From Debt To Financial Prosperity

In this consumer based society we live in we are spoiled for choice in terms of the consumables we are offered. Regardless if we actually need these products or not billions is spent in the media to convince us that we do. The vast majority of the population does not live within their means. The increasing availability of credit is one factor that is blamed for the increasing amount of personal debt in western society.

On the surface it seems that the availability of credit has plunged many into huge amounts of debt that they will spend the rest of their life paying off but this same weapon called credit it used by savvy investors to create a life of luxury and prosperity in which they can afford the finer things in life.

So what is the major difference in how successful investors and the average consumer use credit?

Well the major difference is smart investors use credit to leverage their investment exposure. This simply means that they borrow to invest. Smart investors do not take on credit if in the long run it will not lead to an increase in income and a positive cash flow. The average consumer on the other hand spends thousands on new cars that depreciate rapidly, holidays they can not afford, large plasma TV's, designer clothes, and homes they can not afford to live in. Ironically some smart investors do like the life of luxury but they almost always certainly live within their means.

The message is quite simple if you must live a life of luxury never borrow money to do so involuntarily you will end up spending years to pay off huge debts. These crippling debts often lead to stress, depression and in allot of cases divorce. Millions of people worldwide live in the bondage of debilitating debts and the only reprieve they are offered is more debt over a longer time period to ease their current debt repayments aka debt consolidation. Extreme caution is advised if you choose debt consolidation as an exit from a life of debt.

So how can one make the transition from debt to prosperity

1: Evaluate your Cash Flow
Determine how much money you have coming in each month and how much money is being paid out in debts, expenses and other liabilities. Start with your expenses and get rid of monthly outgoings that are not necessary. This is foregoing temporarily certain amenities for a permanent solution to debt. Club memberships and other things that are not necessary can be canceled. Once you have trimmed down your monthly outgoings by 100-200 pounds / dollars save the extra money or spend it on repaying debts off sooner.

2: Avoid paying Interest only
Interest only loans may seem cheap in terms of monthly repayments but in the long term the overall amount you repay can sometimes be as much as 50-150% of the original loan.
3: Live within your means
This is quite simple forget what you have been brainwashed to believe, you do not have to drive a new car or have the finer things in life at the expense of personal debt. Buy only what you can afford to pay for in cash. By forming the habit of only paying cash you are forced to purchase only the things that you can afford.

4: Pay of Loans early
Paying debts of quickly means you end up paying less in the long run. Think about it why are banks so happy for you to pay less monthly?

5: Consult a financial planner
Sit down with a financial planner and draw a road map to get you out of debt.

Taking any of the above steps will free up a few extra hundreds a month. Now that we have a bit of free money you must start to invest if you do not want to retire poor. Remember regardless of what you have stored for your retirement cash based assets have continued to devalue over the last hundred years and even further back. This simply means 1 million 10 years ago had more buying power that it does today and its only reasonable to assume 1 million today will not have the same buying power in the next 10 years. Drastic steps must be taken to secure your future otherwise you may retire with the nasty shock that you simply can not afford to retire.

The key is investing your money (yours and the banks) and getting it to work as hard as possible. Once your outgoings are reduced and you live within your means you should now be looking to supplement your income with investments and / or small business. This time you use your old adversary called credit and turn him into an ally.

By using financial leverage you are simply speeding up the transition.
But before you even think of investing a dime invest in your financial education by buying books on success, prosperity, financial planning and budgeting. Once you have gained better insight into the financial world seek financial advice.

Some of the things you can invest in include buy to let properties, franchises, small home based business just to name a few. But most new investors start of with real estate. But be smart real estate is all about timing and pricing so if you do start by acquiring real estate make sure you no what your doing and the timing is right.

In summary cut your outgoings, pay loans of early, live within your means and used credit as a tool to increase your investment income and not for personal extravagance.

Good luck and hopefully you join me and make that transition form debt to financial prosperity.

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Forex Trading Courses – Why They Are The Best Way to Learn Forex Quickly

If you want to learn Forex trading quickly and get on the road to Forex trading success, there are courses which can cut your learning curve and give you proven tools for success, lets look at the how the best courses can help you win.

Most new traders think there going to win by following an automated Forex robot and earn a regular income with no effort but in a market where 95% of traders lose, its obvious you need to make an effort and do some study. It is for this reason that more traders than ever before, are seeking out the best Forex courses.

The best courses are presented by experienced traders, who have been in the trenches and t have learned the hard way, they have made mistakes and found out what tools work and do not work and present you with proven strategies to help you enjoy currency trading success.

By giving you a proven Forex trading strategy, they cut your learning curve and all the best courses, will show you how their strategy works in real time, so you can see if it's profitable and in addition, gain confidence in the strategy so you can trade with confidence and discipline.

All the best courses are backed up by 100% money back guarantees, so you can learn with no risk and see if their strategy can lead you to success or not. You have the comfort of no risk and the fees for these courses are reasonable, usually around a hundred dollars so and this means any trader can afford them and one good trade will pay for them. The best courses will teach you skills that last a lifetime, full support from real traders and offer complete satisfaction or your money back.

So if you have ever wondered if you could become a successful Forex trader from home, try one of the best Forex trading courses and find out for yourself – risk free.

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Brown Seaweed

On this wonderful place called earth there are many bodies of water that brown seaweed thrives, however not all these places that it grows under the water is pristine and pure free of contaminants that can harm people if it is consumed by them.

It is for this very reason I chose to write this, I have traveled the world and many of the locations that the native persons are harvesting this brown seaweed are in shipping lanes and so forth. They do this because they are well aware of the truly life sustaining properties of it.

