As Co-Founder of Empowered Startups, Paul Girodo helped build it into the largest deal flow provider to the Government of Canada’s Start-up Visa Program. He leads Empowered’s delivery of new leading edge fast-track business investor class migration programs for entrepreneurs in Portugal and France with a growing number of established incubators in both countries. His industry interests range from combating human trafficking with his father (Former Team Leader for INTERPOL Group of Experts on Corruption and chief human factors consultant in specialized drug and money laundering investigations with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police) to deep tech and social venture enterprises.

Ahead of the conference, we caught up with Paul to hear his thoughts on how the investment immigration is developing and his firm’s biggest challenges.

  1. How should the investment migration industry ensure its integrity is maintained?

Integrity will more and more be defined and judged by a nation’s citizens, and then reflected by the duly elected government of that nation. Heavy responsibility falls on the Government designing and offering the migration product. Integrity is damaged when a government allows “buy-your-way-in” schemes that do not deliver immediate benefits to the citizens of their country. Schemes that see big money flow to real estate developers and funds generally do not advantage universities, graduate students, start-up ecosystems, graduates trying to break into the high skilled job market, and rural communities trying to stimulate economic development through new business start-up. Migration firms have the opportunity to demonstrate their moral compasses are working properly by pivoting away from real estate products and funds, to selling those products that deliver direct benefits to the largest number of citizens of a destination country. Business startup, supporting entrepreneurship, the development of a nation’s entrepreneurs, supporting R&D, small business creation – that’s how integrity is developed and maintained in the eyes of a destination country’s citizens as they push to join the middle-class and beyond.

  1. What are the biggest challenges that your company is facing over the next 12 months?

The biggest challenge facing Empowered Startups over the next 12 months is to educate the migration industry that more money can be made faster for a firm by pivoting to selling France and Portugal business investor class highly qualified activity migration products (R&D business incubation) than getting into the backlog of real estate schemes that the European Parliament has very publicly condemned. For example, migration firms and lawyers are putting clients into the Portugal Golden Visa when Portuguese immigration authorities, and Portuguese immigration legislation, have been clear that to be eligible to apply for citizenship the applicant must prove significant ties to Portugal. Simply buying a property does NOT demonstrate significant ties to Portugal. Contrast that with the fact that Portuguese legislation says resident visas in the Highly Qualified Activity (R&D business category) must be processed within 30 days and that an investor applicant supporting R&D in Portugal, graduate students, and new business creation all demonstrate significant ties to Portugal.

  1. Where will the industry see its biggest growth over the next 12 months?

The Golden Visa sales machines for Europe and the real estate schemes in the Caribbean have become well built-up and efficient over the years. Although such schemes have been criticized and condemned by the European Parliament, and criticized by various international law enforcement agencies, the investment migration industry is generally addicted to such products and growth will continue for at least the next 12 months.

Paul Girodo

Paul Girodo

Founder and CEO, Empowered Startups – Government of Canada, Start-up Visa Incubator

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