Mercy Corps is a non-governmental humanitarian aid organization that helps victims who have been affected by different kinds of natural disasters such as droughts and earthquakes, as well as human conflicts such as the war in Syria.
The organization’s main mission is to alleviate the lives of people who are suffering from various ills whether societal; like poverty or those affected by natural calamities, through the provision of socio-economic infrastructure to communities and improving livelihoods.
Mercy Corps was established in 1979 as “Save the Refugee Fund” by Dan O’Neill. The main purpose or objective of this fund at this time was to respond by providing relief to the refugees after the Cambodian genocide.
In 1980, the founder, Dan O’Neill met Ellsworth Culver and they immediately struck a friendship moving on to become partners in the organization.
The two shared a common vision in providing long-term solutions to the poor and affected communities through setting up of community developmental programs.
Thus, the organization vision moved towards empowering the communities through development programs, rather than just assisting them with the basic needs and other kinds of aid in times of disaster.
In 1982, the organization was incorporated as Mercy Corps International, and this was done in Seattle, Washington. In the same year, the organization set up its first developmental project in Honduras and continues to provide humanitarian Aid in different parts of the world.
In 1984, the organization set up its headquarters in Portland, Oregon and also shortened its name to Mercy Corps.
The organizations’ activities gain traction, expanding rapidly to many different parts of the world that have been affected by conflict or natural calamities.
In 1989, another landmark was reached where Mercy Corps established its loan programs with the aim of loaning out $1.5 billion to people in marginalized areas for the establishment of homes and small businesses.
In 1994, Neal Keny-Guyer joined Mercy Corps as its Chief Executive Officer. His main aim was to put social entrepreneurship, civil society, and human rights at the forefront of the organization’s humanitarian mission.
In 1996, Mercy Corps opened its European headquarters in Edinburg, Scotland. This is facilitated by the merger with Scottish European Aid which had been providing humanitarian assistance in Europe. Mercy Corps began its European operations.
In 1998, Mercy Corps Northwest was established. This was the organization’s first initiative in the United States. The aim of Mercy Corps Northwest was to help the small business communities and self-employed persons in Oregon, Washington.
Through the years, Mercy Corps merged with several other humanitarian organizations that shared common interests and visions.
Most notable mergers include the “Conflict Management Group” that was founded by Roger Fisher.
This merger occurred in 2004. In 2007, another notable merger was with “NetAid” and this was done as Mercy Corps was seeking to broaden its scope in youth engagement.
2008 was a remarkable year for Mercy Corps. The organization won the “Fast Company Social Capitalist Award.” The company was feted for its innovational and entrepreneurial approach to tackling different forms of humanitarian crisis.
Other major recognition and awards were achieved in 2017. First of all, Mercy Corps was named as the “Most Loved Brand” and America’s “Brand of the Year” in the International Aid, non-profit category. Further, the organization was awarded the Mother Teresa Social Award for social justice.
Mercy Corps has its presence in over 40 countries and has a team of over 5,000 members who mainly work where they come from.
Some of the countries that have benefited from the organization’s humanitarian Aid include Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Jordan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Eritrea, India, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Iraq, Syria, Niger, Sudan, Congo, Haiti, Japan, Nepal, and Yemen.
Business model of Mercy Corps
Mercy Corps’ primary customers are people who have been affected by natural calamities or societal conflicts such as war.
In case of a disaster such as the terrible 2011 earthquake and tsunami that occurred in Japan, the organization offers emergency relief such as First Aid services, emergency evacuation and provision of temporary shelters in collaboration with all local governments and all other agencies.
However, it is also important to note that Mercy Corps has also been gradually transforming its main mandate from offering philanthropic temporary assistance which has short-term impacts, to a broader and more elaborate socio-economic infrastructure which encourages the long-term improvements as well as the well-being of the society.
This organization mainly responds to natural disasters and human conflicts by providing immediate first-hand assistance before engaging the society in a long-term, more sustainable developmental assistance.
In delivering its mandate, it, therefore, identifies the affected people and societies then comes up with a plan on how to help.
The kind of help offered mainly comes in the form of helping the society develop entrepreneurial ventures that will alleviate them from poverty and be able to acquire the basic human needs such as food, clean drinking water, and decent shelter.
Every human being deserves to live a dignified life and to be treated with dignity.
This is Mercy Corps’ working policy and hence all employees are trained on an annual basis on the desired code-of-conduct.
The importance of treating fellow human beings with dignity is always emphasized and hence the relationship between the employees and the people in need of humanitarian assistance has to be one where both parties are treated with dignity.
To the donors - Mercy Corps is a donor-funded organization, meaning that it highly depends on the donor funding to carry out its mandate and conduct its daily activities. For donors, the organization is a perfect avenue for them to give back to society knowing that their money will be properly utilized in improving the lives of people who are in need.
To the employees and volunteers - Mercy Corps has a team of over 5,000 employees, associates, and volunteers. The team is made up of selfless people who have the drive to make a positive change or to positively impact the lives of other people. Thus, Mercy Corps is the perfect place to work when you have passion and need to work where you can directly impact the lives of other people.
When a massive earthquake hit Haiti in 2010, Mercy Corps was on the ground in just two days and was able to assist over 1 million people by providing, food, shelter, clean water, emotional support to the children and even temporary jobs for them to get back onto their feet. This is just one example of the organization’s main activity.
In 2015, the organization also distributed 18 million pounds of seeds to farmers in 18 different countries.
This was in line with its other key activity which is to provide support and socio-economic infrastructure to poor societies.
Mercy Corps’ most important resources are its employees, consultants, and volunteers.
These are selfless people who put the needs of other people before theirs by risking their lives to go to the most dangerous places in the world to offer humanitarian assistance.
The donors also form part of the other key resources because without the funds; the organization will simply be unable to carry out its mandate.
The kinds of activities carried out by Mercy Corps can be very risky and dangerous. Thus, they require adequate support from their partners in order to achieve their objective.
One of the most critical partners are the community members and local governments that help with local logistics and other localized assistance.
Mercy Corps also partners with different organizations such as the United Nations and World Food Program to effectively carry out its mandate.
The activities carried out by this organization are cost intensive. Access to some of the areas where humanitarian help is needed, for example, can be very difficult and hence it ends up being a very expensive affair.
Also, setting up the socio-economic infrastructure that the organization undertakes in different parts of the world is cost intensive. 87% of Mercy Corps revenue goes towards directly assisting people in different capacities.
Mercy Corps solely depends on donors, whether individuals, companies or nations. It’s a non-profit organization that doesn’t engage in any revenue-generating activities.
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