Hope Global Forums 2017: Bringing financial literacy to the unbanked
Hope Global Forums 2017 once again saw thousands come to Atlanta from across the globe bringing actionable plans on tackling global and local issues of financial dignity. John Hope Bryant, the founder of Operation Hope, has been successful in bringing together need, money and technology to search for solutions.
The event was held at the Marriot Marquis from April 10-12, 2016.
Bryant was honored as “Innovator of the Year” in 2016 for his work in bringing ” under-banked consumers into the mainstream,” according to American Banker magazine. The speakers for this year showed the enormous reach of his work and included dozens of notable global leaders from Ajay Banga, president and CEO of MasterCard, to former UN Ambassador and mayor of Atlanta Andrew Young as well as major banking institutions. Because issues of “credit and money management, homeownership preparedness and small business entrepreneurship,” are not just local they are global.
In 2016, SunTrust Bank teamed with Operation Hope to offer financial management services such as credit management, preparing to own a home and other financial counseling free of charge to communities plagued by low credit scores and struggling small businesses. According to Operation Hope, “Currently, the seven HOPE Inside SunTrust locations help approximately 6,000 individuals every year with financial counseling. The goal of this expansion is to increase that number to nearly 150,000 individuals annually.”
Such programs prove that financial literacy requires a partnership between institutions and the communities they serve. The Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 encourages that “depository institutions to help meet the credit needs of the communities in which they operate, including low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, consistent with safe and sound operations.”
The continuing initiatives of Operation Hope and the Hope Global Forums are proving that financial stability and escaping poverty can be a reality for millions. Getting communities that are unbanked to open accounts in financial institutions empowers and is a key to economic growth. The role of technology is going to be the biggest driver for change in financial services according to industry leaders that gathered. The use of mobile devices to manage banking has allowed access to the under-banked globally with the biggest impact in Africa.