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Urgent Action Needed to Fund Microenterprise Programs

by The Washington Office of Public Policy


Contact: Office of Public Policy GBGM-Women's Division 100 Maryland Avenue, NE Room 530 Washington, DC 20002 (202)488-5660 Fax:(202) 488-5681
Office of Public Policy
GBGM-Women's Division
100 Maryland Avenue, NE Room 530
Washington, DC 20002
Fax:(202) 488-5681

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April 2005


Currently the United States Senate is deciding on the FY2006 Foreign Operations bill which will also include funding for microenterprise programs.  Microenterprise programs are “programs extending small loans, and other financial services such as savings to very poor people for self-employment projects that generate income, allowing them to care for themselves and their families.”1 “According to the State of the Microcredit Summit Campaign 2001 Report, 14.2 million of the world’s poorest women now have access to financial services through specialized microfinance institutions (MFIs), banks, NGOs, and other nonblank financial institutions.  Women account for nearly 74 percent of the 19.3 million of the world’s poorest people now being served by microfinance institutions.  Most of these women have access to credit to invest in businesses that they own and operate themselves.”2


Please urge your Senators to protect funding for microenterprise at last year’s levels, especially for programs serving the very poor. 

Please urgently write, fax or call, Chairman Mitch McConnell (Chairman of the Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee) and Senator Patrick Leahy and specifically ask that at least $ 200 million be provided in the FY06 Foreign Operations bill for microenterprise programs overall, with at least $100 million of that to benefit the very poor and $30 million going to the Microenterprise Development Office.

Ask Chairman McConnell and Senator Leahy to include the following language in the report accompanying the bill:

“the Committee expects USAID to take measures to preserve the viability of the leading private NGO Microfinance Networks and PVOs in order to maximize service delivery to poor clients, and to consult with the Committee on these measures.  The great majority of microenterprise development resources shall be used to support the direct provision of services to poor microentrepreneurs through these networks. Funding for administrative, procurement, research and other support activities not directly related to the delivery and management of services should be kept to a minimum.

The Committee supports the implementation, in conjunction with micro-credit practitioners, of poverty measurement methods as a means of verifying that at least half these resources are targeted toward the world's poorest people. The Committee recognizes the positive impact that microcredit programs have on the lives of women around the world and urges that all microenterprise results reporting on clients be disaggregated by gender.”

Contact information for Chairman Mitch McConnell and Senator Patrick Leahy:

The Honorable Mitch McConnell                          The Honorable Patrick Leahy
361-A Russell Senate Office Building                     433 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510                                           Washington, DC 20510
Telephone: (202) 224-2541                                      Telephone: (202) 224-4242
Fax: (202) 224-2499                                                 E-mail: senator_leahy@leahy.senate.gov

1Microcredit Summit Campaign web site.  http://www.microcreditsummit.org/involve/page1.htm

2 Cheston, Susy and Lisa Kuhn.  Empowering Women through Microfinance.  Draft. 7/8/02.    http://www.opportunity.org/atf/cf/{4FDDA71B-2D42-4FAE-84B0-75A6C2E25802}/Empowering%20Women%20Paper%20FINAL.pdf


Date posted: Apr 21, 2005