In my time volunteering for the Borgen Project, one of the biggest obstacles I have faced in fighting extreme poverty is the belief that the United States should not give foreign aid when there is poverty here.

People believe this so much they will not take two minutes to call their senators to reform food aid or to expand successful U.S. Agency for International Development programs.

This is wrong.

The United States has a lot of poverty and should be doing more to address poverty within its borders. But addressing extreme poverty overseas is not a competing interest. In fact, it helps the economy here.

One of the few ways businesses can grow is by finding new customers in new places.

Ninety-five percent of the consumers for U.S. goods and services are from other countries. This is why exporting is so important. But what if there were over 2 billion new consumers to export to?

Foreign Policy magazine has said that the world’s poor make up the largest untapped consumer market. By giving aid to help those barely suriving get education and the chance to get better jobs, we give them the ability to afford our products. More demand means more jobs.

This works. After World War II, the United States invested the modern-day equivalent of $110 billion in the European Union, helping to rebuild their economies.

Now, the United States exports $240 billion worth of goods to EU nations annually.

We can do the same thing today by investing in foreign economic development and create more demand for U.S. goods, which creates more jobs here.

Fighting poverty overseas means fighting it here. Call your elected representatives in Washington now to increase the international affairs budget.

Kara Skinner