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Millions of Americans operate outside the traditional banking system. In fact, some estimates show this to be the reality for one in nine or more than 12 million households.

At Global Forum 2015 in Atlanta, Operation HOPE recently highlighted the plight of these neighbors. Their lives are quite different from ours simply because they do not have access to bank accounts. 

The root causes of this phenomenon are poverty and lack of necessary knowledge. In order to keep a checking account, an individual needs both sufficient funds and the know-how to use it. 

Operation HOPE, now an international organization, works with non-profits, bankers and other partners to promote financial literacy and economic empowerment.

Referring to the world economy, President Clinton, the forum's keynote speaker, promoted the concept of inclusive economics. This concept is based on a plan to open up the mainstream economy to people who are currently functioning in lower parallel systems. 

The proponents of inclusive economics argue that giving access to full-fledged economic citizenship to the billions of people currently carved out of it will strengthen the system because their growing prosperity will add consumers with means to existing markets. This lesson would apply well to the US where millions of people could benefit from it.

When you think about it, an economic system should be inclusive by nature so it can expand. 

Beyond complex statistics, one of the forum speakers shared that American households without bank accounts pay as much to access and manage their funds in a year as they do on dinner every night.

This increases the economic gap in the US and leaves these households further behind.

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Posted by Natasha Eldridge, Office of the Chairman

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