We believe there are always new, better ways of tackling the world's toughest challenges and creating lasting change. That's why Mercy Corps pursues bold opportunities in our programmes and identifies self-sustaining, scalable business ideas that can break through cycles of poverty and deliver social benefit to millions of people in the developing world.
Below are just a few examples that are improving people's lives, achieving financial sustainability and working toward widespread global scale.
Businesses Mercy Corps started that have reached thousands of people, continue to grow and are financially independent:
- Mercy Corps’ microfinance network: Bosnia, China, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Tajikistan
Despite the expansion of financial services over the last few decades, there are still millions of people who could benefit from products that protect their small businesses and fledgling assets. Mercy Corps’ eight successful microfinance institutions focus on underserved communities reeling from disaster, conflict or transitioning economies. To date, 1.2 million loans have been disbursed across our network, representing £1 billion in value.
- MicroMentor: Tunisia, Guatemala, Mexico, United States
When a small business owner has guidance from an experienced mentor, the chance of the business surviving the first two years jumps from 69 to 82 percent. MicroMentor offers entrepreneurs access to a pool of committed mentors via an easy-to-use online community, helping them get past the start-up phase, keep their doors open over the long haul, increase revenues and create jobs.
Businesses Mercy Corps started that promise strong social benefit, are growing and working toward financial sustainability and independence:
- Microinsurance Catastrophe Risk Organisation (MiCRO): Haiti, Nicaragua
In disaster-prone countries, many small business owners are hit over and over by catastrophe with no cushion against unexpected shocks, knocking them back down the ladder of prosperity. MiCRO offers microinsurance products that provide an economic safety net for clients, mainly women, after severe natural disasters.
- Tiendas de la Salud: Guatemala
In Guatemala, 60 percent of the population lacks access to the most basic health care, particularly in rural areas. Tiendas de la Salud is a micro-franchised network of health stores responding to this need by supplying high-quality, low-cost medicines in rural areas. The micro-franchise was strategically spun off and is now owned and operated by Guatemala’s largest pharmaceutical company.
Innovation throughout our programmes
Transformational ideas Mercy Corps teams are exploring to tackle intractable challenges, such as ways to use new technology, distribution models that can reach the “last mile” of remote customers, and brokering creative partnerships:
Building rural energy markets: Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Myanmar, Nigeria, Timor-Leste, Uganda
Most families in the places we work don’t have access to decent light at night, and they have to walk long distances or pay high prices for wood for open cooking fires. Mercy Corps makes solar lights and fuel-efficient cookstoves available by developing business skills among local micro-entrepreneurs and retailers, training them in marketing techniques, and tailoring appropriate finance mechanisms.
Accelerating land rights: Bolivia, Guatemala, Colombia
Families that securely own the land they farm are more likely to invest in it and thrive. Mercy Corps connects indigenous farmers, land rights practitioners, NGOs and government agencies to test ways to fast-track the process—and make it more cost effective.
Harnessing mobile phone technology: Democratic Republic of the Congo, Indonesia, Nepal, Niger, Uganda, Zimbabwe
From 2005 to 2010, cell phone use tripled in the developing world to nearly 4 billion mobile subscriptions, representing an enormous opportunity to reach people with life-changing services and products. Mercy Corps bundles information that small-scale farmers need with tailored financial services to help them grow and sell more food. And when families reeling from natural disaster or conflict need cash to buy food or rebuilding materials, we get it to them faster and more securely using mobile phones instead of paper vouchers.