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An older woman in brightly colored clothes sits outside of a building in Nepal.
Gillian Wagner

Gillian Wagner

Gillian Wagner is the Fundraising Coordinator at Global Impact. In this position, she supports the Campaign Engagement team’s work with charity alliance partners and public sector campaigns. She has a knack for organization and brings her passion for nonprofit management to her role every day. As the Fundraising Coordinator, Gillian enjoys highlighting the work of the nonprofits she supports and sharing their powerful stories of change. Her previous work experience includes the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Coalition for Smarter Growth. She’s a true Wisconsinite and won’t let her colleagues forget it when they try to complain about D.C.’s “winter weather.”

By
Gillian Wagner
Photo Credit
Kristin Lambert/Mercy Corps/Nepal

“Beyond delivering aid to meet urgent needs, we develop long-term solutions to make lasting change possible.” – Mercy Corps

Global Impact’s Charity Alliance partner Mercy Corps knows that solving complex problems requires long-term solutions.

Mercy Corps is a leading humanitarian organization seeking to alleviate poverty around the world. Working in more than 40 countries, the nonprofit is facing some of the toughest challenges on earth, working in the places where conflict, disaster and extreme poverty often intersect. But the nonprofit doesn’t take a quick “in-and-out” approach, especially when it comes to emergency situations – it’s there for the long term to help solve further-reaching problems. 

Mercy Corps’ solutions are innovative and targeted to the real needs of the communities they serve. Its commitment to the local level is built into the organization – 85% of the nonprofit’s staff are from the countries in which it works

Its localized approach is obvious in programs like AgriFin in Kenya, where Mercy Corps is using mobile platforms to connect small-scale farmers like Julia to knowledge sharing and agricultural insights that have helped her scale up from a small family garden to a fully functional business. You can also look to the nonprofit’s work starting to support small businesses in Beirut after last month’s deadly explosion for another example.

But other than being local, there’s something else that these programs have in common – they all focus on supporting and growing businesses, oftentimes in the face of disasters. 

When we think of natural or man-made disasters, we don’t typically consider providing support to markets and entrepreneurs. But to Mercy Corps, businesses are a “lifeline for local communities, providing jobs, income and stability.”

The nonprofit recognizes that resilient business is crucial to a strong economy and is especially important to long-term recovery following emergency situations. 

2020 and beyond: The long-term effects of COVID-19
In response to past emergencies, we have a tendency to focus too often on short-term needs – and the COVID-19 pandemic is no different. But as Mercy Corps puts it, “disaster response requires short-term and long-term help.” So while the nonprofit is focused on protecting health and meeting urgent needs, it’s also thinking about economic recovery and resiliency. In fact, 74% of its overall programming is spent on long-term solutions. 

It’s likely that 2020 will see the first rise in poverty since 1990 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Mercy Corps estimates that between 71 and 100 million people could be pushed into extreme poverty, which is classified as living on less than $2 a day. 

Among those who will be hardest hit are those in the informal economy and who rely on informal credit – people working under-the-table jobs and receiving loans outside government regulation – and anyone operating in fragile markets. Entrepreneurs, small businesses, farmers, and informal workers need access to resources and assistance such as grants or input support in order to weather the pandemic and come out on the other side. 

We need long-term solutions to the pandemic now more than ever to mitigate the risk that the pandemic poses to economies – and peoples’ livelihoods – around the world.

Helping others unlock the door to success
These challenges aren’t going to be easy to address, but it’s absolutely possible to overcome them. Doing so will require everyone’s help to build back better.

However, with all these areas that need to support, you might be wondering “where do I even start?”

Enter: Mercy Corps’ MicroMentor Program. This free and innovative program allows people to get involved and help the nonprofit tackle these global problems one business at a time by offering their time, effort and skills. 

The way it works is simple – interested mentors can set up a profile and immediately begin the search for the perfect match. They’re then able to reach out and connect with entrepreneurs whose problems can be resolved by the user’s skills and experience.  

Participants must agree to abide by Mercy Corps’ principles of respect, trust and honesty while bringing their unique business experiences, history, cultural perspectives and ideas to the table for anyone, anywhere in the world.

With COVID-19 threatening the livelihoods of small business owners and employees around the world, the importance of getting involved cannot be understated. The pandemic has created specific sets of needs and challenges, and Mercy Corps is rising to meet them. 

MicroMentor is currently looking for mentors that can specifically help businesses navigate the impacts of the pandemic. They also offer resources to help you get started by sharing anticipated needs and sectors that need the most support. Mercy Corps also offers a list of small business economic relief programs around the world to help out the MicroMentor community. 
 

Salman
Mercy Corps


MicroMentor in action: Salman’s story
MicroMentor is already making waves for businesses that have been affected by COVID-19.

Meet Salman Olawale, Nigerian entrepreneur. Before the pandemic, Salman was in the process of expanding his laundry business. He had acquired land and was hiring new support staff and purchasing new equipment. 

But then the pandemic hit Nigeria, and Salman’s revenue disappeared overnight. His progress came to a sudden, resounding halt.
 

Salman at his laundry business with two boys.
Mercy Corps


Refusing to give up, Salman turned to MicroMentor, where he found a new source of hope after connecting with Swedish finance expert Hanna Obersteller. 

“With my mentor, I have been able to walk the journey with an experienced guide. The journey without a mentor would have been tough and hectic, almost impossible to survive alone.” Salman says.

Together, they are using this down time to fine-tune Salman’s accounting, develop a new responsive business strategy and approach potential business partners. With Hanna’s support, Salman is better positioned to hit the ground running when business picks back up, and is optimistic about the future once again.

Stories like Salman’s show the power of connection and the opportunity we have to help people around the world succeed. This year’s employee giving season is going to look quite different, but opportunities like the MicroMentor program can help inspire and engage all types of employees. 

Volunteerism and workplace giving
As experts in employee engagement, we can tell you that workplace giving isn’t just about money, it’s also about giving back. Volunteering is a great way to meet corporate social responsibility goals and engage employees in their work. With that in mind, MicroMentor is a great opportunity for our corporate partners, especially with so many employers and employees looking to connect their workforces and give back during these uncertain times. 

Contact us for more information on getting involved with Mercy Corps. You can also find more workplace giving resources through our virtual hub.  

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