No, it doesn't exist right now as I write this, but it is our vision for our tomorrow. The future lies so much in us understanding that what is going on around us right now, globally, is not so much a traditional recession (or traditional anything), as a reset (as I have written about before here).
Our success moving forward will be greatly enhanced if we are willing to accept that even with all the important things our President and others are trying to do to move the economy forward, that structurally (and confidence wise) we may be stuck with 9% unemployment as a new norm for a while. That means that many of us, and particularly those of us who come from or presently live in low-wealth and under-served communities, may need to once again embrace the spirit of small business, entrepreneurship and what I refer to as "self-employment projects" in the new America. And this should not scare or frighten us, as small business and entrepreneurship is in many ways the foundation of America itself (along with her democracy). Or as I heard uttered in the halls and meetings at the White House recently, "a capitalist democracy."
Every big business was once a small one, and most jobs in America today come from small businesses with 500 employees or less. Approximately 60% of all jobs come from employers of 100 employees or less. Organizations like the one I founded — Operation HOPE, which has about 80 full-time employees, 5,000 partners, 18,000 HOPE Corps volunteers, and finds a way to serve almost 2 million clients in more than 270 communities across the country and South Africa. In 1992, Operation HOPE was nothing more than an idea, a dream — and through hard work and commitment we have made this dream real, impacting the lives of countless thousands. You can do the same with your dream, your idea made real.
There are approximately 27 million businesses in America today, but only 6 million of them employ people. Of that 6 million, less than 1,000 big businesses employ 10,000 people or more. Think about this. In the largest economy in the world ($15 trillion), and amongst a population of 300 million people in America (7 billion in the world today), only 967 big businesses employ 10,000 people or more. That should underscore for you more than anything else what you can do, for yourself, your family and your community, right where you stand.
The to be launched Operation HOPE Office of Small Business & Entrepreneurship will seek to bring together many existing initiatives across the Operation HOPE platform, where small business and entrepreneurship is taught, inspired, counseled, financed and created, for adults through our HOPE Financial Dignity Centers, and for youth through our Banking on Our Future portfolio. The new office will be headed by one appointed HOPE Leader, and will serve as point for the increasingly important and relevant small business and entrepreneurship agenda within the broader HOPE family. Just one of the initiatives that will grow out of this focus will be a yet to be announced initiative that will reward leading Banking on Our Future affiliated schools, and youth who complete our programming, with the ability to act on their newly acquired financial literacy skills in several very tangible ways that illustrate their "changed behavior." Stay tuned.
For a growing picture gallery of HOPE Small Business and Entrepreneurship, check here regularly for updates! But for now…
For those interested in applying to be a HOPE Intern or HOPE Fellow in this new, yet to be announced Office within the HOPE family, send your notice of interest to HOPE Small Business & Entrepreneurship, and someone will be in touch.
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) the only African-American bestselling business author in America, and a Member of the U.S. President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability for President Barack Obama. Mr. Bryant is the co-founder of the Gallup-HOPE Index, the only national research poll on youth financial dignity and youth economic energy in the U.S. He is also a co-founder of Global Dignity with HRH Crown Prince Haakon of Norway and Professor Pekka Himanen of Finland. Global Dignity is affiliated with the Forum of Young Global Leaders and the World Economic Forum.