And they eat it in there daily diet in its raw form. Even though it is a little hard on ones pallet, they still do this because it is grate grateful to there body. You see it's briny and rubbery to the taste.

You see this brown seaweed gathers its vitamins and nutrients from the water and sun shining through the water as it grows, so anything floating in the water or in the soil it grows in is absorbed in the brown seaweed.

This is a concern of mine and others, because things like Mercury, lead and other things can be very harmful if consumed. So it is very important to get the brown seaweed from the purest places, one of those places is around the islands of Tonga.

There are no shipping lanes there at all, and it is the purest waters there are, the brown seaweed grows there in grape abundance. And you should know that the business that I'm in not only has it in a liquid form that 15 years was spent developing the cold process.

But also owns the rights to this process, And for your information not only can you buy brown seaweed bottled and mixed with mangos, papayas, apples and pears so it taste really good, It is way more potent than just eating it in it's raw form !

Furthermore you can get residual income while investing in your health from this very beneficial brown seaweed! The people of Tonga and Asia have known this for thousands of years! And now you know. Start using this knowledge.

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Importance Of Data Mining In Today’s Business World

What is Data Mining? Well, it can be defined as the process of getting hidden information from the piles of databases for analysis purposes. Data Mining is also known as Knowledge Discovery in Databases (KDD). It is nothing but extraction of data from large databases for some specialized work.

Data Mining is largely used in several applications such as understanding consumer research marketing, product analysis, demand and supply analysis, e-commerce, investment trend in stocks & real estates, telecommunications and so on. Data Mining is based on mathematical algorithm and analytical skills to drive the desired results from the huge database collection.

Data Mining has great importance in today’s highly competitive business environment. A new concept of Business Intelligence data mining has evolved now, which is widely used by leading corporate houses to stay ahead of their competitors. Business Intelligence (BI) can help in providing latest information and used for competition analysis, market research, economical trends, consume behavior, industry research, geographical information analysis and so on. Business Intelligence Data Mining helps in decision-making.

Data Mining applications are widely used in direct marketing, health industry, e-commerce, customer relationship management (CRM), FMCG industry, telecommunication industry and financial sector. Data mining is available in various forms like text mining, web mining, audio & video data mining, pictorial data mining, relational databases, and social networks data mining.

Data mining, however, is a crucial process and requires lots of time and patience in collecting desired data due to complexity and of the databases. This could also be possible that you need to look for help from outsourcing companies. These outsourcing companies are specialized in extracting or mining the data, filtering it and then keeping them in order for analysis. Data Mining has been used in different context but is being commonly used for business and organizational needs for analytical purposes

Usually data mining requires lots of manual job such as collecting information, assessing data, using internet to look for more details etc. The second option is to make software that will scan the internet to find relevant details and information. Software option could be the best for data mining as this will save tremendous amount of time and labor. Some of the popular data mining software programs available are Connexor Machines, Free Text Software Technologies, Megaputer Text Analyst, SAS Text Miner, LexiQuest, WordStat, Lextek Profiling Engine.

However, this could be possible that you won’t get appropriate software which will be suitable for your work or finding the suitable programmer would also be difficult or they may charge hefty amount for their services. Even if you are using the best software, you will still need human help in completion of projects. In that case, outsourcing data mining job will be advisable.

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Investing Mining Stocks and Warrants

The Canadian Dollar is now one of the strongest currencies in the world and there have been many forecasts of parity with the U.S. Dollar and as of today, the Loonie is trading at 90.35 as we write this article.

The first and second charts below shows the strength of the Loonie over the last year and the third chart is of the XAU Gold Index. Observe the long term trends in all of the charts.

For investors around the world how can you best position yourselves to benefit from the rising value of the Canadian Dollar?

If you are like many of us, you are currently participating in the bull market in the commodities sector, specifically, in the precious metals, i.e., gold, silver, copper, zinc, etc. If you are not on board this rally perhaps we can enlighten you to some different ways to benefit not only from the Canadian Dollar but also from your investments.

When an investor purchases shares in the Canadian mining companies you are in essence invested in the Canadian Dollar. With the Canadian dollar increasing relative to your country’s currency, your investment is increasing. As the value of your Canadian investments increases, you win again. Thus, you gain from the increasing in the currency as well as the increase in your investments in the mining shares or perhaps, long-term warrants on the mining shares.

The point is, currently investors are experiencing the best of both worlds and we would expect this trend to continue with normal corrections along the way for at least several more years.

We, as investors ourselves, prefer to defer to the experts, Jim Dines, Doug Casey, Pam & Mary Ann Aden, James Turk and others as to the continued direction and strength of the current bull market.

Perhaps you are a conservative investor and neither you nor your investment advisor are currently aware of the bull market in the commodity sector. We believe that soon, within the next few months or within the year, you, yes, you will be investing in this sector, so the choice is yours, now or later.

Investors have many wonderful opportunities for investments from the gold and silver bullion, ETF’s of gold and silver, mutual funds, mining shares and for those investors looking for additional leverage, long-term warrants on mining shares, some of which do not expire until 2011.

As the experts mentioned above believe, this bull market has strong legs and many years to run, we accordingly suggest investors position themselves and not to worry about the day to day fluctuations of the market.

The important thing for all investors is to recognize the big picture, take a position and enjoy what may be the ride of our lifetime.

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Building a Kingdom – Case Study of Kingdom Financial Holdings Limited

This article presents a case study of sustained entrepreneurial growth of Kingdom Financial Holdings. It is one of the entrepreneurial banks which survived the financial crisis that started in Zimbabwe in 2003. The bank was established in 1994 by four entrepreneurial young bankers. It has grown substantially over the years. The case examines the origins, growth and expansion of the bank. It concludes by summarizing lessons or principles that can be derived from this case that maybe applicable to entrepreneurs.

