Oakland entrepreneur Nai Saeturn has had plenty of success attracting customers to the video production and marketing company she founded in 2006, but she hasn't always been adept at running the business side of the operation.
For a long time, Saeturn didn't have a business checking account and never really paid herself - even though her company was profitable.
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By the end of the 12-week class, Saeturn had learned to plan a budget, create a business plan and develop strategies for growth. She had also opened a business checking account with the $65 billion-asset Bank of the West.
"That was a huge help," she says. "If it wasn't for that I would have depended on check cashing, which would have taken a huge chunk out of my checks for fees."
The Hope Inside program offers free financial education and counseling inside bank branches, grocery stores and other high-traffic locations with a goal of helping underbanked consumers and small-business owners better manage their money and move into the financial mainstream.
The program has existed since 2004 in a handful of West Coast banks, including Bank of the West, a unit of France's BNP Paribas, and UnionBanCal, a unit of the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd. Buoyed by its success on the West Coast, Operation Hope took the program nationwide in 2013. It struck partnerships with the likes of SunTrust Banks (STI), Wells Fargo (WFC), Regions Financial (RF) OneWest Bank in Pasadena, Calif., and Popular Community Bank, a unit of Popular in San Juan, P.R. — and it's not planning to stop there.
Though it has just 25 Hope Inside locations now, Lance Triggs, the chief executive of Operation Hope's Los Angeles division, says the nonprofit is aiming to have a presence in as many as 6,000 bank branches by 2020.
"We want consumers to transition from being payday lending customers and check cashing customers into traditional banking customers," he says