UK travel ban helped us leverage the challenges, opportunities to grow our business – Adegoke
Sanmi Adegoke is the CEO of Rehoboth Property International (RPI), an award-winning entrepreneur, a leading UK Real Estate Developer and Philanthropist. In this interview with IFEOMA OKEKE, he speaks on how his business excelled in UK during and after the peak of the pandemic and how he leveraged opportunities and challenges that the travel ban presented. Excerpts:
Were there deliberate efforts you made to become the first black recipient of Entrepreneur of the Year at UK Property Awards 2021?
I wouldn’t say I made a deliberate effort to become the first black recipient of the Entrepreneur of the year property awards 2021, but I did make a deliberate effort to ensure someone of my calibre was represented in such a way on such a prestigious platform, which I would put down to dedication, resilience and the power of prayer. Being the first black recipient is just the icing on the cake.
Tell us about your background and how you got into the real estate industry.
Relocating from Nigeria to embark on greener pastures in the UK, property was never the goal. From starting a career working in McDonald’s starting on the grill and working my way up to a managerial position, I quickly realised McDonald’s was beyond being a fast-food company but more a real estate enterprise. This revelation fuelled my pursuit to ultimately become the CEO of a multi-million-pound business. In addition, I’m a man of three values: Faith, tribe and legacy. These particularly differentiate me from my competitors.
How long have you been in the real estate sector and what success stories have you recorded in that space since you started?
I have been in real estate for more than a decade. Success stories include but are not limited to: – Starting with only five clients in 2014, our database of church clients has now grown to circa 3,000 as our company was able to provide innovative solutions for faith-based organizations such as old bingo buildings, former courthouses, and industrial warehouses into a place of worship.
This has now made us a leading provider in this newly developed niche. We were the first to purchase a trophy asset, a former court building, and creatively repurpose it into a place of worship. We recently broke ground on a development project, the first co-working and co-living space of its kind in Kent.
With its rich history of sustaining pain and trauma to so many, the Hill Hub is transforming trauma into triumph by repurposing a former police station into a collaborative space for the community whereby like-minded people can become creative and innovate. – Of course, going from a two-man band to a team of thirteen.
Real estate business in Nigeria is different from the UK. What are some of the standards and practices you think Nigeria can copy from the UK?
In the UK there are regulatory frameworks, regulatory bodies, codes of practice that you have to be adhered to. Transparency and ethical practices are also very important.
Structures and processes also aid a level playing field for various stakeholders of the real estate industry.
How did the UK travel ban affect real estate business relationships between both countries?
We thank God for the advancement of Technology and being able to have meetings with clients but also get to show them virtual representations of potential deals. So in reality it’s not much of a hindrance.
What will recovery for the real estate sector look like in the Covid-19 era, especially after the UK travel ban which happened last year?
The travel ban came with opportunities and challenges. From an opportunities perspective, it’s given us as a business the freedom to assess what we should capitalize on in terms of building a strong niche in a populated industry. Subsequently, we’ve been able to build our various lines of business especially within the Serviced Apartment (SA) space, this has been a game-changer for us as a business.
– On the contrary, however, post covid era means cash is the king even more than ever before and we find investors are playing a bit safer than they’ve done before due to the uncertainty the global pandemic has led to.
During the peak of the pandemic, how were you able to complete an astounding development, secure deals all around the UK, and contribute towards the narrative of black ownership?
I’m a big believer in dreams and one of the things that helped in making this dream a reality was the power of prayer. In addition, being motivated by what the development (The Hill Hub – THH) represents for us as a community was a significant driving force to ensure we crossed the finish line. An element of The Hill Hub will be to create an ecosystem for people to grow their businesses and have access to resources and funds to help spur growth and leverage one another in the process. We anticipate for this ecosystem to create wealth and legacy for generations to come. This was our major why to not give up.
What are some of the tips to succeed as a real estate investor in the UK?
Some of the tips to succeed include research, understanding your niche and owning it, building a strong network of expertise i.e architects, planners, lawyers, etc; and building strong industry relationships. Yes, we’re all in the same industry but the market is big enough for us all to win and never know who can bring a deal your way which is why understanding your niche and owning it is key. There is a need to build a strong team that has the necessary skill set to grow the business.
Tell us about the Hill Hub and what you aim to achieve through this?
As mentioned above, an element of The Hill Hub will be to create an ecosystem for people to grow their businesses and have access to resources and funds to help spur growth and leverage one another in the process. We anticipate for this ecosystem to create wealth and legacy for generations to come.
When did you set up Rehoboth Property International, what is your staff strength and where do you hope to be in the next five to ten years?
Rehoboth was set up seven years ago. We have a team with over 30 years of experience combined in the real estate industry.
In the next five to ten years we hope to be the go-to company that is known for creating innovative solutions for ownership, building sustainable generational wealth through real estate, and changing the narrative around black ownership.
What is the next big thing for Sanmi Adegoke?
What I would say is expansion, building greater partnerships, helping people attain financial freedom, and bringing as many people up along the way as possible are what we will continue to do.
Did your growing up influence your decision to go into real estate?
As a man passionate about changing narratives, I was inspired to create an empire of wealth and financial freedom through real estate. Even with a tough upbringing, at an early age, I was exposed to the world of entrepreneurship & lucrative businesses. Taking a strong liking to work alongside my mother on her various businesses in Nigeria, I had no clue that these would be the skills I would use today.
Those years equipped me to build my empire and the valuable skills which I use in my everyday life. ‘Land & agriculture is the only tangible thing that God has given us’ and with my firm belief in God, I decided to take a stance on these values.
What are some of the challenges and opportunities in the UK real estate sector and how have you been able to navigate the challenges?
Funding has been a major challenge, especially with the global pandemic, in addition to finding good profitable deals. However, building strong relationships with agents and other industry colleagues has played a pivotal role in navigating the current climate. As we continue to build brand awareness we’re seeing more collaborative opportunities be presented to us as well as investor interest peaking.