Thanks to the leadership of the White House Business Council, White House Office of Public Engagement, White House Urban Policy, and Mayor Kasim Reed and the City of Atlanta, Operation HOPE and I were honored to participate in the White House Urban Entrepreneurship Forum, Atlanta, held this past Friday, July 29th, 2011, in the City of Atlanta (Operation HOPE is a national partner in the series).
The White House, the mayor's incredible team, other key partners and all involved did a first class job. All present were further honored with keynote speeches from the likes of Tyler Perry and entrepreneur Ofelia de ls Valette. I spoke on the morning panel. But all of this, is not what inspired me most.
Just before lunch my new friend Magnus Greaves, co-founder of 100 Urban Entrepreneurs, launched his Atlanta "Pitch" event, giving 5 or so talented entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs in waiting the 1-minute opportunity to pitch their idea for a chance to win $10,000, along with entrepreneur training provided at no charge. Entrepreneur Lawrence Watkins won the "pitch" and was awarded the $10,000 check from 100 Urban Entrepreneurs, but after seeing and hearing from these amazing young entrepreneurs I was so moved that Operation HOPE committed a second $10,000 gift (an investment in the future of our community), which was subsequently awarded to Ms. Kwanza Fisher. This in turn inspired 100 Urban Entrepreneurs to award a third $10,000 check to Ms. Brittany Earls. The above photo is of the spontaneous check presentation to Ms. Fisher. The expression on her face pretty much says it all.
Just imagine if just 2-3% of our urban youth population had the shot that these young people had on yesterday. Just imagine the cultural shift that would happen throughout urban America if just 5% had a role model or mentor that represented the positive aspirations of who they could really be in life. We could literally change the world, by changing our world.
Yesterday brought me to tears for my community, and for the first time in a long time, those were tears of joy.
A special thank you to James Bailey from my Operation HOPE, Atlanta office, who served as the organization lead for HOPE during the Forum. Thanks as well to Tara Dennis and the HOPE Express, Ebenezer team who were present at the Forum.
Okay, let's go.
Onward and with HOPE
John Hope Bryant is a thought leader, founder, chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE and Bryant Group Companies, Inc. Magazine/CEO READ bestselling business author of LOVE LEADERSHIP: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World (Jossey-Bass), and Member of the U.S. President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability for President Barack Obama.