Importance Of Data Mining In Today’s Business World

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Discover The Best Way To Shop For A New Car Loan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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Obtaining A First Mortgage For Investment Property

As the name implies, a first mortgage for investment property is simply the first loan that is issued for the property. When you purchase a piece of real estate, the loan that you receive as financing is also known as a first mortgage.

Before you apply for a first mortgage for investment property, it’s a good idea to obtain a copy of your credit report and confirm the accuracy of the information listed therein. Every 12 months, you are entitled to receive a free copy of your credit file from each of the three credit reporting agencies, including Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. The best way to choose a lender for your first mortgage for investment property is to shop around. Compare interest rates, required down payments and other loan terms in order to find the best fit.

When you speak to a lender regarding a first mortgage, they will explain the required down payment, invite you to fill out a loan application, access your credit file and possibly even provide you with a loan decision within hours. In most cases, a lender will require a down payment ranging from 20-35% for investment properties. Depending on your credit history, you may be asked to pay a slightly higher down payment than average. Because the purchase will not be used as a primary residence, the loan term will likely be shorter than a traditional mortgage.

When it comes to a first mortgage, every lender will require that a title search be performed on the property prior to approving a loan. A title search can be performed by a licensed attorney specializing in real estate and is beneficial for making sure that there are no judgments, liens or back taxes on the property. In addition, a title search will confirm the identity of the property owner and will ensure that the seller has the full right to deed the property to a new owner.

While shopping for a lender, most investment property buyers will apply with more than one lending institution. Although it is widely known that multiple credit inquiries in a short period of time may lower your credit score, applying for a mortgage is slightly different if the inquiries are made close together. The reason is because lenders expect that you will apply at multiple locations and may, therefore, not let recent inquiries for a mortgage loan deter them from approving your application for a first mortgage for investment property.

A first mortgage for investment property will be more likely to be approved if the hopeful buyer can provide an appraisal confirming the market value of the property. A loan is even likelier to be approved if the property is being sold for below market value, which will result in instant equity. These factors, combined with an appreciating market and a large down payment will increase your chances of being granted a first mortgage for investment property.

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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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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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Brown Seaweed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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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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From Debt To Financial Prosperity

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

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

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

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

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

So how can one make the transition from debt to prosperity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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