Mercy Corps and Partner Microcredit Foundation


Location: Bosnia
Organizations Involved:
Partner Microcredit Foundation Mercy Corps
Author: Isabella Jean, Independent Consultant

This case study examines the transition of Mercy Corps’ economic development program to an independent, Bosnian-registered microcredit foundation called Partner Microcredit Foundation (Partner). Registered in 2000, Partner is a multi-ethnic non-profit foundation. It was started by Mercy Corps (an INGO headquartered in the US) in 1997 as an economic development project supporting income-generation and entrepreneurship in Bosnia’s war-affected, multi-ethnic border areas. Mercy Corps (MC) itself had begun its work in Bosnia the previous year, focusing on reconstruction in multi-ethnic areas in order to support the return and reconciliation of war-torn communities.

Conversations with Partner staff, board members, and current and former MC staff, were conducted between April and September 2018, and focused on the factors contributing to the success of the transition from Mercy Corps program to a fully independent Bosnian entity. In total, 20 key informant interviews were conducted by phone and during the field visit. Key informants were selected based on their direct experience or knowledge of the transition process, and through recommendations made by former and current staff at MC and Partner. Several former MC staff were contacted by email and phone to discuss their role in the transition.

In preparation for the case study, available documentation describing Partner’s history and current operational model was reviewed. To inform the context analysis, interviews in Sarajevo and Tuzla also included local researchers and academics, Bosnian CSOs, and international organization staff working in Bosnia. A CDA team member also participated in a CSO mapping exercise conducted with Bosnian CSOs and the USAID Local Works team in Sarajevo. During this workshop, shorter conversations with workshop participants also helped inform the context analysis for this case.A final debrief conversation was held with USAID Mission in Sarajevo, sharing the initial findings from the case study and documenting their reflections on civil society development.


This case study is an example of a organizational transition, whereby an INGO project was transitioned into an independent, self-sustaining Bosnian entity. Given that it took place in 2000, this retrospective analysis allows for a comprehensive overview of the transition’s outcomes and successes.

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