Brand Positioning – Brand Image

That cross-trainer you’re wearing — one look at the distinctive swoosh on the side tells everyone who’s got you branded. That coffee travel mug you’re carrying — ah, you’re a Starbucks woman! Your T-shirt with the distinctive Champion “C” on the sleeve, the blue jeans with the prominent Levi’s rivets, the watch with the hey-this-certifies-I-made-it icon on the face, your fountain pen with the maker’s symbol crafted into the end …

You’re branded, branded, branded, branded.

It’s time for me — and you — to take a lesson from the big brands, a lesson that’s true for anyone who’s interested in what it takes to stand out and prosper in the new world of work.

Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.

It’s that simple — and that hard. And that inescapable.

Behemoth companies may take turns buying each other or acquiring every hot startup that catches their eye — mergers in 1996 set records. Hollywood may be interested in only blockbusters and book publishers may want to put out only guaranteed best-sellers. But don’t be fooled by all the frenzy at the humongous end of the size spectrum.

The real action is at the other end: the main chance is becoming a free agent in an economy of free agents, looking to have the best season you can imagine in your field, looking to do your best work and chalk up a remarkable track record, and looking to establish your own micro equivalent of the Nike swoosh. Because if you do, you’ll not only reach out toward every opportunity within arm’s (or laptop’s) length, you’ll not only make a noteworthy contribution to your team’s success — you’ll also put yourself in a great bargaining position for next season’s free-agency market.

The good news — and it is largely good news — is that everyone has a chance to stand out. Everyone has a chance to learn, improve, and build up their skills. Everyone has a chance to be a brand worthy of remark.

Who understands this fundamental principle? The big companies do. They’ve come a long way in a short time: it was just over four years ago, April 2, 1993 to be precise, when Philip Morris cut the price of Marlboro cigarettes by 40 cents a pack. That was on a Friday. On Monday, the stock market value of packaged goods companies fell by $25 billion. Everybody agreed: brands were doomed.

Today brands are everything, and all kinds of products and services — from accounting firms to sneaker makers to restaurants — are figuring out how to transcend the narrow boundaries of their categories and become a brand surrounded by a Tommy Hilfiger-like buzz.

Who else understands it? Every single Website sponsor. In fact, the Web makes the case for branding more directly than any packaged good or consumer product ever could. Here’s what the Web says: Anyone can have a Website. And today, because anyone can … anyone does! So how do you know which sites are worth visiting, which sites to bookmark, which sites are worth going to more than once? The answer: branding. The sites you go back to are the sites you trust. They’re the sites where the brand name tells you that the visit will be worth your time — again and again. The brand is a promise of the value you’ll receive.

The same holds true for that other killer app of the Net — email. When everybody has email and anybody can send you email, how do you decide whose messages you’re going to read and respond to first — and whose you’re going to send to the trash unread? The answer: personal branding. The name of the email sender is every bit as important a brand — is a brand — as the name of the Web site you visit. It’s a promise of the value you’ll receive for the time you spend reading the message.

Nobody understands branding better than professional services firms. Look at McKinsey for a model of the new rules of branding at the company and personal level. Almost every professional services firm works with the same business model. They have almost no hard assets — my guess is that most probably go so far as to rent or lease every tangible item they possibly can to keep from having to own anything. They have lots of soft assets — more conventionally known as people, preferably smart, motivated, talented people. And they have huge revenues — and astounding profits.

They also have a very clear culture of work and life. You’re hired, you report to work, you join a team — and you immediately start figuring out how to deliver value to the customer. Along the way, you learn stuff, develop your skills, hone your abilities, move from project to project. And if you’re really smart, you figure out how to distinguish yourself from all the other very smart people walking around with $1,500 suits, high-powered laptops, and well-polished resumes. Along the way, if you’re really smart, you figure out what it takes to create a distinctive role for yourself — you create a message and a strategy to promote the brand called You.

What makes You different?

Start right now: as of this moment you’re going to think of yourself differently! You’re not an “employee” of General Motors, you’re not a “staffer” at General Mills, you’re not a “worker” at General Electric or a “human resource” at General Dynamics (ooops, it’s gone!). Forget the Generals! You don’t “belong to” any company for life, and your chief affiliation isn’t to any particular “function.” You’re not defined by your job title and you’re not confined by your job description.

Starting today you are a brand.

You’re every bit as much a brand as Nike, Coke, Pepsi, or the Body Shop. To start thinking like your own favorite brand manager, ask yourself the same question the brand managers at Nike, Coke, Pepsi, or the Body Shop ask themselves: What is it that my product or service does that makes it different? Give yourself the traditional 15-words-or-less contest challenge. Take the time to write down your answer. And then take the time to read it. Several times.

If your answer wouldn’t light up the eyes of a prospective client or command a vote of confidence from a satisfied past client, or — worst of all — if it doesn’t grab you, then you’ve got a big problem. It’s time to give some serious thought and even more serious effort to imagining and developing yourself as a brand.

Start by identifying the qualities or characteristics that make you distinctive from your competitors — or your colleagues. What have you done lately — this week — to make yourself stand out? What would your colleagues or your customers say is your greatest and clearest strength? Your most noteworthy (as in, worthy of note) personal trait?

Go back to the comparison between brand You and brand X — the approach the corporate biggies take to creating a brand. The standard model they use is feature-benefit: every feature they offer in their product or service yields an identifiable and distinguishable benefit for their customer or client. A dominant feature of Nordstrom department stores is the personalized service it lavishes on each and every customer. The customer benefit: a feeling of being accorded individualized attention — along with all of the choice of a large department store.

So what is the “feature-benefit model” that the brand called You offers? Do you deliver your work on time, every time? Your internal or external customer gets dependable, reliable service that meets its strategic needs. Do you anticipate and solve problems before they become crises? Your client saves money and headaches just by having you on the team. Do you always complete your projects within the allotted budget? I can’t name a single client of a professional services firm who doesn’t go ballistic at cost overruns.

