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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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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Co-Signing a Loan

When you co-sign any type of loan, you are taking on the risk the lender
would not; ensuring that the person you co-sign for is going to make the
payments. If they do not, you are going to be responsible for the owed debt.

When determining if you should co-sign a loan for someone, you need to consider
the following:

– Will you be able to pay the loan if the borrower goes into default? If
you can not, not only will your credit be adversely affected, you can be sued by
the lending creditor.

– When you co-sign a loan, your chances for obtaining approval for a loan for
your own personal use Declines because of your current obligation. More
specifically, the debt you co-sign for is considered your debt.

– If you secure the loan you co-sign for with some sort of personal
property, ie your home or car, you run the risk of having these items taken
away from you if the loan goes into default and you can not pay.

– If the borrower does not pay their loan, not only will you become
responsible for the debt, you are also going to be responsible for any of the
late fees and collections associated with the over-due debt.

You should also do the following when co-signing a loan:

– Get in touch with the lender and make sure that you will be contacted in
writing as soon as soon as the borrower is late on a payment. This will give you
time to get in touch with the borrower and fix the situation before the account
goes into collections. If the account does enter into collections, you will be
responsible for paying off the entire debt at one time.

– Get a hold of copies of all the stipulations and terms of the loan.

Some More Advice to Follow If You Are Going to Co-Sign a Loan

Prior to co-signaling, you should contact the creditor to see if your can
negotiate your liability if the loan goes into default. More specifically, you
can have your liability changed so that you only are obliged to pay only the
loan balance and not any other late fees. It is always a good idea to get any
final, negotiated Clauses in writing.

What Are the Benefits of Being a Loan Co-signer?

Co-singing a loan can be a good idea if you are certain that the borrower is
going to repay the money. For example, co-signaling makes sense if you are
the parent of a child with no credit, but a steady income, looking to buy a home
for the first time. You will help your child get the mortgage financing them
are looking for, while helping build their credit rating.

It is very common for someone's credit to be adversely affected as a result of
divorce. This will hurt their ability to get approved for loans and credit even
though they have a steady income. Co-singing a small personal loan in this
instance will help them re-establish their credit.

In conclusion …

As mentioned, there are instances when co-signing a loan is harmless.
However, the majority of the time, it is a very risky move. As a matter of fact,
studies have shown that co-signers end up paying the debt of the borrower 80% of
the time. When co-signing any loan for any purpose, friend of family, PROCEED
WITH CAUTION!

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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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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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UK Corporations Feeling the Financial Crunch, But Do not Panic As Advice is Available!

Your business may not be a high-profile company that makes headlines every month but that does not mean you can not have the same problems as Northern Rock or Bradford & Bingley. After years of being successful and profitable you may find that your company is currently having financial difficulties and you need more cash. Before you set out to raise more cash any way you can imagine, take the time to speak to a lawyer and discuss all your legal options.

It is important that any business acts early when they start to see a decline in finances. You need to review your businesses cash flow on a regular basis even if you have an accountant or a financial department. Whilst you may delegate the financial process of your company to other people, do not make the mistake of not reviewing the financial statements. Stay up-to-date with your company's finances and you will be able to adjust quickly when financial difficulties start to appear.

If you do find your business is in need of more cash do not panic and start making poor decisions that could jeopardize your business. Whilst it is important to plan for a downtimes and be proactive before the creditors start calling, sometimes the problem will catch you by surprise and you may find yourself needing to take action quickly. The Companies Act of 2006 sets out the duties directors owe a company and you need to ensure that you follow these guidelines. Speaking to a lawyer can help you keep on top of the current regulations and verify that your company is following all the appropriate laws for every country your company does business in.

If you trade while insolvent you could be breaking the law. Whilst you may be panicked due to your company's cash flow problems, it is important to take the advice of your lawyers and financial personnel in order to make sensible and legal decisions for your business. You may need to make some tough choices that require you to change the structure of your business. You may need to let some of your employees go but whatever decisions you need to make you should discuss your choices with a lawyer to always confirm you are following the appropriate laws correctly.

It is understandable to make foolish and short sided decisions when your business is in trouble. If you built a large company from the ground up, you may be feeling that the company's financial problems are your own problems. It is important that during tough financial time you take charge and make arrangement with any creditors.

If you need assistance in negotiating settlements and arrangements with creditors a experienced solicitor can assist you with the process.

It may be possible to sell off the shares in the company or the company assets instead of liquidating the entire company or filing for bankruptcy. You may be able to save your company and rebuild once your cash issues are resolved. A solicitor can help you plan your business future and keep you focused during a very difficult time in your business career.

This article is free to republish provided the authors resource box below remains intact.

