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
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.
Myanmar: A Welcome Harvest December 8, 2008
Bo Kone, Myanmar - It would be hard to overstate the importance of rice to the people of Myanmar's Irrawaddy Delta. Rice is the staple food around which all meals are built. It is the cash crop that fuels the local economy.
Myanmar: Bold Woman Makes a Difference December 8, 2008
Yangon, Myanmar - When a massive cyclone pounded Myanmar six months ago, Mra Sabai Nyun knew exactly what she wanted to do.
Myanmar: Navigating Change in the Delta December 8, 2008
In early May, Cyclone Nargis tore through Myanmar's Irrawaddy Delta, its merciless rains and 120-mile-an-hour winds destroying hundreds of low-lying villages and killing more than 140,000 people.
Kyrgyzstan: Building Furniture and a Foundation December 5, 2008
Earlier this year, the sound of saws returned to an abandoned furniture-making plant in the center of Kyzylkia, a once-prosperous industrial town located in the heart of Kyrgyzstan's Ferghana Valley.
Mongolia: Opening drawers November 25, 2008
Tsetserleg, Mongolia — How does traditional Mongolian nomad furniture end up in children's rooms in Amsterdam, more than 4,000 miles away? A combination of craftsmanship and connections, with a little help from Mercy Corps.
Mongolia: Shepherding Tradition November 25, 2008
The title of "Master Herder" is reserved for a select few across Mongolia. It conjures up a distinct image: an aged but still eminently capable man dressed in traditional robes, standing on the vast steppes, exercising an almost mystical control over his livestock.
Mongolia: Faces of the Gobi November 25, 2008
Here are some of the people and landscapes we encountered on a two-week, 1,600 mile journey over Mongolia's deserts, mountains and steppes.