Scott Anderson

Welcoming Our New Content Partner: Mercy Corps

Mercy Corps’ history as a global humanitarian agency spans back to 1979, when it was first created as “Save the Refugees Fund,” a task force organized by Dan O’Neill in response to the Cambodian refugee crisis stemming from the genocide committed by the Khmer Rouge. A few years later, the organization’s first development project was launched in Honduras, where it partnered with a local group teaching soil conservation and watershed management. Since then, Mercy Corps has focused on economies in transition, providing assistance and partnership throughout a community’s relief-to-recovery continuum. The agency currently works in 41 countries, helping 19 million people each year.

Among U.S.-based NGOs, Mercy Corps was a relatively early participant in microfinance, entering the sector in 1989. By the mid-2000s those early seedlings have grown into 12 microfinance organizations (MFIs) lending more than $1.5 billion. And in 1994, the Portland-based agency transitioned toward a handful of key focus areas, including social entrepreneurship, a good decade before the term entered the popular lexicon.

Mercy Corps’ status as both a relief organization responding on the ground to urgent post-disaster and post-conflict situations, and an organization developing long-term, market-driven strategies to develop economies, gives it an interesting perspective on the past, present and future of global development. That’s why I’m very happy to welcome the organization as a NextBillion Content Partner.

Today, we’re launching Mercy Corps’ Content Partner blog, where readers can find out more about the organization, connect with them via social media and read several of their recent articles on NextBillion. In fact, for a good grounding on the role Mercy Corps plays at the apex of market development and private enterprise, check out Lighting a Pathway for Solar in Rural Uganda. The article details how Mercy Corps worked to create buzz around solar lamps through product demos, connected shopkeepers with solar companies, and helped build confidence among consumers interested in substituting their kerosene lamps for cleaner solar solutions.

The source for recent posts from Mercy Corps has been the truly superb Global Envision, a website and blog community managed by Mercy Corps that spotlights global resource issues and market-driven solutions to poverty. As CEO Neal Keny-Guyer puts it: “Global Envision is part of our effort to foster a richer conversation about global poverty that will, over time, build a more fertile environment for greater action.” Indeed, Global Envision takes a wider view on Base of the Pyramid practices, impact investing and debates across a plethora of business and development issues. I would strongly encourage you to bookmark them alongside NextBillion.

Please watch for an upcoming NextBillion Q&A with Keny-Guyer. And in the meantime, please join me in welcoming them to the NB family.

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