Mercy Corps

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Mercy Corps
Mercy corps logo.png
Founded 1979
Founder Ellsworth Culver, Dan O'Neill
Type 501(c)(3)
Area served
Key people
Neal Keny-Guyer, Dan O'Neill Craig Redmond, Linda A. Mason
Slogan Be the change.

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.[1]

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.[1] Since 1979, Mercy Corps has provided more than US$1.95 billion in assistance to people in 107 nations.[2] 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.[2]


The organization was founded in 1979 as Save the Refugees Fund, a task force organized by Dan O'Neill in response to the plight of Cambodian refugees fleeing the famine, war and genocide of the Killing Fields. By 1982, the organization had expanded its work to other countries, was joined by Ellsworth Culver (Mercy Corps co-founder), and was renamed Mercy Corps International to reflect its broader mission. After a shift from simply providing relief assistance to focusing on long-term solutions to hunger and poverty, Mercy Corps' first development project began in Honduras in 1982.

As of 2009, Mercy Corps' global headquarters are now located in the Old Town neighborhood of Portland, Oregon, at 45 SW Ankeny St. 97204. Opened October 9, 2009, the building houses the agency's headquarters offices, The Mercy Corps Action Center (a companion center to The Action Center to End World Hunger opened, October 2009 in Manhattan), Mercy Corps Northwest and The Lemelson Foundation.[3]

Mercy Corps also has a European Headquarters at 40 Sciences, Edinburgh, Scotland EH9 1NJ. In 1996 Mercy Corps merged with Scottish European Aid and formed an organisation registered as Mercy Corps Scotland in 2000.


Mercy Corps' headquarters building in Portland, Oregon

Mercy Corps Northwest[edit]

The U.S. economic development office of Mercy Corps assists low-income individuals in Oregon and Washington who have difficulty receiving loans due to credit history, lack of collateral, or unfortunate circumstances. The loan program provides financing to entrepreneurs with solid business proposals and assists them to craft business plans and establish a matched savings account. Mercy Corps Northwest acts as a small business incubator and mentors new business owners through the start-up phase. MCNW also lends to existing businesses that create jobs for low-income people.[4]

Fostering microfinance[edit]

Partnering with banks and founding banking institutions, Mercy Corps facilitates microfinance around the world.[5]

Mercy Corps bank affiliates and area of operation:


Operations began in 2001 with a mother and child program at a health center. Mercy Corps expanded its work to mediating land conflicts. Nuevo Amanacer is one of several communities where Mercy Corps works to resolve disagreements over land and connect small-scale farmers to retail markets. The Inclusive Market Alliance for Rural Entrepreneurs was established by Mercy Corps, USAID, Walmart and Fundacion AGIL. The Alliance assists farmers to enlarge from subsistence farming to demand-driven production to supply major retailers like Walmart in Central America.[6] The Guatemala program operates out of Cobán, Alta Verapaz, with three sub-offices in Tucurú, Alta Verapaz, Nebaj, Quiche, and Guatemala City.[7]

Democratic Republic of Congo[edit]

To reduce violence against Congolese women vulnerable to abuse and rape when they go out collecting firewood and to alleviate deforestation of the Congo River basin forest, Mercy Corps introduced a fuel-efficient stove that requires less firewood. The stoves made from local clay, sand, and brick consume less than half the wood of traditional cooking fires. Mercy Corps teaches women how to make briquettes from manure and refuse which burn cleaner than charcoal. Local production of stoves and briquettes provides a way for women to make additional income and reduces the number of trips outside of the relative safety of the village. Reduction of carbon emissions through the use of the high-efficiency stoves has generated $160,000 worth of credits in the carbon market. Mercy Corps reinvests the proceeds in the education of Congolese women.[8]

North Korea[edit]

In response to the food crisis of the mid-1990s and at the request of the North Koreans, Mercy Corps began work in 1996. Mercy Corps has moved from food assistance to working on long-term agricultural and economic solutions: apple trees and fish farms and cross-cultural exchange. The effort involves aid workers living in Pyongyang, and in Chagang and North Pyongan provinces to visit families, monitor distribution and assess impact.[9]


