What Is A Cryptocurrency And Bitcoin?

The Web is part of society and is shaped by society. And until society is a crime-free zone, the Web won’t be a crime-free zone.

So what is a cryptocurrency? A cryptocurrency is a decentralised payment system, which basically lets people send currency to each other over the web without the need for a trusted third party such as a bank or financial institution. The transactions are cheap, and in many cases, they’re free. And also, the payments are pseudo anonymous as well.

As well as that, the main feature is that it’s totally decentralised, which means that there’s no single central point of authority or anything like that. The implications of this is done by everyone having a full copy of all the transactions that have ever happened with Bitcoin. This creates an incredibly resilient network, which means that no one can change or reverse or police any of the transactions.

The high level of anonymity in there means that it’s very hard to trace transactions. It’s not totally impossible, but it’s impractical in most cases. So crime with cryptocurrency– because you’ve got fast, borderless transactions, and you’ve got a high level of anonymity, it in theory creates a system that is ripe for exploitation. So in most cases when it’s a crime online with online payment systems, then they tend to go to the authorities and, say, we can hand over this payment information or we can stop these transactions and reverse them. And none of that can happen with Bitcoin, so it makes it ripe for criminals, in theory.

In light of this, a lot of different agencies are researching into Bitcoin and looking at Bitcoin and trying to understand how it works and what they can do to police it. It’s also been in the media quite a few times, and the media, being the media, like focus on the bad side of it. So they focus very heavily on the crime with it. So if there’s a theft or a scam or something like that, then they tend to blame it on Bitcoin and Bitcoin users.

So the most notable is probably Silk Road, which got taken down recently, and through their $1.2 billion worth of Bitcoins, went to pay for anything from drugs to guns to hit men to those sorts of things. And the media, again, very quickly to blame this on Bitcoins and say that it was the Bitcoin user’s fault.

But there’s actually very little evidence of the scale of the problem of crime with cryptocurrencies. We don’t know if there’s a lot or we don’t know if there’s a little. But despite this, people are very quick to brand it as a criminal thing, and they forget the legitimate uses, such as the fast and quick payment.

So a few research questions I’m looking at in this area is what does crime with Bitcoin look like? So a lot of people will say that scams and thefts have been going on for ages. But the means through which they happen changes with the technology. So a Victorian street swindler would practically be doing something very different to a 419 Nigerian prince scammer.

So the next question that I’d like to research as well is looking at the scale of the problem of crime with cryptocurrency. So by generating a log of known scams and thefts and things like that, we can then cross reference that with the public transaction log of all transactions and see just how much of the transactions are actually illegal and criminal. So my final question would be, to what extent does the technology itself actually facilitate crime? By looking back at the crime logs, we can see which particular sorts of crime happen, and if it is actually the technology’s fault, or is this just the same old crimes that we’ve been looking at before. And once we’ve consider these things, we can start to think about possible solutions to the issue of crime with Bitcoin.

And we can consider that the only suitable solution would be one that preserves the underlying values of the technology itself, which would be privacy and decentralisation. A lot of focus from the media is to look at the criminal aspects of it. And they don’t give enough value to the legitimate uses, because Bitcoin is a technology that enables fast, quick payments, which is useful to anyone that’s ever paid for anything on the web.

Posted in General | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on What Is A Cryptocurrency And Bitcoin?

Silver Investment Clubs

Why should you want to buy silver at $15 an ounce when you can wait for silver to go down to $12 an ounce. The simple and realistic answer is the supply of silver decreases with time. Trying to wait for low prices will negatively affect your ability to buy the quantities you want. Buying on a cost average method allows a consistent accumulation of silver.The short term price you pay today will be considered a bargain in the future.

If you could flash forward one year and look at the price you paid for silver today, you will realize that the price you paid last year was a bargain. Making small changes in your spending profile can benefit you greatly. Do you purchase cigarettes on a regular basis? Consider this, once purchased your cigarette purchase is destroyed upon use. You will get a one time value from each cigarette. But to repeat the experience you will have to give away more money. With the regular purchase of silver, whether weekly or monthly, you have a product that lasts year after year after year.

If you take the same amount of money that you spend on pampering yourself and buy silver you increase your real wealth. Forget about that daily cup of gourmet coffer and buy yourself an ounce or two of silver.

Become part of or start a silver investing club. Most silver brokers buy from wholesale sources. Leverage the power of group buying to negotiate purchase rates that are fair and favorable to your silver investment club. Silver brokers work on commission. Do not overlook the power of negotiating. Make sure you have a plan a and an plan b. If your club plans to purchase more than $1000 in a single transaction ask for a discount. If your club purchases $2500 or more in a single transaction ask for a larger discount. Another advantage of a group membership is that you can be more productive with 100 people giving one percent of effort than 1 person giving 100 percent of their effort. Their is strength in numbers.

