Millennial millionaire seeks to teach downtown youth financial literacy he calls the secret
Jeff Badu is 28, a licensed CPA and a millionaire.
He reached the latter at age 25, despite having zero financial literacy education growing up.
If he had heard about money at a younger age, he thinks it wouldn’t have taken him that long.
So now Millennial, a Uptown resident and founder and CEO of Badu Enterprises, LLC, a multinational corporation with a successful real estate arm – which started with the purchase of one unit in 2017 and now owns 118 units – wants helping young people like him achieve the same.
His year Badu Foundation accepts downtown applicants ages 6-18 for four-week financial literacy programs along with a $ 500 college scholarship.
“My family has always been entrepreneurs, mathematicians. We just have a love for business, ”said Badu, who attended McCutcheon Elementary and Uplift Community High School in Chicago Public Schools, where he enrolled in 2010 with an honorary GPA of 4.23.
The Ghanaian immigrant, whose parents emigrated to Chicago with their three children at the age of eight, went on to earn his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2014 and 2015. .
“To make a long story short, when I was younger I unfortunately surrounded myself with the wrong audience, which ultimately could have caused me some really big problems,” said Badu.
“I had no one to teach me about money and finances and to prepare me to live the best abundant life possible. With all the violence in Chicago with our young people, I guarantee you that if they had more financial education and empowerment, they could avoid trouble. They just want to support themselves and get out of poverty. “
Her father is a real estate developer in Ghana, her mother a nurse. He is the only boy and child in the middle, with two sisters. Growing up in Uptown, it was at age 16, when he was down the wrong path, that his parents took him to visit their home country.
This visit and the poverty he witnessed changed his life. He came back determined not to waste his opportunities and, more importantly, to be able to help someday.
“To be honest, it was God. This trip really opened my eyes and allowed me to see the light and see my purpose in life, ”said the soft-spoken young man.
“I’ve seen people struggle. I wanted to be part of the solution, not the problem. I wanted to find resources to help people come out of this scarcity and live abundantly. It was a profound moment for me. From that point on, I worked 10 times harder and educated myself. “
In high school, he had been a part of the football team, group, and After School Matters programs.
In college, he was vice president of the school’s National Association of Black Accountants section and spent the summer of his junior and senior years interning at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Chicago, which hired him. after graduation.
But Badu would only stay for a year. He had started his tax preparation business at the age of 18 and by the time he left PwC had built up a client base of 100 people, family and friends.
Badu Tax Services, LLC, was launched in September 2016; Badu Investments, LLC, in April 2017, and the 501c3 foundation in April 2020. During a pandemic, its inaugural program attracted only three students. The foundation has set a goal of serving 30 students this year.
Badu and his team teach young people the value of saving, budgeting, investing, and starting college savings accounts that are started with the foundation’s $ 500 scholarship.
“So we basically teach them the importance of applying for scholarships, provide them with resources to find and apply for scholarships, and then give them the first $ 500. Our students will be able to reapply each year, and each program they complete will earn an additional $ 500. When they enroll in college, all of these funds will go towards tuition, ”Badu said.
“I want to help our young people think differently. We only allow students residing in low income Chicago communities to apply. I wish I had known some of these things a lot younger, because I could have had more of a head start in life.