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Bringing Micro-Credit to Africa and Beyond: The GROWTH Act
September 9, 2009
On Wednesday, September 16, 2009, CARE, with the help of Women Thrive, held a press conference and round table discussion on the Global Resources and Opportunities for Women to Thrive (GROWTH) Act (S. 1425) and CARE’s new “Microfinance in Africa State of the Sector Report” on Capitol Hill. The GROWTH Act is an innovative bill that aims to provide women in developing countries the tools they need to escape poverty – tools like microfinance, property rights, market access, small business training and support for local women’s groups. It was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators Richard J. Durbin (D-Illinois) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) and currently has 11 co-sponsors.
At the press conference, the Honorable Senator Robert Corker stressed the importance of investing in women’s economic opportunity, drawing on personal experience visiting microfinance projects. Women Thrive Worldwide’s Co-Founder and President, Ritu Sharma, discussed the GROWTH Act, emphasizing the deep consultation process that went into developing the bill. She discussed the global economic crisis which has hurt women living in poverty the hardest and stressed the importance of both increasing and going beyond micro-finance stating, “there’s not enough microfinance and microfinance is not enough.” Dr. Helene Gayle, President and CEO of Care, spoke about CARE’s approach to micro-finance which emphasizes savings as well as credit. She highlighted the need to focus on women in Africa, who are most under-served.
During the discussion, moderated by Dr. Helene Gayle, the following panelists discussed micro-finance and the GROWTH Act:
* Ritu Sharma, Co-founder and President of Women Thrive Worldwide
* The Honorable Representative Donald Payne
* Lauren Hendricks, Executive Director of Access Africa, CARE
* Suzanne Hares, Senior Manager, Global Community Partnerships, Barclays
* His Excellency Dr. Samuel Assefa, Ambassador of Ethiopia
* Amy Davis, Associate Director of International Housing Finance, Habitat for Humanity International
* Darryl Skoog, Senior Vice-President of Technology, Opportunity International
Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY), Chairwoman of the State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee released a statement on the GROWTH Act in which she stated, “I am proud to have sponsored the GROWTH Act in the House and to have worked through the appropriations process to expand opportunities for women.” Download the full statement here.
Photo, Senator Robert Corker speaking at the event, courtesy of CARE