In 2003 Mercy Corps funded an innovative program, Phoenix Fund, to underwrite projects to encourage entrepreneurism in countries where Mercy Corps have staff.
International development projects overseen by NGOs (Non Governmental Organizations) such as Mercy Corps are primarily funded by large institutional funders and governments. These projects are multi-year, millions if not tens of millions of dollars, complex, and with strict accounting and reporting requirements.
Often country directors have need for smaller amounts of funding, say $25 to $100K, to launch community based efforts aimed at creating jobs and income in poor countries. The process for applying for these smaller amounts of money is simple, quick, and not burdensome. A detailed financial and work plan is required, however, as are regular progress reports. A committee of donors and staff select the projects based on established criteria.
Donors who are interested may visit these projects accompanied by in-country staff and the Phoenix Fund Director, security and safety risks being acceptable.
In January of 2008, eight donors visited two projects funded by Phoenix, the first a handmade paper factory in the Darjeeling, India, region, and the tea estate where those products are being used for packaging. We also drove into remote regions of southeastern Nepal and visited three villages where farmers are growing cardamom.
Donors had an opportunity to talk with locals, meet with community groups organized to assist the farmers, participate in feasts and dances, listen to local musicians, and receive many blessings from village elders. We were given detailed presentations from country staff about the projects. Everyone learned about the challenges these communities face, marketing and distribution among the largest.
Stephen King & Joni Kabana
Added by AnuK on November 14, 2008