Q&A with Mercy Corps CEO about market innovations to poverty

Q&A with Mercy Corps CEO about market innovations to poverty

Mercy Corps CEO Neal Keny-Guyer in Gaza. Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps.
Mercy Corps CEO Neal Keny-Guyer in Gaza. Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps.

Mercy Corps CEO Neal Keny-Guyer and NextBillion's editor Scott Anderson discuss where Mercy Corps is heading and how its past has informed its future, especially when it comes to business development. Read the full interview on NextBillion. Excerpts:

On microfinance:

Mercy Corps has evolved from being an implementer of services through retail solutions to being an innovator in terms of looking at the microfinance ecosystem and architecture.

On scaling successful interventions:

Building scale means getting the right partners involved and the right incentives in place. Mercy Corps can’t do it alone. This is where our role as facilitator and innovator becomes hugely important. We ask questions like ‘why isn’t the system itself providing solutions? How can we address the constraints that are preventing it from doing so?’

On taking risks:

Unique to Mercy Corps is our dedicated social innovations team that seeks out financially viable and sustainable breakthrough initiatives. They make sure we're on the edge of what's considered a prudent degree of risk. In this realm we look for interventions that can reach more than a million people within five years and be financially viable after Mercy Corps is no longer involved.

On social enterprise:

In the private sector, you innovate or you die. You have to bring new ideas, new approaches, new products, more efficient services to the marketplace, or you don’t thrive. There’s nothing analogous to this in the social marketplace. That's why social entrepreneurship is so promising: it brings together the systems, the methods, the reach, of both the public and private sectors to tackle these very difficult problems.

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