Have credit unions lost their way?

Bill Bynum, CEO of Hope Credit Union, makes the case for focusing on America’s poorest communities every day — not just during a crisis.

Among CEOs, Bill Bynum has carved out a reputation of staying true to the credit union mission. He began his career helping to establish North Carolina-based Self Help Credit Union, a pioneer in programs targeting low-income rural communities. He moved to Mississippi in 1994 and founded Enterprise Corporation of the Delta. A year later, he organized Hope Credit Union ($367.6M, Jackson, MS).

As part of its core mission, the credit union focuses on economically distressed parts of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee and is a fast-growing credit union in terms of membership and assets. HOPE — which consists of Hope Enterprise Corporation, Hope Credit Union, and the Hope Policy Institute — has generated more than $2 billion in financing benefiting 1 million people in impoverished areas.

Bynum, 61, actively works for economic empowerment and serves on the boards of the Aspen Institute, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Prosperity Now, and the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation. He also is a member of the U.S. Partnership on Mobility from Poverty. Bynum has received numerous awards from Distinguished Alumnus of the University of North Carolina to National Entrepreneur of the Year (Ernst & Young/Kauffman Foundation), although he admits he has a soft spot for the Man of the Year Award from Morehead, a small Mississippi Delta town and home to one of HOPE’s 24 branches that serve as a lifeline to rural communities.

 

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