Born and raised in Chicago, political-science graduate of SIUC, Pongee Barnes, a real estate investor, began her career began as a college student in 2005 at age 20. Working with both rentals and flipping, her portfolio consists of properties with a mix of multi-family, commercial and single family. In 2019 became inspired to teach her children entrepreneurship and financial literacy. She also added the title author to my two sons Benjamin 10, and Franklin 7, they have co-written 3 books from our series. Their book series Little Owners, is committed to educating the next generation of entrepreneurs.
We caught up with Barnes and her family to discuss life and leadership.
How do you utilize your knowledge to benefit and inspire others?
I utilize the knowledge that I have acquired as a real estate entrepreneur for over 15 years to empower other people to seek financial freedom and passive Income. I wanted to use my knowledge and some of the mistakes that I’ve made in the past to give children at a very young age a strong financial foundation. It’s important that my children and the peers of their generation don’t repeat some of the same mistakes that many millennials have made in their careers and lifestyle. This inspired me to write the Little Owners series, which exposes children to different entrepreneurship career paths and financial literacy. My sons Benjamin and Franklin Barnes have Co-written 3 of the books in the series as well which inspires children to start entrepreneurship young, many parents have expressed that meeting or listening to my sons inspired their kids to write or start their own business. It’s imperative that children feel empowered and are given the proper education and tools to dream big.
What can readers expect to learn?
Each book includes financial vocabulary to give them the language to have a head start on creating passive income, investing, banking, and homeownership are just a few things we highlight. Our books also give the representation that is often lacking when it comes African-Americans and career success. Often children are shown a limited scope of success such as entertainment and sports, I wanted to widen the lens and show them that they could be what they see. The parents see the shift in their children’s paradigm and this gives them opportunity to foster the dreams and ambitions of their kid. It is very rewarding to see the intrinsic value and enthusiasm from children who read our books.
Why are you passionate about this campaign?
I am passionate about this campaign because I’m frustrated with the current financial state of many of my millennial peers. As a real estate professional I encounter many stories of people seeking to buy into the ”American Dream” and being unable to participate because of the egregious amount of student loans that they acquired to have a better life. Unfortunately, this student loan debt coupled with low wages doesn’t allow them to qualify for a mortgage. They are stuck in a rat race and limited on wealth creation. This daunting scenario has inspired me to empower the children before they hit a college campus, to give them options and counter this narrative that college is the only path to success. It’s important to educate the children about debt before they reach 18 and are bombarded with credit card offers on a college campus or in the mail, without knowing how to responsibly use debt. I’m passionate about this campaign because I want the children to have a better chance of success and understand that trade schools are also viable lucrative career options. This upcoming generation will not repeat the same mistakes they will be financial gurus by sweet 16 because they will have a strong financial foundation. They will not foolishly rely on one stream of income, they will be serial entrepreneurs with multiple streams of income. These children will understand that traditional education is valuable but delayed gratification, leadership skills, strong work ethic and persistence are the main ingredients for success. These businesses will create generational wealth for their children.
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Featured Image by Billy Montogomery