SOURCE: Operation HOPE, Inc.
January 25, 2008 23:43 ET
Operation HOPE Founder John Hope Bryant Issues a Statement in Support of the Wall Street Journal William J. Clinton and Arnold Schwarzenegger Op-Ed (Beyond Payday Loans)
Banking the Poor in Today's Global Economy: The Opportunity Is There, Let's Open It!
LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - January 25, 2008) - The following is a statement by John Hope
As chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE, which I founded immediately after
the worst urban civil unrest in U.S. history resulting from the 1992 Rodney
King case, I commend former President Bill Clinton and California Governor
Arnold Schwarzenegger on their forward looking op-ed on financial services
and the poor. Published in the Wall Street Journal, the compelling piece
speaks not only to the reality of financial services desperately needed for
America's underserved, it also speaks to an obvious opportunity to do well
by doing good for the private sector.
In 1968, Andrew Young worked with his friend and colleague Dr. Martin
Luther King Jr. to launch what would prove to be King's last movement, the
Poor People's Campaign. The revered civil rights leader was seeking to
integrate not just the lunch counters, but the dollar as well. 40 years
later, Young, now our global spokesman at Operation HOPE, has joined me in
calling for a silver rights bill, or a bank account for every American.
Young believes that if Dr. King were alive today, he would be advocating
for all "banking on the poor" and I agree. Free enterprise and capitalism
must work for the poor. Not for charity mind you, but rather enlightened
40 million Americans with no bank account, with more than 20 million of
them receiving a regular check without any sort of bank account to put it
into, is a genuine market opportunity; an opportunity for banks, credit
unions and the global financial industry sector.
Getting banks to provide mainstream access to monetary services is also the
best way to put unscrupulous payday lenders and others out of business --
it's called competition, and there is simply not enough of it in the urban,
inner city and low-wealth communities we serve.
Former President Clinton and Governor Schwarzenegger call it "Bank on
California," seeing it as a bi-partisan, or better still, non-partisan way
to address this inescapable reality. We call this work our "silver rights
movement," a post civil rights movement for those economically left behind.
America should call it progress.
At Operation HOPE, our work has been characterized as a "radical movement
of common sense." I truly believe there is a radical yet practical
opportunity of common sense for leaders of America's financial institutions
to begin thinking outside the box in this regard. At a time when the rules
of "good business" are all being re-written, finding a practical way to
serve the poor is ultimately what's needed to bank America's future. And
that's a gift each of us should certainly be anxious to open.
John Hope Bryant is Founder of Operation HOPE, the leading non-profit,
social investment, banking and financial literacy empowerment organization
dedicated to poverty eradication worldwide.