In this interview, Aida chats with Hawa, an accountant and tax professional and gains some insights into her decision to start her own business and teach others how to become financially literate.

Let’s start with you telling us a little bit about yourself.

Sure. So, my name is Hawa. I live in Cincinnati, and I am an Accountant and Credit specialist.  I transitioned from Corporate America and started my own firm, helping entrepreneurs manage the financial side of their business. With my corporate background in accounting, I helped business owners by managing their business finances, organizing their personal finances, and helping them save thousands on taxes. 

I started my company because I believe in entrepreneurship and wanted to give people of color access to a one-stop-shop for financial guidance. Most entrepreneurs are talented in their field of expertise but fall short in the areas of finances, taxes, and business management. My goal is to help bridge that gap and allow them to spend more time on what they love. 

The transition from Corporate America to entrepreneurship was challenging at first – not because I didn’t believe I could do it but as you know entrepreneurship is unconventional especially in the African community. Our parents believe that getting a college degree and working in Corporate America was a success. Personally, for me, I wanted more. I felt unfulfilled and always wanted to make a difference in the world and realized Corporate America was not going to be where I would get that. 

So, it just made sense for me to venture out and do something on my own. 

My business started as a credit repair business. I had a 540-credit score about 5 years ago. After being denied a car without having a cosigner, I decided to take matters into my own hands and learn everything I could about credit. I invested in courses and mentors and within about 5 months, I was able to increase my credit score to a 760. After this I decided to help friends, family members and coworkers. After their success, I started receiving referrals and started my company 3 years ago. I have since then expanded by taking my Tax and accounting experience from working at my 9-5 and started to help small businesses with their tax and accounting needs. Over time, the business has organically grown to what it is today.

In African cultures, money seems to permeate every conversation. How would you say your experience with money and your family influenced your views on the topic?

The money topic is a deep topic because if we think about it, our beliefs and relationships with money is one of the things that gets shaped by our family, like religion or politics etc. What I mean by that is if you grow up in a house where you constantly hear your family talk about not having enough of it or hearing their beliefs on how you should be earning or spending money, you will naturally grow up with those thoughts and habits and that was the case for me personally. I think in the black community, we also lead with a scarcity mindset rather than one of abundance.  They often tell us “don’t do this” or “don’t do that” and don’t really educate us on why or give us an explanation. I feel like this lack of education is the problem. 

An example of this would be how my mom always told me to stay away from credit cards because “they are bad for you” and that was all the guidance I received. No education on how I should manage the credit card or how it impacts my credit and granted it she may not have known. If the situation was different, I would have possibly avoided a lot of financial mistakes I made.

Knowing this, I made sure to play that role in my family and teach my younger siblings about the things I wish I would learn when I was younger. So, to summarize it, I would say it’s about unlearning the bad habits and beliefs we have about money and educating ourselves with better habits and beliefs so that we can make it better for our siblings and kids. 

How can First Generation/Children of African immigrants support their families (which many of us feel like we have to) while taking care of our futures financially?

It’s honestly hard. We carry a huge responsibility of not only taking care of our family but sometimes even family members back home. We don’t have the luxury of being 18 and on our own (taking care of ourselves). We have to help our parents. It sometimes feels a little like you’re trying to build a house but every time you place a brick, it gets taken down. It can feel like you’ll never finish building the house. To answer the question, I say it’s about managing your finances properly, budgeting and honestly just doing what you can. 

How can we do better with planning when parents come with all these unexpected expenses that are not budgeted.

Even though this is hard, I think it’s okay to say we don’t have it sometimes. 

I think part of the problem is that we don’t have honest and transparent conversations with our parents about what’s going on with our finances and the goals we are trying to accomplish. Like, they may think we make X amount of money when in reality we’re struggling too! I think our parents should also understand where we are coming from. 

That said, I think understanding is necessary on both sides.

Okay, so how about splurging when you’re not helping family – how can we deal with the guilt?

I personally struggle with this myself. I believe in working hard but also enjoying the fruits of your labor. We all value different things and personally, I love traveling. It’s a form of self-care for me. It’s not always understood by my African parents as they consider traveling a waste of money. With me knowing this, I do have this guilt feeling every time I travel but honestly you can’t focus too much on that or you’ll neglect yourself. I think it’s about finding a balance. 

What services do you offer that people can reach out to you for? Where can they find you?

You can find me on Instagram @simply_hawa. My company New Horizons Financial Services offers a variety of financial services from Tax and accounting services, business consulting services and credit repair services. I am very passionate about financial literacy.  As we talked about, it is something not taught in school and not talked about enough, especially in our community. Being in a position to help bridge the gap and provide resources to our people is a blessing. 

How did you feel about leaving your CorpAmerica job and venturing out?

It was hard at first just like anything new. I always say, building a business is hard, working a job you hate is hard. You just have to pick your hard. 

Oftentimes people, including your family, may not see the vision, but you have to believe in yourself and push through.

I’m very happy that I made the decision to venture into entrepreneurship. I don’t regret it at all.

This may be an unpopular opinion because I often see people on social media downplay having a 9-5. I am grateful for my 9-5. It helped me not only fund my business idea, but it taught me a lot of skill sets such as time management, leadership etc. that I have prepared to be a better entrepreneur.  

My advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is to take your time, plan and prepare yourself to make that transition. Make sure you are willing to put in the work as entrepreneurship is not easy either. Use your 9-5 to plan and don’t just jump. Don’t just quit. Make sure what you want to do works before you quit.

Having your own business, there’s nothing like it. It’s amazing. New opportunities come with being an entrepreneur. There’s a lot of risk and a lot of rewards. Just believe in yourself and put in the work to get there. Putting yourself out there is scary but getting out of your comfort zone is how you grow.

Message to readers: if you are interested in learning more about credit services, fixing your own credit, and some entrepreneurial tips & tricks, Hawa has graciously shared two resources at no cost. Simply text the code elleparleenfin to (513) 654-5478 for access!

Thank you Hawa for this insightful interview! I personally learned so much from this and think my readers will too!

One thought on “Hawa | Tax Accountant

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