The Power of Economic Energy, and the Challenge for South Africa
With the Gallup-HOPE Index, Operation HOPE and Gallup are measuring the financial literacy, well being, engagement and the economic energy of 30 million young people in America, 4th grade through 12th grade.
Some leaders do not yet full understand the power and impact of economic energy amongst a population, and as it relates to a country's GDP. This fact jumped out at me as I read a recent Reuters article on the economic impact of labor strikes in South Africa.
The reality is that we are all energy, and focused human energy can and has changed our world throughout history. When you focus economic energy in a way that drives engagement in free enterprise through small business, entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship (an innovative, can do attitude working within a company or organization) and job creation -- a nation's GDP grows, and the people prosper.
South Africa is at a crossroads, and even our work there must change. Where our history there has been around traditional financial literacy, which translates into life risk management (how to avoid financial predators, and understanding the basic banking and financial system that surrounds them), what comes next must be a new focus on aspiration, opportunity and a few definition of freedom -- ones ability to achieve self-determination in life. In short -- job creation and the opportunity for individual dignity that comes from one.
One of the biggest problems I noticed during my last trip to South Africa was rooted in one overwhelming fact: there are approximately 5 million taxpayers that support a population of 50 million people in South Africa. But hidden within this shocking fact, is also an opportunity. It is the same opportunity present throughout the whole of the African continent, and that is inspiring an entire generation of African entrepreneurs, small business owners and self-employment projects. Inspiring a generation of tax payers (and contributors and stakeholders in society) in South Africa, as well as the whole of the African continent.
What South Africa needs now, is a new generation called Opportunity. Opportunity is the partner to peace, and the stabilizer to democracy.
These are but some of the important public policy, economic empowerment and silver rights issues that delegates and leaders will be dealing with at the upcoming HOPE Global Financial Dignity Summit in Atlanta, Georgia, on November 14th-15th, 2012.
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 is chairman of the Subcommittee for the Under-Served and Community Empowerment for 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. Mr. Bryant serves on the board of directors of Ares Commercial Real Estate Corporation, an NYSE Euronext publicly traded company, and a division of $54 billion Ares Capital.