Profile of an Entrepreneur: Nigel Chanakira

Nigel Chanakira was raised in the Highfield suburb of Harare in an entrepreneurial family. His father and uncle operated a public transport company Modern Express and later diversified into retail shops. Nigel’s father later exited the family business. He bought out one of the shops and expanded it. During school holidays young Nigel, as the first born, would work in the shops. His parents, particularly his mother, insisted that he acquire an education first.

On completion of high school, Nigel failed to enter dental or medical school, which were his first passions. In fact his grades could only qualify him for the Bachelor of Arts degree programme at the University of Zimbabwe. However, he “sweet-talked his way into a transfer” to the Bachelor in Economics degree programme. Academically he worked hard, exploiting his strong competitive character that was developed during his sporting days. Nigel rigorously applied himself to his academic pursuits and passed his studies with excellent grades, which opened the door to employment as an economist with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ).

During his stint with the Reserve Bank, his economic mindset indicated to him that wealth creation was happening in the banking sector therefore he determined to understand banking and financial markets. While employed at RBZ, he read for a Master’s degree in Financial Economics and Financial Markets as preparation for his debut into banking. At the Reserve Bank under Dr Moyana, he was part of the research team that put together the policy framework for the liberalization of the financial services within the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme. Being at the right place at the right time, he became aware of the opportunities which were opening up. Nigel exploited his position to identify the most profitable banking institution to work for as preparation for his future. He headed to Bard Discount House and worked for five years under Charles Gurney.

A short while later the two black executives at Bard, Nick Vingirayi and Gibson Muringai, left to form Intermarket Discount House. Their departure inspired the young Nigel. If these two could establish a banking institution of their own so could he, given time. The departure also created an opportunity for him to rise to fill the vacancy. This gave the aspiring banker critical managerial experience. Subsequently he became a director for Bard Investment Services where he gained critical experience in portfolio management, client relationships and dealing within the dealing department. While there he met Franky Kufa, a young dealer who was making waves, who would later become a key co-entrepreneur with him.

Despite his professional business engagement his father enrolled Nigel in the Barclays Bank “Start Your Own Business” Programme. However what really made an impact on the young entrepreneur was the Empretec Entrepreneur Training programme (May 1994), to which he was introduced by Mrs Tsitsi Masiyiwa. The course demonstrated that he had the requisite entrepreneurial competences.

Nigel talked Charles Gurney into an attempted management buy-out of Bard from Anglo -American. This failed and the increasingly frustrated aspiring entrepreneur considered employment opportunities with Nick Vingirai’s Intermarket and Never Mhlanga’s National Discount House which was on the verge of being formed – hoping to join as a shareholder since he was acquainted with the promoters. He was denied this opportunity.

Being frustrated at Bard and having been denied entry into the club by pioneers, he resigned in October 1994 with the encouragement of Mrs Masiyiwa to pursue his entrepreneurial dream.

The Dream

Inspired by the messages of his pastor, Rev. Tom Deuschle, and frustrated at his inability to participate in the church’s massive building project, Nigel sought a way of generating huge financial resources. During a time of prayer he claims that he had a divine encounter where he obtained a mandate from God to start Kingdom Bank. He visited his pastor and told him of this encounter and the subsequent desire to start a bank. The godly pastor was amazed at the 26 year old with “big spectacles and wearing tennis shoes” who wanted to start a bank. The pastor prayed before counselling the young man. Having been convinced of the genuineness of Nigel’s dream, the pastor did something unusual. He asked him to give a testimony to the congregation of how God was leading him to start a bank. Though timid, the young man complied. That experience was a powerful vote of confidence from the godly pastor. It demonstrates the power of mentors to build a protégé.

Nigel teamed up with young Franky Kufa. Nigel Chanakira left Bard at the position of Chief Economist. They would build their own entrepreneurial venture. Their idea was to identify players who had specific competences and would each be able to generate financial resources from his activity. Their vision was to create a one – stop financial institution offering a discount house, an asset management company and a merchant bank. Nigel used his Empretec model to develop a business plan for their venture. They headhunted Solomon Mugavazi, a stockbroker from Edwards and Company and B. R. Purohit, a corporate banker from Stanbic. Kufa would provide money market expertise while Nigel provided income from government bond dealings as well as overall supervision of the team.

Each of the budding partners brought in an equal portion of the Z$120,000 as start-up capital. Nigel talked to his wife and they sold their recently acquired Eastlea home and vehicles to raise the equivalent of US$17,000 as their initial capital. Nigel, his wife and three kids headed back to Highfield to live in with his parents. The partners established Garmony Investments which started trading as an unregistered financial institution. The entrepreneurs agreed not to draw a salary in their first year of operations as a bootstrapping strategy.

Mugavazi introduced and recommended Lysias Sibanda, a chartered accountant, to join the team. Nigel was initially reluctant as each person had to bring in an earning capacity and it was not clear how an accountant would generate revenue at start up in a financial institution. Nigel initially retained a 26% share which assured him a blocking vote as well as giving him the position of controlling shareholder.

Nigel credits the Success Motivation Institute (SMI) course “The Dynamics of Successful Management” as the lethal weapon that enabled him to acquire managerial competences. Initially he insisted that all his key executives undertake this training programme.

Birth of the Kingdom

Kingdom Securities P/L commenced operations in November 1994 as a wholly owned subsidiary of Garmony Investments (Pvt) Ltd. It traded as a broker on both money and stock markets.

