This article was originally published by The Mennonite

MEDA convention attendees raise $100,000+ for women’s empowerment

Photo: Mary Fehr (L) and Sarah French (R) have raised over $300,000 for MEDA’s GROW (Greater Rural Opportunities for Women) project in Ghana through their Bike to GROW initiative. Photo provided. 

On Saturday evening at the Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) annual convention, Nov. 5-8 in Richmond, Va., supporters rallied to raise over $100,000 for Bike to GROW, a fundraising initiative to support MEDA’s work with women entrepreneurs.

Bike to GROW, headed by two young women who cycled across Canada to raise money for MEDA’s GROW (Greater Rural Opportunities for Women) project in Ghana, raised over $200,000 from May through September. Even though they surpassed their original fundraising goal of $150,000, cyclists Mary Fehr and Sarah French wanted to outdo a fundraising initiative from the previous summer, which featured a climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro with MEDA president Allan Sauder. In order to exceed the climber’s achievements, Fehr and French spontaneously asked if 60 convention attendees would support Bike to GROW with $1,000 pledges. Over the course of dinner that evening, several pledges were made totaling over $100,000.

The MEDA Convention commenced Nov. 5 with a keynote address from race relations expert Dr. James Loewen. The Nov. 6 plenary session took the form of a lunchtime panel discussion, featuring family business owners from three North American companies. David Greene, host of National Public Radio’s (NPR) Morning Edition, shared stories from his travels during the Nov. 6 evening address. International economic development expert Joyce Bontrager Lehman provided a compelling finale to the convention on Sunday morning during her talk about the world’s poor. MEDA also introduced its second class of “20 Under 35: Young Professionals Changing the World” award winners.

At the Annual General Meeting, MEDA president Allan Sauder talked about how MEDA leverages its resources to make the most of its efforts to create business solutions to poverty.

“A few years ago, after the Lehman Brothers fiasco and the worldwide financial meltdown, the term leveraging fell out of favor,” said Sauder. “Well, that is not the kind of leveraging we are talking about: ours is a responsible business approach that begins with good stewardship of resources and allows us to achieve the greatest impact for the maximum number of families.”

“The 2015 MEDA Convention was a huge success. The passion for MEDA’s mission is alive and well, and it was evident in everything that happened at convention,” says Dave Warren, MEDA’s chief engagement officer. “The unexpected $100,000 fundraising rally for Bike to GROW was incredible. We are blessed with an energetic and passionate group of supporters that never cease to amaze us.”

MEDA’s 2016 Convention, “Business as a Calling: Women Changing the World,” will be held in San Antonio, Texas, October 27-30.

Anabaptist World

Anabaptist World Inc. (AW) is an independent journalistic ministry serving the global Anabaptist movement. We seek to inform, inspire and Read More

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