John Bryant color shot

The Financial Times estimates that approximately 50 million jobs will be lost to this global economic crisis, and I happen to believe that is a conservative number, as more than 25 million jobs have already been lost in China alone.  Additionally, the World Economic Forum estimates that soon 100 million jobs will be needed throughout the Middle East, for a population that is also estimated will soon be 60% populated by those 25 years old or younger.  And if you can accept, having nothing to do with racism and discrimination and everything to do with individuals operating in what I refer to as “circles of comfort, “ that minorities, women and people of  color often are the last hired and the first fired – then “jobs” in the traditional sense of that term are not coming back anytime soon.

I say this, to say this – all you hear from politicians, public policy experts and economists these days is that the economy is sluggish (an understatement), GDP is down, and we need to “create more jobs” to solve it.  But where are these jobs coming from, as they don’t grow on trees, much like money doesn’t.  There is almost a presumption about jobs and job creation, and they almost always are tied to big business.  Well, every big business was once a small one, and in many cases that same business started out as an idea in someone’s garage (Bill Gates and the founding of Microsoft with partner Paul Allen). 

Or take Ryan Taylor, a 30 something young African-American dreamer turned entrepreneur and clothier, and now owner and CEO of DROBE Clothing.  Ryan came to me at Operation HOPE having nothing more than a dream, thinking all he needed was money.  I encouraged Ryan to take some time to learn the language of money, and to understand how to run a business, but like many budding entrepreneurs all Ryan wanted to do was just “run.”  He was ready to go, as in “ready, fire, aim.” 

Ryan took out a small loan for $10,000, arranged through one of our HOPE Partner banks, and quickly lost his shirt.  To his credit, Ryan came back this time looking for knowledge and wisdom, before capital.   HOPE worked with Ryan through our HOPE Banking center Network to get him ready for the world of entrepreneurship, and later after giving Ryan another $35,000 working capital loan (he repaid the first loan) his business took off.  Today Ryan is generating high six figure revenue; he is employing people from the neighborhood, creating career opportunities, paying his taxes, taking care of his responsibilities, raising his children, and together with his wife Carrie have also launched a nonprofit organization committed to uplifting the community he and I grew up in.  Ryan is “paying it forward,” and now serves on the 5MK (5 MILLION KIDS) Advisory Board for HOPE, where is proving to be a remarkable role model for young men who see Ryan Taylor the CEO and say, “I can be you when I grow up.”  That is what I mean by eradicating poverty in our community, and you do it one success story at a time.  Ryan Taylor makes every suit and dress shirt you see me in, not some global brand name department store or designer.  Most of the world operates much the same way – local, local, local.

I think that what we need is a global call for the nurturing of a generation of black, brown and different entrepreneurs, small business owners and self-employment projects.  The door to get there is financial literacy and teaching an entire generation what we at HOPE call the “language of money.”

When traditional jobs do not exist we should set out to create new ones. Former President Clinton once said that every nation must focus on creating an entire new sector of jobs every 10 years or so.  This is precisely right, and this is also where Detroit and the American automotive industry, and with respect their unions, went wrong.  They have effectively been coasting for 40 years, living off the legacy of their past and trying to maintain the status qua.  What they should have been doing, and hopefully what they will begin doing again now, is “re-imagining” their future, as Bill Walbrecher, HOPE’s president and COO would tell me.  Every day if you wake up with the mentality that you do not have a job and you have to earn your way through the next 24 hours, we all would be better off and live more sustainable (if not more passionate and engaging) lives.

What we need is to return to the power of the idea, which lies at the very foundation of the birth of America.   What we need to is to once again ignite the imagination of America, and the world led by America, through the nurturing of a generation of entrepreneurs and self employment projects here, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Latin America, Central America Europe and the world over.

What we need to understand that you cannot even have a rainbow without having a storm first, and that not everything that happened in the context of the Great Depression was bad.  In fact, a lot of good came out of the post Great Depression period, including a modernized Federal Reserve, the FDIC, an explosive growth in credit unions because traditional banks refused to lend (sound familiar), and our modern social safety net.  We also learned how to hustle again, and that is never a bad thing, for “love is work.”

One person can indeed change the world, and I would suggest that that one person – is staring you in the middle. Let’s go.

Onward with HOPE,

John Hope Bryant is the founder, chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE, America's first non-profit social investment banking organization.  His work and advocacy at HOPE led then President Bush to sign an executive order making financial literacy U.S. policy.  Today, Bryant continues to serve as vice chairman of the U.S. President's Advisory Council on Financial Literacy as well as chairman of the Council Committee on the Under-Served, in President Barack Obama's Administration.  Bryant is also the financial literacy advisor to the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Financial Empowerment,  and in 2005 was selected in the inaugural class of Young Global Leaders for the World Economic Forum. In August, 2009, Bryant will publish his latest book entitled LOVE LEADERSHIP; A New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World, BY Jossey-Bass.

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