Bola Sokunbi — founder of Clever Girl Finance — is making her mark on women and financial literacy. Sokunbi, a certified financial education instructor, finance expert, author, and speaker, recently appeared on ABC’s “GMA” and a host of other news programs. However, Sokunbi was not always financially savvy. A series of early life experiences broadened her perspective and set her on a path toward financial independence.

During her formative years, Sokunbi imagined new possibilities after observing her mother’s transition from a lack of financial awareness to financial stability. Her perspective became clearer following her accumulation of credit card debt in college. That pivotal moment heightened Sokunbi’s awareness of financial wellness and increased her desire to become more informed. She embarked on a journey to read more about retirement savings and investments, and was inspired to undertake a tremendous feat: amassing $100,000 in just over three years following graduation. Sokunbi achieved this savings milestone, despite earning a salary of only $54,000.

While working toward her tremendous savings goal and documenting her journey, Sokunbi came in contact with many women who were burdened with debt, much like the credit card debt she had faced during her college years. She also observed negative stereotypes related to women and spending. The discovery led her to establish Clever Girl Finance, a financial education tool which offers finance courses and packages, coaching, newsletters and a customized financial roadmap. In 2019, Sokunbi authored a book of the same name.

“My goal with the Clever Girl Finance platform is to change this narrative and create empowerment to build wealth for themselves and to achieve the success they desire,” Sokunbi said.

She highlights the importance of women achieving financial independence, especially during changing times that reflect a wide range of choices for women. For example, women are opting out of marriage and motherhood, or becoming single mothers and heads of households.

“We are our own fallback plans,” Sokunbi said.

Sokunbi also points out critical gaps that threaten the financial outlook of women of color, who are less likely to be exposed to financial literacy, and more likely to amass school debt, and be on the receiving end of predatory lending techniques. She believes this demographic deserves critical attention.

“For me, empowering women, especially women of color like myself, to achieve financial wellness and financial success is more important than ever, especially in today’s world. Many of us are the first and second generation to graduate college. We are tackling not only the gender wage gap, but the investment gap, as a result of lower earnings and a lack of financial literacy, especially when it comes to investing and wealth building.”

Given women’s greater longevity, the insufficient retirement savings of most Americans, and the lack of financial conversations within families, one can be sure that Sokunbi’s clever insight is a beacon of hope to clever girls everywhere.