In this interview, the Managing Director, Emerging Markets Africa, Atlantic America Partners, Daniel Ryan, speaks on an exciting investment opportunity it provides for investors. Ugo Aliogo presents the excerpts:
Can you tell us about your organisation and your key focus in the investment space?
We are part of a 45-year old investment banking firm known as CEA Worldwide and we have been involved in transaction over those 45 years of over $40 billion in equity transactions. We got involved in EB5 programme which is employment-based fifth version (EB5) programme. It is a job creation programme; it is not a lottery, but an investment programme. The law was written 28 years ago, at the set amount of $500,000 for each investor from any country around the world that wants to come to America for a variety of reasons. They may want to come to expand their business, educate their children, or simply because they want to live in America. The beauty is that our programme has a 10-year track record and 100 per cent approval of the applicants have gone through this process and received green cards. There are few companies in America that do what we do and can say that. The other thing that makes us unique is that we invest the $500,000 in brand new high quality trophy commercial real estate investments and because we have a team that has been doing this for long period of time, we form joint ventures with property developers, the highest quality in the country. We act as the money merchants; we act as the trustees because our specialty is money and financial management. We generally exceed the 10 jobs per investor by 130- 150 per cent. The most recent project that is currently under construction looks like we will probably be at 180 percent over what is required for job creation, so we are experienced at what we do because of that we have this success 10-year track record. We have been involved in 30 projects, helped 600 families and invested over $300 EB5 capitals and it is all in America. It is not in Africa and the jobs are created in America.
How long will it take for investors to get their $500,000 back?
The total process from application to the temporary green card is between 14-18 months, but what we tell people is to plan on two years in order to play safe. After that there is a waiting period of two and half years and then you get a permanent card application in place, so that gives you five and half years. Then, there is another six months waiting period for that to be approved. Once that is approved we have a sunset clause in our document and that is a six-year period after the start of the application. Six years thereafter we will liquidate or sell the property and portfolio. When the applicants have received all the approvals, they get their $500,000 back, during those years; they get a return of two per cent interest on the $500,000 which is equal the $10,000 yearly. So if it takes six years, they will get $60,000 in interest that is $560,000 plus they will get percentage of their capital gains, and then we will liquate or sell the portfolio.
Can you explain the relationship between EB5 and Atlantic America Partners?
We are what is known as a regional centre and EB5 is the law. We are what is known as the EB5 that works with the federal government and acts as a money manager for investors to utilise this programme that is a federal law, so we are a private entity, we are not affiliated with the government. But we work within the confines of the government laws, we work in conjunction with the government programmes, but we also have the applicants hire a grade A Immigration lawyer that does the legal paper work with the US government known as the USCIS and they do all the legal paper works and we handle all the money.
By the way in each quarter, we provide our investors, a quarterly newsletter, we tell the status of the construction company, what jobs have created, what issues we are having each year we provide them an audited financial statement by a CPA or ACCA firm. We keep our investors fully informed and transparent because we are an investment banking firm. We by law has to be transparent and our job is to make sure that investors’ money is held in trust.
How long have you been in existence and what challenges have you faced so far in attracting the right investors?
We have been in existence for 45 years as the holding company, CEA worldwide, APP which is Atlantic America Partners was formed 10years ago. The challenges we run into in this programme are that people that want to come to America to invest in this programme, they are struggling with creating and coordinating their assets so they can actually they can sell property in certain markets. For instance, in South Africa right now which is one of the market we started with, there is a land right issue going on. It is called the procreation without compensation. It is a big problem in South Africa, so we have a lot of clients in South Africa that have signed with us to go through the process, and they are in the process of trying to sell some of their real estate property, but because this law is coming into place, there is a fear that they don’t know what the new constitution might be.
Where do see yourself in the next 10 years?
I hope we have expanded our company’s growth to all countries throughout Africa. As I mentioned I lived in Malawi for 12 years, and there is not a lot of people that have $500,000 in their homes, there are few. But i would like to help the people in those countries little by little become wealthy and that want to come into America and again I want say a dual citizenship is a very unavailable to with every African country with America.