Afghanistan-born Australian Alande Mustafa Safi shares his incredible journey that saw him go from a young migrant boy to successful entrepreneur
When Alande Mustafa Safi, Chairman of Paragon Premier Investment Fund, migrated to Australia, he didn’t speak much English. He did however speak five other languages that led him to quickly climb the ranks in the financial world. The Afghanistan-born Australian citizen moved to Melbourne 23 years ago with his family and recalls the entire experience as though it happened yesterday. The decision to migrate to Australia was purely for security reasons. “There were a few things about the policy that stood out for our family. One was security, because when you’re in transition in India, Iran or Pakistan, coming from a war-torn country – like how the Syrians are currently feeling with the turmoil in their nation – you know that when you go to a place like Australia you feel safe and at home. The country accepted a lot of migrants from any background and religious ethnicity with open arms”.
Growing up Alande’s ambition was to become a commercial pilot, however upon graduating from high school he took to the finance world as a commission-based mortgage broker. By the time he was 23, Alande was the highest winning national seller for the company and by the age of 26, he was in the top three nationally for that leading brand in Australia. “In 2008, I aspired to open my own company called Paragon National Home Loans. He attributes his successes to being multi lingual. “One of the things that assisted my journey was that I speak six languages including Dari, Pashtu, Urdu, Hindi, Farsi and English,” Having the ability to speak these languages gave him the opportunity to expand his network, and by using his multi lingual skills to help educate the migrant markets settling into Melbourne and expanding their multi-culturalism to give these people a better understanding of the property market.
Alande went beyond mortgages in 2011 “I created two products that were approved by the Federal government of Australia, which was immigration by investment. I’ve been part of the program ever since the inception and in November 2012, with these qualified products, we brought in the China and Middle East market, currently managing $284 million AUD.” In 2012 Paragon Business Group was then created, completing deposit lending and now currently manages over $950 million AUD in residential mortgage aggregation, domiciled in Australia. Paragon Business Group, the parent company, went on to launch Paragon Premier Investment Fund in 2016, securing an Australian Financial Services License. Paragon is a development investment fund programme in Australia. Paragon is dedicated to building homes, factories, or any development project that are feasible for the Australian community, which is much needed due to the population growth.
“Being a Mustafa, knowing the region and having Dubai as a hub for nationals from Afghanistan, India and Pakistan, initiated the decision to set-up here”
Alande noticed a shift within the Australian market, since the banks have become stringent with their lending policy and will not lend to these developers, Paragon is filling the gap that they do not. Paragon is able to offer lucrative returns through development. Alande expanded to eleven markets including the Middle East. “Being a Mustafa, knowing the region and having Dubai as a hub for nationals from Afghanistan, India and Pakistan, initiated the decision to set-up here.” The way Paragon Premier Investment Fund operates is by offering people the chance to invest in government-approved projects in Melbourne’s South, East and West. “We don’t deal with volume; however we have close to 20 relationships within the region that aren’t generated just in Dubai. We use this city as a hub. Currently from Dubai we are looking into $7.5 billion worth of assets under management.” Institutions, Sovereign Funds and Private funds are his biggest clients in the region.
Currently, a Fund in India is being launched – Paragon Investment Fund India, with a presence in Mumbai and New Delhi. “Due to the current turmoil in the Indian financial market and exchange rates, we are looking to provide a service solution for diversification of funds into Australian government-approved projects.” When asked if he has visited Afghanistan ever since he left, Alande states that he hasn’t, although he does boast a presence there through his office in Kabul and ownership of the Paragon Band-e-Amir Dragons cricket team, which is a part of the Kabul Premier League, equivalent to the Indian Premier League (IPL).
What’s his key to success? “I never ever talk business with my clients on the first pitch. I talk about my journey, where I want to be, and how I can fit them into my journey.” It’s all about maintaining relationships.