Somya R. Munjal CPA, MBA, MAS, is passionate about money management as a tool to live life fully and is committed to educating people about their finances. She works extensively on economic empowerment and wealth gap disruption through her social enterprises Youthful Savings - which seeks to empower the next generation with financial education products and entrepreneurship training, CPA for the People, LLP - a growing team of do good financiers that seek to empower all with financial knowledge, and Audacious Endeavors, LLC - a social change agency dedicated to solving the world's most pressing issues. Somya’s debut book Audacious Endeavors is a step-by-step guide on how to align your soul's mission (inner artist) with the new economy through socially conscious business practices. Dedicated to all the young people out there - in age or the young at heart. Explore how you have the audacity to be different and change the world so every new, young person lives a better life. When she's not working hard on empowering people economically, she can be found at the beach contemplating life through the spiritual power of the Pacific Ocean.
How did you get into the industry?
I entered the workforce when I was 14 years old and it didn’t take me long to start working two jobs once I realized the power of earning and saving and the related freedom that provides. I started Youthful Savings in Washington, DC when I got frustrated with the growing inequality in this country that is often based on race and the related socio-economic issues that result from that. I didn’t understand how our elected officials were allowing kids to go hungry in the very place that they serve. I realized that change happens from citizens and you can’t outsource that change. From there, I was able to combine technology, education and finance to build my companies that all aim to disrupt the wealth gap. I got into my industry because I did a deep dive on what I was able to do and how best to help others do the same – get educated and get out of the situation you’re in through the power of education and hard work.
Any emerging industry trends?
Unfortunately the trends about our nation’s education system and growing wealth gap are not positive. According to Urban.org, average wealth has increased over the past 50 years, but it has not grown equally for all groups. Families near the bottom of the wealth distribution (bottom 10%) went from having no wealth to being about $2k in debt. Families near the top (top 10%) saw their wealth quadruple between 1963 and 2003. A lack of understanding on what is going on to create wealth on the top is a big issue. Educating people about finance and investing all while keeping people out of debt is super important if we want to see this world be more equal and just. Some people may not be as excited about equality as I am but I can guarantee you that violence is real and it often stems from frustrations about inequality and a lack of opportunities to join the economy. Add in drugs / addiction and a lack of good schools in disadvantaged neighborhoods and you have a real issue. Our history books define how this all got created. America was built on Europeans coming here and killing and stealing land all while also bringing in slaves and trading them. We cannot afford to repeat the sins of our fathers. We all need to evolve and do better in order to rewrite a better history for our future kids. I don’t care if you’re black, white or purple, let’s all roll up our sleeves and make sure every human has a real chance to success in this country and the world at large. We aren’t going to live in a safe and just world until that happens.
Any industry opportunities or challenges?
The biggest issue I personally see is a lack of awareness of what caused our issues. Until we can admit what previous generations did wrong and not repeat them, we cannot change.
Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?
There are a lot of people out there that walk their talk and have dedicated their life and resources to making the world a better place. Those people are my inspiration to do the same. These people may not be famous but maybe what makes them extraordinary is that they are more concerned with the impact that they are making versus achieving fame. Educators and artists with a sincere mission are my personal heroes.
What's next for the Business in the near future?
Getting to as many kids as possible and impacting as many adults as possible to wake up and do more.
Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?
At Youthful Savings we work on economic empowerment and character development. We aren’t just focused on getting kids off the streets and into college but also making sure that they are caring and compassionate humans that give back as they achieve their success. We are four years in and it may take time for us to truly see our impact but my hope is that 10 years from now, kids are buzzing about Youthful Savings and the positive impact we were able to provide them.
Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)
Being asked for sex in exchange for investment money. It really made me realize how much work women have left to do in this world to be treated equal. The thing is though, every time I encounter a bad adult, I just want to work harder to make the kids less like them. Funny thing is that I ended up working for the same financial institution that this guy worked for and was able to incorporate the institution as a Youthful Savings financial products partner. I learned that the best revenge is success.
Ideal experience for a customer/client?
Knowing that they are cared for and that they can do anything they want to do in their life if they are willing to work hard enough. This goes for both the kids and the adults that my companies serve.
How do you motivate others?
Staying true to my soul. I think people are genuinely good inside. We just sometimes cover that up with our fear. If we allowed our true soul to shine every day, I think we would all be better off.
Career advice to those in your industry?
Be clear on what you want to accomplish and never give up!