Many decades of globalization have helped to break the boundaries and barriers to markets by investors and businesses. Yet, restrictions often manifest in terms of the rights individuals have to settle in countries they do not originate from even if they legitimately want to do business and contribute to the economies of their host countries. Many countries in the Western hemisphere that are welcoming of such legitimate individuals/investors are finding ways around making it possible for this to happen. The concept of “Citizenship by Investment” is one way through which this is made to happen. Nigerian legitimate investors seeking to play in the global economy across borders find this to be a route to pursue. In recent years this method has been on the rise creating a demand driven by the need for freer movement by Nigerian businessmen and women. It is a demand which World Citizens Equity Partners (WCE) is looking to fill. At a one-one consultation event organized by WCE in conjunction with Maple Travels and Chetcuti Cauchi Advocates, Kevin K.N., Director, Africa and Middle East, World Citizens Equity Partners (WCE) spoke to business a.m. on the emerging potential of citizenship by investment in Nigeria and how the company was poised to take advantage of this.
Can you walk us through what your company does and the kind of opportunities your company is showcasing to interested individuals?
BASICALLY, IT IS AN investment company whereby we create and cement a relationship with other countries. So, what we do is provide second citizen passports. There are wealthy individuals that need that opportunity, especially for their kids to benefit from free education and free healthcare for themselves as well. This is where we come in.
The whole programme is called citizenship by investment whereby you invest in a country to obtain their citizenships. You could live in a country for 10 years or 15 years to obtain their passoutlookport or you could marry a national in the country but in this programme, you can obtain a passport while living in Nigeria. You don’t have to go and live in the country. For example, we can get you a Caribbean passport in 90 days and the Caribbean passport is very strong, and you can travel to a hundred and fifty countries visa free.
The programme comes in two options, buying property or doing government contribution. So you can invest $200,000 and get a passport in 90 days, other countries this programme extends to include U.K., Canada and Europe. However, the U.K. programme closed end of April. The British government is becoming tougher because of the loopholes in the U.K. programme.
The programme is for wealthy individuals, and world Citizen Equity Partners work in liaison with these governments. So, we are the shadow government that works behind the government to process these citizenships because you can’t just walk up to the embassies and demand for a passport.
Also, before we carry on with the programme, we would do a due diligence check on interested individuals to know if they would be accepted or rejected, or to change the country of interest to fit the needs of the interested individuals. Most of our clients don’t want to live out there; they just want the privileges of visa free movement and to obtain other perks of being a citizen in developed countries.
The company has been operating since 1994, and has been in Nigeria for more than a year now; we have an office in Abuja and are thinking of opening another in Lagos as well. We also have offices in other parts of the world.
Citizenship by investment is an avenue to access the rest of the world, what kind of peculiar services does your company offer that differentiates you from other companies offering citizenship by investment programmes?
It goes beyond the passports, we are not only giving you the passports, we would create a private investment forum whereby all of our clients meet each other and exchange business views and ideas. We have an investment forum in Zurich, Switzerland, whereby investors come in and put money in certain businesses.
We actually have five businessmen from Nigeria, though I won’t mention their names, that we have provided them with investors who have invested billions of dollars in their projects, in real estate projects, oil and gas projects. So, during this investment forum, you showcase your product, and project and we get you an investor to invest in that project, you have an opportunity to meet top CEOs, to sit with them one on one.
We also assist our clients in the presentation of their projects, so if you are interested in showcasing your projects, we receive the project about one month before the presentation, we then restructure it in our London office and we provide a European to do the presentation on your behalf and you must be one of the decision makers in the projects.
This service is only offered to clients of World Citizen Equity Partners, and no company does this, only WCE so far.
You mentioned that your targeted audience as wealthy individuals?
Not our targeted market but, for the programme. It is targeted at wealthy individuals not because we want to but that is what the governments of those countries want. No country would give its passport to a poor person, so the countries offering these services want those wealthy individuals to come and invest in their countries. It increases their GDP and their country.
The term dual citizenship by investment is very appealing to the investor part of most Nigerians, what kind of feedback are you expecting?
We have been here for about a year and the citizenship that we have processed here in Nigeria exceeds the no of citizenship we have done in the entire Middle East. We have processed more than 36 families in one year, while in Dubai, we have processed about 16 families. Our office in Dubai covers the whole Middle East. This is why we decided to incorporate office in Ghana and Angola as well.
Can you also tell us the reason why a lot of your focus is in Nigeria and why the country was picked for this event?
The company never really thought Africans were wealthy enough to benefit from the programme. But while in Dubai they processed seven Nigerian families which was an eye opener and showed how much potential was in Nigeria. This processed families also told the company that if they could come down here, the market could be huge and the company decided to.
Is this event the first of its kind being hosted here in Nigeria?
Basically we have been hosting events but in a low key profile, so we decided to go global. We normally host events in Dubai and many Nigerians fly there and other events coming in other countries.
Any other thoughts you would like to add concerning citizenship by investment?
The world is taking a totally different dimension and things are falling apart in Africa that is the honest truth, it would be better for any wealthy individuals to give their kids a better life. We are selling a better lifestyle, and when you have a foreign passport, people tend to trust you more business-wise. It also enables free movement and global movement.