Its All Not Politics……

You read right. In case you are wondering, in this season of political jamboree and rigmarole. I can see heated debates going on across the sphere of Nigeria and different strategies and re-strategies going on and taking place. Alignments and re-alignments of different interests, passions and thoughts are gradually building up steam that would snowball into a major confrontation come 2019. Personally, i believe the next election would be a defining point for our nation Nigeria. The question is, how aligned are we to that move of God that is about to take place?

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The Next Big Thing is Really Not Big…

How many times have we heard and use that phrase in our business circles? How many times have we really sat down to strategize and plan for that one major move that will fetch in the millions of dollars and change our fortune overnight? We have drawn business models, built empires in our sleep and dream and we wake up to expect a crystallization of the dream voila!!!!

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Zimbabwe’s Econet Wireless and the making of Africa’s first cashless society

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Zimbabwe’s Econet Wireless and the making of Africa’s first cashless society
” was written by Anna Leach, for theguardian.com on Monday 18th August 2014 16.11 UTC

Will Zimbabwe be Africa’s first cashless society? Telecommunications company, and now mobile banking service, Econet Wireless predicts that in less than 12 months notes and coins will be long-gone from this southern African country. “We do not expect anyone to still be using paper money in a year’s time,” the company’s CEO Douglas Mboweni recently said. “It will be just like Europe or America, where you no longer see people carrying bundles of cash.”

The collapse of Zimbabwe’s economy in 2002 paved the way for Econet Wireless’s mobile payment system. “Hyperinflation had destroyed people’s confidence in financial institutions,” said the Zimbabwe company’s founder, Strive Masiyiwa, at the Mastercard Foundation Symposium on Financial Inclusion in July.

“The lowest denomination circulating was ,” Masiyiwa said. “If you want to buy a packet of sweets for your child, you can’t get change.” The company set up a mobile payment system that handles small amounts and allows people to save as little as . “Today 43% of the GDP moves through Econet Wireless,” he concludes.

Masiyiwa was born in Zimbabawe (then Rhodesia) in 1961. He and his parents fled the country in the turmoil after prime minister Ian Smith declared independence in 1965, settling in Zambia. His parents, who ran their own business, could afford to send Masiyiwa to school in Scotland when he was 12. After school he studied electronic engineering at the University of Wales and worked briefly for a computer company in Cambridge before returning to Zimbabwe in the early 1980s.

Econet Wireless was established in 1998, but not before a fight. Masiyiwa waged a five-year legal battle with the government for a licence to deliver telephone services. The company now operates in 17 countries including Botswana, Lesotho, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and New Zealand. In 2000, while the UN filed a civil suit against Mugabe, Masiyiwa moved his family and company headquarters to South Africa.

Econet Wireless first developed mobile payments to help NGOs transfer money to refugees after the war in Burundi ended in 2005. “Donor agencies were trying to find ways to make cash disbursements to refugees,” says Masiyiwa. “So we built the payment system initially not as a business but as a way to help humanitarians get money to people in rural areas who were trying to re-establish their lives.”

That model was extended and now mobile money transfers are central to Econet Wireless’s business. Like M-Pesa before it, the company blurs the lines between telecomms and banking. Masiyiwa is passionate about this latter part of his business. He believes that extending saving and credit services to the poorest people gives them “extraordinary dignity and a sense that they are in control of their own lives”.

His next challenge is to create a product that allows people who are informally employed, such as smallholder farmers and casual workers, to access credit. “In Africa 70% of people are informally employed,” he says. “The big frontier for us is to create platforms where those people can access credit.” He says there’s no risk that they will get into unmanageable debt because the banks won’t extend excessive credit, calling the system “self-regulating”.

But Masiyiwa says that offering people the ability to save is even more important than credit. “We’re trying to build up a savings culture where people are encouraged to save, even if they only have a dollar – for children’s school fees, for transport, for the doctor. A savings and credit infrastructure builds resilience.”

In his speech to microfinance experts at the symposium in Turin, Masiyiwa recounted a story about the judge in Zimbabwe who granted Econet Wireless’s licence in 1998, saying that 70% of people in the country had never heard a telephone ring. “Today, 75% of people [in Zimbabwe] have a cell phone,” he said “And I want 75% of the people in Africa to have a bank account … on a mobile phone.”

