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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How To Choose A Home Loan

Finding the best loan means that you will have to look and see which one best fits your particular situation. Since people have different ideas about buying a home, you will need to look around and find one based on your needs. Here are some different home loan types to help give you an idea of ​​what is available.

Probably before you do anything else, it would be a real good idea to sit down and figure out just what you want to do about your house. Do you intend to stay there the rest of your life, just a few years, or perhaps as many as 15? After that, then what are your goals relating a house? If you are planning on selling and buying another one, will you want a larger one or a smaller house? Also, try to get an idea where you reasonably will be financially at that time. Each of these aspects will help you to plan more accurately and help you determine what kind of mortgage you need.

All home loans will fall into one of two categories. It is either a fixed rate mortgage or an adjustable rate mortgage. Fixed rate mortgages (FRM) means that your payments and interest stay the same without any changes. The adjustable rate mortgage (ARM), on the other hand, will have a fixed rate for part of its term, and then will go to an interest rate that changes either monthly or annually. This also means that your payment changes, too, with the current national rates.

Short Term Plans

If you have short plans for buying and selling your new home, then there are some home loans that will be better for you than others. A balloon mortgage gives you the advantage of low payments because, while it is based on 30 years, it will become due after 5, 7, or 15 years. Being that an ARM changes with the market, it will be lower than an FRM, and should be rather stable for the short term. The balloon payment will be due at the end of the year you choose, but you can sell it before that time comes. If you change your mind about selling it though, then you will have to refinance it at whatever the current interest rate is at the time.

Long Term Plans

Buying a house for the long term means that you want the best program for that, as well. Many people got ARM's so that they could buy a larger house, but then they take the risk that the rates will not rise too high after the adjustable rate portion kicks into operation – or else they plan on refinancing. You should determine whether or not to use an ARM if the current interest rates appear to be somewhat stable. Of course, there are no guarantees, but an FRM will definitely provide a hedge against it.

In the long haul, though, you can always refinance – no matter what you have. Costs will need to be considered before you do, and it will be easier to sell if you allow equity to be built up in the house (avoid creating negative equity). Home loans need to be researched carefully to find the best deal. Also watch out for early payout penalties, which actually penalize you for being thrifty enough to pay it off early.

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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.

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What’s the Hype With Coin Collecting? It’s Fun

If you are ever wondering what the hype is about with coin collecting then this is the article for you. Coin collecting is a great hobby. It also turns into a business for some. Any variation from a coin that is in regular circulation is collectable. Some of the coins include Quarters and Dimes before 1965. They are made of 90% silver. An easy and very fast way to check for these coins in your wallet or from a bank coin roll is to just look at the side of the coins. If the side is all silver with no copper showing, then it is a silver coin. Be careful with nickels however, because only the 1942 to 1945 nickels are silver. They are 35% silver and checking the sides will not work because they do not have enough copper in them to begin with.

1944 Steal Penny

One of the best finds you could get would be a 1944 steal penny. These penny's are worth between $ 100,000 and $ 200,000. The same is true for the copper 1945 penny. The reason for this is because copper was used for the war to make bullets. They used steal for pennies during 1945 so they are supposedly to be steel. If they are copper when you find a 1945 penny then you have a very rare wheat penny worth a lot of money.

You can use the silver side trick for half dollars as well. Older half dollars are ninety percent silver and semi old Kennedy Half dollars are 30% silver.

You can also go on eBay or coin websites like heritage auctions.com. You can get US coins, International Coins, ancient coins, and more. When you bid on a coin in an auction site. Be sure to make sure that the coin is in at least fine condition. You do not want a coin that is in bad condition because it makes the coin worth less.

Coin Roll Hunting

If you really want something cool to get added to, try going to your local bank. Go to the bank where your checking account is. Ask for rolls of coins! I usually ask for a box of pennies, which is $ 25 worth of pennies or 50 rolls. I also ask for a few dime and nickel rolls. What you'll find will always be a ton of fun. I collect wheat pennies which I find in every other roll usually, Indian Head pennies which in great condition are worth at least $ 10 especially if the word "Liberty" on the headdress band is clear. The 1906 S Indian Head Penny is worth $ 600! It is rare. I've found buffalo nickels which when the dates are legitimate are worth $ 2.00 at least. I found Mercury dimes which show a winged liberty bust of lady liberty and are silver. Also, silver war nickels. Taking out a quarter roll is fun too. You'll find a few silver ones now and then. A 1932 Silver quarter is worth good money. Happy coin hunting!

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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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Fancy A Dream Home Get A Home Improvement Loan

Guess where most people spend their time well it's their home. No wonder that people would like it to be perfect. So would most of the people as well. A perfect home depends on how an individual wants it to be. Perfection varies from individual to the other.

Most people love their home that's why it should be perfect in fact it should be reflection of perfection. If you love your home as well than it should be as you want it to be not as it is. If that is the case with you and you want your home to be your paradise but you can not afford it then a home improvement loan can help you in your quest.

A home improvement loan is basically a loan offered to people who want to make major or minor changes to their home. The changes can be major or minor. Examples of the changes are

o Adding or renovations of new rooms

o Central heating

o Landscaping

o Adding of luxuries like fireplaces or swimming pool

o Plumbing roofing or safety repairs

It could be a minor change or a major change which can completely turn around your home. A home improvement loan offers you an opportunity to make that improvement to turn your home into a dream home.

There are various ways by which an individual can go for a home improvement loan.

Secured home improvement loan in this loan the borrower provides a security to the borrower. The security could be any thing either a car or any other asset of the borrower.

Home equity is another type of secured home improvement loan where the security provided by the borrower can only be his home for which the loan has been taken.

Home improvement is basically an equity loan where the security is essential for the borrowing of the loan. However if the loan amount is under £ 10000 then an unsecured home improvement loan can be borrowed. An unsecured home improvement loan does not require the borrower to provide any kind of collateral to lender. These loans therefore carry a little higher rate of interest (about 1% – 2%) then the secured loans. This is the result of lender covering up for his risk factor. The usual interest rate is around 11.4% (variable)

Everyone in this world has home even people with bad credit history,
People like, CCJ's, defaults, arrears, late payments or people who have previously filled for bankruptcy. A credit score is given to all UK people who have previously taken loans. A score of below 600 is the one which causes the bad credit history. A home improvement loan is now available to these people as well.

Applying for loans is easy all the people who want to get the home improvement loan need to do is go online and fill in their requirements after they have found themselves a lender. If approved they will get the loan very quickly.

There are other benefits of home improvement as well which many people do not know about.

o If you go for home improvement it increases the value of the home which helps the owners when the owner wants to sell the house. It often helps in getting a better deal for the home as a furnished home would fetch a better price then an unfurnished one.

o For most people pride is the most important thing and a dream home would be the thing that provides that pride.

o For people with bad credit history it is an opportunity to improve their credit score if they follow the repayment plan as it should be

A home can be the best place to be once you come from your work if it is properly maintained. A poorly maintained house is no good to anyone so a home improvement is an absolute necessity. A home improvement loan is designed for people who are not financially capable of going for home improvement with several benefits by keeping the borrowers financial capabilities in mind.

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Data Entry Online Jobs Without Investment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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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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Why Day Trading is Not a Risky Investment?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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