The Forgotten Investment, Silver

Most of the talk these days centers on gold and gold investing. Its brethren, silver, appears to take secondary role as an investment metal and is thought of more as in jewelry and flatware than as a money making investment.

However, history shows that silver has been a medium for storage of wealth for thousands of years and revered one civilization to the next. It has been widely used in mintage of coins from the Greeks to the Spanish. In fact, silver coins were in wide circulation until 1965 and silver certificates were also redeemable into the precious metal.

Silver has qualities which also make it a sought after industrial metal. It has the highest electrical conductivity of all metals and its ductile and malleable. It has been used in electronics, mirrors batteries, photography and numerous other ways. It has been this trade that has had the most influence on the price since the late 1960’s.

Silvers evolution has extended to the financial markets. As markets have grown futures and ETF’s have had a larger impact. This change in this markets have allowed speculators to participate in silvers price movements. Lately there have been widely circulated news stories concerning the price manipulation of the price of silver. This only goes to show the importance of the metal and that in a free market the price would be much higher than it actually is.

Silver has been on a bull run since 2003 due to the fact that there has been growing demand by both investor and manufacturing alike. At the same time supplies and new finds are declining and restricted. Demand SLV the ETF for Silver has been increasing thereby outpacing supplies of available shares, forcing the custodian to issue new shares and in turn buy more physical silver.

The current economic uncertainty has also played a role in the demand for silver as more investors have purchased it for wealth protection and capital appreciation. This has increased the demand and its price. This trend will most likely continue as the economy faces increasing and renewed challenges.

Scrap silver has become valuable again which speaks as to the current market situation. As silver regains acceptance as an investment vehicle for wealth protection, as it had previously. Demand will continue to grow and compete with industrial sector for the metal. The outcome seems fairly obvious since the metal supply is in limited supply.

It is obvious that silver along with gold should be a precious metal that is included in one’s portfolio that seeks wealth protection and capital appreciation. Both technical and fundamental factors indicate that it is and opportune time to invest in gold and silver.

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The Fundamentals of IOS and Android Application Testing

Today the reach of customers have broadened from PC’s to mobiles and in lieu of this it makes mobile application testing very essential. iOS and Android apps have paved way for the mobile genre. They have tremendous applications that attract a customer but at the same time while users enjoy the apps, how easy is it to test the iOS and Android apps?

It becomes very challenging for the testers to test iOS and Android apps as the users lay down unique expectations and they have to test in accordance. Challenges in mobile app testing could range from Device Variation to Tools availability to Network Bypass etc. Many third-party applications compatible with advanced mobile phone versions are also unveiled. All these underlined by concern for performance and user acceptance demand foolproof and comprehensive mobile application testing. A thorough understanding of applications put for testing is a perquisite. Check whether it is developed in-house or by third party.

iOS app testing

iOS are operating systems used majorly in mobile technology, such as smart-phones and tablets. They have smooth designs and seem to be very user friendly. iOS app market is a hit in the technology market and is often in the news for good. All the iOS app testers are aware that testing an iOS app is different than testing any other app because it is a closed operating system. iOS testing also intervenes with development which makes it all the more challenging to perform testing. But certainly there are measures that can make iOS testing easier:

  • Consider Fragmentation
  • Be strict for Privacy
  • Opt for Beta-testing

Tools that are best for iOS app testing can be listed as below:

  • Frank
  • iOS UI Automation
  • iOS Driver
  • KIF or Keep It Functional
  • Appium
  • Calabash
  • Monkey Talk

Android app testing

Android application testing is too complicated due to the diversity in devices which is a major challenge of mobile app testing. Here, unlike iOS, the differences in variety of screen sizes, capabilities and limitations are precise because each device is unique to the other. The testers are familiar with the fact that compatibility is a huge constraint because mobile apps can be set up across several devices. One of the easiest ways to make Android app testing light on the brain is to avoid complex structures and segment them into smaller steps.

Try the below tools to enhance your Android app testing

  • Robotium
  • Monkey Talk
  • Selendroid
  • Appium
  • Calabash
  • The UI Automator
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Data Entry Online Jobs Without Investment

One of the most popular jobs that many people do nowdays is data entry online jobs. With this job, there are many people who have helped raise their family's income despite the global recession. It will give you the opportunity to have income while staying at home. The things that you need are a computer and a reliable internet connection. It does not matter what profession you are in as long as you know how to do some writing jobs and data entry.

