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Through Global Envision, Mercy Corps blog about market-driven solutions to development, we explore ideas, challenges and solutions.
While Mercy Corps may be best known for its disaster relief work, the agency’s ethos of helping families turn crisis into opportunity means we consider long-term economic development solutions as soon as we hit the ground. After an emergency, families need to get back on their feet and not just survive, but thrive.
Working in some of the world’s most challenging places requires a holistic, entrepreneurial perspective. With our deep understanding of the challenges the poor face, Mercy Corps often plays the role of facilitator in creating an engine for sustainable development. We harness business acumen and the imperative of a social return on investment to affect transformative change for people at the bottom of the economic pyramid.
In Zimbabwe, Uganda and Indonesia, Mercy Corps is facilitating the mobile ecosystem for farmers by developing a custom, holistic package of agriculture and financial services, call Agri-Fin Mobile. Throughout the crop lifecycle, farmers can access microloans and insurance products, weather data, precision fertilizer information, market prices, buyers, and make and receive payments via their cell phone. After refining the pilot, the project will expand to five more countries, improving the incomes and lives of millions of small-scale farmers and their families.
In Indonesia, Mercy Corps developed a wholesale bank, called Bank Andara, that’s transforming the country’s microfinance industry and connecting millions of previously unbanked low-income people with the financial services that can change their lives. We’re replicating the model in the Philippines and working on expanding it to other countries.
In Guatemala, Mercy Corps developed micro-pharmacies that make available basic medical supplies in hard-to-reach rural communities. The stores pack a double benefit, too: designed as franchises, local business owners build a vital social enterprise that brings economic opportunity to their communities. By ensuring quality control and removing much of the risk and guesswork that makes entrepreneurship so uncertain, a local grocery chain purchased Mercy Corps’ franchise model. The company plans to expand it throughout the country.
In the Middle East, a massive youth bulge threatens to undo the tenuous movement sparked by the Arab Spring. In the Gaza Strip and West Bank, our Arab Developer Network Initiative gives young people the tools they need to start their own business ventures and launch local language mobile and web apps that can be monetized, so they can profit from their ideas. By utilizing cloud computing, we help youth access cutting-edge knowledge and skills from the broader tech industry, despite political and physical borders.
Since 1979, Mercy Corps has provided $2.2 billion in assistance since, and has 4,000 employees working in 41 countries