Your next step is to cast aside all the usual descriptors that employees and workers depend on to locate themselves in the company structure. Forget your job title. Ask yourself: What do I do that adds remarkable, measurable, distinguished, distinctive value? Forget your job description. Ask yourself: What do I do that I am most proud of? Most of all, forget about the standard rungs of progression you’ve climbed in your career up to now. Burn that damnable “ladder” and ask yourself: What have I accomplished that I can unabashedly brag about? If you’re going to be a brand, you’ve got to become relentlessly focused on what you do that adds value, that you’re proud of, and most important, that you can shamelessly take credit for.

When you’ve done that, sit down and ask yourself one more question to define your brand: What do I want to be famous for? That’s right — famous for!

What’s the pitch for You?

So it’s a cliché: don’t sell the steak, sell the sizzle. it’s also a principle that every corporate brand understands implicitly, from Omaha Steaks’s through-the-mail sales program to Wendy’s “we’re just regular folks” ad campaign. No matter how beefy your set of skills, no matter how tasty you’ve made that feature-benefit proposition, you still have to market the bejesus out of your brand — to customers, colleagues, and your virtual network of associates.

For most branding campaigns, the first step is visibility. If you’re General Motors, Ford, or Chrysler, that usually means a full flight of TV and print ads designed to get billions of “impressions” of your brand in front of the consuming public. If you’re brand You, you’ve got the same need for visibility — but no budget to buy it.

So how do you market brand You?

There’s literally no limit to the ways you can go about enhancing your profile. Try moonlighting! Sign up for an extra project inside your organization, just to introduce yourself to new colleagues and showcase your skills — or work on new ones. Or, if you can carve out the time, take on a freelance project that gets you in touch with a totally novel group of people. If you can get them singing your praises, they’ll help spread the word about what a remarkable contributor you are.

If those ideas don’t appeal, try teaching a class at a community college, in an adult education program, or in your own company. You get credit for being an expert, you increase your standing as a professional, and you increase the likelihood that people will come back to you with more requests and more opportunities to stand out from the crowd.

If you’re a better writer than you are a teacher, try contributing a column or an opinion piece to your local newspaper. And when I say local, I mean local. You don’t have to make the op-ed page of the New York Times to make the grade. Community newspapers, professional newsletters, even inhouse company publications have white space they need to fill. Once you get started, you’ve got a track record — and clips that you can use to snatch more chances.

And if you’re a better talker than you are teacher or writer, try to get yourself on a panel discussion at a conference or sign up to make a presentation at a workshop. Visibility has a funny way of multiplying; the hardest part is getting started. But a couple of good panel presentations can earn you a chance to give a “little” solo speech — and from there it’s just a few jumps to a major address at your industry’s annual convention.

The second important thing to remember about your personal visibility campaign is: it all matters. When you’re promoting brand You, everything you do — and everything you choose not to do — communicates the value and character of the brand. Everything from the way you handle phone conversations to the email messages you send to the way you conduct business in a meeting is part of the larger message you’re sending about your brand.

Partly it’s a matter of substance: what you have to say and how well you get it said. But it’s also a matter of style. On the Net, do your communications demonstrate a command of the technology? In meetings, do you keep your contributions short and to the point? It even gets down to the level of your brand You business card: Have you designed a cool-looking logo for your own card? Are you demonstrating an appreciation for design that shows you understand that packaging counts — a lot — in a crowded world?

The key to any personal branding campaign is “word-of-mouth marketing.” Your network of friends, colleagues, clients, and customers is the most important marketing vehicle you’ve got; what they say about you and your contributions is what the market will ultimately gauge as the value of your brand. So the big trick to building your brand is to find ways to nurture your network of colleagues — consciously.

What’s the real power of You?

If you want to grow your brand, you’ve got to come to terms with power — your own. The key lesson: power is not a dirty word!

In fact, power for the most part is a badly misunderstood term and a badly misused capability. I’m talking about a different kind of power than we usually refer to. It’s not ladder power, as in who’s best at climbing over the adjacent bods. It’s not who’s-got-the-biggest-office-by-six-square-inches power or who’s-got-the-fanciest-title power.

It’s influence power.

It’s being known for making the most significant contribution in your particular area. It’s reputational power. If you were a scholar, you’d measure it by the number of times your publications get cited by other people. If you were a consultant, you’d measure it by the number of CEOs who’ve got your business card in their Rolodexes. (And better yet, the number who know your beeper number by heart.)

Getting and using power — intelligently, responsibly, and yes, powerfully — are essential skills for growing your brand. One of the things that attracts us to certain brands is the power they project. As a consumer, you want to associate with brands whose powerful presence creates a halo effect that rubs off on you.

It’s the same in the workplace. There are power trips that are worth taking — and that you can take without appearing to be a self-absorbed, self-aggrandizing megalomaniacal jerk. You can do it in small, slow, and subtle ways. Is your team having a hard time organizing productive meetings? Volunteer to write the agenda for the next meeting. You’re contributing to the team, and you get to decide what’s on and off the agenda. When it’s time to write a post-project report, does everyone on your team head for the door? Beg for the chance to write the report — because the hand that holds the pen (or taps the keyboard) gets to write or at least shape the organization’s history.

Most important, remember that power is largely a matter of perception. If you want people to see you as a powerful brand, act like a credible leader. When you’re thinking like brand You, you don’t need org-chart authority to be a leader. The fact is you are a leader. You’re leading You!

One key to growing your power is to recognize the simple fact that we now live in a project world. Almost all work today is organized into bite-sized packets called projects. A project-based world is ideal for growing your brand: projects exist around deliverables, they create measurables, and they leave you with braggables. If you’re not spending at least 70% of your time working on projects, creating projects, or organizing your (apparently mundane) tasks into projects, you are sadly living in the past. Today you have to think, breathe, act, and work in projects.

Project World makes it easier for you to assess — and advertise — the strength of brand You. Once again, think like the giants do. Imagine yourself a brand manager at Procter & Gamble: When you look at your brand’s assets, what can you add to boost your power and felt presence? Would you be better off with a simple line extension — taking on a project that adds incrementally to your existing base of skills and accomplishments? Or would you be better off with a whole new product line? Is it time to move overseas for a couple of years, venturing outside your comfort zone (even taking a lateral move — damn the ladders), tackling something new and completely different?