On 24th February 1995 Kingdom Securities Holding was born with the following subsidiaries: Kingdom Securities Ltd, Kingdom Stockbrokers (Pvt) Ltd and Kingdom Asset Managers (Pvt) Ltd. The flagship Kingdom Securities Ltd was registered as a Discount House under Banking Act Chapter 188 on 25th July 1995. Kingdom Stockbrokers was registered with the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange under ZSE Chapter 195 on 1st August 1995. The pre-licensing trading had generated good revenue but they still had a 20% deficit of the required capital. Most institutional investors turned them down as they were a greenfield company promoted by people perceived to be “too young”. At this stage National Merchant Bank, Intermarket and others were on the market raising equity and these were run by seasoned and mature promoters. However Rachel Kupara, then MD for Zimnat, believed in the young entrepreneurs and took up the first equity portion for Zimnat at 5%.

Norman Sachikonye, then Financial Director and Investments Manager at First Mutual followed suit, taking up an equity share of 15%. These two institutional investors were inducted as shareholders of Kingdom Securities Holdings on 1st August 1995. Garmony Investments ceased operations and reversed itself into Kingdom Securities on 31st July 1995, thereby becoming an 80% shareholder.

The first year of operations was marked by intense competition as well as discrimination against new financial institutions by public organisations. All the other operating units performed well except for the corporate finance department with Kingdom Securities, led by Purohit. This monetary loss, differing spiritual and ethical values led to the forced departure of Purohit as an executive director and shareholder on 31st December 1995. From then the Kingdom started to grow exponentially.

Structural Growth

Nigel and his team pursued an aggressive growth strategy with the intention of increasing market share, profitability, and geographic spread while developing a strong brand. The growth strategy was built around a business philosophy of simplifying financial services and making them easily accessible to the general public. An IT strategy that created a low cost delivery channel exploiting ATMs and POS while providing a platform that was ready for Internet and web-based applications, was espoused.

On 1st April 1997, Kingdom Financial Services was licensed as an accepting house focusing on trading and distributing foreign currency, treasury activities, corporate finance, investment banking and advisory services. It was formed under the leadership of Victor Chando with the intention of becoming the merchant banking arm of the Group. In 1998, Kingdom Merchant Bank (KMB) was licensed and it took over the assets and liabilities of Kingdom Securities Limited. Its main focus was treasury related products, off-balance sheet finance, foreign currency and trade finance. Kingdom Research Institute was established as a support service to the other units.

The entrepreneurial bankers, cognisant of their limitations, sought to achieve critical mass quickly by actively seeking capital injection from equity investors. The aim was to broaden ownership while lending strategic support in areas of mutual interest. An attempt at equity uptake from Global Emerging Markets from London failed. However in 1997 the efforts of the bankers were rewarded when the following organisations took up some equity, reducing the shareholding of executive directors as shown below: ïEUR Ipcorn 0.7%, ïEUR Zambezi Fund Mauritius P/L 1.1%, ïEUR Zambezi Fund P/L 0.7%. ïEUR Kingdom Employee Share Trust 5%, ïEUR Southern Africa Enterprise Development Fund – 8% redeemable preference shares amounting to US$1,5m as the first investee company in Southern Africa from the US Fund initiated by US President Bill Clinton, ïEUR Weiland Investments, a company belonging to Mr Richard Muirimi, a long standing friend of Nigel and associate in the fund management business took up 1.7%, Garmony Investments 71.7% -executive directors. ïEUR After a rights issue Zimnat fell to 4.8% while FML went down to 14.3%.

In 1998, Kingdom launched four Unit Trusts which proved very popular with the market. Initially these products were focused at individual clients of the discount house as well as private portfolios of Kingdom Stockbroking. Aggressive marketing and awareness campaigns established the Kingdom Unit Trust as the most popular retail brand of the group. The Kingdom brand was thus born.

Acquisition of Discount Company of Zimbabwe (DCZ)

After a spurt of organic growth, the Kingdom entrepreneurs decided to hasten the growth rate synergistically. They set out to acquire the oldest discount house in the country and the world, The Discount Company of Zimbabwe, which was a listed entity. With this acquisition Kingdom would acquire critical competences as well as achieve the much coveted ZSE listing inexpensively through a reverse listing. Initial efforts at a negotiated merger with DCZ were rebuffed by its executives who could not countenance a forty year old institution being swallowed up by a four year old business. The entrepreneurs were not deterred. Nigel approached his friend Greg Brackenridge at Stanbic to finance and effect the acquisition of the sixty percent shares which were in the hands of about ten shareholders, on behalf of Kingdom Financial Holdings but to be placed in the ownership of Stanbic Nominees. This strategy masked the identity of the acquirer. Claud Chonzi, the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) GM and a friend to Lysias Sibanda (a Kingdom executive director), agreed to act as a front in the negotiations with the DCZ shareholders. NSSA is a well known institutional investor and hence these shareholders may have believed that they were dealing with an institutional investor. Once Kingdom controlled 60% of DCZ, it took over the company and reverse listed itself onto the Stock Exchange as Kingdom Financial Holdings Limited (KFHL). Because of the negative real interest rates, Kingdom successfully used debt finance to structure the acquisition. This acquisition and the subsequent listing gave the once despised young entrepreneurs confidence and credibility on the market.

