Atlanta entrepreneur works to disrupt the cycle of poverty with free financial literacy | News

ATLANTA (CBS46) — Black Americans have worked for centuries to close the wealth gap partially formed by racial discrimination.

But some recent data shows that the United States continues to become more unequal.

In the Heart of Atlanta is a nonprofit organization born to create change among underserved communities.

John Hope Bryant says that before launching Operation HOPE, he experienced homelessness. But from an early age, he always wanted to succeed.

He had worked to create a path to creating wealth, since he was a child growing up in Compton, California.

A banker came to my class and taught me financial literacy when I was nine,” Bryant said. “I raised my hand, I said ‘Excuse me sir, what do you do for a living and how did you get rich legally?’

The banker told Bryant that he had helped fund entrepreneurs and this was the time Bryant was determined to help others be financially responsible in life.

In the 1990s, Bryant said he struggled financially. But at the age of 26, he founded Operation HOPE with a small loan from her.

“We’re like the Starbucks of financial inclusion,” Bryant said. “We increase your credit score, reduce your debt, increase your savings, so we can qualify you, so the bank can say ‘yes’ to your dreams.”

For the past 30 years, the nonprofit has worked to fight poverty and empower low- and middle-income youth and adults through free financial literacy.

“I believe that other than the right to vote, there is nothing more consequential that changes the quality of your life and your nature of social justice and your ability to be free, than financial literacy practiced in your life,” Bryant said.

Recent data from the Pew Research Center shows that the difference in median household income between white and black Americans has remained stable for nearly 50 years.

“I think there’s two to three percent of gross domestic product locked away in our communities, waiting to be born.”

With the goal of helping others build wealth, Bryant launched an initiative to create one million black-owned businesses in the United States by 2030.

“The vision here is to really take us into the future, in a generation,” Bryant said.

Operation HOPE has partnered with Shopify, a leading global commerce company that provides funding and resources to help small businesses succeed.

“We’re going to give you a website, we’re going to give you a domain name, all for free,” Bryant said. “We’re going to give you a small business unlike accountants, bankers, insurance, marketing, to put in place that infrastructure or the bones of your business so you know what you’re doing.”

With a desire to create economic infrastructure for African Americans for the first time ever, Bryant says he is building future entrepreneurs.

“It’s not about me coming back, it’s my time off,” Bryant said. “It’s the institutional infrastructure that we never had, an economic infrastructure that demands respect.”