Whatever you decide, you should look at your brand’s power as an exercise in new-look résumé; management — an exercise that you start by doing away once and for all with the word “résumé.” You don’t have an old-fashioned résumé anymore! You’ve got a marketing brochure for brand You. Instead of a static list of titles held and positions occupied, your marketing brochure brings to life the skills you’ve mastered, the projects you’ve delivered, the braggables you can take credit for. And like any good marketing brochure, yours needs constant updating to reflect the growth — breadth and depth — of brand You.

What’s loyalty to You?

Everyone is saying that loyalty is gone; loyalty is dead; loyalty is over. I think that’s a bunch of crap.

I think loyalty is much more important than it ever was in the past. A 40-year career with the same company once may have been called loyalty; from here it looks a lot like a work life with very few options, very few opportunities, and very little individual power. That’s what we used to call indentured servitude.

Today loyalty is the only thing that matters. But it isn’t blind loyalty to the company. It’s loyalty to your colleagues, loyalty to your team, loyalty to your project, loyalty to your customers, and loyalty to yourself. I see it as a much deeper sense of loyalty than mindless loyalty to the Company Z logo.

I know this may sound like selfishness. But being CEO of Me Inc. requires you to act selfishly — to grow yourself, to promote yourself, to get the market to reward yourself. Of course, the other side of the selfish coin is that any company you work for ought to applaud every single one of the efforts you make to develop yourself. After all, everything you do to grow Me Inc. is gravy for them: the projects you lead, the networks you develop, the customers you delight, the braggables you create generate credit for the firm. As long as you’re learning, growing, building relationships, and delivering great results, it’s good for you and it’s great for the company.

That win-win logic holds for as long as you happen to be at that particular company. Which is precisely where the age of free agency comes into play. If you’re treating your résumé as if it’s a marketing brochure, you’ve learned the first lesson of free agency. The second lesson is one that today’s professional athletes have all learned: you’ve got to check with the market on a regular basis to have a reliable read on your brand’s value. You don’t have to be looking for a job to go on a job interview. For that matter, you don’t even have to go on an actual job interview to get useful, important feedback.

The real question is: How is brand You doing? Put together your own “user’s group” — the personal brand You equivalent of a software review group. Ask for — insist on — honest, helpful feedback on your performance, your growth, your value. It’s the only way to know what you would be worth on the open market. It’s the only way to make sure that, when you declare your free agency, you’ll be in a strong bargaining position. It’s not disloyalty to “them”; it’s responsible brand management for brand You — which also generates credit for them.

It’s this simple: You are a brand. You are in charge of your brand. There is no single path to success. And there is no one right way to create the brand called You. Except this: Start today. Or else.

All About Small Business Loans – How to Get Them

If the business employs less than a hundred, is owned and operated independently, and not the market leader in the industry where it belongs, then it is considered a small business. These are some of the criteria of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) defining a small business.

One of the most common problems of a small business owner is the lack of funds to maintain, run and expand the business. If you have this problem, then these frequently asked questions will guide you in making your business survive through the support of a business loan.

What is a Small Business Loan?

A small business loan is the type of loan that lends money or funds to a small business owner so he or she can operate the business. It is also made available for individuals who wish to start a business.

Small business owners may use the amount borrowed for the establishment, construction or renovation of the business, acquisition of the necessary equipment, and for operational expenses such as payroll.

While a small business loan refers to a loan for the business itself, the personal credit history of the business owner will strongly determine if the bank or lender would give its approval to the application. Thus, a small business loan is also termed as a personal loan granted to small business owners.

How to apply for Small Business Loans?

When you apply for a loan, your loan provider will look into your personal credit history. You, the business owner, should also be able to project a sense of deep commitment to your small business. The lender will gauge your willingness to put a portion of your personal funds to help the business prosper. Be prepared also to present a loan security or collateral such as a house or car. What’s more, your educational background and expertise are also important factors for your business to be granted the loan.

The small business owner is also required to submit a business plan. A business plan is a written proposal which details the nature of your business, marketing strategy and contains a financial report. This document should also include how the business will generate income and support its operational expenses in the coming years. Moreover, the business plan should be able to convince your loan provider that you can pay the loan within the stated date of payment through the profit realize from the business and its expected continuous growth.

Remember that lenders need to make sure that the business can survive to pay up the loan and that its owner is credible enough to guarantee that the business is well planned to prosper.

Where to apply for Small Business Loans?

You can apply for a loan traditionally, which means going to local banks and government funded organizations. Even your local cooperatives have facilities for small business loans.

You may also apply for a loan online. Online application for a business loan is easier and convenient for a small business owner. You no longer have to waste time scouting for the best loan arrangement in the market. All you need to do is visit various websites and compare the rate and application requirements. However, make sure that your target small business loan provider is credible to avoid problems later on. A national bank with online capability is the best choice.

China’s Chocolate Market Dominated by Foreign Brands

Foreign chocolate brands such as Dove, Cadbury and Hershey’s have now captured about 70% of the Chinese chocolate market. As Barry Callebaut, the world’s largest chocolate manufacturer with 25% of the global market, recently opened its first chocolate factory in China in Suzhou City, the top 20 chocolate companies in the world have now all entered the Chinese market. But in the face of global competition, China’s local chocolate companies have been further suppressed down the value chain.

Second largest chocolate market

As the CHF 4 billion-revenue-per-year Barry Callebaut set up its first production line in Suzhou, a complete multinational chocolate industry chain is also emerging. Industry insiders suggested that this would be a blow to local Chinese chocolate companies in this globalized competition. It further indicated that keeping up with international competition is particularly important, or the Chinese industry chain will become even more vulnerable.