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A Proper Family Budget Meets All Financial Needs

To say that every family should have a monthly budget is an understatement. The only way to control your family's finances is with a budget that keeps track of where the money comes from and where it is absolutely spent. A budget, or cash flow plan for those who do not like the B word, is a critical part of any family's secure financial future.

For most families a budget is far down the list of things that are important in the day to day happenings for most families. For most people doing a budget is another task for which they have little time to deal with. Unfortunately this is the reason so many families are having the financial problems that they are dealing with today. A budget can also be a divisive thing if it is used as a way to control the spending habits and place blamed for the financial failures being experienced. For a family budget to work properly it must be used as a tool by all family members that involves financial goals and compromise to reach them.

A budget is actually not that hard to create and keep simply because it is just a list of monthly income and expenses that is either either on a sheet of paper or on a computer equipped with budgeting software. The idea behind any budgeting process is to create a balance between income and expenses so that at the end of the month there is money left over to save, invest, and build wealth.

There is no concrete method for building a family budget because each family's financial needs are different. Some families may be saving for a new car or family vacation, while others are more intent on building savings and college funds. Most families start their budgeting process simply by writing everything down on a piece of paper but as their financial needs grow more complex they may find they need the services of a financial or investment planner.

Another thing to think about and discuss is what are your family's long term financial goals and how do these fit into and affect the monthly budget. It is important to consider not only the goals of individual family members but also the collective goals of the entire family as well. These can include such things as putting away money for a new home, saving for children's college fund, building that retirement nest egg, and probably the most important thing for any family building an emergency savings fund to protect against unforeseen financial emergencies.

The hardest part of finalizing the family budget is making sure you have all the monthly expenses written down. Missing even one or two can seriously affect your budget because at the end of the month you will have less money then originally budgeted for. Be sure to think of those surprise expenses which is particularly important if you have children. It always seems that some unforeseen expense pops up around one of the kid's school activities, or they need new glasses or braces, or something along those lines. Of course if you have an emergency fund in place you can use money from this for such things.

Setting up a proper family budget will not only help you meet your financial goals but will also save money over the long run. Not having money worries will make family life better for all concerned; it just takes a little time and patience.

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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.

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You Can Get a Personal Loan After Bankruptcy

Having survived bankruptcy, you may think that your world is topsy-turvy. Well, that is not exactly true. Your declaration may leave an indelible mark on your credit history that is hard to entirely escape, but remember, you are not the only one. Over 250 thousand bankruptcy declarations are filed every three months in this nation. Many of these are due to the economic and financial turmoil the global economy that has dealt us all some hurt this last half-decade.

Joblessness, Illness, Bad Luck

The unemployment rate, perhaps poor health, or just plain old bad luck, have caused many to become behind on important monthly obligations such as housing or transportation or grocery bills. When these unpaid obligations start to pile up, they can have a snowball effect and get worse with each ensuing month. As a last resort, to protect whatever assets are still surviving, some have no other recourse than to declare bankruptcy. Having come out of bankruptcy, many should consider it as a way to wipe the slate clean and start rebuilding toward the future and improving their creditworthiness.

Up by the Boot Straps with a Personal Loan after Bankruptcy

Rebuilding your creditworthiness and your good name could very well start with taking out a personal loan. Whether taking out a secured or unsecured loan, go for it. One secret is to not stop borrowing. Just remember that an unsecured loan will charge you a higher interest rate than a secured loan. A secured loan is one that is backed by an asset you own, such as real estate or a vehicle. Whatever transpires, please do not neglect this loan in terms of repayment on time every time. You are being granted a second chance and it would be wise to not spoil it.

Potential for Repayment

Depending on factors such as collateral, salary, and even personal recommendations, personal loans are available that range from $500 to $20,000. Income will be a primary consideration when loan amounts are figured. Some financial advisers suggest that individuals who have experienced a bankruptcy can start at $5K or below for a first personal loans ensuing a bankruptcy discharge. If the need is great and the payback potential great, a loan could be higher than that.

Some Extra Help

If you have no collateral, your best bet for a personal loan after bankruptcy would be to have a financially secure cosigner. Unsecured or no-collateral loans are riskiest for lenders so interest rates will be high. To lower these rates, having a cosigner would be a good way to land a personal loan after bankruptcy. The cosigner must be aware that they are liable for the loan should you default for whatever reason.

Seek Far and Wide

Because there are so many folks who have found themselves financially strapped, there are many private lenders who have stepped in to answer the calls of the market regarding personal loans after bankruptcy. You will find a plethora of these lenders on the internet. Simply punch bankruptcy loans into your favorite search engine and you will be rewarded with many lenders willing to take a chance on bankruptcy clients. You will pay higher than usual interest rates, but you will also find that they can be lower than expected due to the competition in the market. As you can see, it is possible to get a personal loan after bankruptcy.

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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.

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