For the better part of two decades, Ashley Bete worked his way up Wall Street’s corporate ladder, winning competitive tech leadership roles along the way.
He began his career in Credit Suisse’s Technology Group and went on to hold leadership roles at the financial firms’ Cantor Fitzgerald and Nasdaq OMX. The Zimbabwe native has spent much of his career harnessing the power of technology to improve business processes that impact the lives of everyday working people – like teachers.
In 2022, the Morehouse grad took a leap of faith and launched Leap Analytics, a fintech real estate investment company specializing in providing educational resources and Home Equity Agreements (HEAs) to overlooked communities. HEAs are agreements between a company and homeowners, where homeowners receive a cash upfront payment — with no interest rate and no monthly payments — in exchange for a portion of the home’s future appreciation.
Early motivations for Ashley include his early experiences living with his guardians as a teenager: his aunt and uncle while attending an HBCU in Atlanta.
“My aunt would struggle to get out of bed,” Bete explained. “She was elderly and also very much grief-stricken because of the recent passing of my uncle. She would rise at 5:00 am to be at her teaching job by 6:00 am, which she worked until 4:00 pm; and then at 8:00 pm, she and I would begin cleaning offices until 1 am.”
This idea of “staying afloat” is something many Americans can relate to. However, not many are fully aware of the money tied to their homes or how to access it.
“My aunt worked like this five days a week to stay afloat financially, but more importantly to keep up with the expenses related to her dream house,” Bete said. “After years of hard work as a highly educated professional, the only way my Aunt was able to stay afloat was by selling her beloved home and moving into a smaller house in a less desirable neighborhood.”
The sobering experience prompted Bete to begin creating Leap. As he embarked on his entrepreneurial journey, he began thinking of solutions to help the thousands of Americans in a position similar to his aunt, who was cash poor, but house rich.
Bete endeavored to find a solution for a common problem: How can hard-working everyday people use the wealth locked in their homes to address pressing financial needs, without selling their homes?
After years of research, he ultimately cracked the code. By formulating HEAs, also known as Home Equity Investments (HEIs), especially for certain demographics, and for specific purposes, he would be able to help homeowners like his aunt stay in their homes.
HEAs are relatively new to the mortgage industry. There are many different types along with a growing list of providers that provide this service. Leap’s HEAs are specifically designed for seniors, small businesses, and homeowners with short-term financial needs.
“That time in my life [with my aunt and uncle] really impressed upon me the need to help close the wealth gap,” the current LA resident remarked. “I want Black and Brown people to be able to stay in their homes and communities, and benefit from their home’s appreciation, which has been proven to be one of the surest paths to creating generational wealth.”
To achieve this, Bete focused on something he knew well–fintech. By using Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning technology he was able to remove bias from the mortgage and HEA application processes and expedite applications.
“I believe knowledge is power,” Bete explained, “so I also wanted Leap to place a strong emphasis on education–explaining in simple language the Real Estate market’s terminology, cycles, and various complex processes.”
Leap recently launched a six-part video education series designed to demystify the steps involved in homeownership. The first video educates potential homeowners on key considerations about the general homebuying process.
“While research suggests that people of color will drive homeownership growth over the next two decades, BIPOC communities have been historically marginalized in the buying process,” Bete noted. “This incredible opportunity to mitigate generations of bias and systemic racism through wealth creation could be hampered by lack of knowledge regarding the jargon, nuances, details, and processes. Leap lifts the veil, making it all transparent and easy to understand. That’s really why I founded Leap: I wanted to level the playing field for homeowners like my Aunt, so they don’t have to struggle and can remain in their homes while the home appreciates, and they can capitalize on the benefits of gentrification, if that occurs, instead of having to sell.”