In recent years, the global chocolate market has notably slowed down, with only 2-3% growth per annum. This is mainly because per capita chocolate consumption in developed countries is already at a high level, averaging 11 kg. On the other hand, China’s per capita chocolate consumption is only 0.1 kg, and its domestic chocolate market has been growing at a staggering 10-15% per year, with an estimated market potential of US$2.7 billion. Thus China has become the world’s second biggest chocolate market only behind the US. The world’s top 20 chocolate companies have all entered China, and there are more than 70 imported or JV chocolate brands in today’s Chinese market.

Barry Callebaut has made it clear that they are coming to share and participate in China’s economic growth. It plans to build the Suzhou factory into the largest among its 38 factories globally, and achieve a 6-fold sales increase in the next five years via the Suzhou factory’s high capacity. “We hope we can fully utilise this factory’s capacity to rapidly increase output from 25,000 tons to 75,000 tons, making it the world’s largest chocolate factory,” said Barry Callebaut CEO Patrick De Maeseneire.

Multinational ambitions

It is understood that Barry Callebaut’s new plant in Suzhou will become the company’s Asia-Pacific headquarter, as well as a sales network centre for serving China and multinational food manufacturers and specialised customers. Major brands, such as Cadbury, Hershey’s and Nestle, all currently have large quantity of outsourcing manufacturing contracts with Barry Callebaut, whose OEM output of cocoa liquor and chocolate products amounts to 15-20% of each of the three major brands’ annual output. So the Swiss Barry Callebaut is indeed the Big Brother of the global chocolate industry.

In fact, even before the arrival of Barry Callebaut, China’s local chocolate companies had already been losing market shares to multinational competitors. The US Hershey’s has determined to plough the Chinese market, planning to achieve 23% share of the local market by 2010 and the runner-up position in China. Meanwhile, Korean and Japanese chocolate producers are also accelerating their entry into the Chinese market.

Local companies not in the local market

Although the rapidly growing Chinese chocolate market is good news for its local chocolate companies, Chinese consumers today are frequently referring to foreign brands such as Dove, Cadbury, Hershey’s and Ferrero but seldom mentioning local brands.

As a foreign product, China only has a chocolate manufacturing history of less than 50 years, so there is inevitable gap behind foreign brands in terms of production techniques and technologies. Due to inappropriate processing equipment and incomplete production facilities, product quality assurance is difficult for many local chocolate companies. Furthermore, most Chinese chocolate companies are weak in product R&D, resulting in slow product changes and updates. At present, most local chocolate companies are stuck in an embarrassing situation of low product quality.

The above industry issues have costed local companies’ opportunities to participate in the competition for the Chinese chocolate market. Multinational chocolate brands have come to the Chinese market one by one since the 1990s, and now they are in a dominant market position. With their considerable financial power, multinationals can play their technological and cultural cards, as well as promoting their premium quality and unique tastes, to rapidly capture the Chinese market.

As Barry Callebaut finally entered the Chinese market, its Suzhou factory will make chocolate production even cheaper for multinational brands. For local Chinese companies that are mostly in the low-end market, they may no longer hold this market segment firm.

Keep up with the globalization

Statistics showed that there are about 63 large-scale local chocolate companies in China, with annual production of 150,000 tons. Statistics from industry associations also revealed that China currently has about 250 chocolate companies in total.

Industry insiders pointed out that the Chinese food and beverage industry is a highly and internationally competitive market. The vast potential of China’s chocolate market is not only for foreign brands, but is also laid in front of local chocolate producers. The local chocolate industry is now in a structural change and survival-of-the-fittest stage, and no doubt the entry of foreign brands will present challenges to the local industry. But if local chocolate companies can participate in this international competition, it could not only drive the chocolate demand from Chinese consumers, but also promote development of China’s chocolate market.

Local Chinese chocolate companies need to constantly improve their product quality, select finer raw ingredients, upgrade production facilities, adopt international technologies, enhance product innovation and brand management. Only then can they compete with multinational companies on a level-playing field, and make a breakthrough in this foreign-dominated Chinese chocolate market.

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Investing In A Developing Economy – A Possible Solution To Global Financial Crisis


If there were security problems in Nigeria, no businessman would go to the country to explore opportunities, companies like Celtel, MTN, Etisalat, would not have ventured into security risk country to do business. Those who spread rumour about security and corruption problems in Nigeria are saying so to stop others from making money in the country. Figures don’t lie. They are the biggest testimonies for how conducive Nigeria’s environment for business and opportunities are. If you want to do business in Africa and record good returns on your investment, I welcome you to come to Nigeria. The political environment in Africa, particularly in Nigeria is tremendous.

Dr. Hamadoun Toure,

Secretary General,

International Telecommunications Union,

Cited in the Punch Newspaper, May 13, 2008)

What is happening currently with the Nigerian financial system is far from being affected in any way by the global credit crisis. At global level currently, the banks are under-capitalised, but Nigerian banks are over-capitalised. And I do not think this is a problem at all. I believe that Nigerian banks are under pressure from other economies within Africa continent that are affected by the credit challenges.

– Gordon Smith,

Head of Research, Africa and the Middle East, International Consilium,

(Reported in the Punch Newspaper, June 30th, 2008).

The foregoing statements aptly connote two understandings of the state of Nigerian economy. These understandings show that, the economy is one of the fastest growing economies in Africa and in the world. Although Nigeria has had hash economic history, it has undergone and still undergoing economic reforms, which are aimed at making Nigeria the Africa’s financial hub and one of the twenty largest economies in the world by the year 2020. Needless to say that the country has experienced political instability, corruption, and poor macroeconomic management in the past, this was responsible for unpleasant and harsh economic situation. The government relentless efforts to reposition the economy have translated into a remarkable economic growth and development. Several mechanisms have been put in place to sustain this growth and development, capable of balancing the interests of stakeholders. Perhaps, this view must have influenced Gordon Smith submission. He described Nigeria as the most dynamic market in Africa, which is under severe pressure from some countries in Africa to serve as a cushion against the effects of global turbulence. He also noted that some countries like Ghana, Malawi, Mauritius, among others were depending on her at the moment due to global risk exposure and that the country’s economy, led by the consolidated banks, was far from being affected by the global credit crisis currently rocking the world’s financial giants. He stressed further that foreign investors, who will be patient enough to weigh the Nigerian financial system on the credit risk perspective relative to global events, will find the nation’s financial sector more interesting to invest and raise capital from.

