| Home > 106th Congressional Bills > H.R. 1143 (rh) To establish a program to provide assistance for programs of credit and other financial services for microenterprises in developing countries, and for other purposes. [Reported in House] ...
H.R. 1143 (rh) To establish a program to provide assistance for programs of credit and other financial services for microenterprises in developing countries, and for other purposes. [Reported in House] ...
106th CONGRESS 1st Session H. R. 1143 _______________________________________________________________________ IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES April 14, 1999 Received; read twice and referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations _______________________________________________________________________ AN ACT To establish a program to provide assistance for programs of credit and other financial services for microenterprises in developing countries, and for other purposes. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE. This Act may be cited as the ``Microenterprise for Self-Reliance Act of 1999''. SEC. 2. FINDINGS AND DECLARATIONS OF POLICY. The Congress makes the following findings and declarations: (1) According to the World Bank, more than 1,200,000,000 people in the developing world, or one-fifth of the world's population, subsist on less than $1 a day. (2) Over 32,000 of their children die each day from largely preventable malnutrition and disease. (3)(A) Women in poverty generally have larger work loads and less access to educational and economic opportunities than their male counterparts. (B) Directly aiding the poorest of the poor, especially women, in the developing world has a positive effect not only on family incomes, but also on child nutrition, health and education, as women in particular reinvest income in their families. (4)(A) The poor in the developing world, particularly women, generally lack stable employment and social safety nets. (B) Many turn to self-employment to generate a substantial portion of their livelihood. In Africa, over 80 percent of employment is generated in the informal sector of the self- employed poor. (C) These poor entrepreneurs are often trapped in poverty because they cannot obtain credit at reasonable rates to build their asset base or expand their otherwise viable self- employment activities. (D) Many of the poor are forced to pay interest rates as high as 10 percent per day to money lenders. (5)(A) The poor are able to expand their incomes and their businesses dramatically when they can access loans at reasonable interest rates. (B) Through the development of self-sustaining microfinance programs, poor people themselves can lead the fight against hunger and poverty. (6)(A) On February 2-4, 1997, a global Microcredit Summit was held in Washington, District of Columbia, to launch a plan to expand access to credit for self-employment and other financial and business services to 100,000,000 of the world's poorest families, especially the women of those families, by 2005. (B) With an average family size of five, achieving this goal will mean that the benefits of microfinance will thereby reach nearly half of the world's more than 1,000,000,000 absolute poor people. (7)(A) Nongovernmental organizations, such as those that comprise the Microenterprise Coalition (such as the Grameen Bank (Bangladesh,) K-REP (Kenya), and networks such as Accion International, the Foundation for International Community Assistance (FINCA), and the credit union movement) are successful in lending directly to the very poor. (B) Microfinance institutions such as BRAC (Bangladesh), BancoSol (Bolivia), SEWA Bank (India), and ACEP (Senegal) are regulated financial institutions that can raise funds directly from the local and international capital markets. (8)(A) Microenterprise institutions not only reduce poverty, but also reduce the dependency on foreign assistance. (B) Interest income on the credit portfolio is used to pay recurring institutional costs, assuring the long-term sustainability of development assistance. (9) Microfinance institutions leverage foreign assistance resources because loans are recycled, generating new benefits to program participants. (10)(A) The development of sustainable microfinance institutions that provide credit and training, and mobilize domestic savings, are critical components to a global strategy of poverty reduction and broad-based economic development. (B) In the efforts of the United States to lead the development of a new global financial architecture, microenterprise should play a vital role. The recent shocks to international financial markets demonstrate how the financial sector can shape the destiny of nations. Microfinance can serve as a powerful tool for building a more inclusive financial sector which serves the broad majority of the world's population including the very poor and women and thus generate more social stability and prosperity. (C) Over the last two decades, the United States has been a global leader in promoting the global microenterprise sector, primarily through its development assistance programs at the United States Agency for International Development. Additionally, the United States Department of the Treasury and the Department of State have used their authority to promote microenterprise in the development programs of international financial institutions and the United Nations. (11)(A) In 1994, the United States Agency for International Development launched the ``Microenterprise Initiative'' in partnership with the Congress. (B) The initiative committed to expanding funding for the microenterprise programs of the Agency, and set a goal that, by the end of fiscal year 1996, half of all microenterprise resources would support programs and institutions that provide credit to the poorest, with loans under $300. (C) In order to achieve the goal of the microcredit summit, increased investment in microcredit institutions serving the poorest will be critical. (12) Providing the United States share of the global investment needed to achieve the goal of the microcredit summit will require only a small increase in United States funding for international microcredit programs, with an increased focus on institutions serving the poorest. (13)(A) In order to reach tens of millions of the poorest with microcredit, it is crucial to expand and replicate successful microcredit institutions. (B) These institutions need assistance in developing their institutional capacity to expand their services and tap commercial sources of capital. (14) Nongovernmental organizations have demonstrated competence in developing networks of local microfinance institutions and other assistance delivery mechanisms so that they reach large numbers of the very poor, and achieve financial sustainability. (15) Recognizing that the United States Agency for International Development has developed very effective partnerships with nongovernmental organizations, and that the Agency will have fewer missions to carry out its work, the Agency should place priority on investing in those nongovernmental network institutions that meet performance criteria through the central funding mechanisms of the Agency. (16) By expanding and replicating successful microcredit institutions, it should be possible