DearColleague.us

Letter

Karen Bass

From the office of:

Karen Bass

Sending Office: Honorable Karen Bass
Sent By:
Naomia.Suggs-Brigety@mail.house.gov

        Request for Signature(s)

DEADLINE: COB MARCH 6, 2020

 

Dear Colleague:

We invite you to sign onto this bipartisan letter to fund the U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF) at its Fiscal Year 2020 enacted level of $33 million and support USADF’s Congressionally mandated mission as an independent agency.

USADF was established by Congress to approach development differently by providing catalytic seed capital and technical support to enable community level African enterprises to become self-sufficient drivers of economic development. 

USADF’s distinctive contributions to U.S international development efforts include:

  • Leveraged funding and cost-share partnerships
  • Speed and agility
  • Access and impact in fragile states
  • Direct and efficient grantmaking model

Please join us in urging that the House Appropriations Committee maintain full funding for USADF in Fiscal Year 2021 and support its mission as an independent entity in the United States’ international development arena.

To cosign this letter please complete this
form
by COB March 6th. For additional information, or to sign onto the letter, please contact Naomia-Suggs-Brigety at
Naomia.Suggs-Brigety@mail.house.gov.

 

Sincerely,

Karen Bass                                                      Christopher H. Smith

Member of Congress                                      Member of Congress                         

 

Dear Chairwoman Lowey and Ranking Member Rogers,

As you draft the Fiscal Year 2021 State and Foreign Operations appropriations measure, we write to urge you to fund the U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF) at its Fiscal Year 2020 enacted level of $33 million and support USADF’s Congressionally mandated
mission as an independent agency.

As you know, USADF was established by Congress to approach development differently by providing catalytic seed capital and technical support to enable community level African enterprises to become self-sufficient drivers of economic development.  USADF’s
enterprise focus pinpoints development efforts in strategic locations that are critical to U.S. national security interests, and USADF’s investees improve lives and livelihoods while addressing some of Africa’s most significant challenges around food insecurity,
insufficient energy access, and unemployment, particularly among women and youth.  This approach has made USADF a highly effective and efficient development arm of the U.S. government.

USADF complements critical U.S. development initiatives enacted by Congress, such as the Global Food Security Act (Feed the Future), Electrify Africa Act (Power Africa) and the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA).  USADF’s emphasis on women (historically,
up to 65% of USADF’s direct beneficiaries are women) furthers the objectives of the Women’s Economic Empowerment Act, signed into law last year, and is why USADF is a component agency of the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity initiative.  USADF is also
part of the interagency Prosper Africa initiative, designed to increase U.S.-Africa trade and investment.  Finally, as the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation seeks to increase American private investment in Africa, USADF-supported enterprises
are natural partners for U.S. firms. 

USADF’s distinctive contributions to U.S international development efforts include:

•          Leveraged funding and cost-share partnerships – USADF leverages matching contributions from host countries (approximately $40 million in matching funds from African national and state governments committed over the next five years) and the private
sector (such as GE and the Citi Foundation) to extend the reach of U.S. taxpayer dollars.

•          Speed and agility – USADF can provide funding in critical areas and with specific groups in months, not years.  USADF’s direct relationships with its grantees, light footprint, and understanding of realities on the ground – because its staff and
implementing partners on the continent are themselves African – enables its programs to be flexible and responsive to local conditions.

•          Access and impact in fragile states – The USADF model of utilizing 100% African staff on the ground allows it to work in areas that are difficult for other agencies to reach, increasing the U.S. strategic presence in regions such as the Sahel,
the Great Lakes, and the Horn of Africa.  This enables USADF to reach remote communities, helping bring about peace and stability in conflict-affected areas.  USADF’s work closely aligns with the goals of the recently passed Global Fragility Act, particularly
the Act’s emphasis on participatory, locally led programs that empower marginalized groups such as youth and women.

•          Direct and efficient grantmaking model – USADF’s model of using 100% African staff and local implementing partners leads to low overhead and sustainable programs.  USADF’s participatory, locally led approach and local ownership of projects stands
in stark contrast to the approach of other countries such as China, who pursue predatory lending and exploitation. 

For example, in Somalia, USADF has provided over 7,000 unemployed youth with vocational jobs training and tools to start their own businesses, providing them with an alternative to joining or supporting groups like al-Shabaab.  Reflecting USADF’s overall
emphasis on women’s economic empowerment, the grants have been equally divided between supporting female and male employment.  Furthermore, because USADF’s implementing partners are Somali, they can travel and operate relatively inconspicuously, including
in areas that are off-limits for Americans.  This model is being scaled in Lagos State in Nigeria, where an innovative partnership between USADF and the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund will provide job training and job placement for 15,000 young people. 

In the Sahel and Horn of Africa, USADF launched the Sahel/Horn of Africa Off-Grid Energy Challenge, an investment initiative across seven countries in the Sahel and Horn of Africa regions (Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Somalia, and South
Sudan) focused on funding local operators.  For example, in Mauritania, where the rural electricity access rate is estimated to be 2%, USADF invested in COGER Limited, which installed the first fully privately supplied, installed, and operated mini-grid in
Mauritania, helping provide affordable energy access to thousands of people.

In Mali, where migration and violence are everyday challenges, USADF is supporting community enterprises to generate food security reserves.  Diedougou Cereal Cooperative employs over 2,000 farmers and contributes to Mali’s food security by selling surplus
corn, sorghum, cowpeas, and millet to organizations such as the World Food Programme.  With a USADF enterprise expansion grant of $110,000, Diedougou Cooperative tripled its access to commercial loans.  With more cash flow, the cooperative can immediately
purchase its members’ cereals for re-sale and pay farmers on the spot.  By focusing at the grassroots level to build more resilient livelihoods, enterprises like Diedougou can build stable, prosperous businesses, reduce rural poverty and achieve food security.

As each of these examples indicates, USADF investments in these critical areas are addressing food insecurity, energy poverty, and unemployment, particularly among women and youth, and spur economic development, improve lives and livelihoods, and contribute
to increased peace and stability in the region. As our nation’s security and economic prosperity becomes more closely linked with Africa’s, USADF’s work remains critical.  USADF creates pathways to prosperity by investing in Africans and their innovative ideas
and empowering underserved communities to become a part of Africa’s growth story.

Therefore, we respectfully request that you maintain full funding for USADF in Fiscal Year 2021 and support its mission as an independent entity in the United States’ international development toolbox.

Thank you for your consideration of this important matter.

Respectfully,

KAREN BASS                                                                CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH

Chair                                                                                 Ranking Member

Africa Subcommittee

Related Legislative Issues

Selected legislative information:Appropriations, Foreign Affairs

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