The old-time notion of men as breadwinners has left many women struggling to free themselves financially. Personally seeing the grip that it had on her mother and eventually more women in various countries, Sophia Olivas made it her mission to help so that they can get access to capital. In this episode, she joins Solomon Ali to talk about how she is using real estate investing to do that. She takes us across her projects, both residential and commercial, and her latest one, where she is building a smart city called Utopia Smart Cities. Sophia is reinventing a number of things in the world of financial literacy, affordable housing, and cryptocurrency. Follow her in this episode to see the amazing things she is doing to help the many untapped members of society.
Watch the episode here:
Listen to the podcast here:
Creating Smart, Financially-Free Women And Smart Cities With Sophia Olivas
Sophia, I am excited to have you here. I understand your new project and everything like that. You’re building a smart city. Tell us a little bit about that.
Utopia Smart City, our first pilot project is going to be in the Phoenix Metro area in Arizona. It sits on 40-plus acres. It’s built out of shipping containers so that we can provide affordable housing. It also has renewable energy.
Is this affordable housing for low-income, medium or people like myself?
We have commercial storefronts on the bottom floor. Your housing would consist of your storefront as well as your house and it starts at $120,000.
That’s the entry-level and things of that nature. That is amazing, Sophia. Let’s start over. Give me the name of your company.
Utopia Smart City.
How did you come up with to do all this?
If you were to look at the source of all of humanity’s challenges, you would find women at the source of it.
I grew up in a home where it was a very abusive home with my father having financial control over my mother. He wouldn’t allow her to work. She felt like she couldn’t leave home. At fourteen, I made a choice and I left home. I thought I could do better. I left and did way better, choosing to sleep on the streets and trying to figure it out. I was very fortunate. I was incredibly inquisitive and I got an early scholarship. I started college when I was sixteen. I had mentors to this day come in and lend a hand. I sold my first property shortly after I was legally able to and started my first company, and I’ve never looked back.
What was your first company?
It’s a web page development company and I still own that company.
You have been busy.
I started doing real estate. I’m investing in real estate, both residential and commercial. I started speaking publicly about women’s financial sovereignty because I saw the grip that it had on not just my mother and what she went through, but as I traveled, I saw all the women in various countries and what they were going through. I knew that I had some knowledge that could break them from that.
You are on a mission to help women so that they can get access to capital, so that controlling men won’t try to control them just because they’re the breadwinners or they’re making more money. Is that it?
I would say if you were to look at the source of all of humanity’s challenges, you would find women at the source of it. They’re the ones that give birth to the future, and they’re the ones that caretake the future. They create the future and then they shape and form it. When women are financially solvent, it’s been proven that they go further in their education. They have children later in life, they have fewer children, they choose better domestic partners, and they take better care of their mental and physical health. Right there, you’ve eradicated poverty. You’ve alleviated mental health and you’ve certainly reduced violence. That’s what I’m talking about.
I’ve got to take a moment to digest this a little bit. What you’re talking about and what you’re speaking about is the empowerment of women so that they can be freer and know that, “I can do this myself,” like your story.
I’m talking about working at the source. The most leverage is if you identify and work at the source of something. If women are at the source of life and if we take care of them, the world would right itself.
That was amazing because what I believe is this, I have a daughter, I have a mother, I’ve had significant women in my life, and I have a partner that’s a woman. I have another one who manages and oversees me that’s a woman. They bring my world together for it to make sense. All the things that they do, I can’t do. I do this great bit thing here, but then they come and they dot all these I’s and cross all these T’s. As women, normally they’re not getting the credit for what it is that they are doing and what they’re achieving. I have one of the first black women that run a private equity company that uses their own money. They don’t go borrow any money. They use their own money. I also have a woman who’s in technology who handles all that themselves. That to me is amazing. I’m with you. I’m excited about what it is you’re saying and what you’re doing. I want the people in Minority Business Access to know more.
