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December 09, 2004


In Final Hour, Congress Passes Legislation Significant to International Credit Union Development

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Washington, D.C. – The Senate passed a bill unanimously here late Wednesday focused on advancing access to financial services by the poor and underserved around the world. The Microenterprise Results and Accountability Act of 2004 had already passed the House of Representatives on Nov. 20. The World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), in partnership with the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), advocated strongly for passage of the bill by both Chambers.

The Microenterprise Results and Accountability Act establishes a microenterprise office within USAID and designates $25 million of annual microenterprise appropriations to be used to implement a central funding program. Congress appropriated $200 million for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in omnibus legislation passed November 20 and signed into law Wednesday.

"USAID funding for microenterprise is the source of significant support for international credit union development," explained Molly Schar, WOCCU governmental affairs manager. "Provisions in the Microenterprise Results and Accountability Act strengthen the role of microenterprise development within USAID, provide for increased microenterprise expertise and develop central funding mechanisms that may allow WOCCU and other nonprofit organizations increased opportunities to compete for microenterprise projects."

The U.S. credit union movement rallied to champion this measure to support international credit union development. A number of credit union leagues, including Arizona, California, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, New York, Ohio and Texas, worked with WOCCU, CUNA and key Members of Congress to encourage passage of the microenterprise legislation.

WOCCU's credit union development programs focus on strengthening the financial performance and increasing the outreach of credit unions so that more poor and low-income people have access to financial services, including savings, credit, remittances and insurance.

World Council of Credit Unions is the global trade association and development agency for credit unions. World Council promotes the sustainable development of credit unions and other financial cooperatives around the world to empower people through access to high quality and affordable financial services. World Council advocates on behalf of the global credit union system before international organizations and works with national governments to improve legislation and regulation. Its technical assistance programs introduce new tools and technologies to strengthen credit unions' financial performance and increase their outreach.

World Council has implemented more than 290 technical assistance programs in 71 countries. Worldwide, 57,000 credit unions in 103 countries serve 208 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at www.woccu.org.

 



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