Statement by the President: Signing of "Microenterprise for Self-Reliance and International Anti-Corruption Act of 2000" (10/17/00)
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary

_________________________________________________________________
For Immediate Release                            October 17, 2000


                        STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT


     Today I am pleased to sign into law H.R. 1143, the "Microenterprise
for Self-Reliance and International Anti-Corruption Act of 2000."  The
primary purpose of this legislation is to authorize continued and expanded
efforts to provide assistance to the world's poorest entrepreneurs.  The
Act is the result of a long process of collaboration and negotiation among
Members of Congress, my Administration, and the nonprofit microenterprise
community represented by the Microenterprise Coalition.  I congratulate all
who worked on this bipartisan, public-private effort.

     I am proud that my Administration has put microenterprise development
and democratizing access to capital on the national and international
agenda.  When I was Governor of Arkansas, the First Lady and I encouraged
and supported some of the first microenterprise programs in the United
States.  Thanks to the work of pioneering microenterprise development
organizations around the world, all of us have come to appreciate the
potential of microenterprise as means to empower poor people, especially
women, to help themselves and their families.

     Microenterprise programs help self-employed entrepreneurs obtain loans
for small business enterprises to begin the process of growing out of
poverty.  Without microenterprise programs administered by the Agency for
International Development and many nongovernmental organizations, these
poor entrepreneurs abroad would not be able to borrow the small amount of
money needed to get their repair shops, sewing shops, or similar
businesses, off the ground.  This is not a gift to these entrepreneurs, it
is a loan.  And experience has shown that these small loans are repaid and,
in the process, these small-scale enterprises generate income and jobs for
poor families.

     This Act also represents a breakthrough in recognizing the value of
business development services to the very poorest entrepreneurs.  To many
poor entrepreneurs, basic training and technical assistance in running a
business can be as important as a loan.

     In addition, H.R. 1143 authorizes a range of programs to promote good
governance and democratization overseas.  The United States has long
encouraged and funded programs that foster an independent media, establish
audit offices for executive agencies, and promote judicial reform.  This
legislation contains authority to provide assistance in furtherance of
these programs to countries that would otherwise be prohibited from
receiving U.S. assistance.  While no direct assistance to the governments
of such countries can be provided under this authority, the legislation and
its history make clear that assistance to such governments through
nongovernmental organizations would be permissible.

     The Act also contains the "Support for Overseas Cooperative
Development Act," which expresses support for the development and expansion
of U.S. economic assistance programs abroad that fully utilize cooperatives
and credit unions.  My Administration
and the Congress value and support the direct involvement of U.S.
cooperative organizations in transferring their knowledge to local
cooperatives in countries overseas.

     Lastly, I note that H.R. 1143 includes the "International Academic
Opportunity Act of 2000," which authorizes the Department of State to
establish a grant program, to be called the "Benjamin A. Gilman
International Scholarships."  These
scholarships will enable American undergraduate students of limited
financial means to study abroad, and better prepare them to compete in an
increasingly global economy.





                              WILLIAM J. CLINTON





THE WHITE HOUSE,
    October 17, 2000.





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