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
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.
Sri Lanka: Rice and Recovery March 23, 2009
Mercy Corps continues to help Sri Lanka "build back better" from the tsunami, and focus on the country's culinary staple — rice — as a way to lift farmers' incomes and protect families against global price shocks.
Nepal: Nourishing Opportunity February 24, 2009
Nepal: Helping Poor Farmers December 8, 2008
In Nepal today, more than half the population has no access to even the most basic financial services. In rural areas, farming families are trapped in cycles of debt and are often forced to sell their crops at below market rates, further slipping into poverty.
Myanmar: Kitchen Gardens in Bo Kone December 8, 2008
Bo Kone, Myanmar — Life here in Bo Kone, a village of about 1,000 people, has never been easy. Located on an isolated island in the Irrawaddy Delta, it's about an hour's boat ride to the nearest town.
Myanmar: Work on the Playground December 8, 2008
Be Toot, Myanmar — To be honest, it doesn't look like much: a group of 20 or so people moving clumps of mud from one spot to another in a field surrounded by a few buildings. But this is an important project, insists Mercy Corps program manager Mra Sabai Nyun.