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THE BIZNOB – Global Business & Financial News – A Business Journal – Focus On Business Leaders, Technology – Enterpeneurship – Finance – Economy – Politics & LifestyleTHE BIZNOB – Global Business & Financial News – A Business Journal – Focus On Business Leaders, Technology – Enterpeneurship – Finance – Economy – Politics & Lifestyle

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Transforming Adversity: Overcoming Racist Abuse on the Journey to Property Success

Overcoming Racist Abuse on the Journey to Property Success
Mr Adegoke's team renovated the Lighthouse venue in Camberwell, south London, in an early proje... Mr Adegoke's team renovated the Lighthouse venue in Camberwell, south London, in an early project
Overcoming Racist Abuse on the Journey to Property Success
Mr Adegoke's team renovated the Lighthouse venue in Camberwell, south London, in an early proje... Mr Adegoke's team renovated the Lighthouse venue in Camberwell, south London, in an early project

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Overcoming Racist Abuse on the Journey to Property Success

Sanmi Adegoke’s journey in the property development industry began without any established connections. In an industry where black CEOs are scarce, Adegoke, an outsider, leveraged his unique contacts to build his own company from the ground up.

Having arrived in the UK from Nigeria in the early 2000s, Adegoke faced early experiences of racism while working at a McDonald’s in south London. Despite encountering racial slurs and discriminatory behavior, he relied on his Christian faith to navigate through the challenges. Moving up the ranks at McDonald’s, he received a book from a colleague that would shape his entrepreneurial path – “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert T Kiyosaki, advocating for asset investment, particularly in real estate.

Inspired by the book, Adegoke delved into the UK property market after completing his university education. Despite setbacks during the 2008 financial crisis, he founded Rehoboth Property Group in 2013.

Navigating the property business proved challenging due to its reliance on connections, often favoring those with specific backgrounds and interests. Lacking contacts in property development, Adegoke tapped into his network within London’s black-majority faith communities, cultivated through his church affiliations in Nigeria and the UK.

South London, where Adegoke focused his efforts, stood out with over 250 black-majority churches, attracting thousands of worshippers weekly. He strategically grew his business by renovating post-war entertainment spaces into places of worship for these congregations. His projects expanded to repurposing diverse buildings, transforming old pubs, police stations, and more into co-working spaces and community halls.

Rehoboth Property Group, under Adegoke’s leadership, has completed over 20 major renovation projects, managing £35 million worth of property assets with over 20 employees. Despite his success, Adegoke remains an outlier in an industry grappling with diversity issues.

A report by Action Sustainability consultancy highlighted a 13.6% representation of ethnic minorities in the built environment workforce, an improvement from previous years but still below benchmarks. The lack of diversity becomes more evident at the CEO level, where microaggressions and difficulties fitting in are common.

Estates Gazette’s 2021 survey revealed that 84% of respondents from ethnic minority backgrounds believed racism was prevalent at work, with 75% reporting personal experiences. The industry’s natural affinity bias, favoring familiarity, contributes to a lack of diversity.

Priya Aggarwal-Shah, founder of BAME in Property, notes that individuals like Adegoke often establish their own property companies due to this bias. Adegoke acknowledges the gradual change but emphasizes the need for future generations to experience a more inclusive industry, inspired by his own journey from a McDonald’s employee to a successful property CEO.


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