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Bipartisan Bill To Use Private-sector Funds In Global Poverty Fight

The Build Act would merge several federal programs into a new 'development finance corporation' whose purpose would be to mobilize private sector investments to support economic growth in developing countries.
Ruth Jones

One Utah State University student was chosen along with 20 others from across the nation to attend a summit in Washington D.C. to collaborate on a new bipartisan bill called the BUILD Act. The bill would support bringing private sector funds to fight global poverty.

“The only way to get out of poverty is by having a good job,” said Ruth Jones, an international studies student at Utah State University. She is focusing on economic development in other countries and is part of the ONE chapter at USU. “ONE is a non-partisan global advocacy organization and it’s dedicated to eradicating extreme poverty, preventable diseases and really increasing transparency in developing countries’ governments.”

Jones said The Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development, or BUILD act is sponsored by Senators Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.). It would allow the government and other existing programs to give loans and grants to private businesses to invest in developing countries.

“This is really exciting because in some ways it’s taking aid and turning it into trade because these developing companies are able to invest in developing countries,” Jones said. “We’re able to create jobs for individuals who are in extreme poverty along with creating jobs for people who are here back at home who are part of those companies.”

Right now Jones said it’s difficult for companies to get loans because investing in developing countries is risky. She says the idea behind the loans follows the Chinese proverb of, ‘Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.’

The bill has made its way through the House and Senate authorizing committees, but critics say the BUILD Act still requires a development of standards for governance in countries targeted for investment.

During her three-day visit to D.C. Jones received training from experts on how to advocate for fighting global poverty and preventable disease. She also met with members of Congress to advocate for the bill.