In the third instalment of our Black History Month investor special, we speak to Ayesha Ofori, founder of both the female property investment network PropElle Network and online-based platform Black Property Network.
Having previously appeared in our Women in Property Investment series and winning the Women of the Future Award, Ofori has emerged as a leading voice in the London black community surrounding financial literacy, wealth creation and wealth preservation using property investment as the main tool.
Here, Ofori discusses her journey in property investment, the challenges she has faced so far, and the importance of empowering the black community through property education and investment.
Have you faced any barriers in your property investment journey due to your race?
Unfortunately, yes. The property investment world at the SME level (i.e., not big corporates) is essentially made up of individuals investing themselves. I found that at this level you meet a wide variety of people, from all different walks of life.
My worst experiences were in what I call the "online social media" property world, in Facebook, Instagram property groups and circles (none of which I engage with anymore). In some of these groups I was ostracised, made to feel like I didn't fit in or belong and when I prodded for reasons, there weren't any. At first, I was in denial that this could be to do with race, but it took others to tell me to open my eyes and see it for what it was.
What can be done to encourage more people from the black community to get involved with property development, investment and the property market in general?
More sharing of information and giving people from the black community access to top quality info, support and opportunities. This is exactly what we do at the Black Property Network, a company I founded.
Is the property market diverse enough, or does it need to do more to encourage greater diversity, especially in the highest positions of power?
This question made me laugh, because the answer couldn't be more of a resounding YES with respect to there needing to be more diversity! I think the property market is the least diverse I have come across and I used to work in investment banking!
Tell us a bit more about your involvement with property and your background outside of property
I first got into property as a buy-to-let investor, then moved into small developments and then into larger developments. I then started various property investment-related businesses: PropElle Network (empowering women to invest through property) and Black Property Network (helping the UK black community build generational wealth through property).
I am also involved in a property Crowdfunding business called LEO Crowdfunding (which democratises property investing allowing people to invest from £100). I don't really have a background outside property! Before property I worked for Goldman Sachs as an Ultra High Net Wealth Adviser and before that, I worked at Morgan Stanley in investment banking.
Do you think there is still a gap in the market for more property networks and/or resources in the black community?
Black Property Network is all that's needed! :) Joking aside, the market is big enough for many players and my view is the more the merrier. If we're all reaching people in the black community and helping them then it's a good thing, no matter which company provides the help.
What would your advice be to others in the black community who wish to get involved in property?
Commit to starting and actually start! Even if you start off with a small investment of e.g., £100 with a platform like LEO Crowdfunding. Starting is the hardest part. Once you start, it gets easier from there.
What is your greatest achievement in your current role and what made it so fulfilling?
My greatest achievement is seeing all the people that my businesses help. I particularly love seeing people in Black Property Network get the keys to their first buy-to-let property having gone through the Black Property Network property sourcing channel. It's one thing to want to help people, it's so rewarding to see that help live and how it positively impacts people's lives.
*Ayesha Ofori is a multi-award winning real estate investment specialist and Founder of PropElle Network and Black Property Network
This marks part three of our Black History Month investor series. For more insightful accounts, why not check out part 1 and part 2?