Other Strategic Acquisitions

Within the same year Kingdom Merchant Bank acquired a strategic stake in CFX Bureau de Change owned by Sean Maloney as well as another stake in a greenfield microlending franchise, Pfihwa P/L. CFX was changed into KFX and used in most foreign currency trading activities. KFHL set as a strategic intention the acquisition of an additional 24.9% stake in CFX Holdings to safeguard the initial investment and ensure management control. This did not work out. Instead, Sean Maloney opted out and took over the failed Universal Merchant Bank licence to form CFX Merchant Bank. Although Kingdom executives contend that the alliance failed due to the abolition of bureau de change by government, it appears that Sean Maloney refused to give up control of the extra shareholding sought by Kingdom. It therefore would be reasonable that once Kingdom could not control KFX, a fall out ensued. The liquidation of this investment in 2002 resulted in a loss of Z$403 million on that investment. However this was manageable in light of the strong group profitability.

Pfihwa P/L financed the informal sector as a form of corporate social responsibility. However when the hyperinflationary environment and stringent regulatory environment encroached on the viability of the project, it was wound up in early 2004. Kingdom pursued its financing of the informal sector through MicroKing, which was established with international assistance. By 2002 MicroKing had eight branches located in the midst of, or near, micro-enterprise clusters.

In 2000, due to increased activity on the foreign currency front within the banking sector, Kingdom opened a private banking facility through the discount house to exploit revenue streams from this market. Following market trends, it engaged the insurance company AIG to enter the bancassurance market in 2003.

Meikles Strategic Alliance

In 1999 the entrepreneurial Chanakira on advice from his executives and the legendary corporate finance team from Barclays bank led by the affable Hugh Van Hoffen entered into a strategic alliance with Meikles Africa whereby it injected some Z$322 million into Kingdom for an equity shareholding of 25%. Interestingly, the deal nearly collapsed on pricing as Meikles only wanted to pay $250 million whilst KFHL valued themselves at Z$322 million which in real terms was the largest private sector deal done between an indigenous bank and a listed corporate. Nigel testifies that it was a walk through the incomplete Celebration Church site on the Saturday preceding the signing of the Meikles deal that led him to sign the deal which he saw as a means for him to sow a whopping seed into the church to boost the Building Fund. God was faithful! Kingdom’s share price shot up dramatically from $2,15 at the time he made the commitment to the Pastor all the way to $112,00 by the following October!

In return Kingdom acquired a powerful cash-rich shareholder that allowed it entrance into retail banking through an innovative in-store banking strategy. Meikles Africa opened its retail branches, namely TM Supermarkets, Clicks, Barbours, Medix Pharmacies and Greatermans, as distribution channels for Kingdom commercial bank or as account holders providing deposits and requiring banking services. This was a cheaper way of entering retail banking. It proved useful during the 2003 cash crisis because Meikles with its massive cash resources within its business units assisted Kingdom Bank, thus cushioning it from a liquidity crisis. The alliance also raised the reputation and credibility of Kingdom Bank and created an opportunity for Kingdom to finance Meikles Africa’s customers through the jointly owned Meikles Financial Services. Kingdom provided the funding for all lease and hire purchases from Meikles’ subsidiaries, thus driving sales for Meikles while providing easy lending opportunities for Kingdom. Meikles managed the relationship with the client.

Meikles Africa as a strategic shareholder assured Kingdom of success when recapitalisation was required and has enhanced Kingdom’s brand image. This strategic relationship has created powerful synergies for mutual benefit.

Commercial Banking

Exploiting the opportunities arising from the strategic relationship with Meikles Africa, Kingdom made its debut into retail banking in January 2001 with in-store branches at High Glen and Chitungwiza TM supermarkets. The target was principally the mass market. This rode on the strong brand Kingdom had created through the Unit Trusts. In-store banking offered low cost delivery channels with minimal investment in brick and mortar. By the end of 2001, thirteen branches were operational across the country. This followed a deliberate strategy for aggressive roll-out of the branches with two flagship branches ïEUR­ïEUR one in Bulawayo and the other in Harare. There was a huge emphasis on an IT driven strategy with significant cross-selling between the commercial bank and other SBUs.

However, it was further discovered that there was a market for the upmarket clients and hence Crown banking outlets were established to diversify the target market. In 2004, after closing three in-store branches in a rationalization exercise, there were 16 in-store branches and 9 Crown banking outlets.

The entrance into commercial banking was probably held at the wrong time, considering the imminent changes in the banking industry. Commercial banking does provide cheap deposits, however at the price of huge staff costs and human resource management complications. Nigel concedes that, with hindsight, this could have been delayed or done at a slower pace. However, the need for increased market share in a fiercely competitive industry necessitated this. Another reason for persisting with the commercial banking project was that of prior agreements with Meikles Africa. It is possible that Meikles Africa had been sold on the equity take-up deal on the back of promises to engage in in-store banking, which would increase revenue for its subsidiaries.

Innovative Products and Services

KFHL continued its aggressive pursuit of product innovation. After the failure of the KFX project, CurrencyKing was established to continue the work. However this was abolished in November 2002 by government ministerial intervention when bureau de change were prohibited in an effort to stamp out parallel market foreign currency trading.

Sadly this governmental decision was misguided for not only did it fail to banish foreign currency parallel trading but it drove underground, made it more lucrative and subsequently the government lost all control of the management of the exchange rate.

In October 2002, KFHL established Kingdom Leasing after being granted a finance house licence. Its mandate was to exploit opportunities to trade in financial leases, lease hire and short term financial products.

Regional Expansion

Around 2000 it became evident that the domestic market was highly competitive, with limited prospects of future growth. A decision was made to diversify revenue streams and reduce country risk through penetration into the regional markets. This strategy would exploit the proven competences in securities trading, asset management and corporate advisory services from a small capital base. Therefore the entrance had low risk in terms of capital injection. Considering the foreign exchange control limitations and shortage of foreign currency in Zimbabwe, this was a prudent strategy but not without its downside, as will be seen in the Botswana venture.