If there are no clubs in your immediate area then look at the penny saver magazines of surrounding communities. If you have to start your own club run an ad in the local newspaper or penny saver magazine. An example ad would be: Investment club forming. initial investment under $50. Automatic monthly purchases to acquire precious metals. Call telephone xxx-xxxx. Place your ads under the business, financial, and personals section of the penny saver publication. Of course, this technique will work just as well with the local newspaper.

You can also post advertisements in the form of flyers. These flyers can be put on public bulletin boards. Convenience stores, food stores and churches are excellent places to advertise. Just make sure you get permission first. And sometimes you do not need permission.

Look at your bank account and tell me if you are getting a fair return on the money you loan to the bank. If not you need an equalizer to develop you wealth. Using your paper money to acquire real money protects your economic standing. Your best friend when it comes to your finances is you. Be proactive in managing your assets.The systematic acquisition of silver coins can be painless. You have alternatives to starting a silver club. For a more direct and systematic way to own silver consider joining already established silver clubs.

Watch the current trend in owning precious metals. Do what the smart money movers are doing.The possibility of silver prices skyrocketing to three digits may not be far away. Consider this, the fiat currency you have in your savings account is being inflated away on a continuous basis. Acquire real wealth now. Buy silver because the price will surely increase.

Posted in General | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Silver Investment Clubs

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.

Posted in General | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Importance Of Data Mining In Today’s Business World

Different Methods of Mining Coal

Different methods of coal mining are adapted to dig out the natural coal from the earth. Among them, Surface mining method is applied for producing coal of about nearly 40% in the world. The coal deposits are found on the surface of the earth and make the mining easier for the coal-miners. The various types of coal mining are contour, mountaintop removal and strip mining.

Strip mining is adopted in areas, which has leveled landscape. The surface coal is exposed when the earth covering them is removed in strips. When the whole earth concealing is removed from the surface the coal that lay beneath is exposed. They appear in blocks and are usually extracted either by drilling or blasting. Once the strip is free of coal or goes empty, the strip mining process is continued with the next strip that lay adjacent to the former.

The contour mining is used to remove coal from the layer following the contours found along the ridges of a hill or landscape. The commonly used places for this type of mining are areas with rolling to steep terrain. This method may create landslides and erosion troubles. Using the freshly cut overburden to refill the mined areas rectifies these problems. Strip mining has its own limitations and when the process of strip mining reaches a specific stripping ratio, it may not yield you profit when continued.

Mountaintop removal coal mining can be understood by its name. Removing the mountaintops exposes the coal. This method also involves disposing of mining overburden that is associated with mountaintops removal in nearby valleys. This method is a combination of area and contour strip mining methods. This process creates adverse changes in the topography like creating head of hollow hills and filling valleys with mining wastes.

Latest open cast methods can reveal higher proportion of coal deposit than the underground mining methods.

Deep mining or underground mining is applied to dug out coal that lay underneath the surface of the earth. The primary underground mining ways are Continuous, Longwall, Shortwall, Retreat and Blast Mining.

Longwall mining method is adopted for about 50% of underground mining. This method involves a complex machine with a revolving drum that sways mechanically back and forth across the coal deposit. This method yields high production and ensures safety. This method has sensors that can detect the quantity of remaining coal in the seam and robotic controls contribute to the efficiency of the process.

Continuous mining method is applied for about 45% in underground coal mining. The machine used in this method has a huge revolving steel drum that is facilitated with tungsten carbide teeth to extract the coal from the seam.

Blast mining occupies less than 5% of the whole underground mining in USA. Explosives are used to break the coal seam in this method. The extracted coal is collected and transported to the central area using conveyors or shuttle cars.

Shortwall mining covers 1% and the method is somewhat similar to longwall mining. Retreat mining method employs pillar or coal ribs to support the roof of the mine. This is the most dangerous method as it involves risk of falling roofs that might trap or crush the workers in the mine.

Posted in General | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Different Methods of Mining Coal

24 Hours in Your Wallet

Every writer faces time restrictions. The trick is to find enough time in the day to spend writing. There are several things I do to find more time to write. Negotiate every one of these ideas to maximize your time of opportunity.

Review your ideas that are laid out in front of you. I use note cards and stick notes on my desk to keep ideas around me. This kick starts the thinking process. I also put a current project I’m working on as a desktop background on my computer as a constant reminder to work on that particular task. Every time I am on the computer, there’s a picture of a document that needs worked on starring me in the face.