Faced with numerous challenges, Nigerian government is determined to strengthen, diversify and make the economy attractive and investment-friendly to both local and foreign investors. The government has adopted total liberalization and globalization as the economic policy, instituted privatization and commercialization programmes of public enterprises, provided total security for business and people, extended invitation to domestic and foreign investors, abolished laws inhibiting competition, embraced and fine-tuned policies to ensure quick realization of growth and development of all sectors of the economy. The effort is already paying off as Nigeria is now the focus for foreign investment thereby increased exponentially Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Scores of economic missions and delegations from developed and developing countries have visited Nigeria, thus accelerating the growth of the economy at a very fast rate.

It becomes pertinent to direct the course of this discussion to embrace the second understanding of the above statements made by Hamadoun Toure and Gordon Smith. However, it becomes more pertinent to enumerate the inherent investment opportunities in Nigerian economy before discussing the issue of security as raised by Toure.


No doubt, Nigeria is an investment haven with countless and lucrative investment opportunities including oil and gas, solid mineral, agriculture, tourism, telecommunication, power and steel, transport, trade processing zone, financial sector, real estate / property, manufacturing, sport and entertainment, and fashion industry. Investors have a wide range of opportunities to choose from. It is important to note that the rate of growth of investment is fantastic and exponential in any of these sectors. Investors are at advantage of presenting their products and services to already-made market taking advantage of the population of over 140 million.

In telecommunication, statistics reveals that mobile phone users in Africa were about 280 million, overtaking United States and Canada with their 277 million users in the opening quarter of 2008. With 70 million connections in 2007, the Continent became the fastest growing region in the world, representing a growth of 38 per cent, ahead of the Middle-East (33 per cent) and the Asia-Pacific (29 per cent).It was also revealed that the fastest growing markets are located in northern and western Africa, representing altogether 63 per cent of the total connections in the region. The record showed that Nigeria, Zambia, Tanzania, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Algeria, Tunisia, Ghana and South Africa are highly competitive markets in the Region. The record further contends that two-third of Africa’s telephony are in their early phase of development, with penetration rates below 30 per cent at the end of 2007.In percentage terms, it was noted that Africa is the fastest growing market in the world, but also the second smallest in terms of connections after Middle-East.

As Nigeria accounts for 57 per cent of the West Africa mobile phones, the country is acknowledged as the leading and the fastest growing telecom market in Africa. With mobile phone users at 44,932,181 and 734,444 for GSM and mobile CDMA respectively, her contributions to West Africa and Africa’s telecommunication growth can not be overemphasized. While the overall economic growth rate stands at 7% per annum, the mobile telephony is about 35-50%. Assuming that each of these connections was busy for a minute in a day, the country telecoms market has the capacity to generate over USD 16 million per day (USD16, 666,667) and close to USD 6 billion per year (USD 5,833,333,300). This is why telecom companies such as Visafone and Etisalat quickly joined the likes of MTN, Globacom, Celtel and other telecoms service providers in exploiting opportunities in the country.

Early this year, one of the main GSM service providers with a subscriber base of over 15 million announced a profit after taxation of USD650 million (78 billion naira) for the year 2007.Putting all these together, one can easily understand Toure’s submission describing Nigerian telecoms market as the best investment destination in Africa.

Recognizing the fact that the Nigeria telecoms industry is enormous and there is need to further exploit the sector to its fullest, the Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC) and the Ministry of State for Information and Communications have made their positions clear by extending invitation to global investors for active participation in the sector as they are willing to grant pioneer status and license for prospective applicants for various undertaking such as Fixed telephony, Mobile telephony, Fixed satellite (VSAT),Paging, Payphone, Internet and other value added services.

With the above facts, one can safely conclude that Nigerian telecom sector offers fantastic and lucrative investment opportunities to global investors. And putting into consideration 40% GSM market growth rate in the first quarter of this year (2008), there is potential for high return on investment in this sector.

Agriculture, the dominant sector of Nigeria economy, engages about 70 per cent of the population directly and provides nearly 88 percent of non-oil foreign exchange earnings. It contributes about 41 per cent of the GDP of the country. The sector recorded an overall growth rate average of 7 per cent in the last three years, a major improvement from under 3 per cent in the 90’s.

Statistically, 91 million hectares of the country’s total land area of 92.4 million hectares is adjudged to be suitable for cultivation. Approximately half of this cultivable land is effectively under permanent and arable crops, while the rest is covered by forest wood land, permanent pasture and built up areas. Among the states, which have the most abundant land, areas are Niger (7.6 million hectares) and Borno (2.8 million hectares).

Agriculture crops in Nigeria are grouped into cereals, root and tuber crops, grains legumes and other legumes, oil seeds and nuts, tree crops, and vegetable and fruits. Governments and the Ministries of Agriculture have made land acquisition easy, encouraged agricultural practices, extended (still extending) invitation to foreign investors and have put in place several incentives to stimulate growth in the sector. Despite, the agricultural potential of Nigeria is barely being tapped and this explains the inability of the country to meet the ever-increasing demand for agricultural products and her rank as 55th in the world (although first in Africa) in farm output.

As the world experiences food crisis and persistent rise in fuel price, the country’s agriculture offers unlimited opportunities for foreign investors and the world at large to provide solutions to these crises. Foreign investors will find investments in cultivation of sugar cane, sugar beet, sweet sorghum, starch (corn/maize), palm oil, soybeans, jatropha, and algae. These products are lucrative as they are potential for biofuels, a good substitute for fossil fuel. Presently, there is a very high demand for these crops from the developed economies.

Solid Mineral is another sector with great investment opportunities. Nigeria is endowed with numerous mineral resources. Recent policy reforms have brought the solid minerals sector to the fore. The emphasis is on encouraging massive foreign investors’ participation in this sector as less than 0.5 per cent is contributed to the Gross Domestic Products from Solid mineral sector. However, the Ministry of Mines and Steel and the Ministry of state’s focal attention in the last one year is to strategically place the country in a better position to explore and exploit just seven minerals in the plethora of minerals so as to increase Gross Domestic Product to 5 per cent within the next few years. The seven strategic minerals are coal, bitumen, limestone, iron-ore, barite, gold and lead / zinc.

