Mercy Corps is a global humanitarian aid agency engaged in transitional environments that have experienced some sort of shock: natural disaster, economic collapse, or conflict. People working for it move as quickly as possible from bringing in food and supplies to enabling people to rebuild their economy with community-driven and market-led programs. To lay the groundwork for longer-term recovery, Mercy Corps focuses on connecting to both government and business for the changes they would like to see. "We actually focus on access to financial services as the critical element for helping to move people out of poverty", Nancy Lindborg, Mercy Corps President.
Mercy Corps serves an area for extended periods of time to foster local entrepreneurship, rebuild social capital, and stimulate markets through "cash for work" programs and a variety of lending models. Mercy Corps, in the last 14 years, has founded 12 different finance institutions. Since 1979, Mercy Corps has provided more than US$1.95 billion in assistance to people in 107 nations. Supported by headquarters offices in North America and Europe, the agency's unified global programs employ 3,700 staff worldwide and reach nearly 16.7 million people in more than 40 countries.
Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, and its influence spreads across the continent. Yet, inequality and insecurity have consistently undermined Nigeria's development — and therefore the region's stability. Roughly 70 percent of the country lives in poverty, and in many areas as many as 80 percent of women are illiterate.
The growing threat from extremists only exacerbates significant ethnic and religious violence that stems from income inequality and conflict over diminishing natural resources.
It's critical that we help communities address tensions and prevent marginalized populations from being exploited and participating in destruction behaviors. Supporting the education of young women is particularly essential, so they can participate in and contribute equally to their country in positive ways.