As a teen, Jeff Badu was headed down the wrong path. Now he is a 28-year-old millionaire who owns several companies.
The Uptown resident is a serial entrepreneur who is a licensed CPA and founder of Badu Enterprises, LLC, a multinational conglomerate that owns several companies, including: Badu Tax Services, LLC, a CPA firm that specializes in tax preparation, tax planning and tax representation for individuals and businesses; and Badu Investments, LLC, which is primarily a real estate investment company that acquires residential and commercial real estate properties in areas such as the South Side of Chicago in efforts to restore traditionally underserved areas.
Eleven years ago, Badu was a student at Uplift Community High School in Uptown and involved in the wrong activities. Badu said he was on a path to where some of his friends are now – in prison or dead.
But a summer visit to his native Ghana in 2008 changed everything.
“I saw how people were living in Ghana, how so many were homeless, including a few of my family members, and I knew I just couldn’t have a life like that,” said Badu, who moved to Chicago from Ghana when he was 8. “From then, I started going to church, and my goal became to help an infinite amount of people who have a profound desire to do better in life.
“I had been a bad kid who surrounded myself with the wrong things, and I had almost been put in handcuffs, and I knew that had to change.”
Badu has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. In Ghana as a 5-year-old, Badu would sell the chocolates and candies he was given on the streets of Accra. He also followed the examples of his parents who are both entrepreneurs: his dad a real estate developer; his mom in real estate and retail.
“I was born to be an entrepreneur and learned from my parents’ examples,” Badu said. “It’s very hard to find a job in Ghana, and if you really want to start to make money, you have to be an entrepreneur.”
Badu started his first business plan as an 18-year-old during his freshman year at University of Illinois, where he has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting from the Gies College of Business. He formed a client base by volunteering to do taxes for family and friends while he went to school and built that base to 100 people by the time he was 24 years old working at PwC.
When he hit his 100th client, Badu quit his full-time corporate job to officially start Badu Tax Services, LLC in September 2016. In the three years since, his company serves 1,500 clients in all 50 states and in Canada, China, Russia, Liberia and India, and Badu now has 21 independent tax preparers working as contractors under his firm’s umbrella. His goal within the next 12 months is to have 50 contractors and an office in the United Kingdom. Within five years, Badu plans to have 10,000-plus clients, 250 independent contractors and offices around the world.
“We want to have a global company,” Badu said. “We’re trying to do something very, very big, and we’re looking to become the No. 1 tax firm in the world.”
He also serves as the treasurer for the Chicago Chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants and is the treasurer of the Ghana National Council of Chicago.
Badu said he became a millionaire last year – that had been his goal – and he wants to be a billionaire by age 40 – and to have financial freedom to change lives in the philanthropical world.
“I want to be a positive example for Chicago and for the world,” Badu said. “My goal is to help people live the lives they truly desire.”