Meet Nazrawit (Naz) Medhanie Director of Regional Programs
Nazrawit (Naz) Medhanie is the Regional Program Director at Africa Development Promise (ADP), leading the International Programs department at ADP and serves as a key member of the organization’s leadership team.
Naz started her career in international development in Accra, Ghana (West Africa) and continued in Washington, DC. As Project Coordinator with Right To Play Sport-Health Ghana, her work focused primarily on play-based holistic child development, HIV/AIDS education and prevention, as well as establishing and maintaining partnerships with local stakeholders and key beneficiaries. In Washington, DC, her roles spanned both project management and performance monitoring, focused on Sub-Saharan Africa economic/enterprise development and trade projects in support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Africa Bureau.
Before joining ADP, she was the Director of Talent and Culture at Rose Community Foundation (RCF), where she was charged with providing human resources and people operations leadership and championing the Foundation’s culture.
And prior to RCF, she was the Director of Human Resources and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) at Sky Blue Builders, where she oversaw all aspects of human resources and directed the company’s CSR program, focusing on social, economic, and environmental initiatives.
Over the past 25 years, Naz has served as a mentor, basketball coach, and Board member. She is currently serving as a Board member for Street Fraternity; as Vice Chair for Project Worthmore; and, was formerly the Chair and Vice Chair for Sun Valley Youth Center. She is a member of the 2017 Leadership Denver class.
As a volunteer youth basketball coach, she has coached teams in Sweden, Ghana, and the U.S, including girls’ recreational and varsity, and boys’ competitive teams in Denver.
Originally from Eritrea and raised in Sweden, Naz has a Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Area Studies and Russian from Duke University, where she also played on the Women’s Basketball Team. She was the first of two international players to be offered a scholarship in the history of the women’s program, and helped the team reach the national championship game in 1999.
She has a Master of Arts in International Development from the University of Denver, Joseph Korbel School of International Studies. She lives in Denver with her husband, Arkan, and their two kids. She enjoys spending time with family, running, cooking, volunteering, reading, playing basketball, and traveling.
Transitioning from Producer Cooperatives to Agribusiness Hubs
For the past seven years, Africa Development Promise has been strengthening the capacity of producer cooperatives to improve the lives and livelihoods of rural women in Rwanda and Uganda. We promote the cooperative model of enterprise because it is a powerful group-based venture for social inclusion, political and economic empowerment because they are based on the principles of voluntary and open membership, democratic member control, member economic participation, member education, and concern for the community. By acting collectively, they can pool resources (money, labor, and knowledge) to create economies of scale, increase their income and bargaining power. Our four-part strategy establishes a firm foundation for the development of sustainable businesses that move women small holder farmers beyond subsistence farming to market-oriented agriculture. Between the two countries, we support a total of eight agricultural cooperatives, each at a different stage of development.
A key focus of our 2021 – 2025 Strategic Plan is leveraging the collective economic power of collectives to help them become more competitive in the marketplace. As we continue to explore sustainable business opportunities ADP is piloting a new innovative approach and business model which if successful will be promoted and adopted by all the cooperatives.
The approach is also known as the Hub Model is a rural business center that supports and connects a network of farmers in the vicinity with each other, markets, service providers, government extension networks, and other support services. The Hub addresses the complete product value chain and may be focused on any commodity.
The pandemic disruption in the agricultural and food systems because of pandemic-related travel restrictions and border closings impacted the availability and cost of farm inputs and labor, distribution, and consumption. For rural communities in Rwanda and Uganda, this posed a greater risk to household food security and poverty. Hub centralizes the pre-and post-harvest services thus lowering the cost of inputs, storage, and marketing, etc. It will also move the producer cooperatives that we support to the center of the value chain. The Hub becomes a one-stop-shop for farm supplies, inputs, training, financial services, and other income-generating services.
Epaphroditus Women’s Cooperative in Uganda and KOTINGOZA Cooperative in Rwanda, two of the more mature cooperatives will be the pilot test case for the Hub model. Epaphroditus will focus on mushrooms while KOTINGOZA will focus on tomatoes and bell peppers. The group-based principles mentioned above will continue because the hub is still member-owned and managed.