These kinds of jobs are not always permanent jobs. Thus, the work does not come with benefits like health insurance, paid vacation and the like. When you work online, you are considered an independent contract worker. This means that you are a free agent. You will be hired based on a project and your contract will last until the project is finished. When the required job is done, it's time for you to find another job.

The pay for data entry job is based on per data sheet completed. The cost per sheet usually ranges from 10 to 20 cents. However, this varies heavily on the type of employer you have. It is expected that as data entry workers, you will also do some other tasks like data collection, change documents into new formats or edit images.

The most important thing when you try to work for online jobs is to watch out for scams. There are so many of them online (especially for data entry jobs) because lots of people are into them due to the fact that they are easier to do. Do your own research and find out the company's legitimacy before you give out personal information. Do not be fooled and unknowingly subject yourself to identity theft.

Be very suspicious when a prospective employer asks you for your financial information. Do not give out your credit card numbers or any forms of financial information when an employer asks you. This should be a red flag signaling you that the company is a hoax. Other scam propaganda requests you to send them a certain amount in exchange for a starter kit so that you may be able to start working for them. When you come across these frauds, run away from them.

It is important that in all your online jobs, you only get those legitimate ones so that you will not be taken advantage of. Check the name of the company first if they are genuine or not. Once you establish your work online, success is within your reach. Data entry jobs will no longer be your only option but you can also get a good position online. Keep looking.

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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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Why Day Trading is Not a Risky Investment?

Day traders are people who buy and sell stocks of various companies all day long. There are mainly two types of day traders – scalpers and momentum traders, Scalpers buys and sells very quickly whereas momentum traders buy stock that is moving up or down during the day.

The main objective of day trader is to maximize profit with minimum risk. As an active day trader, I am sharing with you the benefits of earning within a single market day – and the potential challenges with day trading.

You perhaps warned by your friends, relatives or stock market consultants that day trading is risky. However, from my personal experience, I found it is no more risky than long-term investment in volatile stock or futures.

I would rather say investment in equity is always risky because of erratic and sometimes unpredictable nature of market forces. On the contrary, investments in banks allow money to grow at a small rate, while that rate is guaranteed, and the local government generally protects the money. However, you need to invest some portion of your capital in capital market for wealth building.

Let us examine why short term and long-term investment pose the same risk in terms of capital loss. We will consider a hypothetical scenario to explain the point.

Let’s assume you are a value investor and invested in a company A. On 25 th July’07, company A is opened at $27 in the morning, and then plummets to $24 within a few hours due to a large class action lawsuit being filed against them. If the company A goes to bankrupt because of said lawsuit, share of company A will fall drastically. In this situation, all kinds of share market investors will loose their capital because the stock is worthless now.

Even in the above case, day trader might protect their capital well because they are normally very cautious and open to all kinds of market news. Day trader mainly works based on market intelligence.

To be successful as day trader, you need to do many practices and most important you need to learn from your mistakes. You need to work with an experienced day trader, need to learn latest techniques, use latest stock market investment software and need to devise your own trading plan.

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Trademark Application: Online Tools to Protect Your Investment

Many businesses understand the benefits of trademarks for their products and services, in protecting them from the time and monetary investment in developing those products and services. However, many organisations and businesses are unaware of the need to register these trademarks to comprehensively protect their brand and business offerings.

Without the security of a registered trademark, a business risks losing the investment, or minimising the effect of, developmental and marketing efforts that it engages in. Competitors in the same or similar industries could potentially own a trademark with comparative qualities and identity in order to market products and services that replicate the business model. This could not only affect the revenue generating capability of the business by increasing the level of competition in the marketplace, but could lead to a damage of the image that has been created; resulting in a lower perception of quality by current and potential customers. Given the importance of securing your investment made in the marketplace, as well as securing the business future, legally registering the interest through the trademark application process is essential.

