Letter to Members of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee regarding H.R. 4703, microenterprise reauthorization.
August 5, 2002
I am writing to you today to express concerns of credit unions about provisions in H.R. 4073, the microenterprise reauthorization. Specifically, unless these provisions are amended, credit unions will be seriously impaired in their efforts to help microenterprise projects develop and flourish.
As you know, H.R. 4073, as approved by the House, amends the Microenterprise for Self-Reliance Act of 2000. In doing so, it encourages the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to employ methods ensuring that all microenterprise assistance is used to assist the greatest absolute number of economically viable clients among the very poor. Section 3 of the bill specifically requires that "50 percent of all microenterprise resources be used in support of programs or lines of service under which 50 percent or more of the incoming or prospective clients are initially very poor."
Unfortunately, this provision turns a blind eye to the make-up and characteristics of credit unions, which can and do play an important role in promoting and developing microenterprise. That is: Credit unions unite persons of all income levels to save and borrow each other's funds. This broad approach, we can show, allows more very poor people to be served.
However, unless the language in the bill is amended to recognize their structure, credit unions will be seriously limited in their efforts to participate in obtaining microenterprise funding through this program.
I have enclosed with this note some alternative language for you to consider in amending the bill that would recognize credit union structure and operations. I hope you find it helpful. In the meantime, should you have any questions or comments about credit union concerns regarding these provisions in H.R. 4073, please contact Kate Prible of our CUNA at 202-508-6718 or Mike Beall of WOCCU at 202-508-6775.
|Daniel A. Mica|
President and CEO
Credit Union National Assn.
World Council of Credit Unions, Inc.