President Obama intends to nominate Maria Otero, a pioneer in microfinance, as under secretary of global affairs in the Department of State.
President Obama announced his intentions yesterday along with several other upcoming appointments. The undersecretary of global affairs coordinates U.S. foreign relations on a wide variety of global issues-including democracy, human rights and labor; environment, oceans, health and science; population, refugees and migration; and trafficking in persons.
Otero is president and CEO of ACCION International, a private, nonprofit organization founded in 1961 that provides microenterprise loans, business training and other financial services to poor people around the world. The organization's loan portfolio is now about $3.6 billion. Since 2000, ACCION has expanded significantly beyond its core microfinance work in Central and South America, launching operations in Africa and India, securing preliminary approval to begin microlending in China, and opening hub offices in Accra, Bangalore and Beijing.
ACCION International's partner microfinance institutions today are providing loans as low as $50 to poor men and women entrepreneurs in 25 countries in Latin America, Asia, Africa and the North America. In the last decade alone, ACCION partners have disbursed more than 28.5 million loans totaling $23.4 billion; 97 percent of the loans have been repaid.