WASHINGTON – Microenterprise lending under a law enacted in 2004 is a good start but more should be done to ensure that the new legislation fulfills its intent, Gary Plank testified before a House Subcomittee on Sept. 20. Testifying on behalf of WOCCU and CUNA, Plank, who is president/CEO of the Arizona Credit Union League, told the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations that opportunities for small, specialized non-governmental organizations to compete for development funding are decreasing, He urged Congress to ensure the “efficiency and effectiveness” of microenterprise programs by enforcing the central funding of the Microenterprise Development Office as set forth by the Microenterprise Results and Accountability Act of 2004. Plank also suggested providing adequate funding for USAID technical and acquisition personnel so that large umbrella contracts are not necessary for administrative ease. USAID should also be continued as a means for procurement instruments for which specialized not-for-profit practitioners can compete, he recommended. Congress should also consider emphasizing the value of direct service providers on the ground implementing long-term sustainable development projects rather than more limited grants under umbrella contracts. Plank, who is also chairman of the World Council of Credit Unions, told the subcommittee that programs set up under the 2004 Act have been effective in reducing poverty through small business loans in developing countries. Enacted in 2004, the Microenterprise Results and Accountability Act partly ensures that U.S. funds are earmarked for those organizations that can help revitalize poor communities. For its part, WOCCU’s savings, remittances and insurance projects have contributed to the Act’s mission. Microenterprise lending, he said, is always a critical factor in helping communities and individuals achieve financial independence and security, Plank testified. [email protected]

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