Mennonite Economic Development Associates

Creating business solutions to poverty

aka MEDA   |   Lancaster, PA   |


MEDA – Mennonite Economic Development Associates – is an international economic development organization that creates business solutions to poverty. Since 1953, MEDA has been creating business solutions to poverty that are sustainable, scalable, measurable and replicable. MEDA has worked in over 70 countries providing technical assistance and access to capital to farmers and entrepreneurs to grow successful livelihoods and businesses. MEDA began as an association of Mennonite business people who believed they were called to be faithful in generously sharing their abilities and resources. Continuing in that Christian tradition, MEDA welcomes all who share our values and want to join us in our mission.

Ruling year info



Dorothy Nyambi

Main address

33 N Market St. Ste. 400

Lancaster, PA 17603-3805 USA

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NTEE code info

International Economic Development (Q32)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

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Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Market Systems

We design and put in place programs and provide technical support to enable excluded communities to participate in markets. Our work considers the social, political, and cultural contexts of each country and the barriers that each group face. Through this approach, we successfully empower more people to participate in agri-food market systems.

Population(s) Served

MEDA began as an investment in Sarona Dairy over 67 years ago and continues to play a leading role in impact investing. We finance and invest in companies and funds and work to strengthen systems to enable small and medium sized enterprises to grow and thrive. MEDA also offers various investment and finance training opportunities for its clients and raises debt and equity from investors.

Population(s) Served

MEDA is a leader in incorporating excluded groups, especially women, youth, and ethnic minorities into mainstream market systems. We partner with local businesses and organizations to deliver the support and services that allow disadvantaged groups to contribute to and benefit from economic growth. MEDA also works with local partners whose in-depth knowledge improves our services and programs. Our focus on incorporating traditionally excluded people into the economy is related to our core aspect of respect.

Population(s) Served

MEDA conducts environmental assessments through its Environmental Management System (EMS) to ensure our work alleviates poverty in an environmentally sustainable manner. We work with businesses, entrepreneurs, and local partners to enable their businesses and livelihoods to adapt to environmental and climate change risks. We also promote stainable waste and energy-use practices within our offices around the world.

Population(s) Served

Since its founding, inclusive finance has been an important aspect of MEDA’s mission. We strengthen microfinance institutions through investments, loan capital, and capacity building and provide microloans and banking services to our clients to fuel their businesses and livelihoods.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of donations made by board members

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Buy-in and trust from our board is partially indicated by their willingness to give financially in addition to the time they spend helping to guide our organization.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

MEDA is an international economic development organization that ‘creates business solutions to poverty’. MEDA aims to contribute to the sustainable development goal of poverty elimination by creating or sustaining decent work opportunities for half a million people, especially women and youth, by 2030 .

For over 70 years, MEDA has promoted the belief that all people deserve the opportunity to earn a livelihood and that entrepreneurship is a powerful driver on the path to alleviate poverty.

MEDA is focusing efforts on agri-food market systems in the Global South. This strategic direction is guided by the belief that agricultural development is a powerful tool to stop extreme poverty, boost prosperity and ensure food security for millions of households. Agri-business is a priority area and MEDA has contributed innovations and relevant solutions for small- and medium-sized enterprises for decades.

MEDA’s mandate is to invest in rural populations in the Global South and enable inclusive and sustainable transformation of agri-food market systems.

MEDA also recognizes that the road to poverty elimination is not straight nor simple. There are many contributing factors that must be considered and or addressed in order to bring about sustainable change. MEDA also works to alleviate the impacts of inequality, climate change, and exclusion from markets in the effort to create sustainable, positive change in the lives of our clients.

MEDA has identified four strategic pillars to guide the ways of working with partners within our countries and sectors of operations. They are summarize by the four Ps, namely:

i. Programming: MEDA designs and implements initiatives that are focused on women and youth in agri-food systems with the goal of creating decent work opportunities.

ii. Processes: MEDA continues to develop long-term programming and partnerships in focused-regions and make disciplined decisions.

iii. Proof of Performance: MEDA continues to put our clients first, ensuring that metrics help them make better decisions and remain accountable to stakeholders.

iv. Positioning: MEDA continues to learn from our successes and failures and share our learnings in innovative finance, agri-food systems, and private sector engagement.

Specifically, MEDA pursues systems-level change by broadening our scope beyond immediate project-bound work to sustainable alliances that achieve impact at scale. MEDA is partnering with global development agents, governments and sector stakeholders in the countries of

operations to advance equality and help transcend poverty through decent work opportunities.

