SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Sean Houghton, Glenn Rossman, Ignacio M. Llorente, Xenia von Wedel, Peter Silva

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Operation HOPE Founder John Hope Bryant Featured Speaker for the Jeddah Economic Forum in Saudi Arabia

-- The forum focuses on increasing youth participation and economic diversification, considered the "Davos of the Middle East"

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia, March 21, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- John Hope Bryant, founder, chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE participated in a panel discussion at the Jeddah Economic Forum, considered the "Davos of the Middle East." Mr. Bryant spoke during the main panel discussion about "Enabling links between investors and business." 

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The three-day forum takes place at the Jeddah Hilton from March 18-20 with the theme "Growth through Youth." The goal is to find ways to enable economic growth and reduce youth unemployment levels with discussions centered on economic opportunities for young people, human capital and changes in the education curriculum, sustainability, long-term growth in job creation, and opportunities in the tourism and transportation industries.

Coinciding with the Global Money Week, a worldwide celebration for empowering youth, Mr. Bryant took the opportunity to highlight the importance of encouraging young people to be entrepreneurial and to take their place as full participants in the global economy.

"I think it is important we have substantive global forums and discussions like this, if for no other reason than to bring together key stakeholders and decision makers to discuss ways for empowering our youth," Mr. Bryant said. "Youth are literally the future of Saudi and the MENA region. The youth do not have to be seen as a problem in Saudi Arabia and the MENA region -- they can be seen through the lens of opportunity too.  Saudi Arabia could simply decide to prioritize its youth population in a different way, a population which represents fully 60% of the country's total population. In so doing, they could in time become a model for the region. It is time for a positive movement in the region, and with that, to create an entirely new generation of entrepreneurs and jobs outside of government."

Mr. Bryant focused his remarks on his work to continue Dr. King's legacy work around poverty eradication and empowerment in the United States, called Project 5117. This includes HOPE's groundbreaking work around HOPE Business In A Box Academies, HOPE Inside and HOPE Inside Plus. All of which were well received by the audience.

The other panelists included:

Earlier this week Mr. Bryant, served as the keynote speaker for the first annual Youth Financial Dignity Summit, "Money and Hopes" at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Saudi Arabia. The summit highlighted Riyali, SEDCO Holdings' award winning youth and college age financial literacy program, for which Operation HOPE is a partner.

Financial dignity nonprofit Operation HOPE has been dedicated to youth empowerment for 22 years, including Banking on Our Future and most recently through HOPE Business In A Box Academies, a curriculum that encourages the entrepreneurial spirit and organized economic energy of our youth. The program is tracked through the Gallup-HOPE Index, a partnership between HOPE and Gallup, a U.S. based data consulting/analytical firm. The Gallup-a HOPE Index is the first ever national index of youth economic energy.

About John Hope Bryant
A natural entrepreneur, life as businessman for young John Hope Bryant began with a modest but life changing $40 investment by his mother in his very first business idea, at the age of 10 in Compton, California. On February 26th, 2014, Bryant was appointed by President Obama to serve on his new U.S. President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability for Young Americans.

A TIME Magazine 50 (Leaders) for the Future (1994 cover story), and an Oprah's Angel Network award recipient, John Hope Bryant is a 'silver rights' entrepreneur and businessman, business best-selling author, thought leader, philanthropist and the founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Operation HOPE. Bryant has been an advisor to the last three sitting U.S. presidents, whose work has been recognized by the last 5 U.S. presidents. For more visit www.johnhopebryant.com or follow him on Twitter @johnhopebryant. 

About Operation HOPE, Inc.
Founded in 1992 and headquartered in Los Angeles, Operation HOPE promotes financial dignity through the delivery of financial inclusion and education tools to underserved communities. Through its three core divisions and HOPE Financial Dignity Forum, the organization has provided youth and adult financial literacy, economic preparedness, digital empowerment, promoted home ownership, and assisted with foreclosure prevention to more than 2 million individuals, families, and small business owners. HOPE's next phase will be focused on Project 5117, a multi-year initiative that will track and increase business role models for youth, boost credit scores for adults, and empower underserved communities. To learn how you can join Project 5117, go to www.operationhope.org.

About Jeddah Economic Forum
The Jeddah Economic Forum (JEF) has been held annually since 1999 and has in that time become the Middle East's leading strategic forum focusing on regional and international economic and social issues. Over its time of existence, the Jeddah Economic Forum has featured some of the leading personalities and thinkers including government leaders, business executives, social and environmental activists, and civic and community organizers.

Underlying many of the themes of the Forum are that a healthy economy requires a healthy social economy and civil society. In each of its sessions, the forum has applied a methodology which expands on the hard economic approach to growth to encompass other dimensions including a focus on capacity building, expansion of social capital, and role of institutions of learning, and the need for continued research and reflection to ensure that global, regional and local developments remain aligned with one another.

As such and since its founding, the Jeddah Economic Forum has become a unique space wherein participants from business, government and civil society can collectively reflect on global solutions to local problems.

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