Some would say Bo Menkiti, Founder and CEO of the Washington, DC-based The Menkiti Group, is in the business of real estate. Others who witness Bo’s work first-hand would say he’s in the business of transformation.
That’s because The Menkiti Group doesn’t just buy and sell property. It transforms abandoned and underutilized properties into affordable homes and workspaces, helping create vibrant, healthy communities.
“The Menkiti Group came out of the opportunity to make an investment in the neighborhood right around where I was living. All the homes around me were pretty much vacant or abandoned,” Bo says. “I was fascinated by the lack of investment in this neighborhood just a few miles from the nation’s capital.”
Scaling a Business with a Mission
Bo turned that fascination into a mission: To build The Menkiti Group as a successful double bottom-line company, measuring both financial success and social impact. “I saw a tremendous opportunity to make a significant difference,” Bo says.
But for any business to scale at the rate Bo envisioned, capital is a key ingredient to success. That’s where the ICCC program helped The Menkiti Group begin a dramatic growth phase and bring Bo’s vision to life. Since participating in ICCC, Bo and his team have grown the company’s revenue by 600 percent.
ICCC helped Bo understand when he would need outside capital and where that capital would come from. Did it make sense to turn to private equity or mission-based institutional capital? After laying out his options and consulting with ICCC, Bo decided the best path forward was to pursue individual family office mission-based capital. And Bo has raised over $120 million since that time.
“This process really helped crystallize for us that capital is only good if you’re aligned with the goals and the strategy and the values of the capital,” Bo recalls.
The Network Effect and Community Development
Bo also credits ICCC for the connections and relationships he made with the other businesses. “The network of organizations has been powerful in the growth and development of our company,” he says.
The MLK Gateway Project in DC’s Anacostia neighborhood, scheduled for completion in early 2019, is a perfect example of ICCC’s “network effect.” Bo saw the need for an active commercial area including retail shops, fresh groceries, coffee shops and places to gather but that kind of development has been hard to bring about in a place like Anacostia, where many people live but few work.
The crux of the project depended on a local cyber security firm moving its 150 employees from Connecticut Avenue and K Street N.W. to the new project in Anacostia. Bo was able to make this happen, not only because of his powerful vision, but also because the owner of the tech company was a contact he made through the ICCC program.
In the spirit of giving back, Bo serves as one of the inaugural members of ICIC’s Inner City Alumni Network (ICAN) Advisory Board. He sees his involvement with ICIC as providing “a great opportunity to interface with companies that were in the same stage of growth… as well as a great opportunity to look cross-sector.”
How to Scale a Vision
Known as a trailblazer by those he works with, Bo has been able to foster economic development by revitalizing areas that have been long forgotten. “And he can rally the resources around that vision,” says Brandon Green, Managing Partner and Co-Founder of Menkiti’s sister company, Keller Williams Capital Properties.
“Business is a vehicle to have a great impact on people’s lives,” Bo says. “I believe that many of today’s most pressing problems can actually be solved through self-sustaining and sustainable business opportunities.”
Bo has no plans to stop now. Despite his hyper-local focus and engagement in his DC community, he intends to scale nationally, and test his thesis. And if the past is any indication, his results will remain true to his vision – to engage with communities and unlock what’s possible.