You’re incredibly intelligent to have women surround you. I’m biased. I do get that but socially speaking, men are mostly raised competitively, and women are raised to work collaboratively. We’ll just talk about feminism like feminine energy, to have that energy around you, you’re going to get resources pulled into you that make your empire the success that it is. That’s very intelligent of you to pick that up.
You started a smart city to help people. What’s that like? I think it’s amazing.
It doesn’t let me dates.
I’ll go on a date with you, how about that? What you did is amazing.
When women are financially solvent, it’s been proven that they go further in their education.
Thank you. It’s all technology that’s already out there. It’s all proven. It’s all successful and it’s putting it in the right synchronization and bringing it all together. One of my superpowers is that I can find experts in the fields that normally wouldn’t play very well together, and I can bring them into the same sandbox and create miracles. If you’re going to look historically what brought us out of the last recession, the depression, if you look at any of the major calamities in human history, it was the entrepreneurs that brought us out of it. We provide affordable housing for one thing, but it’s also targeted to entrepreneurs. Mom-and-pop shops are the ones that are going to get us out of this.
People are now used to doing a 30-second commute from the bedroom to the couch. Now, we have storefronts all on the bottom. The majority of the world lives that way where they have the storefronts on the bottom and the residential housing above. It’s just middle America that is foreign to that because we have so much land. We spread out. I think enough people have learned that wasted time on the commute, away from your family, going to a business that’s far away, it never made sense to begin with. Now, we’re having everything all together. We’re going to have over 200 businesses in one development. It’s a city and it’s all modernized. You can run your home from your phone.
Just in healthcare, getting rid of the levels of stress from the commutes back and forth and things of that nature, I can imagine it would be a happier place to live.
Knowing your kids are on the way to our own daycare. We are going to have education onsite for the kids that are going to learn about real-world things that are going to make a difference in their lives. They’re going to learn to be entrepreneurs. They’re going to get to work in the companies that are right there in the businesses. Knowing that your kids are right there and that everything you need to do to run your errands is either in the community or right around it.
It’s not only incredible, I find it to be mind-boggling. You also run a hedge fund. Let’s talk about it. You just lit up right there.
I speak about women’s financial sovereignty as a public speaker. I’m super excited about the hedge fund, meaning cryptocurrency, because its whole purpose in creation was for things like this. It was created out of the last recession and it is made for pandemic. If you notice now, most people don’t want you to hand over cash because that transmits the virus. Digital currency is the way to go. If you look at JPMorgan Chase, all the big banks are moving in that space. Countries are moving into that. A lot of countries are creating their own tokenization. The thing is it’s decentralized. Nobody owns it. If you’re unbankable and you can’t get a loan, which are most minorities, especially those affected by redlining. The reason why redlining exists is that they’re not bankable in the neighborhoods that they want to be in.
I read a book not too long ago called The Color of Law. It talks about the redlining and how the government did all this, and set systemic racism and everything up, especially in people of color. It’s phenomenal. I was like, “No, they didn’t do that.” If you go back and read this chapter there, sure enough they did. That’s what you’re talking about.
What I’m talking about is there is a much better and lucrative way to do business that directly results in the stewardship of each other and of the planet. Blockchain and crypto technology is the way to do that. It’s the way to get around banks’ fees and all of those things. In South Africa, when we instituted blockchain technology, we took tribal women that were only able to barter. If you can only barter, then you can only grow as much. If I’ve got a cow and you need milk, but you don’t have anything to trade me, you’re not getting milk. They can’t get loans. Sometimes they’re thousands miles from a bank or a financial institution.
When you institute blockchain technology and crypto, first, it’s trustless. I don’t have to trust you and I don’t even know you because it’s all on the blockchain. It’s immutable. It can never be tampered with and it can’t be changed. Second of all, it’s borderless. I don’t have to go through a bank. I don’t have to go through different currencies or all the regulations. I can transfer more than $10,000. All those federal laws, none of those exists. I can take in money from donors from any country. It doesn’t matter, whatever is going on. I could talk on and on about the benefits, but it allows you to grow. Somebody that wants to give money directly to you that sees you’re trying to get a business started, they could automatically put money in your wallet directly. It allows nonprofits to be able to have full transparency. They can show their donors right there, real-time, the whole world, what they’re doing, who they’re giving money to, and its effects.
