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Business solutions against poverty

Dorothy Nyambi (MEDA)

Presided by Dankwart Horsch the Horsch family and the HORSCH company support the aid organisation MEDA. The president and CEO, Dorothy Nyambi, recently visited the Sitzenhof.

MEDA (Mennonite Economic Development Associates) is an association of Christians who feel committed to biblical values also in business life. The HORSCH Foundation is one of the supporters of the aid organisation. On her trip to Europe the MEDA president and CEO, Dorothy Nyambi, visited the company at Sitzenhof. terraHORSCH took the opportunity to talk to her.

terraHORSCH: Mrs Nyambi, originally you are a doctor, you were born in Cameroon and today you live in Canada. How did you become the head of an international aid organisation?
Dorothy Nyambi: I moved to Canada at the age of more than 30 years. At that time, I had earned my medical degree and worked as a doctor in different developing countries. This task was incredibly interesting and challenging. But we always were able to help only a few people. Many others that were not within our reach died. This is why I decided to take a completely different path and turn to international development aid. About five months ago I became the president and CEO of MEDA, an organisation with about 150 employees all over the world that works in 62 countries with a total of 402 project partners.

Does your training as a doctor help in any respect?
Dorothy Nyambi: Only to a limited extent. For MEDA follows a different approach compared to a lot of other aid organisations. Our focus is not on a mere humanitarian aid. For in the developing countries this kind of aid often leads to further dependence. We, however, want to reduce poverty by supporting entrepreneurial activities.

How exactly does this work?
Dorothy Nyambi: Our project partners mainly are smaller and medium-sized companies. They work in the most different lines of business – often in tourism or agriculture. Especially the latter is of major importance in the developing countries. A lot of employments are connected with these sectors, they are an important pillar of the national economy. But we do not only encourage small units, but also the structural change. For farming only to supply oneself has never lifted anyone out of poverty. People have to get alternatives, for example in the value chain. Together with the project partner on site MEDA develops new concepts, helps with financing and accompanies people for a certain time. The objective is that finally the projects work completely independently.

What is MEDA’s source of finance?
Dorothy Nyambi: Mainly membership fees and donations. In addition to a lot of individuals we are also supported by foundations, like for example the foundation of Bill and Melinda Gates or the HORSCH Foundation, moreover by numerous governmental organisations mainly from North America, Australia and Great Britain.

What are the challenges for the future?
Dorothy Nyambi: MEDA has been existing for more than 60 years. During this time, we always adapted to the changing conditions. Today we are facing a new about-face – let‘s call it aid organisation 4.0. And a lot of it is positive: for example, mobile communication technology or the internet. Both made communication much easier and cheaper. Or the banking sector: What will happen in this sector if in the future even more things can be dealt with online. What will agriculture in the future be like? Everything around us is extremely dynamic. We take these impulses and want to turn them into positive, innovative and modern projects. MEDA has a lot of experience and uses it for a modern development aid – with creative ideas and together with innovative partners. Dorothy