Markets, whether large or small, keep communities thriving. But conflicts, disasters and a lack of infrastructure can prevent people from conducting the daily transactions on which all growth and progress depend. Around the world, Mercy Corps discovers why commerce is stuck.
In some places, manufacturers need loans to purchase equipment and young people desire job skills. In others, key transportation routes to market must be rebuilt or farmers require better storage to keep their inventory fresh until sold.
Our economic development projects provide financing, equipment, training or technical support. These projects help people find jobs, build their businesses, supply their communities with the goods they need —and improve their lives.
All stories about Economic opportunity
Kyrgyzstan: Leaving a Blooming Legacy June 4, 2009
The 2,000 people of Tosor are proud of their little lakeside village. Located at the base of a spectacular mountain range, on the shores of one of the world's largest mountain lakes, Tosor boasts a long history of writers, painters and composers.
Myanmar: Helping Myanmar, one year after the storm May 21, 2009
Indonesia: Nineteen: Cahyan, tofu snack seller May 15, 2009
Cahyan, 45, sells a tofu specialty called tahu gejrot from a food stall in Jakarta's affluent Menteng neighborhood. He also prepares this dish for catered events; in all, he earns up to $968 a month.
Indonesia: Nineteen: Hasanuddin, water seller May 15, 2009
Hasanuddin, 44, operates a small food stall and sells water in an illegal settlement under a toll road in Jakarta. He says that he earns "enough to survive."
Indonesia: Nineteen: Eni, jamu seller May 15, 2009
Eni, 31, sells a traditional herbal medicine called jamu from a basket that she carries around the dockyards and fish markets of North Jakarta. She's made as much as $242 in a month to support her family.
Indonesia: Nineteen: Hepi, soto ayam soup seller May 15, 2009
Hepi, 47, sells chicken soup every day on Platform 3 at Central Jakarta's Kota Train Station. He earns between $220-$330 each month, and lives in a small rented house near the train station while his family lives in a different part of town.
Indonesia: Nineteen: Sriyusiati, soto betawi soup seller May 15, 2009
Sriyusiati, 49, operates a food stall in South Jakarta, selling coconut rice, beef soup and other traditional dishes to office workers. She makes approximately $440 a month from her business.
Myanmar: Burmese farmers caught in poverty trap May 13, 2009
Farming communities in Myanmar's Irrawaddy Delta have always followed a cycle of debt. Each year, wealthy land owners would lend farmers money, tools and cattle needed to till the soil. After the harvest, the debt is repayed and the cycle continues.
Central African Republic: Life, Interrupted April 10, 2009
Luc Mbarte was awoken by shouting outside his house on the night of May 2, 2007. Seven armed bandits had entered his village, Bokoyan, under the cover of night.
Pakistan: Sewing's Rising Star March 31, 2009
Growing up, the chattering gears of my mother's sewing machine provided the soundtrack to weekends in our home. Her dexterity with a foot pedal translated to nifty Halloween costumes for my brother and me, never going to school with rips in our pants and the occasional new blouse for her.