And Masiyiwa has even found a solution to the energy problem that could prevent him from realising his dream. “We have developed solar charging stations where people can go into a kiosk and plug in their phone for free. Because our money is not made from someone charging the phone. It’s made from someone using the phone.”

By way of lessons learnt, Masiyiwa says that in order to reach the unbanked, financial institutions – and telecommunications companies – must design services that are practical, simple and affordable. “I’ve got a customer who has a dollar in his pocket and has got to decide to have some lunch, call his cousin or go to the doctor. We have to develop services with sensitivity to the fact that in Africa our customers don’t have the same disposable income as in New Zealand, for example.”

But the billionaire businessman cautions that it’s a mistake assume the poorest behave differently to other customers. “Their behaviour and aspirations are no different from those who have higher incomes,” he says. “They want to use Facebook. They want to use WhatsApp. We have to find ways for them to access those things with their very low income.”

Read more stories like this:

Using mobile money to buy water and solar power in east Africa

Cashing in: why mobile banking is good for people and profit

The mobile money infrastructure and the role of donors – video

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God Give Us Men! Part 2

Unlucky the land whose king is a young pup,
And whose princes party all night.
Lucky the land whose king is mature,
Where the princes behave themselves
And don’t drink themselves silly……..Eccc 10:16-17 (MSG)

 

Am sure Josiah Gilbert Holland must have had this scriptures in mind when he penned the poem, God Give Us Men!

In our nation Nigeria, ever since we returned to democracy in 1999, i would say, the last 3 years has been the most miserable, and heart-rending so far. Before you start to take pocket shots, lets sit back and do a reflection, from Obasanjo’s 8 years to Yar’Adua’s 2-3 year sojourn and to Ebele’s current dispensation.

Each time i had the opportunity to sit with my Brother to talk heart to heart, his one major line is this, “It has never been this bad, but it will get better”. His other line, “this country cannot go on like this, otherwise there will be a total catastrophe”. And i won’t agree less… Here is someone who runs his own business and provides jobs for People. But has been forced to tailor down his operations, lay off people and had to set up a satellite office due in an area with “better” electricity than where the main office is.

Let’s look at the economy, yes we re-based our economy this year to make us the biggest economy in Africa, but in terms of naira and kobo to the peasant on the streets, what has this translated to? To the young chap and lady just leaving school, what is the job prospects? To the entrepreneur, where is the market, the financing, the wherewithal to successfully establish and run a business.

According to the Economist, ” Of course, Nigerians are no richer than they were……. The majority of the country’s 170m people live on less than a dollar a day. What the revised GDP figures show is that its economy is far more than just an oil enclave, exporting crude to pay for imported goods from richer countries. The oil industry’s share of GDP is now put at just 14%, compared with 33% according to the old figures. Manufacturing is much larger than previously thought. Services are booming. It is still a tough place in which to do business. – See more at: http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2014/04/economist-explains-2#sthash.WqXrim3L.dpuf

With Oil accounting for 75% of Budgetted revenue, it is becoming increasingly a stark reality that the country needs to change its source of revenue from predominantly oil to other alternate source. Oil revenues has been on a steady decline in the last couple of years with the resultant effect on government budgeting, weaker oil prices, fall in capital project funding, fall in revenue sharing and all the works.

 

To be continued….

 

How apps could improve business performance for your SME

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “How apps could improve business performance for your SME” was written by Sabuhi Gard, for theguardian.com on Thursday 7th August 2014 08.26 UTC

Small businesses are increasingly turning to apps to improve business performance, generate sales leads, win new business, keep existing customers and promote their brand.

Rob Hodges, digital executive at Mobiles.co.uk, believes small businesses should rethink their strategy with mobile devices in mind. He believes with the rollout of 4G, small businesses can place greater reliance on smartphone and tablet applications to make decisions and streamline processes.

Hodges recommends Pocket, a productivity app which allows users to save media for later. He says: “One key benefit is the ability to store files offline, making it ideal for catching up on the work commute. As business leaders communicate across multiple devices during the day, the cloud-based nature of Pocket ensures content can be viewed at a more convenient time.”

Other small businesses are using social media apps to connect with customers and enhance sales. Mike Tomlinson, small business director at UK mobile network EE shares the example of street food seller Mark Gevaux using Twitter to share videos of his ribs being made in order to entice new customers to buy his product.