In 2001, KFHL acquired a 25.1% stake in a greenfield banking enterprise in Malawi, First Discount House Ltd. To safeguard its investment and ensure managerial control, an executive director and dealer were seconded to the Malawi venture while Nigel Chanakira chaired the Board. This investment has continued to grow and yield positive returns. As of July 2006 Kingdom had finally managed to up its stake from 25,1% to 40% in this investment and may ultimately control it to the point of seeking a conversion of the license to a commercial bank.

KFHL also took up a 25% equity stake in Investrust Merchant Bank Zambia. Franky Kufa was seconded to it as an executive director while Nigel took a seat on the Board.

KFHL had been promised an option to gain a controlling stake. However when the bank stabilized, the Zambian shareholders entered into some questionable transactions and were not prepared to allow KFHL to up it’s stake and so KFHL decided to pull out as relationships turned frosty. The Zambian Central Bank intervened with a promise to grant KFHL its own banking license. This did not materialize as the Zambian Central Bank exploited the banking crisis in Zimbabwe to deny KHFL a licence. A reasonable premium of Z$2.5 billion was obtained at disinvestment.

In Botswana, a subsidiary called Kingdom Bank Africa Ltd (KBAL) was established as an offshore bank in the International Finance Centre. KBAL was intended to spearhead and manage regional initiatives for Kingdom. It was headed by Mrs Irene Chamney, seconded by Lysias Sibanda with the concurrence of Nigel after managerial challenges in Zimbabwe. Two other senior executives were seconded there. She successfully set up the KBAL’s banking infrastructure and had good relations with the Botswana authorities.

However, the business model chosen of an offshore bank ahead of a domestic Botswana merchant bank license turned out to be the Achilles heel of the bank more so when the Zimbabwe banking crisis set in between 2003 and 2005. There were fundamental differences in how Mrs Chamney and Chanakira saw the bank surviving and going forward.

Ultimately, it was deemed prudent for Mrs. Chamney to leave the bank in 2005. In 2001 KFHL acquired the mandate as the sole distributor of the American Express card in the whole of Africa except for RSA. This was handled through KBAL. Kingdom Private Bank was transferred from the discount house to become a subsidiary of KBAL due to the prevailing regulatory environment in Zimbabwe.

In 2004 KBAL was temporarily placed under curatorship due to undercapitalisation. At this stage the parent company had regulatory constraints that prevented foreign currency capital injection.

A solution was found in the sourcing of local partners and the transfer of US$1 million previously realised from the proceeds of the Investrust liquidation to Botswana. Nigel Chanakira took a more active management role in KBAL because of its huge strategic significance to the future of KFHL. Currently efforts are underway to acquire a local commercial bank licence in Botswana as well. Once this is acquired there are two possible scenarios, namely maintaining both licences or giving up the offshore licence.

The interviewees were divided in their opinion on this. However in my view, judging from the stakeholder power involved, KFHL is likely to give up the off shore banking licence and use the local Kingdom Bank Botswana (Pula Bank) licence for regional and domestic expansion.

Human Resources

The staff complement grew from the initial 23 in 1995 to more than 947 by 2003. The growth was consistent with the growing institution. It exploded, especially during the launch and expansion of the commercial bank. Kingdom from inception had a strong human resourcing strategy which entailed significant training both internally and externally. Before the foreign currency crisis, employees were sent for training in such countries as RSA, Sweden, India and the USA. In the person of Faith Ntabeni Bhebhe, Kingdom had an energetic HR driver who created powerful HR systems for the emerging behemoth.

As a sign of its commitment to building the human resource capability, in 1998 Kingdom Financial Services entered a management agreement with Holland based AMSCO for the provision of seasoned bankers. Through this strategic alliance Kingdom strengthened its skills base and increased opportunities for skills transfer to locals. This helped the entrepreneurial bankers create a solid managerial system for the bank while the seasoned bankers from Holland compensated for the youthfulness of the emerging bankers. What a foresight!

In-house self-paced interactive learning, team building exercises and mentoring were all part of the learning menu targeted at developing the human resource capacity of the group. Work and job profiling was introduced to best match employees to suitable posts. Career path and succession planning were embraced. Kingdom was the first entrepreneurial bank to have smooth unforced CEO transitions. The founding CEO passed on the baton to Lysias Sibanda in 1999 as he stepped into the role of Group CEO and board deputy chair. His role was now to pursue and spearhead global and regional niche financial markets. A few years later there was another change of the guard as

Franky Kufa stepped in as Group CEO to replace Sibanda, who resigned on medical grounds. One could argue that these smooth transitions were due to the fact that the baton was passing to founding directors.

With the explosive growth in staff complement due to the commercial bank project, culture issues emerged. Consequently, KFHL engaged in an enculturation programme resulting in a culture revolution dubbed “Team Kingdom”. This culture had to be reinforced due to dilutions through significant mergers and acquisitions, significant staff turnover because of increased competition, emigration to greener pastures and the age profile of the staff increased the risk of high mobility and fraudulent activities in collusion with members of the public. Culture changes are difficult to effect and their effectiveness even harder to assess.

In 2004, with a high staff turnover of around 14%, a compensation strategy that ring fenced critical skills like IT and treasury was implemented. Due to the low margins and the financial stress experienced in 2004, KFHL lost more than 341 staff members due to retrenchment, natural attrition and emigration. This was acceptable as profitability fell while staff costs soared. At this stage, staff costs accounted for 58% of all expenses.

Despite the impressive growth, the financial performance when inflation adjusted was mediocre. Actually a loss position was reported in 2004. This growth was severely compromised by the hyperinflationary conditions and the restrictive regulatory environment.

