A decade ago, Jeff Badu was headed down the drain.
Born in Ghana, Badu moved to the United States when he was eight years old. Wanting to belong, he joined a gang for that badly yearned camaraderie.
A conversation with his aunty during a visit to Ghana would reset Badu’s path. Some of his friends who weren’t lucky to have an uncle or aunt to redirect their lives have ended up dead or prison.
Badu’s 2008 Ghana visit was the deal-breaker.
“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,” he says.
“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,” he adds.
Badu jetted back to the United States re-energized and with a fresh perspective, determined to be successful.
“I knew it had to start with me. I had to change my lifestyle,” Badu tells WGN TV.
After severing ties with the gang, Badu paid particular attention to his education and that reflected in the improvement of his grades.
After graduating from Uplift High School, he earned an undergraduate degree in accounting from the University of Illinois.
Badu’s course would again be changed after his friend was brutally shot five times in the head at a gas filling station on the morning of October 28, 2014.
“Literally he was helping somebody with a car tire or spare tire and the next thing you know they walk up to him and shot five times.
“I felt very responsible for that because I had turned my life around but I didn’t go ahead and turn other people’s lives around at that time,” he says.
The Uptown resident would from that experience set out to be a serial entrepreneur who’s a licensed CPA and founder of Badu Enterprises, LLC, a multinational conglomerate that owns several companies.
These include 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.
Badu Investments, LLC acquires residential and commercial real estate properties in areas such as the South Side of Chicago in efforts to restore traditionally underserved areas.
Badu started his first business plan as an 18-year-old during his freshman year at the University of Illinois, where he has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting from the Gies College of Business.
Badu’s 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.
Badu’s goal is to have 50 contractors and an office in the United Kingdom within the next 12 months.
Also, the 26-year-old plans to have 10,000-plus clients, 250 independent contractors and offices around the world within five years.
“We want to have a global company,” Badu says. “We’re trying to do something very, very big, and we’re looking to become the No. 1 tax firm in the world.”
Badu became a millionaire last year at the age of 25 and wants to be a positive example for Chicago and for the world.
“My goal is to help people live the lives they truly desire.”