Chicago-based entrepreneur Jeff Badu, a former gang member, became a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and a millionaire by 26. Now, he’s giving back to inner-city youth through his summer financial literacy program.
“I didn’t have someone to teach me about money and finances and prepare me to live the best abundant life possible,” Badu told the Chicago Sun-Times. “With all of the violence going on in Chicago with our youth, I guarantee you that if they had more financial education and empowerment, they would be able to stay out of trouble. They just want to sustain themselves and get out of poverty.”
Former Gang Member Becomes Millionaire Accountant
Born in Ghana, Badu came to Chicago’s Uptown community when he was 8 years old. He fell into Chicago’s gang life, seeking protection and guidance from the streets. After visiting family in Ghana, he was determined to get his life back on track.
“Between 8 to 16, those were the toughest times of my life. I was surrounded by so much negativity,” Badu shared with WGN TV during an interview. “I was literally trapped, I couldn’t walk certain places.”
Badu’s comeback was nothing short of impressive. In 2014, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in accountancy from the University of Illinois. In 2015, he went on to earn his Master of Accounting Science degree. Then, he started his career at Big Four accounting firm, PwC.
After a year of work experience, Badu obtained his CPA license and started Badu Enterprises. He reached a million-dollar net worth at age 26. Now, he leads a successful multinational tax practice and is a real estate investor. He owns a portfolio of 118 housing units on Chicago’s south side, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
From Gang Member to Millionaire Financial Literacy Advocate
Badu doesn’t want other youth to experience what he did growing up in Chicago. That’s why he’s offering a four-week financial literacy summer program to youth ages 6-18 years old. “If you don’t have the resources to create abundance, then life is likely going to be tough. I want Chicago’s youth to think more abundantly,” Badu shared on his website. His Badu Foundation will be a key ingredient to transforming the opportunities available to underserved youth in Chicago. The foundation aims to provide valuable financial literacy education, scholarship training, and a $500 scholarship to jumpstart their educational goals. Badu aims to raise $100,000 to fund scholarships. According to Block Club Chicago, he plans to use $20,000 of his own money for this initiative. He is raising additional funds through a GoFundMe Financial Literacy Scholarship Fundraiser. You can check out the Youth Financial Empowerment Program and application on Badu’s website.