(Columbia, SC) – When is the last time you updated your LinkedIn profile? Earlier this year, Steven Hughes, 28, of Columbia, received an unexpected inbox message that has since placed him in a select group of influential millennials from across the globe.
On Wednesday, August 12th, Hughes will board a plane for Geneva, Switzerland, to attend the World Economic Forum’s 2015 Global Shapers Curators Meeting. Founded in 1971, The World Economic Forum is an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world through public-private cooperation and an integrated concept of high-level meetings, research networks, task forces, and digital collaboration. The Forum’s Global Shapers initiative is an organized network of local hubs based major cities around the world. Curated by local influencers between the ages of 20 and 30, the hubs undertake events and activities that generate a positive impact within their local communities.
So how and why did the Global Shapers stumble upon Hughes? In his own words: “a magnificent twist of fate.”
Hughes shares, “My parents came to America from Jamaica over 20 years ago and worked non-stop to provide for me and my four siblings. I learned the value of hard work and inherited a razor sharp work ethic, but as I grew older, I began to realize I wasn’t armed with the right tools for financial freedom.”
Not unlike many college students, especially in the black community, Hughes made every online installment money options mistake imaginable in his college days at Clemson. From maxed out credit cards and overdrawn accounts to selling annuities on car repossessions and evictions, the Columbia native’s shaky financial foundation left him sinking fast. After college, when the consequences of his financial illiteracy grew more severe, Hughes decided it was time to make his money matters top priority.
“The key to changing my money mindset was complete immersion. I replaced music CDs with audiobooks and podcasts on personal finance. I attended seminars, read hundreds of books, and sought counsel from money experts locally and even through social media. After a while, my friends and family wanted to know just what ‘New Steve’ was up to,” says Hughes. After 5 years of focusing intently on establishing a tracking and budgeting system, knocking down debt, rebuilding his credit, and even beginning to invest in stocks and real estate, Hughes delivered his answer.
In May 2014, Hughes launched a financial literacy advocacy organization called Know Money Inc. The mission of the organization is to create money-savvy youth and young adults throughout South Carolina. Since the launch, Hughes has lead seminars and workshops reaching nearly 1,000 individuals. His recurring clients and partners include Midlands Technical College, Columbia College, the University of South Carolina, EdVenture Children’s Museum, Verizon Wireless, The Cooperative Ministries, and Project Opera Camp. In January 2015, Hughes kicked off The Green Room Series, a year-long initiative to spread financial literacy in South Carolina through free community seminars and workshops.
“Everything is coming full circle. The guy who couldn’t save a penny to save his life is now charged to lead an initiative of The World Economic Forum. I’m excited to begin working on buidling the Global Shapers hub here with other young leaders. Columbia is the perfect thought center for this work.”