SOURCE: Operation HOPE, Inc.

October 09, 2007 18:48 ET

Operation HOPE Celebrates International Expansion of Its Youth Financial Literacy Program With Banking on Our Future Educating Its First Students in Johannesburg, South Africa

Cities of Cape Town and Wellington to Be Included in Upcoming Months

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - October 9, 2007) - John Hope Bryant's participation as a Young Global Leader (YGL) during the World Economic Forum's (WEF) meeting in South Africa in 2006 was truly a watershed moment. With the Diaspora as the focus at the annual meeting of top world leaders and decision-makers, the Founder, Chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE (HOPE) worked with fellow YGL's to "envision" a better Africa. In addition, Bryant vowed to extend his organization's award winning "Banking on Our Future" (BOOF) financial literacy program to the region.

When Bryant reported on the international expansion of the program at Bill Clinton's Global Initiative Summit held in New York last month, he kept his promise from the previous year to build on HOPE's exportation of "Silver Rights" to the Rainbow Nation.

Bryant's promise meant a lot to Zoliwe Cutalele. She was one of the first twenty students in Johannesburg to take part in the recently launched financial literacy program. To say Zoliwe's enthusiasm was palpable would be an understatement. "Dough Firebough once said that being rich has more to do with a picture than a bank account -- it is all about the picture you see in your mind about your life that determines what's in your bank account," she said. "We know that the picture HOPE has of creating African entrepreneurs will soon be a complete picture."

Committed to financially educating 50,000 youths by the year 2012, support for BOOF has resulted in over $500,000 (US) being raised for the first year of operations. Partners for Banking on Our Future, South Africa include Citi (our first global partner); Standard Bank; IFC, member of the World Bank group; the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund; and CIDA University. Of course none of this would have been possible without support from the over twenty-five HOPE Corps volunteers from Citi and Standard Bank.

Mary Hagerty, HOPE's senior vice President, global chief of financial literacy initiatives, feels that South Africa is primed for growth and looks forward to the cities of Cape Town and Wellington being added in the months ahead. "Given the level of commitment we have, there is absolutely no doubt that this partnership to help these young people will bear witness to an economic revolution in the near future."

About Operation HOPE, Inc.

Operation HOPE, Inc. (HOPE) is America's leading nonprofit social investment banking and financial literacy empowerment organization. Through its international outreach arm, HOPE Global Initiatives (HGI), HOPE is committed to empowering South Africans through the Banking on Our Future program and its new Banking on Our Future South Africa operation. The fundamentals of the program have been customized for the South African community, fully localized and infused into community based organizations, churches, schools and other "civil society" organizations in an effort to reach and specifically teach youth and women how to take control of their financial future. For additional information about all our programs, go to www.operationhope.org.

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