How did you get started?
The hedge fund, I was speaking to women about financial sovereignty and I saw what was going on in third world countries as I was backpacking through these countries. I told you that I saw that the women were the source of all of this. If we started working with them and made sure they were okay, the world would be okay. It would right itself. I started training and teaching women, but it wasn’t going fast enough. I was like, “I need more money. I need more resources.” How do you get more money? We got to be a bank. I was on the route to, how to be a bank? I was like, “The next best thing is to have a hedge fund,” because I was already working to educate people on blockchain and crypto technology. I went through the process, and went through the SEC, and figured out how to do it, and partnered up with the right person. My partner worked for the Department of Defense in cyber terrorism and cyber security. He’s one of a handful of people in the world that can do what he does. That’s why we’ve been able to outperform the market and other hedge funds.
When you say outperformed the market, we’re talking which part of the market?
The crypto market.
That’s pretty amazing and exciting. How do my people on Minority Business Access get ahold of you?
If women are at the source of life and if we take care of them, the world would right itself.
We look at everybody to contact us through our website and it’s UtopiaSmart.city.
When they reach out to you, is there an investment opportunity? Is there an opportunity to buy some of these homes that you’re selling? Are you still in the innate stages or if I wanted to come in and buy a few of them, can I do that?
We are going to have parameters to hold out investors from raising the prices on the homes because we do want to make sure that they go to the people and the entrepreneurs that need them. As far as investing in the project as a whole, we are in our seed round capital. I’m happy to do an overview with anybody that’s interested in looking at the project for those.
Sophia is willing to do an overview of this amazing project that she’s put together and been working diligently at, that will help people. It’s pretty much the way that the world has been living. I know in the ‘80s when I was living in Europe, one of the things that we constantly saw was the apartment complexes, that commercial buildings and everything underneath the stores, the cleaners and things like that. Now, it’s coming here and every time I look around, that’s what we’re seeing. Here it is and this young lady, Sophia, is doing it. She started it and it’s her vision. That is amazing. Share your vision of what you want the outcome of all of this to look like.
This is our first pilot city. We’ll be building eight more cities in seven different states and going global right after. We’re looking for collaborators. We are green-lighted by ASU School of Sustainability with their interns. We’re one of their major projects. This project is attracting all of the experts in all different fields. If you’re into sustainability or looking for a community that provides a lot of solutions for what’s going on right now, please take a look at what we’re doing. We are going to be partnering up with everybody and anybody that we can as we go forward. We are a sustainable city. We are providing affordable housing. We’re utilizing shipping containers. The reason why we’re utilizing that is for multiple reasons. One of them is they are 100% weatherproof. We’re talking about earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, fires. Also, we have renewable energy, we have sustainable agriculture, and we’re the first smart city to be on the blockchain.
That is amazing and very exciting. Sophia, thank you so much for coming on. I look forward to interviewing you again and looking forward to seeing how you guys have progress.
Thank you. It’s such a pleasure.
About Sophia Olivas
Sophia Olivas is a passionate leader and visionary, who speaks such that people stop, they listen, and they hear possibility for themselves and then boldly take action.
Before the age of 25, Sophia Olivas was a real estate investor, owned a tech company, had raised $30 million in 28 days for a corporate entertainment company she founded and had launched an online banking project for a Top 5 financial institution. Since the early 90s, Sophia has been a technology innovator as the owner of GreyThorn Marketing, a web development company with a global portfolio. She is now a principal of a hedge fund that invests in blockchain technology and is building a Smart City out of shipping containers that provides affordable housing, has renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, and built on the blockchain.