William Agush, founder and chief executive officer of app Shuttersong has been working with a number of small businesses to improve their social media campaigns. His app allows users to add 15 seconds of voice and sound or music to any digital photo. He recently worked with a fashion house, Leota Dresses in New York, to improve their publicity campaign. Agush says: “Leota used Shuttersong to promote their dresses – since using the app they have had several hundred plays for the images.”

Another example of a small business using an app to help their performance is Sailing Logic. The company was set up in 2003 by Allie Smith with the purpose of offering individuals without connections to the elite yachting industry the chance to experience yacht racing. After receiving feedback from its customers in 2012, Sailing Logic decided to look for an easier way for customers to book tickets for its events. The company has now teamed up with online ticketing platform web app Bookitbee. Currently, 25% of their Royal Yachting Association (RYA) course bookings are now received via Bookitbee, which has saved the company a huge amount of office administration and processing time – so by the end of 2014 they expect to roll this feature out to include their yacht racing events.

Barnaby Lashbrooke, founder of virtual workforce platform Time etc, uses a web app called SameWave – a tool that collects and reports data, like sales figures. He says: “Staff don’t have to sit through endless boring meetings [because of this app]. Instead everyone simply reports their performance via SameWave once a week.”

Lashbrooke also uses video conferencing: “We use it for everything: keeping in touch with clients, coordinating our remote workforce and staying in touch with each other in the office too. Its greatest appeal is that almost everyone knows it already and there is no training or learning required to use it.”

He adds: “We’ve also developed a Time etc mobile app, which helps business owners set tasks for their virtual workforce when they’re on the go. It means they can delegate all the jobs they don’t want to or can’t do to a team of trusted freelancers, who’ll get on the case straight away.”

These small business owners all use various apps to make their businesses more productive: from helping with administrative tasks, communicating quicker and more efficiently with staff globally and promoting themselves more directly via Twitter and Facebook.

Peter Chadha, founder of DrPete Inc, a strategic business and technology consultancy, says: “For a small business owner, apps also generally provide a richer and easier functionality than using web-based clients on a mobile handset or tablet. For instance, they can interact with mobile device functions such as the mic or camera, and they can control the user experience by touching and swiping, send data to and from the app provider, and they often work as well offline – as opposed to web-based solutions which are totally reliant on a reliable internet connection.”

Chadha adds: “There are a plethora of apps in the market to assist business owners and their staff. VOIP apps, for instance, can be used to dial in from local or even free phone numbers, which gives the perception to clients and prospects that the business is larger than it actually is. They can also use video conferencing and instant messaging to communicate remotely, use location apps to locate staff, and there are even apps for time recording or billing and project management.”

Although a lot of small businesses are using apps daily, only 22% of small businesses provide apps for their employees to use at work. Recent research (which questioned 1,083 small businesses) found that 37% of small business employees – equivalent to 5 million UK workers – believed they would be more productive if provided with apps tailored to their job role.

Read more …

How can small businesses ensure they get paid on time?

Live Q&A: A small business guide to social media

How to create a successful website that keeps customers returning

This content has been sponsored by E.ON, whose brand it displays. All content is editorially independent.

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Are You Qualified for 2012?!

God doesn’t call people who are qualified. He calls people who are willing, and then He qualifies them. Richard Parker

I believe strongly in my heart that 2012 will be a remarkable year for me. There are things in my mind that am seeing for 2012 that looks quite impossible. But you know what, I have decide to take a step of faith and do the necessary works to back up my faith to achieve the desired result in 2012.

Missed the Daystar Carol this year, first time in 5yrs since I started attending. And why, because I had to attend a meeting that borders on me taking control of my destiny…my finances, to be start the journey to be financially free come 2012. And it tells me, 2012 will be a year of decision, delicate, precise decisions on what should and should not.

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Why Elephants Don’t Run

 

elephants
As told by Jim Donovan
A number of years ago, I had the rather unique experience of being backstage in Madison Square Garden, in New York, during the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus. To say the least, it was a fascinating experience. I was able to walk around looking at the lions, tigers, giraffes and all the other circus animals. As I was passing the elephants, I suddenly stopped, confused by the fact that these huge creatures were being held by only a small rope tied to their front leg. No chains, no cages. It was obvious that the elephants could, at any time, break away from their bonds but for some reason, they did not. I saw a trainer near by and asked why these beautiful, magnificent animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away.