Plank Testifies for WOCCU, CUNA on Microenterprise Law


September 21, 2005

Contact: Lucía Hughes
Organization: Coast Capital Savings
Phone: (202) 458-3840

CUNA and WOCCU witness Gary Plank, president/CEO of the Arizona Credit Union League, prepares to testify yesterday before the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations. Plank also serves as chairman of WOCCU. (Photo provided by CUNA)

Washington, DC — Representing World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) and the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), Gary Plank told a House subcommittee Tuesday that a 2004 microenterprise law provided a good basis for funding accountability, but more must be done to assure the law is implemented as intended.

Plank said that opportunities for small, specialized non-governmental organizations to compete for development funding are decreasing. He said that Congress must ensure the "efficiency and effectiveness" of microenterprise programs by enforcing the central funding of the Microenterprise Development Office as set forth by the Mincroenterprise Results and Accountability Act of 2004.

The WOCCU chairman was testifying before a House international relations subcommittee hearing on whether programs set up under the 2004 Act have been effective in reducing poverty through small business loans in developing countries. The Act was meant to ensure, in part, that U.S. funds are targeted directly to organizations best able to help the poorest members of a poor community.

Talking about microfinance before yesterday's hearing, from left: Cori Evans, WOCCU; Molly Schar, WOCCU, Katie Herberger, CUNA lobbyist; John McKechnie, CUNA senior vice president of governmental affairs; Dan Mica, CUNA president/CEO; and witness Gary Plank, WOCCU chairman and president/CEO of the Arizona Credit Union League. (Photo provided by CUNA)

Plank, who is also president and CEO of the Arizona Credit Union League, said in his statement that WOCCU and CUNA recommend that Congress:

  • Provide adequate funding for USAID technical and acquisition personnel so that large umbrella contracts are not necessary for administrative ease;
  • Continue to encourage USAID to use procurement instruments for which specialized not-for-profit practitioners can compete; and
  • Emphasize the value of direct service providers on the ground implementing long-term sustainable development projects rather than more limited grants under umbrella contracts.

Plank told the panel that although WOCCU's projects range from savings to remittances and insurance, microenterprise lending is always a key component to helping individuals and communities achieve financial security and independence.

To view Plank's testimony in full, click here.

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 300+ technical assistance programs in 89 countries. Worldwide, 68,882 credit unions in 109 countries serve 235 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at