Ayesha Ofori knew that she had made an important journey with her property investment portfolio, moving from what she terms a “side hustle” to a principal source of income, when she discovered that she was earning more from property than with her job with Goldman Sachs. In this post, she shares how she found purpose through entrepreneurship.
The founder and CEO of Black Property Network (BPN) came to the realisation in 2018 that she no longer needed to work for an employer. A further existential moment arrived when she realised she wanted to help people who needed help, as well as run her own business.
A former executive director in Private Wealth Management at Goldman Sachs, Ayesha invested her talent for finance and her love for property by founding property investment company, Axion Property Partners, a company that specialises in enabling property developers of affordable housing projects to access development capital. Ayesha then subsequently set up two property investment community businesses, PropElle Network and BPN, which help under-represented groups get started and to scale their property investments while improving their financial literacy.
“While I had enjoyed my job with Goldman Sachs I came to the belief that it wasn’t enough for me to just make wealthy people even wealthier. I wanted to do something more meaningful, I wanted to help people who needed it,” says Ayesha, who gained her MBA from London Business School in 2012.
Journey of discovery
Ayesha says that her own journey of discovery and personal wealth creation through property investment came relatively late in her own life and she wanted to help people by sharing her knowledge of the property market and property investments.
“Financial literacy isn’t really taught in schools (it certainly wasn’t when I was at school) and my ambition is to help people to financial security, and ideally the acquisition of their own homes. Property is a very tangible asset, easy to grasp and one can invest in property for as little as £100.”
With housing equity in the UK worth some £3.6 trillion – 60% more than the value of all of the companies listed on the London Stock Exchange combined it is not hard to see the advantages of property investment, nor the need to democratise investment potential for millions more people.
Helping others to succeed
Ayesha established BPN, a community designed to help members of the UK black community achieve financial and business goals through property investment strategies, no matter their budget. BPN makes investment accessible through regular events, seminars, workshops, mentoring and other bespoke services. The network empowers its members to collaboratively learn and invest in property within a supportive environment that has an entrepreneurial focus.
“I wanted to help people who need support and education,” she says. “But I realised that in order to be able to do that, you still need access to funds which is why I established Axion. I still work with high net worth individuals, but now I’m enabling good, affordable homes to be built, that not only provides investors the returns they’re looking for, but also produces something that’s helping other people.”
Drawing on her own family history, Ayesha knew that her grandparents had no other option but to buy their property in the 1950s owing to the discriminatory behaviour of landlords in the UK at the time. Ayesha believes that today everyone should have the opportunity to buy property, but for many their aspiration needs to be grounded in knowledge of the market and of finance. “There is nothing overly complicated about the property market but you do need to understand the fundamentals, which is why financial education is an important part of both PropElle and BPN.”
“I weave education into everything that I do,” she stresses. “Financial literacy should play a bigger part of the school curriculum, which for the most part fails to teach young people to save and invest.”
Drawing on the MBA
Speaking about her time with LBS, Ayesha describes the two years she spent studying for her MBA has some of the best years of her life.
“I would definitely not be where I am now were it not for my time at LBS. The School opened my eyes to a set of wider issues and opportunities, helping me to realise that making money and doing good are not mutually exclusive. ”
Ayesha Ofori was the 2020 winner of the Entrepreneur Rising Star of the Year at this year’s Black British Business Awards (BBBA). Ayesha says she is keen to share achievements of this kind. “Seeing someone who’s achieved is important to growing wider confidence and ambition throughout our communities,” she says.
“I’m trying to share with the wider public that there are ways to achieve financial stability and to grow wealth outside the conventions of employment and saving.”
About the Author: Christopher Moseley is a Senior PR and Public Affairs Manager at London Business School. He has previously worked across a wide range of sectors, including in-house PR roles in telecoms/IT, defence and aerospace. He also worked for the agency, Weber Shandwick, promoting new technology business start-ups.