Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

International Community Development

March 1, 2011

March 2011


David Erickson
Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

Low-income people in the U.S. and abroad face similar challenges: access to credit, housing, jobs, and critical services including health and education. And yet today, those who work on international economic development and community development hardly know each other. This issue of the Review is dedicated to a simple idea: innovative ideas to solve poverty should not stop at the national border. There are too many good ideas abroad that can help inform our practices domestically, and good ideas here that can be relevant to other countries.

This issue of the Review covers a host of ideas, including: innovating how we do small business finance (Root Capital); learning about affordable housing finance from Europe, Canada and Australia (Housing Partnership Network); overcoming regulatory barriers in the U.S. to help free up more impact capital as has been done in Europe (Calvert Foundation); using credit enhancements to promote bank lending in South Africa (Shared Interest and Strategic Philanthropy Advisors); finding ways to capitalize on the UK’s innovative social impact bond concept for the U.S. (Third Sector Capital Partners); learning the best practices in measuring social metrics from around the world (Paul Veldman, Columbia University); using mobile phones to reach the unbanked (UN Capital Development Fund); thinking about how the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) might go global (David Smith, Affordable Housing Institute); and considering how CRA might, or might not, work in Latin America (Tova Solo, formerly with the World Bank) and China (Prabal Chakrabarti, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston).

Economist Jeffrey Sachs, in his book The End of Poverty, states that “extreme poverty can be ended, not in the time of our grandchildren, but in our time.” If we are to live up to Sachs’ charge, it is essential that we share the best ideas we have from both the international and domestic antipoverty communities.

 The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco or of the Federal Reserve System. Material herein may be reprinted or abstracted as long as the Community Development Investment Review is credited.