Conclusion

This article shows the determination of entrepreneurs to push through to the realisation of their dreams despite significant odds. In a subsequent article we will tackle the challenges faced by Nigel Chanakira in solidifying his investments.

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Why Is Bitcoin Cloud Mining the Way Forward?

Cloud mining allows you to access data centre processing capacity and obtain cryptocoins without the need to purchase the right hardware, software, spend money on electricity, maintenance, and so on. The essence of cloud mining is that it allows users to buy the processing power of remote data centres.

The whole cryptocoin production process is carried out in the cloud, which makes cloud mining very useful for those who do not understand all the technical aspects of the process and do not want to run their own software or hardware. If electricity is costly where you live – for example in Germany – then, outsource the mining process in a country where electricity is cheaper, such as the US.

Types of Bitcoin cloud mining:

There are currently three ways to conduct mining in the cloud:

1. Leased mining. Lease of a mining machine hosted by the supplier.

2. Virtually Hosted Mining. Creating a virtual private server and installing your mining software.

3. Renting hash power. Renting a certain amount of hash power, without having a dedicated physical or virtual equipment. (This is by far the most popular method of cloud mining).

What are the advantages of Bitcoin cloud mining?

– Not dealing with the excess heat generated by the machines.

– Avoiding the constant buzz of the fans.

– Not having to pay electricity.

– Not selling your mining equipment when it is no longer profitable.

– No ventilation issues with the equipment, which is usually heated a lot.

– Avoiding possible delays in the delivery of hardware.

What are the disadvantages of Bitcoin cloud mining?

– The possibility of fraud,

– Operations with bitcoins can not be verified

– Unless you like to build your own Bitcoin hash systems, it might be boring.

– Lower profits – Bitcoin cloud mining services carry expenses.

– Bitcoin mining contracts may allow cessation of operations or payments if the Bitcoin price is too low.

– Not being able to change mining software.

Risk of mining in the cloud:

The risk of fraud and mismanagement is prevalent in the world of cloud mining. Investors should only invest if they are comfortable with these risks – as they say, “never invest more than what you are willing to lose.” Research social networks, talk to old clients and ask all the questions you consider appropriate before investing.

Is cloud mining profitable?

The answer to this question depends on some factors that affect the profitability of investments. Cost is the most obvious factor. The service charge covers the cost of electricity, accommodation and hardware. On the other hand, the reputation and reliability of the company is a determining factor due to the prevalence of scams and bankruptcies.

Finally, profitability depends on factors that no company can predict or control: just remember the high volatility of Bitcoin in the last three years. When you buy a mining contract, it is better to assume a constant price for Bitcoin, since your other alternative is to buy bitcoins and wait for the price to rise. Another important factor is the capacity of the entire network, which depends on the number of operations per second. Over the past few years, power has increased exponentially. Its growth will continue to rely on the value of Bitcoin and innovation in the development of integrated circuits for particular applications.

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Discover The Best Way To Shop For A New Car Loan

Shopping for a new car when your old one is about to give up isn’t most people’s idea of a good time. It’s not deciding what kind of car you want that’s the problem. Most people are able to think seriously and be realistic about what kind of car they can afford to own. They’ll happily settle for a sedan, even if they dream of a sports car.

However, your credit might get in the way. If you’ve got less than great credit, car dealers can make you feel like a second class citizen. They don’t want to take the risk of selling you the car you need, so they steer you towards other, less desirable models. They don’t want to waste their time on you if you are not going to qualify for financing.

Very few people have perfect credit these days. There’s always an occasion where you miss a few payments on a credit card or other bill, or get laid off from your job and have to put off the least vital bills. However, even if things are now different and you can deal with your financial responsibilities, you’ll still have that black mark on your credit.

Credit bureaus can keep the information about those missed payments on your record for a long time. When you start investigating your options for financing your new car, they’re sure to turn up. This means that you’re on the defensive, and have to relive the period when you weren’t able to live up to your responsibilities. It’s necessary for you to explain to the dealership what happened, why you weren’t able to make those payments, and to justify your ability to make them now. Here’s some information to help you do this more easily.

The first thing you should do is realistically figure out how much you can afford for your new car payment. Don’t make the mistake of being too optimistic about your ability to save money or reduce expenses. Buying a new car shouldn’t affect your quality of life. If it’s necessary to stretch your budget that thin, you should put off getting a new car until things improve.

When you are realistically figuring out your budget, remember that cars do not drive on air. You will need to put gas in them and it would be a good idea to set aside money every month for maintenance like tires, oil changes, etc.

Also, it’s important to retain a good sense of reality in regards to how much you’ll get when you trade in your car. You probably won’t get the blue book price. For instance, if your car is worth $6000 as a trade in, realize that this is only $6000 off the sticker price of the new car. If you receive a discount on the sticker price (rarely do people ever pay the sticker price!), you probably won’t get as much for your trade-in. Sometimes the amount that the dealer discounts your trade in turns out to be the same as if you’d paid the sticker price in the first place.

However, should you be able to work things out with your dealer and arrive at a fair price, you still need to shop for a new car loan. Even if you’re getting a good deal on your trade in vehicle, you’ll almost certainly need to borrow money to buy a new car. What kind of loan you get is almost as important as picking out the car.

If you happen to have a good credit rating, you can often get a good deal on your new car financing through the dealer. They’ll use the manufacturer’s lending resources to help find you the right financing. The best deal you can get is a zero percent finance rate. There’s no interest with a zero percent rate. You can also get one point nine or two point nine percent interest rates, which are a lot better than you can get through most other lenders. Therefore, if you can get a good deal through the dealer, you should probably go for it.

