Based on a profound belief we decided in 2006 to establish a foundation with Dankwart Horsch as chairman. The mission of the foundation are investments in commercial projects to conquer poverty on the basis and in the spirit of the organization MEDA (Mennonite Economic Development Associates, www.meda.org) as well as investments in regional initiatives at our locations in Schwandorf and Ronneburg.
MEDA is a union of Christians who know that they are obliged to biblical values also in business life. They share their belief and put their abilities and means at disposal to meet human needs through commercial development. Also institutions and aid organizations of the Mennonite Church - an evangelical free church, that emerged from the anabaptist movement in the 16. century - are supported by the HORSCH Foundation.
It is our goal to accompany organizations regularly and for several years and to support them lastingly. We con¬cretely take part in single projects, we visit them or work actively together with them.
Communities in Nicaragua are struggling beneath the weight of massive unemployment and a huge national debt that has led to economic instability and widespread poverty. Families are barely able to eat; the basic needs of daily life often go unmet.
Women in particular bear the largest burden, as the largest segment of homes in Nicaragua are headed by single women. This often leaves single mothers trapped, scrambling for any kind of food and money to provide for their children, without hope of earning enough to break the cycle of poverty.
The Horsch Foundation is supporting the micro-finance organisation “MI Credito“, a MEDA project in Nicaragua. Small loans help women to fabricate urgently needed products, offer services which help to generate more income. Often new small firms are created that provide additional jobs.
MEDA is giving the male and female entrepreneurs a huge boost of confidence by standing behind loans that they could never get in the past. Urban credit manager Junior Bolanos welcomes clients by saying, „We believe in the micro enterprise spirit. We believe in the ability to overcome challenges and struggles.“
MEDA wants to help to return this historical breadbasket of Europe to its former glory. MEDA’s project SUPPER (Southeast Ukraine Planting for Prosperity and Economic Rejuvenation), that is part of the Ukraine Horticulture Development Project (UHDP), strengthens the capacities of 5,000 small farmers and agribusinesses in Crimea und Zaporiska. Together with local partners – the Crimea Association of Farmers and Land Owners, the Ukrainian Women Farmers Council Association and the agricultural extension service of Tavria State Agrotechnological University - SUPPER works closely with input suppliers, technology distributors, storage facilities and financial institutions to better respond to small farmers’ needs.
With capital and training, small, labour intensive farms can adopt modern technologies, increase productivity and deliver profitable, high quality greenhouse crops and table grapes to markets in which they have a competitive advantage. MEDA’s project supplies farmers with the information, training and technology they need to become as productive as possible. The farmers have access to an information network consisting of workshops, online services, a monthly newsletter and an advice hotline. There are experts who answer more specific questions. Public field days on model farms that always attract many people offer on-site opportunities to learn and also to attract new farmers to become involved. There are also plans to test short-message technology and to serialize information in local newspapers. Agro Capital Management Limited, a newly founded MEDA-owned company in the Ukraine, provides the necessary financial solutions and offers financing and leasing services for agricultural machines where otherwise the farmers would fail to get the classical financial services.
SUPPER also develops a network of model farms that serves as a link between the small farmers. The lead farmers get additional training and resources and then act as a kind of mentor for a group of farmers. The five-year project with a budget of ten million US$ has been set up in April 2008. The most important supporter is the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)..
The concrete aims are:
- 5,000 small farms will increase their income by developing intensive, high-quality crops that can be sold at higher profit margins.
- Creation of a sustainable system of linkages between suppliers, growers and buyers in the value chain.