Today we have the pleasure of featuring teen entrepreneur Aditya Desai in the Sammy Rabbit Spotlight!
Aditya is a New Jersey high school student who is passionate about financial literacy, social entrepreneurship, and impact. He is the Founder & Director at the Economics Education Initiative (EEI). The enterprise’s focus is to elevate the futures of young people through financial literacy.
Aditya’s past work in an array of personal finance disciplines has earned him recognition as a social change maker, FBLA leader, and advocate for the less fortunate.
SEEDING THE ENTREPRENEUR SPIRIT
Sam & Leslie: Please help us get to know you a bit better. Tell us about yourself, your family, early education, favorite subject, and a few fun things you enjoy?
Aditya: I’m a high school student in Livingston, NJ who’s passionate about social innovation. As a child, I would always be on top of anything that had to do with money. Whether it was helping out at my dad’s local retail store to earn some tips or filing medical records at my mom’s clinic for that new toy. I was all in. What started as an innate, and quite honestly, humorous interest in finances has quickly evolved into a core value I seek to disseminate to students.
Outside of school, I love anything and everything to do with digital production. My interests range from photoshop to making short films. I’m also a varsity runner for my high school’s cross country team and cherish winter weekends on the ski slopes with pops.
DEVELOPING ENTREPRENEUR SKILLS AS A TEEN
Sam & Leslie: You have excellent organizational, leadership and communication skills, both oral and written. What do you attribute them to?
Aditya: The emergence of my leadership abilities has undoubtedly come from the independence that my parents instilled within me, from a young age. Ranging from minuscule decisions like the choice to purchase some candy, to larger choices such as my academic course load. They’ve always encouraged me to investigate, analyze, and act—regardless of whether my decision is in line with their personal beliefs. As a result, I’ve been compelled to look at the consequences of each of my actions head-on, and ultimately hone my skills. At large, this process has enabled me to build robust organizational and leadership skills, where I act on conviction and always remember to follow-up.
“My leadership abilities has undoubtedly come from the independence that my parents instilled within me, from a young age.”
DAILY HABITS OF A TEEN ENTREPRENEUR
Sam & Leslie: Take us through an average school day for yourself from the time you wake up to when you go to sleep. Please do the same for a Saturday?
Aditya: On the average school day, I’ll wake up early—around 5 A.M. usually to workout and get some work done for the EEI. After a normal school day (from 8:00 to 3:00), I’ll attend meetings for any clubs or activities that were scheduled for that day. Usually, I’ll have cross country or track practice for two hours after school, as well. When I get home, I grab a quick snack and finish my homework by 8 or 9 P.M. From there, I use the next 4-5 hours to study, work on out-of-school projects, and other extracurriculars.
Saturdays are relatively mundane 🙁 but here’s a quick synopsis: I wake up between 6 and 7 AM, grab some breakfast + catch up on news, workout, and shower. For the rest of the day until 5 PM, I’ll be busy with schoolwork or any other upcoming projects. From there, I’ll go out to eat with my family to culminate the night.
LEARNING TO LEAD
Sam & Leslie: What led you to become an FBLA member?
Aditya: As a freshman, I walked into my first FBLA meeting, and was immediately taken away by its robust student leadership and passion for business amongst its members. I knew that business was a realm that I was interested in—but, I didn’t know the mechanism by which I could really indulge in it. Luckily, FBLA provided the perfect outlet. From speaking opportunities to competitive events and national conferences, I saw FBLA as a true incubator for both my fascination and success in business.
HOW FBLA MEMBERSHIP GROWS LEADERS
Sam & Leslie: What have you learned and how have you grown as a result of your FBLA membership?
Aditya: FBLA has endowed me countless valuable skills including, but not limited to team building, effective communication, delegating responsibilities, and public speaking. Through each FBLA event I’ve attended—regardless of whether it’s at the regional, state, or national level—I’ve left with new connections, interests, and questions that guide my exploration in the field of business. Correspondingly, with leadership roles in the organization, I’ve learned to be a role model for my peers by expressing myself clearly, embracing opportunity, and ultimately being transparent to any member looking to talk about business disciplines or life in general.
FIRST ENTREPRENEUR EXPERIENCE
Sam & Leslie: What inspired you to start Economics Education Initiative (EEI)? Why is Economics Education important to you and a focus of yours?
Aditya: I started the Economics Education Initiative (EEI) subsequent to a public health research internship, during which I saw inequities in financial literacy first hand. Never did I think that addressing health disparities in Hispanic populations for two months in the heart of the Bronx would alter my vision, yet I emerged with a newfound focus to build personal finance abilities in underserved populations across the tri-state area. I truly believe in the EEI and other financial literacy programs due to the fact that the goal is to arm students with a tangible life skill that has the potential to impact students for the rest of their lives.
Sam & Leslie: Please share with us the EEI story and its mission?
Aditya: EEI’s mission is to elevate futures through financial literacy. Our core goal is to raise personal finance amongst an underserved high school populace through 3 main channels: personal workshops, mobile application partners, and a teen finance/entrepreneurship magazine. Each one of EEI’s branches has been carefully designed to address the shortcomings of current financial literacy programs such as a logistical limitation on the scope of impact.
THE ROAD AHEAD FOR TEEN ENTREPRENEUR
Sam & Leslie: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Aditya: 10 years down the road, I see myself as an entrepreneur in the education space. I’ve specifically been drawn to Edtech startups in recent years, and recognize their potential to revolutionize the foundational learning experience for students globally. Aside from that, I would also love to run or serve on the board of directors of a business-oriented nonprofit.
“My top suggestion for young people is to come to the table ready to learn, when it comes to money and personal finance talks.“
TEENS AND MONEY
Sam & Leslie: Do you have any suggestions for young people on money and personal finance?
Aditya: My top suggestion for young people is to come to the table ready to learn, when it comes to money and personal finance talks. Yes, I certainly know the topic is tedious and dull at times, but it’s critical to remember when you learn the language of money—which, don’t get me wrong, is no easy task—you’ll be able to make your money work for you through a variety of investment options and budgeting plans.
Sam & Leslie: Is there anything else you would like to share with the Sammy Rabbit audience?
Aditya: Sammy Rabbit is truly proliferating financial literacy by catering interactive and outright fun lessons at a very early age. I couldn’t be prouder to be collaborating with you.
LEARN MORE ABOUT ADITYA
To discover more about teen entrepreneur and financial literacy champion Aditya Desai visit https://www.eeinj.org/