Coal can be found in Enugu, Benue and Kogi. Within these three districts 396 million metric tones can be demonstrated using JORC classification criteria, while an additional 1,091 million tones of inferred and hypothetical coal resourced for the areas studied is 1481 million tones.

Knowing fully that development of coal will assist in the realization of energy, the Government and the Ministries are inviting foreign investors to participate actively in the exploration and exploitation of the mineral. Companies such as Denver Resources and Western Metals have already committed US$10 million and US$15 million respectively for two coal fields in the country. Another Chinese firm, Grid Xin Yuan International Investment Company that is providing more than half of China’s electricity needs is also in the country, indicating their interest in the development of a coal field in Kogi State.

The Bitumen reserve in the country is estimated at more than 27 billion barrels of oil equivalent while iron-ore is estimated at over 5 billion inferred reserves with presence in Kogi, Enugu, Niger, Zamfara and Kaduna States. Gold in just 10 locations is estimated at 50,000 ounces, barites 10 million metric tones and limestone at 2.3 trillion reserves.

Talc with an estimated reserve of over 100 million tones can be found in Niger, Osun, Kogi, Kwara, Ogun, Taraba and Kaduna States.The colour of the Nigerian talc varies from white through milky-white to grey. The talc industry represents one of the most versatile sectors of the industrial minerals in the world. The exploitation of the vast talc deposits in Nigeria would therefore satisfy not only the local demands but also that of the international market as well.

The national demand for table salt, caustic soda, chlorine, sodium bicarbonate, sodium hydrochloric acid and hydrogen peroxide exceeds one million tones. A colossal amount of money is expended annually to import these chemicals. There are salt springs at Awe (Platue State), Enugu, and Uburu ( Imo State), while rock salt is available in Benue State. A total reserve of 1.5 billion tones has been indicated. Government, to ascertain the quantum of reserves, is now carrying out further investigations.

In the same vain, large bentonite reserves of 700 million tones are available in many states of federation ready for massive development and exploitation, over 7.5 million tones of barite been identified in Taraba and Bauchi states, and an estimated reserve of 3 billion tones of good kaolinific clays has also been identified.

Gemstone mining has boomed in various parts of Plateau, Kaduna and Bauchi States for years. Some of these gemstones include Sapphire, Ruby, Aquamarine, Emerald, Tourmaline, Topaz, Gamet, Amethyst, Zircon, and Fluorspar, which are among the best in world. Good prospects exist in this area for viable investment. Understanding that this sector requires urgent investment, the Ministry has directed miners who are still in small artisan levels to form cooperatives so as to benefit from World Bank US$10 million assistance. Apart from this, three Nigerian Banks have also established solid minerals desk with fund of over US$ 8 million each for the development of the sector.

Foreign investors will find this sector worth-investing on as Nigerian governments have put in place various incentives and strategies for investment such as 3-5 years tax holiday, deferred royalty payments, possible capitalization of expenditure on exploration and surveys, extension of infrastructure and provision of 100% foreign ownership of mining concerns.

Recognizing that only a sustained macroeconomic environment and a sound and vibrant financial system can propel the economy to achieve the country’s desire to become one of 20 largest economies in the world by the year 2020, on the July 6, 2004 the Federal Government through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), under the leadership of its Governor, Professor Charles Soludo launched a 13-point reform agenda to restructure, refocus and strengthen the Nigerian Financial System. To complement this agenda, another comprehensive long-term reform agenda for the Financial System (the Financial System Strategy 2020-FSS2020) was launched. The grand objectives of these agendas are substantially being achieved. The country financial system now comprises of strong, efficient and internationally competitive banks with an eye for global markets, a capital market with highest returns on investment, in dollar terms, a sound and rewarding insurance industry and other competitive financial participants.

Gordon was right in his submission to have described Nigeria as the most dynamic market in Africa. His view that “foreign investors, who will be patient enough to weigh the Nigerian Financial System on the credit risk perspective relative to the global event, will find the nation’s financial sector more interesting to invest and raise funds from” x-rays the truth about the country’s financial sector.

The country’s banking system is the safest and the soundest it has ever produced in history. It is the fastest growing banking system in Africa and one of the fastest in the world. In fact, the most outstanding contribution towards realization of the country’s dream came from this sub-sector. Economic analysts have observed that it has taken Nigeria less than 3 years to achieve what it took South Africa 20 years to achieve in the area of banking. In a short word, a world-class banking system has emerged in Nigeria.

Statistically, banking sector contributes 10 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and represents 60 per cent of the stock market capitalization, while there was a reduction in the number of banks from 89 to 25, the number of banks branches rose by 33 per cent from 3383 in 2004 to 4500 in 2007. The total asset base of banks rose by 104 per cent from $ 26.8 billions ( 3.21 trillion naira) in 2004 to $54.7 billion ( 6.56 trillion naira) by mid 2007; capital and reserves rose by 192 per cent from $2.72 billion (327 billion naira) to $7.98 billion ( 957 billion naira); capital adequacy ratio rose by 42.6 per cent, point from 15.18 per cent to 21.6 per cent and ratio of non-performing loans total loan improved massively by 51.3 per cent, point from 19.5 per cent to 9.5 per cent. The sector has also remained one of the most profitable in the country’s capital market. It was noted that 13 out of 21 quoted banks on the Nigerian Stock Exchange recorded returns in excess of 100 per cent since January 2007.

According to the April 2008 edition of the African Business, (the best-selling Pan-African Business Magazine published in London) 18 out of 28 West African Companies with market capitalisation of more than $1 billion are Nigerian Banks. The magazine stated that First Bank Nigeria Plc with market capitalization of $7.4 billion remains the largest company in West Africa. Two other Nigerian banks namely Intercontinental Bank Plc and United Bank for Africa (UBA) remain the second and the third largest companies in the sub-region with market capitalization of $6.2 billion and $4.6 billion respectively.

