He’s got a heart of gold and an unstoppable drive. Mohammed Faisal, the Founder and CEO of Money Hub, has committed to equipping youth with financial literacy in New York City. At a recent gathering at The Impact Hub, we had a chance to hear more about his personal story and how he’s redefining financial inclusion for teens. We are privileged to share his story and we promise you’ll be inspired.
Q/Why did you get into work of financial empowerment?
A/ I pursued the work of financial empowerment because I saw the power of financial literacy at work and how the education of it is lacking throughout New York City. My first look into the power of financial literacy was with my parents. My father, an immigrant from Bangladesh, was never taught about the credit system here in the United States. He had credit cards and did not know how to properly use it so he messed up his credit score. My mother, also an immigrant from Bangladesh, learned from my father’s mistake. Growing up in Astoria, Queens around the time it was becoming gentrified, we were moving from house to house because the rent kept going up. It got to a point where we were priced out of our own neighborhood. My mother had the foresight to build up her credit and a saving while working as a cashier at Duane Reade which led to us to being able to mortgage a house in Jamaica, Queens. That was my first taste of how powerful financial literacy can be. Here was my mother with a middle school education from Bangladesh utilizing the financial system here in New York to provide stability for her family. There is no peace of mind when you are moving from place to place especially as a kid so witnessing my mother being able to provide that for us was powerful. This led me to think about why is this not taught in school? I went to a top ranked public high school in New York, Brooklyn Tech, and we only had one semester of Economics during senior year and nothing else. Those same guys I went to high school with and grew up with were now young adults and had little to no knowledge of the financial system. They all had full time jobs but homeownership and asset building was all a distant dream. This made me want to do something. I saw what good can come from having that knowledge and now understood that it is severely lacking, especially in low-income neighborhoods. I believed in the power of financial literacy and so I figured why not have workshops to teach them and provide the tools needed to learn.
I believe students need financial literacy training because it will help them achieve the goals they have in life. You should not have to go to college or beyond to understand the credit and money management system. I like to use my mother as a prime example of someone who never even finished high school but here she was able to provide a home for her family because she learned financial literacy. One of the first things we teach is being able to visualize what you want in life and connect it with the things you value. That’s the first step, then comes financial literacy. Now that you have your goals, knowing how to budget, save for the things you want, all while building your credit, allows you to worry less and put your full effort toward achieving that which makes you happy. Students need this for financial wellness and just a healthier, happier life.
Q/What motivates you to teach students about financial health?
A/Youth should be pursuing their dreams instead of racking up debts, messing up their credit and not knowing what to do with it. There is nothing like financial freedom and there are way too many kids stuck in debt. Understanding what you can do with your money and what the financial system can do for you is so liberating. These are the kids I grew up with, in the diverse neighborhoods that I did and I want them to flourish with the proper financial knowledge. I wish I was told these things when I was 16, 18, 20 years old. I’m going in front of these kids and talking to them the way I would have liked it back when I was their age. I want them to have a fresh financial start. When you are growing up poor, every single dollar matters and debt can be a life sentenced at times. There is a lot of talented kids out there who are not pursing their dreams because they are burdened by financial ailments. Financial literacy can mitigate that.
Q/What’s your big, hairy, audacious goal for the world?
A/My vision for the world is to see young people pursue anything they want/ want to be in life without having to worry about money. Too many times kids from low- income backgrounds feel like they need to pursue a career that will offer the highest starting salary. This does not always mean wealth in the long run. It is proven that you will excel in the field you like and are good at in the long run. This message does not make its way to these kids. That’s what The Money Hub is here for. We provide you with the financial knowledge to budget for your goals, save for your goals and get your credit up for your goals. Then go achieve your goals. Coupled this philosophy with our technology that seeks to innovate the way financial literacy is taught magnifies this effect. With our white-board animation, gaming app, story telling through social media and providing free access means the information is presented in different ways and accessed through where the kids are, which is their phones, tablets and laptops.
Read more about Money Hub.