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Advancing Diversity and Closing the Generational Wealth Gap

THE WORLD STOOD STILL
The global pandemic in 2020 brought the world to a halt. Lives were lost. Businesses were forced to pivot quickly and those who couldn’t suffered. Jobs disappeared. The world stood still in uncertainty and fear; and then the death of George Floyd occurred. That became the catalyst that spotlighted the inequalities that still existed in the country.

Meeting the next generation of business leaders at Huston-Tillotson University’s student networking event

SEEK FIRST TO UNDERSTAND
“Growing up in Canada, we weren’t taught US history in school. Tensions were high and I wanted to find out why,” said CMO Jessica Lee-Wen. She learned about redlining and how laws in the past dictated where minorities could live and limited their access to loans and credit. This then affected the quality and level of education available to minorities and their ability to own or invest in real estate.

Board members celebrating a successful first CGEF E Fore Golf Classic fundraiser.

REAL ESTATE INVESTING: A TRIED-AND-TRUE MEANS OF BUILDING WEALTH
American businessman and author, Robert Kiyosaki has said, “Real estate investing, even on a very small scale, remains a tried-and-true means of building an individual’s cash flow and wealth.” Generational wealth refers to any kind of assets like real estate, investments, and cash, that can be passed down from one generation to the next. Minority groups struggle to leave this kind of legacy for their children and grandchildren when, for example, the median net worth of a Black household is $24,000 compared to $188,000 for a white household. 1The disparity between the two is enough for a down payment on a home or real estate investment.

Speaker panel celebrating Austin Community College students and employers benefiting together through internships

TURNING THE PROBLEM INTO THE SOLUTION: A TEAM EFFORT
Casoro Group is in the business of investing in real estate. CEO Yuen Yung reflected on how one of the biggest contributors to the social injustices and lack of diversity we see in our industry today really comes from real estate and questioned are we contributing to the problem. “I didn’t want to contribute to the problem. I wanted to be a contributor to the solution,”said Yuen. He brought in Jessica and CIO  Chirag Hathiramani and during the pandemic, they started incubating ideas that would then become Onyx Impact Fund and Casoro Group Education Foundation.

CREATING A NEW ECOSYSTEM
Success in the finance and investment industry relies on your network of connections. You work with who you know. The lack of diversity in the industry self-perpetuates when only 3% of senior commercial real estate professionals are Latino2 and 2.18% are Black3 Casoro Education Foundation seeks to build a talent pipeline of diverse professionals by inspiring and educating youth in underserved and under resourced communities to pursue careers in commercial real estate finance, management, or ownership. These careers are not affected negatively by advances in automation and artificial intelligence, therefore creating a larger diverse pool of knowledge workers and decreasing the population that would be.

The team has been collaborating with Austin high schools and its historically Black university, Huston-Tillotson University. Nonprofits are constantly asking for money. To help resolve some of that, Onyx Impact Fund was created. Casoro Group pledges a portion of their returns from this socially-conscious real estate fund into the Foundation so they can continue the good work that they do.

Onyx Impact Fund invests in knowledge-worker real estate markets alongside qualified minority or women-led sponsors and developers. Not only does this open opportunities for them to grow and expand their operations, but it also encourages diversity within the industry.

Sharing real estate knowledge at Huston-Tillotson University’s Financial Wellness and Prosperity event

WHAT THE FUTURE WILL LOOK LIKE
Casoro Group took their inspiration from their own business; if real estate contributed to the wealth gap, how can we make it the solution? We want to shape the world where everyone has access to opportunities that close the generational wealth gap regardless of race or economic background. As a community of leaders, we can find bold new ways to create a sustainable platform for the rising generation to shine and lead. Take a look in your own backyard to see what you can do.

SOURCES
McKinsey & Company, June 17, 2021 Report
NAIOP, 2013
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 2015

CASORO GROUP

CASORO GROUP

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