Applying for a trademark application, and upon finalisation, provides numerous benefits to the business, including that they are able to strongly differentiate their identity and products in the marketplace from their competitors. Furthermore, the trademark can act as a marketing instrument which empowers a company to control the image and perception presented to the market. An important commercial asset, applying for a trademark application can provide a level of quality to consumers, guaranteeing potential buyers of the quality of the products and services being sold.

The brand and logo of the company is the physical representation of the quality of the business. Successful logos and brands evoke instant feelings of trust, credibility and a desire by the consumers to purchase from the brand in question. This is why it is imperative that a trademark application be processed for the company’s design work, images, colour, fonts and other components that make up the logo and brand.

Since the inception of the internet, people have been turning to the web to source important information; and with the recent trends in websites providing online assistance and purchasing, a majority of consumers are turning to the internet to source information and purchase online. Trademark applications are no exception, with industry leading business protection companies developing software and wizards which guide the user through the trademark application process; alerting the user to important issues and prompting where other additional information may be required.

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Online Forex Trading Tools – Understand the Various Options Available

Online forex trading tools are of great help to new forex traders. Even experienced traders often rely on some of these tools to confirm their trading decisions. Due to global connectivity and telecom revolution, forex trading is no longer restricted to large corporations alone. Retail investors too are entering the forex market in a big way with the intention of making money.

Forex market is the largest financial market in the world both in terms of size and volume of transactions handled. It can be risky to start trading forex on your own without any formal forex education or without the help of a reliable forex trading tool.

The major disadvantage of any online product is the possibility of it being a scam. It is very easy to make up false product performance statistics and post them on the Internet. Therefore beware of online scams. Ensure that you carry out proper research to establish the authenticity of information and claims made by the product developers online.

The various options available for you to choose your online forex trading tools are

1. Trading platforms of existing professional traders

A number of successful professional forex traders market their own trading systems online. Check out the reputation of the trader to begin with. If possible verify his / her background over phone with other traders known to you.  Being backed by an existing successful trader, such systems normally deliver whatever promised.

2. Expert advisor

Expert advisor is another online forex trading tool which is very reliable in analyzing charts and making automatic trading decisions. Automated forex trading robots are particularly useful to new forex traders. Robots are programmed to make trading decisions on its own without any human intervention.

3. Forex forums

By participating in popular forex forums, you can get a lot of information on online forex trading. With the help of these forums you can seek advice from experienced traders who are already making use of reliable online tools for trading forex. Information regarding new products launched is also exchanged amongst users of forex forums.

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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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Get Rich With Forex – 3 Steps Towards Your First $1,000 Trading Currency With Forex

If you’re reading this article, then you already know how difficult and costly Forex currency trading can be.

In fact, most people will tell you that comparing Forex to the stock market is like comparing the complex Japanese number puzzle, Sudoku, to a children’s coloring book. However, I’m here to tell you that this is NOT the way it is… At least, if you know what you’re doing.

Believe it or not, the Forex market can be very simple and easy to manipulate. As you continue reading, I’ll be outlining the basic process you’ll need to take to start earning money with Forex.

Okay? Alright!

The Obvious First Step You Need to Take Before You Make a Dime

First things first, you’re obviously going to need to find a broker to open a trader’s account with.

That’s not so hard, right? First step done! All you’ll really need to do is fill out some paper work…Don’t be intimidated!

Remember, your broker is there to help you, and you’re paying them commissions to do so, don’t be afraid to use what you pay for! Most brokers will be more than eager to help you fill out the appropriate forms with the appropriate information. Next your application will (hopefully) be approved, and THEN you can start funding your Forex account.

What You’ll Want to Know From Your Broker BEFORE You Start Trading

You’ll want to talk to your broker about what to do with the money you want to invest in currency.

Decide on a Leverage Ratio – For example, before you do anything else you’ll probably want to decide on a leverage ratio for your broker to trade. Basically, leverage is a ratio used to measure the level of risk/reward in a trade. It’s sort of like betting…There’s 10:1, 20:1, 50:1 and even 100:1 leverage ratios that you can use in your trades.

Just remember that a higher leverage means a higher potential for loss…But it can also mean you make more money! If you’ve got enough money that you can be risky, then a high leverage is usually recommended.

