Women are the key to micro-credit and micro-finance. Most of the success of micro-lending throughout the world is the result of women borrowers, repaying their debts. The majority of borrowers are women. Enterprising women, starting their own micro-businesses, creating their own income streams, and taking care of their families. Women are leaving households in African-American communities. More than 70% of all African-American households are run by women. Women are starting small businesses and becoming entrepreneurs at one of the highest rates in America, and around the world. Even in the Middle East and Saudi Arabia. Making this personal, my mother, Ms. Juanita Smith, changed my life and became one of my first female role models, when she worked at McDonald Douglas Aircraft (now Boeing Aircraft), and sold candy and handy craft part time after work. I remember my mother telling me, "the man may set your salary, but you decide your income..." And it was -- an empowered woman, chartered the course of her own life. She now boasts an 820+ credit score, and financial independence. Women are one of the true wonders of the world, and women emerge from the experiences of young girls, as they grow up and into their true selves. It is for this and so many other reasons that Operation HOPE has decided to make a real commitment to the empowerment of both women and girls throughout the United States, and in South Africa too. Here in the states this involves a first ever partnership with the City of Atlanta, Women's Entrepreneurship Initiative (WEI), and most recently, our landmark, $1 million partnership with the Coca-Cola Company, the Coca Cola Foundation and Coca-Cola Bottlers in the Southeast, to empower women and girls throughout the South East. This landmark partnership with Coca-Cola was forged through the leadership and vision of Ms. Lisa Borders, who once chaired the Coca-Cola Foundation and now is President of the WNBA, who also serves on the Operation HOPE Global Board of Directors. The work with the Coca-Cola Company continues on the ground today, producing results through HOPE Inside locations and HOPE 700 Credit Score Communities for women, and HOPE Business In A Box Academies and Banking on our Future for young girls throughout Atlanta and the Southeast region, now under the focused leadership of Ms. Helen Price, the new president of the Coca-Cola Foundation. We are honored to have just added Ms. Wanda Yancey, Director, Global Community Affairs & Communications for Coca-Cola on our Operation HOPE Southeast Board of Directors. Operation HOPE is on the move. More to come (much more). Let's go... John Hope Bryant
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