Push through the fog even if you have a headache or are feeling bad. Be your own nagging boss that says, “Get to work.” Think of a reward that you’ll give yourself when the work is done and put a picture of it where you see it every day. The reward has to be worth it, not just go out to dinner or something lame like that. I enjoy playing pool and set a goal to not play until I finished a project. Stick to it. That pushes me to finish what I started faster. Delayed gratification is a great tool to use. Use every great tool available.

Be as organized as possible. I know folks that can play office all day and not accomplish anything of real value. Focus on the work as a writer, but keep a clean environment.

Use the best software for the project your working on. I use New Novelist software for book type writing and Movie Magic for screenwriting. Download a free trial of Movie Magic and see if it’s right for you. Use the best software you can to maximize your effectiveness of time management and organization.

Eliminate the unnecessary clutter. Work is work, it doesn’t matter what kind it is, whether it’s dishes, digging a hole, or writing. A proper mindset on the value of work is vital. Sweat Equity is the best tool in the world.

Set goals that are difficult but possible. Write three articles a day, three chapters a day, or three scenes a day. Make time your friend and not a thief.

Role-playing allows me to step into someone else’s shoes and get work done that I might not of accomplished otherwise. Think stat, like you hear a doctor say. I’ve got to operate on this chapter, stat or I’ve got to dig up the research and uncover the true like a good detective. This exercise helps me more than you could possibly understand. An exercise like this can make an ordinary writing assignment seem extraordinary, removing the boring out of work. If you’re having fun, then you’ll get more done.

Steal every minute you can from the day. Take your laptop with you to work and pull it out on lunch break if you work a regular job too. I take my laptop fishing with me. When it’s slow and the fish are not biting, I can kick back and type away, glancing at the pole once in a while. The thrill of fishing is the catch, not the wait. Work while you wait. That may sound extreme, but don’t knock it until you try it.

Gather all the best tools and use those to fight against the time steelers.

Copyright© 2007 – AJ Dowell

Posted in General | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on 24 Hours in Your Wallet

VT Nonprofit Lender Mulls Life After End of Student Loan Program

The Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC) was established in 1965 as a public nonprofit agency designed to oversee the issuing of federal education loans to Vermont students. But with the sweeping reforms to the federal student loan program that were passed in 2009, bundled in with the national health care reform bill, VSAC and agencies like it were stripped of their ability to originate new federal education loans.

As of July 1, 2010, all federal parent and college loans are now provided to borrowers directly by the U.S. Department of Education, and VSAC is now facing a staff reduction of nearly two-thirds as it tries to find ways to survive in the age of the Federal Direct Student Loan Program.

The agency had been a lender in the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP), which was discontinued as part of the federal college loan reforms. As part of its lending functions under the FFEL program, VSAC acted as both a lender and servicer of federal college loans.

Under the new world order, with FFELP disbanded, VSAC can still manage (i.e., “service”) all the college loans it had issued in the past, but the agency is no longer able to issue new loans.

Revenues from the repayment of issued loans were used to fund new student loans as well as ongoing financial aid and student loan education programs, so the agency faces a revenue reduction of about 90 percent as its existing loans are repaid.

VSAC still issues a small number of private student loans, non-federal loans funded by VSAC rather than by the Department of Education, but the agency is looking for a new role with the Direct Loan program.

VSAC recently submitted a proposal to the Education Department to service more than the current statutory maximum of 100,000 federal education loans. Under the proposal, the agency is seeking permission to service the student loans of all Vermont students and all non-resident students enrolled at Vermont colleges and universities. Under the new Direct Loan program rules, only four organizations have been authorized so far by the Education Department to service more than the allotted 100,000 federal student loans.

Even if VSAC’s proposal is approved, however, the revenue from servicing the federal direct loans would bring in only a fraction of the revenue the agency once earned as a lender in the FFEL program.

VSAC is also asking the Vermont state legislature to help underwrite its administrative costs by allowing the agency to divert about 7 percent of its $21 million state appropriation from need-based grants and scholarships for students to the agency itself. VSAC is also asking legislators to allow its private student loan borrowers to deduct up to $500 of the interest on its private student loans from their state taxes.

The agency’s future role is unclear and is likely to remain that way until at least April, while it waits for a determination on the expanded servicing of federal college loans made through the Direct Loan program. The state legislature is likely to render a decision more quickly.

But even with its private student loan portfolio, a favorable decision on student loan servicing from Washington, and additional support from the Vermont legislature, VSAC will still need to reduce its budget by about 10 percent a year for the next three years in order to remain solvent.