Apparently, the rising tide of banks in the country from all indications has made the sub-sector very attractive, not only to local investors, but also to foreign investors, and in particular, foreign banks. For instance, the consolidation of Regent Bank, Chartered Bank and IBTC to form IBTC Chartered Bank attracted the interest of the Standard Bank Group, the largest financial institution in Africa with a market capitalization of $ 17.8 billion, whose subsidiary Stanbic Bank, also of South Africa has just sealed a Merger deal for the latest Merger in the country, Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc. In this direction, other foreign banks have started making enquiries with CBN of a possible Merger or take-over.

To further substantiate the opportunities the banking sub-sector offers the global investors, a cursory look into Intercontinental Bank Plc will reveal the success of banking system in the country. Intercontinental Bank Plc is known to be the second largest companies in West Africa to have recorded a phenomenal growth in gross earnings, which stood at $1.45 billion ( 173.5 billion naira) in 2008. This is an increase of 99 per cent over the $728 million (87.4 billion naira) in 2007, profit after tax grew by 102 per cent to $380 million ( 45.6 billion naira) as against $188 million (22.6 billion) in 2007, while the capital base rose to $1.67 billion from $1.31 billion. The bank deposit base soared to $8.75 billion ( 1.05 trillion naira), an increase of 126 per cent from $3.9 billion (468 billion naira) in 2007, while the total assets also recorded a quantum leap to $14.2 billion (1.7 trillion naira), representing a growth of 108 per cent from $6.86 billion( 823 billion).

The bank is also in strategic partnership with BNP Paribas, the world leading energy financing bank, Afrexim Bank; Export Development Canada (EDC); Finance for Development (FMO); China Exim Bank; Export-Import of United States; International Finance Corporation in financing projects in different sectors of the economy. However, it is relevant to say that the success recorded by Intercontinental bank is a good example of the Nigerian banks’ strength and prospects, and a testimony to opportunities available to global investors in the country’ financial sector.

Apart from the above, Nigerian Capital Market offers viable opportunities as it is positioned to help companies to raise capital, and to generate high returns on investment. Its total market capitalization has grown by over 4000 per cent to $100 billion (12 trillion naira) in March, 2008, up from $2.39 billion (287 billion naira ) in August 1999.Among emerging markets, the Nigerian Capital market remains one of the most viable in terms of returns on equity. Historically, the market has delivered 28 per cent returns.

Insurance industry is not an exemption to this growth and development the country’s financial sector is witnessing. Although there are few black spots on the regulatory handling, the industry has equally recorded success in their reforms and operations. With the inflow of robust capital, insurance companies are now faced with the challenges of delivering returns to shareholders, maximizing value and exploring overseas markets. Their presence can be felt in countries like Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Sao Tome, South Africa among others.

Although Goldman Sachs’ report titled “New Market Analyst” with issue number 08/09 released on March 13, 2008 (cited in the Thisday newspaper March 19,2008) posited that Nigeria is a better economy than South Africa, International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that Nigeria and South Africa got close to 50 per cent of the $53 billion private equity and debt flow to Sub-Saharan Africa in 2007. This underscores the growing confidence of International bodies and foreign investors in country’s financial sector and economy at large.

Furthermore, Fitch Rating Agency and the Standard and Poor rated Nigeria BB-(minus) in the area of sovereign credit, high in development of local currency debt market, and low in the areas of debt to GDP ratio and inflation. The opportunities for growth in Nigeria financial sector are still strong as the underlying fundamentals driving the growth are still present. All these and more, position the financial sector and the country at large as a leading and most dynamic market in Africa and present viable investment opportunities to global investors.

Needless to say that the opportunities presented above are typical examples and an evidence of opportunities awaiting foreign investors in other sectors of the economy.

Nigeria is the largest producer and exporter of oil in Africa (although recently placed second behind Angola in the latest OPEC report as a result of Niger Delta Crisis) with a production of 2.5 million barrels and above a day. Besides, the Nigeria is the 7th world’s gas reserve holder and the highest flaring nation in the world, with the potential to become a major player in LNG export. It has annual gas flares’ capacity to generate over 12000 MW of electricity needed to catalyze the growth of any economy. Although it currently flares an average of 1.2 TCF of gas annually, the sector has the potential to generate great returns on investment.

One of the greatest opportunities awaiting foreign investors is Real Estate / Property. For instance, Lagos Metropolis with a population of about 18 million has attained mega city status. The State has one of the highest urbanization rates in the world according to the World Bank. Consequently, there is an insatiable demand for housing delivery, which has necessitated the introduction of the New Private Estate Developers Scheme. Under the programme, the government will make large parcels of land ranging from 1 to 25 hectares available to corporate organizations capable of undertaking development and delivery of housing units. Such organization must however demonstrate that they have the financial capacity and technical expertise to deliver quality and affordable housing units.

Among other sectors of the economy that foreign investors will find viable and worth-investing on are Transport, Sport and Entertainment, Tourism, Power and Steel, Export Processing Zones, Privatization. And available records reveal that the rate of returns in these sectors is as high as in the sectors discussed above.

Apart from the opportunities mentioned above which our office is strategically positioned to maximize opportunities for the benefit of prospective investors. We also offer consultancy services in the areas of general management, manufacturing, marketing, finance and accounting, personnel, research and development, packaging, administration, international operation, specialized services and other value-adding services. And our strategic partnership with national and international companies put us in position to deliver quality service and high returns on investment.

Nevertheless, there have been fears raised by international observers, agents and bodies that Nigeria is a high-risk nation for investment and other business transactions. This development is attributed to security, multiple taxation, epileptic power supply, bad roads and poor work environment.

It may appear that doing business in Nigeria is challenging because of the activities of a few untrustworthy Nigerians who are unscrupulous. But such are simply characterization of human nature; as it can be found anywhere else in the world. It must be said emphatically that the world has been biased in their judgment and treatment of Nigeria security issue. There have never been terrorist attacks, suicide bombings or kidnapping until recently when the issue of Niger Delta came on board.

