Advancing Opportunity in the Deep South with Bill Bynum

In this episode, Brian chats with Bill Bynum, the founder and CEO of HOPE, a family of financial institutions serving economically distressed areas of the Deep South. You’ll learn Bill’s definition of a mission-driven business, what motivated him to found HOPE, and the unique challenges he faces working in the Deep South as opposed to in Silicon Valley or New York City. Bill also shares why institutions like HOPE are part of the solution to closing racial wealth gaps.

Episode Highlights

Mission-driven businesses focus on the greater good.

While most businesses are looking to maximize profits for shareholders, individuals, or investors, Bill defines a mission-driven business as one that is primarily focused on making the world a better place.

“Mission-driven businesses, while we are businesses — we have to pay the bills — our primary motivation is making the world a better place,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s not about individuals, it’s about the greater good.”

For Bill, it’s personal.

Since Bill was a child, he’s seen how financial resources can help support families and aid individuals in being productive citizens. But he’s also witnessed how too often people don’t have adequate access to financial resources for reasons beyond their control, such as their skin color or gender.

“I’ve seen how pooling your resources together to help your neighbor makes a difference,” Bill said. “Personally, I’ve seen the value of access to capital, particularly, through a credit union where neighbors help neighbors.”

CDFIs can help close wealth gaps.

In America, there are staggering gaps along racial lines in key areas of life, including health, education, and, yes, wealth. In the episode, Bill pointed to data showing a 10-to-1 gap in wealth between white and Black American households. For households with children, that gap is 100-to-1, Bill said.

“Clearly, we are facing a crisis of historic proportions in this country and that is forcing people to step back and hopefully examine some of the reasons we are in this position,” he said.

To Bill, community development financial institutions (CDFIs) are a crucial part of the solution to overcoming decades of entrenched, institutional poverty. These institutions can offer the poorest communities, which are often communities of color, affordable access to the resources necessary for economic mobility — housing, businesses, healthcare, and schools.

“This isn’t rocket science,” Bill said. “What we really need to do is double down and support those institutions that are providing those basic resources that we know are necessary for economic mobility. In many cases, those require financial services.”


“Netflix Invests $10 Million in HOPE to Build Economic Opportunity in Black Communities”
“White families have nearly 10 times the net worth of black families. And the gap is growing.”
“Racial wealth gap growing for families with children”

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About Brian and the Mission Driven Business Podcast 

Brian Thompson, JD/CFP, is a tax attorney and certified financial planner who specializes in providing comprehensive financial planning to LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs who run mission-driven businesses. The Mission Driven Business podcast was born out of his passion for helping social entrepreneurs create businesses with purpose and profit.

On the podcast, Brian talks with diverse entrepreneurs and the people who support them. Listeners hear stories of experiences, strength, and hope and get practical advice to help them build businesses that might just change the world, too.