improvement
- Fostering inclusion and new roles for women and youth in market systems
- Facilitating linkages to higher value markets through sales agent and lead farmer and lead firm models
- Building farmers’ capacity through lead farmer extension models and agro-technology promotion.
2 Manpower Group. Youth Unemployment Challenge and Solutions, 2012.
3 World Bank, World Development Report on Jobs, 2013.
4 World Bank, World Development Report on Gender Equality and Development, 2012.
5 FAO, The State of Food and Agriculture, 2011.