Ayo Alonge, [email protected]
Mohammed Asaria is the Managing Director and Board Member of Range Developments, an international luxury hospitality development company that develops luxury resorts in the Eastern Caribbean under the Citizenship-by-Investment programmes.
In this interview, Asaria discusses his interest in structured finance and investment banking which necessitated founding Range Developments. He also fields questions bordering on the hospitality sector, challenges, competition and government’s support for SMEs.
I think I had always had it in my mind that I would like to run my own business. I come from an East African Indian family and entrepreneurship is in our genes. After a conventional education in England that culminated in a law degree at Cambridge University, I went first to work for a law firm in the city of London. This was followed by a move to Dubai, where I joined HSBC Bank and later a local bank. This 10 years of work was a tremendous experience, but I always knew I would establish my own business, and when the opportunity came along, I grasped it. Our hotels have featured widely and won awards in the leading media – including CNN, Bloomberg, New York Times, Caribbean Journal, and Vogue. In a short period of time, we have transformed the face of Caribbean tourism and Citizenship by Investment. We have become the market leader in this sector.
Range Developments is the leading developer of luxury hotels under citizenship by investment projects in the Caribbean. Our track record speaks for itself. We work with world-renowned brands such as Park Hyatt St. Kitts which was established in 2017; the Cabrits Resort & Spa Kempinski Dominica which was opened in 2019, and, in Grenada, Six Senses La Sagesse. The completion of Six Senses La Sagesse, Grenada is due in the last quarter of 2022. Our clients come from many different regions, including India, China, Russia, the Middle East, South Africa, Nigeria, among others. We have assisted more than 1,600 investors so far with more than 4,000 passports issued to their families. In conjunction with leading US law firms, we have helped scores of investors to reside in the United States. As well as being physically involved in building hotels, we consult with our clients to give them the best possible future and outcome.
Any entrepreneur will tell you that they are not motivated by profit, and it’s true for our business too. Our ambition is to do business the right way, and the return on capital will follow.
Many people have tried to emulate our success; however, they have not been able to do so. Developing in the Caribbean requires dedication and commitment, and, moreover, a skill set in development. We are the only company to have delivered on our promises in this sector and completed projects in the sector. We opened the Park Hyatt St Kitts in 2017 to reviews of best new hotel in Caribbean by CNN and our Kempinksi in Dominica achieved similar reviews when it opened in 2019. We are currently developing the Six Senses in Grenada which is scheduled to open in 2022. We are the only institutional developer in a market that is crowed by DIY developers that have unfortunately failed in their objectives.
I am not an expert on the Nigerian market, but I think some challenges are universal to running a successful business. You need a good idea, a good team, and loyal customers. Cashflow is also important. One thing I keep hearing is how difficult it is for Nigerian businesses to expand overseas. This is partly because of the difficulty of acquiring visas. My firm helps people secure Grenadian, St Kitts and Dominica citizenship. Interested parties must first invest US$220,000 (plus government fees based on the composition of the family) in a government-approved real-estate project in the relevant island. Some of the advantages of Citizenship by Investment is visa free travel to 140 countries including the UK, Schengen, Russia and China. This would be a fantastic advantage to a Nigerian business which has overseas ambitions. Indeed, applicants are not required to visit or reside in Grenada to obtain citizenship by investment.
Acquiring a Citizenship-by-Investment in Grenada provides an amazing opportunity for business people and their families to secure their future. If they wish they can just use their citizenship to move freely around Africa, Europe, the US and China. Or, if they prefer, they can use it to migrate to and reside in the USA on an E2 visa. Citizenship of Grenada, permits individuals to invest in the US in their own business and obtain an E2 visa. This permits the investor to reside in the US. Moreover, benefits of second citizenship also include security, mobility, and the ability to structure wealth and assets due to a favorable tax regime. Applicants are not required to visit or reside in Grenada to obtain citizenship by investment.
I am always struck by the Nigerian sense of hospitality. People working in the service industry are genuinely pleased to look after you. So the hospitality sector is fast appreciating here.
Wherever we build an hotel – we have opened the Park Hyatt St Kitts, the Cabrits Resort, Kempinksi in Dominica and have begun construction on the Six Senses La Sagesse, Grenada – we encourage the local population to set up their own businesses to supply the hotels with food and services.