After Cyclone Nargis in 2008, Mercy Corps arranged the shipment of emergency aid with the help of donations from DHL[10] and Chevron Corporation.[11] Government resistance to foreign aid kept supplies and relief workers confined to Rangoon.[12] Mercy Corps affiliated itself with Merlin, a British medical aid group which had a memorandum of understanding with the government.[12] Global aid agencies in the region rely on Burmese staff who are more able to move around obstacles created by the authoritarian regime.[12] Mercy Corps implemented "cash for work" programs paying residents to clean up flood-damaged villages and replant rice paddies.[13]


The agency's efficiency has helped Mercy Corps to achieve Charity Navigator's "Four-Star" charity rating (out of four possible stars).[14]

For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2006, Mercy Corps' income was US$205 million. US$81 million (40%) was from government grants. US$63 million (31%) was from in-kind donations ("material aid") in the form of food, medical, linens, and other supplies and services. Mercy Corps' expenses were US$191 million, which was spent primarily on the program but includes salaries and other compensation for 3,200 paid staff. Mercy Corps' total assets in 2006 were over US$98 million.

Organization, mergers[edit]

Mercy Corps is a non-governmental organization (NGO). Neal Keny-Guyer is the current Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

Mercy Corps incorporated the Conflict Management Group founded by Roger Fisher in 2004.[15] In 2007, Mercy Corps incorporated NetAid to expand its ongoing efforts to engage youth.[16]

Mercy Corps was also one of the first members of the IT nonprofit NetHope.[17]

Awards and distinctions[edit]

Awards and distinctions include:


  1. ^ a b Intelligent Investing with Steve Forbes, Interview with Nancy Lindborg,
  2. ^ a b "2008 annual report". Mercy Corps. Retrieved 2009-10-15. 
  3. ^ Bead, Richard (May 27, 2009). "As Mercy Corps grows, overhead has more than doubled since 2000". The Oregonian. 
  4. ^ Portland Monthly Magazine / Arts & Entertainment / Arts & Entertainment Articles / Detail
  5. ^ Microfinance Partners | Mercy Corps
  6. ^
  7. ^ International Development - Global Aid Agency Goes Local in Guatemala
  8. ^ Heim, Kristi (2009-12-24). "Stoves aim to curb violence against women and the environment". The Seattle Times. 
  9. ^ Mercy Corps helps get aid to N. Korea -
  10. ^ Mercy Corps relies on DHL to ship emergency supplies worth $1 million from Portland to Myanmar and China
  11. ^ Goldman Sachs | Media - Corporate Donations Bolster Mercy Corps’ Dual Emergency Response Efforts
  12. ^ a b c Burmese Bloggers w/o Borders: Firsthand tale of Burma relief frustrations
  13. ^ Snubbed U.S. mercy ships abandon Burma mission | Mail Online
  14. ^ "Charity Navigator Rating – Mercy Corps". Charity Navigator. Retrieved 2009-12-12. 
  15. ^ Robert Perito (2007). Guide for Participants in Peace, Stability, and Relief Operations. United States Institute of Peace Press. p. 143. ISBN 978-1-60127-000-9. 
  16. ^ "Mercy Corps and NetAid Join Forces". Mercy Corps. January 2007. 
  17. ^ About Us Official NetHope website.
  18. ^ "Musharraf confers awards on outstanding Americans for relief work in quake-stricken areas" (Press release). Office of the Press Secretary to the President. 2006-09-22. Retrieved 2007-11-13. 
  19. ^ "Pyongyang awards medal to American aid worker". The Guardian (London). Associated Press. 2006-01-16. Retrieved 2007-11-12. 
  20. ^ Nino Kader. "Arab Foundation Awards Recognize "Spirit of Humanity"". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 2007-11-12. 

External links[edit]