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VEGA Newsletter May 2015

by Portal Web Editor last modified Jun 15, 2015 05:26 PM
Contributors: VEGA
Volunteers for Economic Growth (VEGA)'s newsletter for May, 2015.

Featured in Frontlines: In Kazakhstan, Business Partnerships with U.S. Firms Prove Profitable

VEGA’s Kazakhstan Business Connections Project was featured in the March/April 2015 edition of the USAID Frontlines paper. The project, which was completed this past December, enabled more than 160 Kazakhstani entrepreneurs to travel to the United States for training and meetings with dozens of potential partners, resulting in almost $13 million in sales. The project was generously funded by USAID and the Government of Kazakhstan and implemented by our member the International Executive Service Corps (IESC) in collaboration with CNFA and the Graduate School USA. Click here to read the story in its entirety.

VEGA’s CASH Program and La Colombe Bring Yemeni Coffee to North America

On April 6, VEGA’s Yemen CASH program participated in an event hosted by La Colombe Coffee to market specialty coffee from Yemen. CASH implementers Land O’Lakes International Development and the Coffee Quality Institute supported the event.

The event highlighted the unique flavors and genetic diversity of of Yemeni coffee, and the increasing need to support coffee farmers in light of the political unrest in Yemen.

The marketing event and cupping was hosted by Todd Carmichael, co-founder of La Colombe and host of Travel Channel’s Dangerous Grounds. Speakers included Elisabeth Kvitashvili, USAID deputy administrator of the Middle East bureau; Herbie Smith, USAID/Yemen mission director; Abdulrahman Aleryani, Embassy of Yemen principal economic officer; Michael Deal, VEGA president and CEO; and Christian Ellwood, Land O’Lakes regional director.

Click here to read more.

VEGA SOLUTIONS Website Launched

VEGA SOLUTIONS is a new offering designed to provide private sector clients access to an established, mission-driven alliance of 25 professional nonprofit development partners committed to mobilizing shared expertise to promote economic growth worldwide. The new site features the experience of public private partnerships of VEGA member organizations as well as volunteer profiles. Visit for more information. Launched

In March, VEGA Farmer-to-Farmer Special Program Support Project announced the launch of This new website serves the Farmer-to-Farmer program worldwide. It is home to helpful features such as:

  • Resources for Implementing Organizations and Volunteers
  • Outreach and Marketing Materials
  • Grant Announcements
  • News & Events
  • And Much More!

New Videos on Sri Lanka FEG Program

VEGA and IESC recently published three videos on the Facilitating Economic Growth (FEG) in Sri Lanka program. Between 2009-2014, Sri Lanka FEG provided direct, targeted assistance to enterprises, agribusinesses, related associations, NGOs, USAID and other USAID programs, largely through the use of volunteer experts. The program worked to support the economic recovery and development in Sri Lanka's Northern and Eastern provinces following the country's 26 year civil war.

You can watch all three videos on our YouTube channel.

To learn more about Sri Lanka FEG, click here.

VEGA’s African SME Technical Assistance Facility (VAST)

VEGA has developed VAST as an innovative multi-fund Technical Assistance Facility (TAF) to support high potential African SMEs that are attractive for investment capital and poised for real growth. VAST’s multi-fund approach offers greater eco-system impact through cost-effective scaling across multiple countries and sectors and mobilizing both local and international experts for the capacity building needs of African SMEs. You can read more about VAST here.

New member - Foods Resource Bank

VEGA welcomes Foods Resource Bank (FRB) as its newest member. FRB is a nongovernmental organization founded in 1999 to end world hunger through agricultural development. FRB raises resources and awareness to support small-scale farmers in developing countries through training, community development and seeds/tools.

FRB partners with a network of Christian and other organizations to support 50 to 60 agricultural programs in developing countries each year. FRB annually engages 200+ US communities of farmers, rural leaders, faith leaders, and agribusinesses to raise funding and awareness for their overseas programs. Since its founding, FRB has supported over a million small-holder farmers in growing lasting solutions to hunger.

VEGA Co-Hosts M&E Webinars

In partnership with InsideNGO, VEGA held the second of a four-part webinar series on Monitoring and Evaluation. On March 26, Catholic Relief Services presented on M&E Planning: How to Plan and Manage the M&E Process. On May 12, panelists from NPOKI, Mercy Corps and BAO Systems presented on ICT for M&E-Enterprise Systems. For more information and recordings of the webinar click here. We hope you will join VEGA and InsideNGO for our next webinar in September: Building M&E Capacity of Local Partners.

Farmer-to-Farmer Brown Bag Event

On May 14, VEGA Farmer-to-Farmer Special Program Support Project held a meeting at CNFA on volunteer safety and security. The event was attended by 19 people from various organizations implementing Farmer-to-Farmer programs, including: ACDI/VOCA, Browse and Grass Growers Cooperative, CNFA, CRS, IESC, PoA, Purdue University, and VEGA. Guided by a list of topic questions, attendees participated in an engaging discussion to share experiences, lessons learned and best practices in volunteer safety and security.

New Resource Partner - Dexis Consulting Group

Dexis Consulting Group is VEGA’s newest M&E Resource Partner. Dexis provides U.S. government agencies, missions, and multilateral clients with rigorous learning and performance management solutions that address economic growth, trade, governance, and democracy challenges. Dexis’ expertise reaches beyond prevailing practices to provide tailored services across the program cycle. Dexis supports foreign policy and foreign assistance initiatives through three lines of service that include learning and development, monitoring and evaluation, and program management and support. As a Resource Partner, Dexis will provide support to VEGA and VEGA programs on M&E and knowledge management, and will be able to provide services to USAID Missions wishing to procure M&E services as part of the VEGA LWA.

New Staff Member: Melisa Augusto

On March 19, Melisa Augusto joined the VEGA staff as Director of Communications. Ms. Augusto has more than ten years of experience in communications, marketing and public relations. Prior to joining VEGA, Ms. Augusto spent five years working for the National Farmers Union (NFU), leading the communications department and, most recently, the membership and marketing department. While on the NFU staff, she led the planning of the organization’s annual convention, several high-profile media events, and political rallies. Ms. Augusto also worked at the U.S. Grains Council and World Wide Sires, Ltd., in related fields.

In 2012, Ms. Augusto completed a Farmer-to-Farmer assignment in Senegal through NCBA CLUSA, providing expertise on organizational development, the cooperative business model, horticultural practices, marketing strategies and other practical knowledge to a women’s farming organization.

Ms. Augusto earned a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Business from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

Read more about the entire VEGA team here.

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