It was a special day last Thursday, February 17th, 2011, during my birthday month, when I joined my dear friends Ajay Banga, CEO, Shawn Miles, group head, global public policy & regulatory strategy, and a good portion of the leadership team from MasterCard Worldwide for the signing of a first ever Global Framework Agreement for Operation HOPE at MasterCard Worldwide headquarters in Purchase, New York.
The stage was set for the signing of this first ever electronic payment card industry agreement back in June, 2009, when my friend and HOPE Partner Steve Bartlett, CEO of the FINANCIAL SERVICES ROUNDTABLE (FSR), signed our first ever Framework Agreement with the financial services sector at our Operation HOPE Global Financial Literacy Summit in Anacostia, just outside of Washington, D.C. This summit represented the first time on record where leaders from around the world (more than 40 countries were represented amongst 800 plus delegates) came together, in an American inner-city community, to support the positive integration and empowerment of the poor and the under-served into the global economy.
The HOPE-FSR framework agreement has already spawned more than $4.7 million in commitments towards the groundbreaking and building of the new Operation HOPE Financial Literacy Empowerment Center Ebenezer (at the King Complex), of which MasterCard is also a founding partner. The HOPE Center, Ebenezer will be the anchor tenant for the new Martin Luther King, Sr. Community Resource Center, presently under construction and to be located next to Ebenezer Church in Atlanta, Georgia.
The historic HOPE-FSR agreement also resulted in the responsible financial services sector standing behind HR1325, a bill inspired by Operation HOPE and authored by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX) in the last Congress, which sought to require that every college student receiving a federally guaranteed student loan would have to also get a course in financial literacy, and likewise any college or university receiving federal funds, to offer a course in financial literacy to students.
The details of this agreement with MasterCard are outlined in the formal joint press statement, but the results I predict will be far reaching, substantive, global and sustainable change. I believe this, in large part, because I believe in the man who signed the agreement — Mr. Ajay Banga, the new CEO for MasterCard Worldwide, and a long time friend of HOPE and under-served communities the world over.
In short, he is a good man, centered around running a good, honorable and yes, profitable business for sure, but also one (a business) with integrity in its name, and one that "does well and good too." And when I say that my mission around silver rights empowerment is to "make free enterprise and capitalism finally work for the poor," I believe strongly that this is a statement and philosophy that Ajay Banga would also support 100%. His Indian roots help Mr Banga to understand better, the evolving and complex world we live in today.
Finally, our global agreement with MasterCard Worldwide (our first ever global agreement with anyone, in the 18 plus year history of Operation HOPE) helps us to get one step closer towards a "global compact" around (hoped for) systemic integration of financial literacy "into the business case" for C-Suite corporate leaders globally.
The HOPE-FSR agreement focuses on the largest banks and financial service companies in the U.S., and serves as our "master agreement," so to speak, while the new HOPE-MasterCard global agreement focuses on the electronic payment card sector, and our still evolving relationship with HOPE-NYSE Euronext will allow us in time to have an impact in the global equities sector.
The best is still yet to come here. Stay close and I of course commit to keep you posted.
Onward with HOPE
John Hope Bryant is founder, chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE, bestselling author of LOVE LEADERSHIP: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World (Jossey-Bass), and a member of the U.S. President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability for President Barack Obama