Since it began its work in Venezuela in 1961, ACCION has developed and refined the practice of microfinance—and in so doing, it has changed how the world thinks about economic development. Thanks to your leadership, we know that—with access to capital and financial services—many people are able to lift themselves out of poverty. And they can help expand opportunity and prosperity for others as well. I saw this for myself on my trip to Bolivia with Maria Otero in 1996. We met entrepreneurs who had started businesses with the help of micro-loans. They were not only growing their own incomes, but creating jobs and providing useful products and services to their communities—all of which help drive growth.
We know that financial inclusion is not a side issue. It is central to building a prosperous and secure world. ACCION International helped teach us that. And with your leadership, we will continue to move toward a future in which more of the world’s people have the chance to raise healthy families, pursue economic opportunities, and make the most of their God-given potentials.
So please let me commend you on 50 years of successful action and let’s keep working for the next 50 years, and beyond. Thank you very much.