LAGRANGE, Ohio — Founded in 1980, the United States African Development Foundation (USADF) is a congressional agency that invests directly in African grassroots enterprises. It promotes an African-led approach to community development. In 2019, the bureau signed a five-year strategic agreement with the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF). The goal was to increase the employability capability of Lagosian youth in Nigeria. According to a story published on the USADF site, “The USADF-LSETF Employability Program is designed to increase the market competitiveness of 3,000 youth yearly.” In response to the success, Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) and Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) introduced S.Res.114 on March 15, 2021.
The Resolution Passes
On March 15, 2021, Senator Chris Coons submitted S.Res.114 on behalf of himself and Senator Jim Inhofe. The Committee on Foreign Relations then looked over the resolution. Just 10 days later, Robert Menendez reported the resolution to the Committee. Menendez is a Democratic senator from New York and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. On May 12, 2021, the resolution was agreed to in the Senate without change and with a preamble by unanimous consent.
What The Resolution Does
The resolution commends the USADF for creating economic pathways to prosperity for underserved communities in Africa through community development. These investments increase income, revenue and jobs by promoting self-reliance and market-based solutions to poverty reduction. USADF creates pathways to prosperity for marginalized populations in the Sahel, Great Lakes and in the Horn of Africa. These areas cover a large portion of the continent.
What Has USADF Done?
For nearly 40 years, the USADF has provided more than 3,400 grassroots and enterprise grants in more than 40 sub-Saharan African countries. They also focus on women’s empowerment as up to 65% percent of the direct beneficiaries of USADF are women.
On February 20, 2020, the USADF partnered with the Academy for Entrepreneurs. Established in 2019, the Academy of Entrepreneurs provides women the opportunity to participate in an entrepreneurship program supplemented by contextualized content, networking and mentoring opportunities. “The program equips women with the tools needed to create and grow their own businesses, raise capital, and effectively network with other successful business owners.” The program operates in more than 50 countries and has helped more than 7,000 women. The partnership provided seed funding to graduates of the Academy of Entrepreneurs to advance women’s global economic empowerment.
The Resolution’s Significance
The resolution holds significance for both the United States and for African development organizations. The bill promotes bipartisan support as both a Democrat and Republican-sponsored the legislation. Good news for the political climate in the United States. According to a 2019 Pew Research report, partisanship continues to be the dividing line in the American public’s political attitudes. In fact, there are polarizing divisions within both the Democrat and Republican parties as individual groups.
The partisan gap between both parties is an average of 39% across 30 political values ranging from race, immigration, foreign policy and others. This carries more significance when compared to other social dimensions such as race, religious attendance, and education.
The resolution also commits to continue to support the important work of the USADF as an independent agency. This increases the quality of life for Africans throughout the continent. In addition, the creation of the establishment happened in part to strengthen bonds between people in countries in Africa and those in the United States. This resolution promotes positive peace by increasing one’s awareness of living conditions in a different context. This develops a nuanced understanding important for such ends as dialogue on political issues.
– Ozichukwu Ojukwu