Pick Currency Pairs to Focus On – Alright, now that you understand leverage and what it means for you, now we can talk about currency pairs! This is the fun part! Basically, all trades are formatted and identified the same way…Using currency pairs.

For example, in the currency pair EUR/USD, the EUR would be the BASE currency, where as the USD would be the COUNTER currency. Remember that, order is very important. In the above example, you would be measuring the European Euro in terms of US Dollars. If you were to make this trade, you would want the Euro to have a HIGHER monetary value than the US dollar.

Hopefully that makes sense.

You can pair any currency, just remember that the Base comes first, and the Counter comes second. The order is VERY important and if you mix them up it will cost you money! You won’t be trading what you think you are!

Congratulations! You now have a basic background on Forex that’s enough to get you started…Although I still encourage you to try and learn more if you can.

Warning! Do NOT Buy a Forex Trade Bot!

If you’re starting out trading Forex, then almost everyone and anyone that you talk to online will tell you to go out and buy this Forex bot, or that Forex bot…But I’m here to tell you that you’re wasting your time and money with such systems.

Why?

Because all currently ‘Forex Trade Bots’ are based on PAST trades. That means that they simply can NOT remain accurate in the long haul.

There are only 2 or 3 TOTAL systems on the market today that I would ever recommend anyone spend money on, and I’ll tell you about those now…But you have to promise to do your due diligence before you spend any money!

If you really want to get into Forex, then I really recommend that you NOT buy any of the conventional “back tested” Forex bots. They’re simply not accurate or consistent.

Is It Still Possible to Automate REAL Forex Growth?

Short answer, yes! It is! But you have to know where to go and what to do once you get there. Fortunately, I’m just the guy to let you in on the secret to automation of consistent growth.

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Fundamental Information Regarding Colon and Rectal Cancer

Colon is the division or portion of the digestive system wherein the waste matter is hoarded. The rectum is the last part of the colon near the anus. Jointly, they form the long, muscular tube which is called the large bowel or large intestine. Cancers of the rectum and also the colon are growths coming from the internal wall of the big intestine. Benign tumors arising in the big intestine are known as polyps. Malignant tumors of the big intestine are identified as cancers.

Benign nodules do not attack nearby tissue or scatter to some parts of the human body. Benign growths can be removed easily during colonoscopy and they are not critical. If benign growths are not detached from the big intestine, they will become cancerous. Majority of the cancers in the big intestine are supposed to arise from polyps. Cancer of the rectum and also the colon can attack and injure the nearby organs as well as tissues. Cancer cells will also scatter and break away to other portions of the human body, like the lings and liver wherein the new tumors are formed. The scatter of the colon tumor to remote organs is known as metastasis. After metastasis has happened in colorectal tumor, a comprehensive treatment of the malignancy is doubtful.

Internationally, malignant neoplasm of the rectum and colon is the 3rd primary cause of tumor in males and the 4th primary cause of tumors in females. The incidence of colorectal tumor varies worldwide. In countries wherein the people have taken up western diets, the occurrence of colorectal tumor is increasing.

Factors that add to the person’s danger of colorectal tumor include elevated fat intake, family record of colorectal polyps and cancer, the incidence of polyps in the big intestine, and constant ulcerative colitis.

Symptoms of colon tumors are nonspecific and numerous. They include weakness, fatigue, briefness of breath, narrow stools, diarrhea or constipation, change in bowel practice, red or dark blood in the feces, weight loss, cramps, abdominal pain, or bloating. Other situations like spastic colon, peptic ulcer, and ulcerative colitis are some symptoms of colorectal cancer.

Symptoms for colon cancer differ according to the location of the tumor in the big intestine. The right colon is large and cancers here can grow into big sizes before they cause abdominal signs. Usually, right-sided tumors can cause anemia because of the gradual blood loss over a long duration of time. Anemia causes weakness, fatigue and shortness of breath.

Left colon is slightly narrower compared to the right colon. Hence, tumors in the left colon possibly cause the complete or partial obstruction of the bowel. Cancers which cause partial obstruction of the bowel may cause signs of constipation, diarrhea, narrowed stool, cramps, abdominal pains and bloating. Dark red blood in the stool can also be indicative of a growth adjacent to the end of the rectum and left colon.

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