Innovation is the key to creating sustainable programs. Whether it's helping communities find financial solutions, using technology to improve crops or developing clean-energy strategies to save people money, our approach means trying different solutions and growing and replicating the ones that work best.
The toughest challenges demand the boldest ideas. That’s why Mercy Corps 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.
How we innovate
Mercy Corps tests ideas in the field, measures the results, and scales the most promising solutions.
Mercy Corps’ 4,000 global team members
Our on-the-ground insight into how local markets and systems function gives us a deep understanding of the problems people face every day — and our teams are constantly generating promising new ideas to address them.
With support from our Social Ventures Team
With expertise in business, finance, technology, product design and consumer insight, Mercy Corps’ Social Ventures team turns ideas into scalable businesses in emerging markets, acting like an internal incubation and acceleration lab.
With you: Mercy Corps Social Venture Fund
Mercy Corps’ Social Venture Fund provides early-stage financing to build social businesses and drive them toward commercial viability. Supported through philanthropic donations, the Social Venture Fund advises and invests in Mercy Corps’ highest-potential emerging ventures — those that are able to demonstrate strong potential for financial sustainability, social impact and scale. Learn more and partner with us ▸
Through partnerships: Innovation Investment Alliance
Mercy Corps works with USAID and the Skoll Foundation to help proven, transformative and innovative organizations reach millions of people globally. Together, the Alliance invests in opportunities across the globe and in multiple sectors to create widespread positive transformation. Learn more ▸
Innovations: Our track record
Poverty. Hunger. Conflict. Mercy Corps sees the world’s toughest challenges as an invitation to bring big ideas and bold action together with local insight. But our goal is always the same: to strengthen families so they can build better lives.
What's possible when we think differently and pursue bold ideas? Our impact:
Stronger small businesses. Our specialized micro-insurance products and eight microfinance institutions have connected countless entrepreneurs with resources and expertise.
Bigger harvests. We bring together the right people — and technology — so farmers have the knowledge and tools they need to produce more and earn more.
Better family health. We make sure families have the products and information they need to stay healthy, whether it’s a microfranchise of mini health shops, or clean cookstoves and solar lanterns.
Guatemala: Rural micropharmacies offer medicine for all
Sustainable Community Health Stores is a new way of addressing the rural healthcare problem. It helps local families start small businesses while providing much-needed medicines in underserved communities.
Indonesia: Wholesale bank brings financial services to the poor
In Indonesia, millions of people are self-employed through small businesses. But only a small percentage of them have had access to the formal financial services that help people move permanently out of poverty.
Haiti: What is your wish for Haiti?
This is not the type of question you hear very often here. Everyone talks about what Haiti needs: shelter, infrastructure, healthcare. But it is rare to ask Haitians what they wish for their country.
Nicaragua: ¡Vivan los empresarios!: Mentoring entrepreneurs in Central America
Starting with just a sewing machine, Aida Mayorga and Oscar Garcia built a business that now employs more than 50 workers and promotes positive environmental and social business practices.
Central African Republic: Hadja becomes an entrepreneur
Hadja had never engaged in commerce, and had never had an opportunity to generate her own income — until she joined the Mercy Corps Village Savings and Loan Association.
Find a mentor. Be a mentor. Build a business.
Business mentoring isn’t a new concept for many professionals — but the way these connections are happening is changing faster than ever. Breaking out of the mentoring program mold is the Mercy Corps program MicroMentor, best described as a Match.com for business mentoring.
China: All-China Youth Federation Delegation to Oregon, June 2010
Mercy Corps has worked with the All-China Youth Federation (ACYF) to develop the Social Innovator Leadership Program.
Uganda: Truly, skills for employment and skills for life
A few weeks ago, I was honored to serve as the Chief Judge at an interschool debate on HIV/AIDS prevention. Under a perfect blue Ugandan sky, youth from two neighboring schools prepared to deliver remarks on the importance of abstinence, safe sex, delayed marriage and healthy life choices.
China: Welcoming Mercy Corps' newest friends
While Mercy Corps works in dozens of far-flung locations across the world, we are proud to call the state of Oregon and the city of Portland home. It’s the place that nurtured the culture of innovation, collaboration, and optimism (with a touch of scrappiness) that we prize to this day.
Spreading the good word of storytelling
I spend most of each workday for Mercy Corps either writing or editing stories. This past weekend, I got to teach a class on why stories matter for all of us.