to create a global infrastructure to provide financial services to the world's poorest families. (17)(A) The United States can provide leadership to other bilateral and multilateral development agencies as such agencies expand their support to the microenterprise sector. (B) The United States should seek to improve coordination among G-7 countries in the support of the microenterprise sector in order to leverage the investment of the United States with that of other donor nations. (18) Through increased support for microenterprise, especially credit for the poorest, the United States can continue to play a leadership role in the global effort to expand financial services and opportunity to 100,000,000 of the poorest families on the planet. SEC. 3. PURPOSES. The purposes of this Act are-- (1) to make microenterprise development an important element of United States foreign economic policy and assistance; (2) to provide for the continuation and expansion of the commitment of the United States Agency for International Development to the development of microenterprise institutions as outlined in its 1994 Microenterprise Initiative; (3) to support and develop the capacity of United States and indigenous nongovernmental organization intermediaries to provide credit, savings, training and technical services to microentrepreneurs; (4) to increase the amount of assistance devoted to credit activities designed to reach the poorest sector in developing countries, and to improve the access of the poorest, particularly women, to microenterprise credit in developing countries; and (5) to encourage the United States Agency for International Development to coordinate microfinance policy, in consultation with the Department of the Treasury and the Department of State, and to provide global leadership in promoting microenterprise for the poorest among bilateral and multilateral donors. SEC. 4. MICROENTERPRISE DEVELOPMENT GRANT ASSISTANCE. Chapter 1 of part I of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2151 et seq.) is amended-- (1) by redesignating the second section 129 (as added by section 4 of the Torture Victims Relief Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-320)) as section 130; and (2) by adding at the end the following new section: ``SEC. 131. MICROENTERPRISE DEVELOPMENT GRANT ASSISTANCE. ``(a) Findings and Policy.--The Congress finds and declares that-- ``(1) the development of microenterprise is a vital factor in the stable growth of developing countries and in the development of free, open, and equitable international economic systems; ``(2) it is therefore in the best interest of the United States to assist the development of microenterprises in developing countries; and ``(3) the support of microenterprise can be served by programs providing credit, savings, training, and technical assistance. ``(b) Authorization.--(1) In carrying out this part, the President is authorized to provide grant assistance for programs to increase the availability of credit and other services to microenterprises lacking full access to capital and training through-- ``(A) grants to microfinance institutions for the purpose of expanding the availability of credit, savings, and other financial services to microentrepreneurs; ``(B) training, technical assistance, and other support for microenterprises to enable them to make better use of credit, to better manage their enterprises, and to increase their income and build their assets; ``(C) capacity building for microfinance institutions in order to enable them to better meet the credit and training needs of microentrepreneurs; and ``(D) policy and regulatory programs at the country level that improve the environment for microfinance institutions that serve the poor and very poor. ``(2) Assistance authorized under paragraph (1) shall be provided through organizations that have a capacity to develop and implement microenterprise programs, including particularly-- ``(A) United States and indigenous private and voluntary organizations; ``(B) United States and indigenous credit unions and cooperative organizations; ``(C) other indigenous governmental and nongovernmental organizations; or ``(D) business development services, including indigenous craft programs. ``(3) In carrying out sustainable poverty-focused programs under paragraph (1), 50 percent of all microenterprise resources shall be used for direct support of programs under this subsection through practitioner institutions that provide credit and other financial services to the poorest with loans of $300 or less in 1995 United States dollars and can cover their costs of credit programs with revenue from lending activities or that demonstrate the capacity to do so in a reasonable time period. ``(4) The President should continue support for central mechanisms and missions that-- ``(A) provide technical support for field missions; ``(B) strengthen the institutional development of the intermediary organizations described in paragraph (2); ``(C) share information relating to the provision of assistance authorized under paragraph (1) between such field missions and intermediary organizations; and ``(D) support the development of nonprofit global microfinance networks, including credit union systems, that-- ``(i) are able to deliver very small loans through a vast grassroots infrastructure based on market principles; and ``(ii) act as wholesale intermediaries providing a range of services to microfinance retail institutions, including financing, technical assistance, capacity building and safety and soundness accreditation. ``(5) Assistance provided under this subsection may only be used to support microenterprise programs and may not be used to support programs not directly related to the purposes described in paragraph (1). ``(c) Monitoring System.--In order to maximize the sustainable development impact of the assistance authorized under subsection (a)(1), the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development shall establish a monitoring system that-- ``(1) establishes performance goals for such assistance and expresses such goals in an objective and quantifiable form, to the extent feasible; ``(2) establishes performance indicators to be used in measuring or assessing the achievement of the goals and objectives of such assistance; ``(3) provides a basis for recommendations for adjustments to such assistance to enhance the sustainable development impact of such assistance, particularly the impact of such assistance on the very poor, particularly poor women; and ``(4) provides a basis for recommendations for adjustments to measures for reaching the poorest of the poor, including proposed legislation containing amendments to improve paragraph (3). ``(d) Authorization of Appropriations.-- ``(1) In general.--(A) There are authorized to be appropriated $152,000,000 for fiscal year 2000 and $167,000,000 for fiscal year 2001 to carry out this section. ``(B) Amounts appropriated pursuant to the authorization of appropriations under subparagraph (A) are authorized to remain available until expended. ``(2) Rule of construction.--Amounts authorized to be appropriated under paragraph (1) are in addition to amounts otherwise available to carry out this section.''.
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