KENOSHA — Kenyatta “Kenny” Harper is ready to help locals get their finances back on track.
Harper, who recently opened Harper Tax & Financial Literacy Group, 1923 63rd St. Suite B, said he’s inspired to help locals move past the economic pain and devastation the COVID-19 pandemic wrought on so many this year.
He also wants to help Uptown carry on from this summer’s historic unrest and destruction by showing a new business can strive in the area.
“It was divine intervention that I ended up opening in Uptown,” Harper told the Kenosha News in his new office space. “When I was looking for an office space, I got the opportunity to be in Uptown. I feel like this is where change needs to happen.”
He hopes folks in Uptown trust him to provide fair and impactful services so they can live their best lives.
“I want to give people a service they can trust to bring value to their lives,” he said. “I want to be the change that I want to see. I want to see more people of different ethnicities be able to grow their businesses and live their dreams. Opportunity is for everyone.”
The 43-year-old will offer full tax and insurance services, along with financial advice. He’s licensed to sell insurance in Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana.
“I want to teach people the importance of saving money and different vehicles to grow their money,” he said. “I want to teach people everything from the basics of budgeting to preparing for purchasing a house.”
Harper—who has been a tax preparer for 12 years—said it’s common for people facing economic hardship to turn away from their problems out of fear and anxiety. He wants to change that.
“The first step is admitting you need help,” he said. “The second step is being O.K. with change.”
Harper knows what he’s talking about because he was once in such a place financially.
“There’s a lot of things in finance that will make you uncomfortable,” he said. “When I was in my early 20s I went to the bank and had a credit score of 495. I didn’t understand credit or what having a score of 495 meant. I was denied a loan because of it, and that’s when I started to focus on what I can do to make my situation different. I needed to be able to provide for my children and teach them about finances.”
Harper said one of the best ways to improve a credit score is to establish a history of paying bills on time.
“I started doing that and creating that habit. Then I moved on to budgeting,” he said. “Once you realize how much you’re bringing in versus how much you can spend or afford to spend, that’s when you truly can grab onto your finances.”
His credit score is far higher now..
Harper said he learned to truly care for others when serving as a certified nursing assistant at Hospitality Nursing home, 8633 32nd Ave. He served there for over a decade.
“I think that part of my life is where I really grew,” he said. “I learned that caring for people was a very vital part of my existence. I may not have wanted to do it in a health care field, but I still have the compassion to help people and see families grow.”
He said he was always hoping to start his own business. He said being an agency owner is empowering and thrilling.
“I truly believe that this was my calling,” he said. “A lot of people want the title of entrepreneur but don’t really know what an entrepreneur goes through. I’m in charge of every department whether it’s marketing, finance, administrative.”
Still, he said he walks “a fine line” to ensure he spends plenty of time with his friends and family. He recently celebrated his birthday and some balloons were floating over his desk.
“I want the public to know we welcome them,” he said. “Don’t be afraid of Uptown. It’s growing and it’s beautiful. … We’re going to be the type of business that will service the community.”
Because Harper worked in the health care field for so many years,, he said he takes the coronavirus seriously. He stocks plenty of hand sanitizer and masks are required.
“I do really take the health of the public seriously,” he said, adding he’s more than willing to host virtual meetings with clients.
Once the pandemic is under control, Harper hopes to host events for the community.
“I look forward to just growing and showing people it all starts with their finances,” he said. “If we can teach people to take care of their finances and be stronger, that helps the whole community.”