The Mid South has long been burdened with some of the highest poverty rates in the U.S., in part because its residents lack access to financial services. William Bynum — former community development advisor to Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama — set out to change that by creating HOPE Enterprise Corporation, a nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that provides financial services to individuals living in these so-called “bank deserts.” At Hope Credit Unions, the success of each branch rests firmly on the backs of the communities it helps. There are no shareholders, which allows the business to focus on its goal of connecting low-and moderate-income individuals to affordable, responsible financial services. As the recipient of the 2013 John P. McNulty Prize, HOPE has seen its business expand from 791 members to 27,000 in less than two decades of operation, generating $1.7 billion in financing, and directly benefiting more than 400,000 people. Now that’s a lot of hope.
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