5 Questions with Bola Sokunbi, Founder of Clever Girl Finance

November 2nd, 2020


Image credit: Caroline Beffa Photography.

Bola is a Certified Financial Education Instructor (CFEI), finance expert, author, speaker, and founder of Clever Girl Finance, a financial education platform and community for women empowering them to achieve financial wellness and live life on their own terms. The company completed the Techstars New York City Accelerator in 2018. Today, Clever Girl Finance is one of the largest personal finance platforms for women in the U.S. In addition, Bola and Clever Girl Finance have been featured by several media outlets including Time.com, Money Magazine, CNBC, Forbes, Fast Company, Essence, Black Enterprise, Cheddar TV, ABC News, Good Morning America, BBC, Fox Business and The Chicago Tribune as well as on several other finance websites and podcasts.

01. What's one lesson you would share with your younger self?

One lesson I would share with my younger self is that there's value in going through the journey even if it doesn't work out. When I was much younger I wanted everything to happen quickly and I would easily be disappointed when things did not work out as I'd hoped. As I got older I learned to value the lessons gained from each experience, each of which has contributed to who I am today.

02. What exceptional person has made a difference in your life — and how?

My mother Emily has had an incredible impact on my life. She got married young without a college education, had four children, and realized that she wanted to achieve her own financial independence. She worked multiple jobs, took me along to her college classes because she couldn't afford a babysitter and graduated with not just an undergraduate degree but a master's degree as well in her late 30s. She then went on to work full time but at the same time running multiple side hustles to put extra cash aside. Ultimately she became the breadwinner of our family when my father had to retire 15 years earlier than planned due to issues beyond his control. My mother showed me the importance of financial wellness and I got to travel the journey with her. She is my ultimate inspiration.

Read Bola's advice for how to stay strong despite the challenges she faces as a Black woman entrepreneur.

03. What advice would you give to other founders who share your situation or background?

My advice to founders who share my situation and background is to stay focused on your mission and long term vision. As a black female factor, there are a lot of factors stacked against me, hindering my ability to succeed, but I will never use them as an excuse for why I can't build an incredibly successful business because I know that despite the adversities, I am more than capable.

04. What drives you?

My children. I have six year old twins and I want to be a good role model and also show them there's no limit to what they can accomplish. Also, hearing and reading the testimonials of the women in the Clever Girl Finance community sharing how the platform has helped them achieve their financial goals means so much and keeps me focused on my long term vision.

05. How do you Give First

My focus has always been to empower before profits. Most recently, with the devastating financial impact of COVID-19 on the Clever Girl Finance community, made up primarily of black and brown women, and the amplification of ongoing racial injustices, we chose to #GiveFirst to our community by making all of our 30+ courses permanently free to make achieving financial wellness accessible for everyone.

#Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion#Women#Black Entrepreneur#Techstars New York City Accelerator#Industry: Fintech#Social Impact