The agency, which currently employs about 300 people, has already cut about 60 positions through attrition. If the added student loan servicing work doesn’t materialize and legislators don’t agree to support the agency’s administrative costs and financial aid counseling and outreach work, the agency will likely reduce its staff by an additional 200 positions before the start of the next fiscal year.

college loans

Posted in General | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on VT Nonprofit Lender Mulls Life After End of Student Loan Program

Bad Credit Business Loan

Based on bank lending practices, one might be misled to believe that people with a bad credit history are not capable of running successful businesses, illegally to repay business loans, and overall, risky borrowers. But the truth of the matter is; having bad credit does not make a person incapable of running a profitable business.

There are many reasons why a person may have a low credit score that may have no relation to their money management skills. These include having obscene amounts of student loans to repay after graduating before getting a job that can support those payments, and getting used in the lure of credit cards as a young adult and having to pay for it later. But in the end, these mistakes can serve as a learning experience, teaching a person to make wiser financial decisions in the future and making them better equipped to handle financial problems that are presented within their business.

The question remains: Is there hope for business owners who have poor personal credit histories? Is there a way to get a bad credit business loan?

The answer is yes. Through a business cash advance, a business owner can get a loan for his / her business even if he / she has bad credit. This is due business cash advance lenders take the strain of repayment off of the borrower, making the business responsible for repaying a loan.

How does this work? A business cash advance is a purchase of a business' future credit card sales. Business cash advance companies provide an up-front cash payment in exchange for a small percentage of the credit card sales that a business makes until the loan is completely paid off. Therefore, having bad credit is not a disqualifying factor when it comes to receiving a business cash advance.

The repayment of a business cash advance also has no affect on a borrower's credit score. So the borrower does not have to worry about worsening his / her credit score when receiving a business cash advance.

Many Americans do not have the 700 point credit score that is normally required to receive a business loan, but that does not mean that their dreams of running a successful business should be shattered. Fortunately, the availability of business cash advances gives business owners with bad credit another option, making it possible for them to finance the development of their businesses.

Posted in General | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Bad Credit Business Loan

4 Things Contractors Should Know About Contractors Insurance

Any company involved in construction work, building maintenance or installation and repair services is in need of contractors insurance. Contractors will be ill-advised to forego contractor insurance in a climate of high crime statistics, unpredictable weather conditions, negligent workers, faulty equipment, defective substances and a million and one other thing that can go wrong in the contracting business.

There is also an ever-growing propensity to be held responsible and accountable for damages caused to third parties. Think about it this way: Insurance premiums cost a mere fraction of stolen materials, damaged projects or compensating agents or third parties for losses incurred through the negligence of workers or the forces of nature beyond anyone's control. By having the conviction and foresight to take out builders' insurance, contracting businesses are safeguarding themselves against possible losses and lawsuits that could end up by severely crippling the company financially or, in the worst case scenario, even bankrupting it. A contractor's policy actually costs very little in terms of premiums and is worth its weight in gold.

The basics of builder's insurance

1. Builders' Risk Coverage (also known as construction coverage)

Builders' risk insurance indemnifies the contractor for losses or damages to a building while the building is under construction. Insurance usually covers the building for a specific time period and applications only while the building is under construction. This type of insurance typically covers fire damage and vandalism. The policy may also include materials in transit to the building site as well as materials and equipment stored on site. Tools, equipment, vehicles, materials and any other assets used on site may also be covered. For the amount of protection it affords (and the peace of mind that goes with it) builder's risk insurance is reliably inexpensively (as against general liability insurance).

2. Insuring Materials on site and in transit

Given the cost of modern building materials, it is common practice for constructors to insure their materials either on site or while in transit. However, the onus is on builders to make sure that all reasonable precautions are in place to protect materials from theft or storm damage as much as possible. This coverage can also include materials stolen in transit due to the vehicle being hijacked while en route to the building site.

3. The most common insurance claims made by contractors

The most frequent claims made by contractors entail materials theft, damaged materials while in transit, storm damage, or surrounding properties being damaged while construction is in progress.

4. Most expensive Claims

The most costly claims most commonly filed by contractor are usually damages caused by third parties and their properties due to the contractor's "negligence" for example, materials being blown off structures in storms or high winds and landing on nearby cars or buildings. Also damage caused to existing underground pipes or cables. Other high claims are damages caused by fire, rainwater damage to structures, lightning damage or severe storm damage. All these liabilities can be covered by an All Risks contractor's policy.

Posted in General | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on 4 Things Contractors Should Know About Contractors Insurance

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.

Posted in General | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Building a Kingdom – Case Study of Kingdom Financial Holdings Limited

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.

Posted in General | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Brown Seaweed