MEDA works to address the structures that trap people in poverty using a market systems approach. Drawing on our areas of technical expertise, we work to create an enduring foundation for income and community prosperity through decent work opportunities.

MEDA embraces a shared voice committed to empowering the Global South. This is reflected in MEDA’s communication, program development, implementation, evaluation, operations, philanthropy, and governance. MEDA believes that success is sustained when it is based on the local context. Through this shift in our way of working, we continue to build conditions for self-reliance and economic freedom wherever we work.

Further, to achieve our ambitious agenda, MEDA’s work aligns with six of the Sustainable Development Goals, namely:

i. SDG 1: No Poverty
ii. SDG 2: No hunger
iii. SDG 5: Gender Equality
iv. SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth
v. SDG 13: Climate Action
vi. SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals

In this regard, MEDA is committed to the following cross-cutting themes:

• Anti-racism, gender equality and social inclusion

• Innovation and technology adoption

• Partnerships and contextual knowledge

• Environmental sustainability and climate action

MEDA has strong financial, technical and management capabilities to design and implement interventions, which are aligned with its strategic goal of creating decent work opportunities for women and youth. Specifically, MEDA has five technical units:

1. Market systems
2. Impact Investing
3. Financial Inclusion
4. Gender Equality and Social Inclusion
5. Environment and Climate Change

In addition to these technical competencies, MEDA has dedicated Monitoring and Impact Measurement Department that gathers data to understand whether our interventions are achieving the results we expected, what can we learn from them and which approaches need to be refined to help our clients reach their true potential.

With seven decades of operation, the MEDA team has consistently overcome relevant development challenges with creative ideas, new concepts, and thoughtful, sustainable programming and products.

MEDA has developed unique investment tools and systems such as impact investing, market systems approaches and blended finance; and continues to be a leader in the social impact financial solutions.

MEDA has directly impacted over 4.5 million individuals through our agri-business projects since 1953. This includes benefitting an estimated 2.8 million women — (62%) of the total.

Specifically, in the decade (2010-2020) alone, MEDA has implemented 122 initiatives in 50 countries, benefitting 2 million clients (directly) including women and youth.

In all of these initiatives MEDA has employed our technical framework to realize impactful and sustainable agriculture and agri-business solutions.

Over this period, we have also collaborated with over 9600 public, civil-society, private and international partners.

Programming Results over the years

i. Access to financial literacy and Inclusion
In a typical MEDA agri-business project that also includes financial literacy and inclusion, there is a 73% increase in people with access to appropriate financial tools.

ii. Increased productivity
The median rate of increase for crop productivity is 66% with MEDA projects

iii. Sustainable Livelihoods
At least 127million jobs have been created directly from MEDA projects in the past 50 years3

What’s Next?
In the years leading up to 2025, which closes our current strategic period, MEDA is focused on the making significant strides in the following areas relating to the 4 strategic Pillars.

1) Positioning

Enhanced Corporate Visibility
• Engaging new donors and partners to join agri-food market systems development.
• Influencing agri-food policy.
• Developing partnerships that boost brand visibility.

Embedded Innovation
• Proactively engaging Global South partners to pursue innovative, appropriate solutions to poverty
• Capturing improvements in impact, scale, and efficiency of client enterprises.
• Becoming thought leaders in our niche area by sharing relevant and useful insights and create impact in agri-food market systems

2) Programming

Sharper Focus
• Become a recognized leader in improving decent work in agri-food market systems.
• Gain expertise in high value crop market systems of focus countries.

Systems Level Impact
• Conduct rigorous agri-food market systems assessments guide our work.
• Measure systems level change.
• Secure longer-term partnerships with donors and stakeholders.

Alignment of Impact Investment
• Global staff, donors, partners, and clients share impact investing knowledge and convene stakeholders for system level impacts.
• Prioritize capital for agri-food market systems where we work.

Resource Diversification
• Broaden our donor base.
• Motivate institutional donors to make longer-term commitments for systems level change.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?


Mennonite Economic Development Associates

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


Connect with nonprofit leaders


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Mennonite Economic Development Associates

Board of directors
as of 06/21/2024
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Jeremy Showalter

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 2/15/2023

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Black/African American
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Decline to state
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

No data


No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 03/16/2023

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We measure and then disaggregate job satisfaction and retention data by race, function, level, and/or team.