However, those with less than perfect credit may need to look at other options for their new car financing. You may be able to find attractive loan programs through other lenders. These programs are designed for people with a few credit problems. You can even get loans designed for people with very poor credit or even those who’ve filed bankruptcy. However, you should be careful with these kinds of loans. Slipping up with them can put you in line for lots of fees and penalties, and the interest rate is going to be higher because they will consider you a higher risk.

Remember, when you buy a new car, shopping for the right car loan is just as important as picking out the perfect car. If you go with the first financing you’re offered, you may find yourself paying several thousand dollars more than you would have if you had bothered to shop around. Don’t underestimate the value to you of getting the right financing. There’s an option available for you, no matter what your credit history looks like.

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Agriculture Investment Funds – The Best Alternative

In times of a rapidly expanding population, low interest rates, inflation and murky equity markets, investors are searching for assets that will grow in value, produce a regular income, and retain value in the event of a crash. Essentially we need a safe haven for our cash and that is leading many investors towards the agricultural sector as 75 million new mouths to feed every year and a changing diet in developing economies supports the theory that agribusiness will do well in the mid to long term.

There are a number of options open for investors choosing this sector, from agricultural investment funds, ETFs, direct investment into agribusiness companies, or trading soft-commodities such as wheat. My problem here lies in the fact that these investment strategies do not tick all of our boxes. Funds incur management fees, and over the lifetime of a mutual fund, investors lose 80% of their gain to management fees, commodities can be volatile in the short term, and investing into agribusiness companies does provide any level of non-correlation.

So what is the alternative? More and more canny investors, both private and institutional, are snapping up what little good quality agricultural land is left in the hope that as time passes, and the population continues to grow, the land we have will become more valuable in the face of a higher demand for food. We also know that well tilled land will produce an income every year from the growth and sale of crops, replacing the lost risk-free income we no longer achieve from holding cash. Of course, if someone somewhere finds an alternative to food then the value of farmland will fall, but I think we can all agree that we will all have to eat at some point and therefore arable land retains value even in the worst of circumstances.

So how does the small investor source a piece of agricultural land large enough to farm commercially? And how do we reduce general agricultural risk such as exposure to poor weather, commodity prices and quality farm management? There are opportunities for the smaller investor to take part in large farmland investment transactions, either pooling capital with other investors in order to purchase better and larger land parcels, and other very interesting structured vehicles allowing the small investor to purchase a small piece of a much larger, commercially managed farm, with the farmer shouldering the general agricultural risk and paying the land owning investor a fixed annual income. This methodology, provides the farmer with much needed liquid capital to expand operations and invest in the his business, whilst providing the investor with risk-managed exposure to high-yielding farmland, consistent income, principle protection and capital growth.

Where should one consider purchasing farmland? The EU, Latin America and Australia are all investable locations, and have consistently achieved returns of between 10% and 20% over income and growth depending on the location of the farm and the structure of the investment.

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Forex Strategy: Fundamental Vs Technical Currency Analysis

Chances are, if you’re just getting started analyzing currencies, you have a long list of questions: What is currency analysis? What are the different ways to analyze Forex assets? And how will my analysis inform my trading efforts? These are important questions to answer, and it’s probably best to start with a quick definition of currency analysis.

In the simplest terms, currency analysis is the research of economic factors that affect exchange rates, as well as researching historical market data. Essentially, a day trader’s goal is to extrapolate the future movement of a particular currency by analyzing market factors and economic data. This will help a day trader make better guesses as to whether a currency pair will lose or gain value.

Fundamental Currency Analysis

There are many different macroeconomic factors that can affect the value of a currency and its exchange rate. Fundamental analysis looks at these factors to determine the overall well-being of a country’s economy, because economic standing is a strong determinant of currency value. Some factors a fundamental analysis might consider include:

Inflation rates

Trade balances

GDP

Interest rates

And job growth

In effect, the goal is to get a gauge of the overall economic factors that may affect that country’s currency. For example, a country with an increasing inflation rate may experience a decrease in currency value. A Forex trader might then enter a trading position betting on the downward trend of that currency. It’s important to note, though, that it’s difficult to trade on fundamental analysis alone. Most frequently, a trader will also need to conduct technical analysis.

Technical Currency Analysis

With the advances in technology, day traders have access to a wealth of Foreign Exchange market data. Technical analysis is the process of digging into this data to reveal market behaviors and price patterns. This analysis can be carried out over long periods of time – say a year or more – or in short, 4-hour time periods.

Forex trading software can be a useful tool for improving the insights yielded by technical analysis. For example, many Forex trading applications today are designed with advanced algorithms that measure these behaviors and price patterns in real-time, effectively automating the process of picking trades. One advantage of this type of analysis is that day traders have better knowledge of when to enter and exit a particular position.

Fundamental vs. Technical Analysis: Which is Better?

Ask any day trader what they prefer, and they’ll likely say they use a combination of both. When used together, fundamental and technical analysis yield greater insights into the market, as another layer of data is added into the equation.

We can break it down further. For example, let’s say a country just elected a politician who wants to enact a quantitative easing program. This program has the potential to weaken the value of the currency – that’s a valuable piece of fundamental analysis. Combining this data with a technical analysis of that country’s currency – long-term and short-term trends – will help you best determine the positions that will be most beneficial to you.

Interested in learning Forex trading? Enroll today in the Learn Forex course from Learn To Trade; you’ll polish your fundamental and technical analysis skills, learn new strategies for minimizing your trading risk, and develop better knowledge of the Foreign Exchange market.

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