This week the International Relations Committee's Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations approved my legislation to assist struggling businesses in sub-Saharan Africa. This bill will contribute to ending Africa's dependence on handouts from the international community. The Assistance for Small and Medium Enterprises in Sub-Saharan African Countries Act (HR 4319) makes available professional, technical, and other resources for private sector development in sub-Saharan Africa. Specifically, it offers entrepreneurship training for small and medium enterprises and helps financial institutions build their capacity for risk management.

Sustained economic development in Sub-Saharan African countries is limited in part because potential entrepreneurs lack business development skills and access to capital. While small, informal entrepreneurs flourish throughout African urban areas, they rarely can expand beyond the micro-level.

Within the financial sector, retail banks avoid lending to small and medium enterprises because they do not have risk management systems in place to remain solvent while extending loans to entrepreneurs. Instead, they concentrate on providing credit to large local and international firms or hold high-yield government bonds.

Sustainable economic growth and development in Sub-Saharan African countries needs a vibrant and diverse small and medium enterprise sector that creates ownership, jobs, wealth, and opportunities for trade.

Africa is not just a continent of poverty, war, and disease. It is a continent of enormous human talent and wealth that needs to be mobilized to the benefit of Africans. This bill will focus U.S. private sector development assistance where it is most needed -- helping Africans use their own resources to build their economies.