Niger Delta region-the source of nation’s oil wealth- has become an area of perennial tension, agitation, and recently, militancy. However, a confluence of factors such as environmental damage by oil exploitation, failure to develop the region, lack of job opportunities and sense of deep deprivation from the low share of derivation revenue accruing to the states in the region, has led to the present situation. Acknowledging their situation, the Federal Government has organised a Summit, to be chaired by Professor Ibrahim Gambari, the United Nations Under Secretary General, to provide everlasting solution to the crisis. Frankly speaking, Nigeria is a safe and investment-friendly place and Nigerians are accommodating and industrious.

Cyber Crime is another fearsome crime, which often put-off prospective investors from involving or investing in the business opportunities in Nigeria. This crime was actually imported into the country by expatriates. It has never been part of Nigeria culture. It is perpetrated by a few section of the population. Their operations are carried out via Internet and their targets are people who transact business via the medium. They pose as government officials and sometimes as businessmen with United Kingdom identity who deal in digital products. However the list of their tricks and operations is not exhaustive. With the help of Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and Related Commission (ICPC), and other Anti-Criminal Agencies, Cyber Crime and their perpetrators are under control and disappearing.

The grand objective of the present administration, as encapsulated in VISION 2020, is to make Nigeria a major industrial and economic power, and one of the 20 largest economies in the World by the year 2020 by providing enabling investment and business environment and maximum security for active participation of local and particularly, foreign investors. The realization of these aspirations had informed the radical and pragmatic reforms designed to increase the attractiveness of Nigeria’s investment opportunities and foster the growing confidence in the economy. In this direction, the Federal Government has provided incentives and strategies for investment such as 3-5 years tax holiday, deferred royalty, possible capitalization of expenditure and provision of infrastructures such as road and electricity, just to mention a few.

African economy is witnessing the strongest growth in 30 years; no doubt, Nigeria is one of the major contributors to this development. Most commentators have observed that the opportunities for business and investment in the country look increasingly rosy with GDP growth of 7 per cent in 2007 and 13 per cent in the next 12 years. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecast of 9 per cent growth rate for Nigeria in 2008 (which is second to India 10 per cent and ahead of China 8 per cent) lays credence to their observations.

Furthermore, the increase in Foreign Direct Investment, the entrance of multinational companies, the strong financial sector, the favourable and tremendous business environment, the government support, the abundant natural resources, and the population of over 140 million people, among others, put Nigeria in a comparative ( and possibly absolute) advantage over other African countries.

Just as it is difficult to ignore China as a market in the global arena, (one out of every five persons in the world is Chinese) so is it very difficult to ignore Nigeria as a market in Africa (one out of every three persons in Africa is Nigerian). With a population of over 140 million people and its economic potential, Nigeria still remains Africa most important market.


Unlike China and India, African economy(developing economies) is yet to be integrated into the world economy. This is as a result of slow rate of integration and globalization at which the economy is being fixed into the global economic and financial system. Consequently, developing economies will only suffer a limited financial impact from the credit crunch. However, this is not to say that developing economies are in isolation and totally free from the crisis.

To grant a point, this paper will continue to use Nigerian economy for its analysis as it represents a paradigm of a developing economy with valid and considerable variables.

According to the report from a recently concluded Bankers Committee Meeting, which ended on October 20 th, 2008 , the Nigerian banks are safe as they operate at 22 per cent capital adequacy ratio( 14 per cent above the world 8 per cent requirement) and the financial sector is far from being affected by the current global financial crisis. The report also posits that any bail-out scheme is unnecessary as the situation that warranted bail-out schemes in developed economies- poor quality assets and heavy loan losses resulting from exposure to inadequately collateralised mortgage loans- is absent in Nigeria. To underscore its point, the report noted that, as the Direct Foreign Investment in Nigerian banks is comparatively low and the banks connection with their foreign counterparts is loosely fixed, the impact of the crisis will be limited and indirect.


The words of Mr. Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the Managing Director of International Monetary Fund, at a meeting in Washington D.C are the corner stones of the concluding thoughts of this paper. He stressed as follow:

We meet at an extra-ordinarily difficult time- a time of uncertainty and insecurity, with a danger that those fears push us away from- not towards- a more inclusive and sustainable globalization….At its best, multilateralism is a means for solving problems among countries, with the group at the table willing to take constructive action together. When multilateralism is dysfunctional, globalization can be a Babel of Tower, with competing national interests colliding to benefit none. The new multilateralism, suiting our times, is likely to be a flexible network, not fixed system. It needs to maximize the strengths of interconnecting actors, public and private, profit-making and civil society Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs). The multilateralism must respect state sovereignties while solving interconnected problems that transcend borders…The private sector cannot restore confidence on its own. Macroeconomic policy measures by governments cannot restore confidence on their own. Piecemeal measures on financial markets will not restore confidence on their own. What will restore confidence is government intervention which is clear, comprehensive and cooperative among countries..The world must act quickly, forcefully and cooperatively to contain the ongoing financial and economic downturn.

Thus, the position of this paper is that the confidence will only be restored if “government intervention which is clear, comprehensive and cooperative” is complemented with investment in developing economies with less or no crisis impact as “flexible multilateralism” and cooperative and sustainable globalization is solution that suits our time, not” economic isolationism”.

Chinese New Year Predictions, Year Of The Rat 2008 – What To Expect And How To Thrive

The Year of the Rat begins February 7th, 2008. It is symbolized by a Mountain floating atop the Ocean, an image which suggests a lack of solidity and security. However there are opportunities disguised as problems in every situation and with proper foresight and positioning they can be golden for you.


* There will be a greater potential for earthquakes, mudslides, avalanches, hi-rise building disasters, torrential rainstorms, floods, tsunamis and blizzards.

* More of these incidents may occur in the Southern and Western parts of the world, countries and cities.

* Water contamination issues as well as innovative water purification methods may be in the news.


* If you live in an area with a potential for any of the above take precautions right now to stay safe.

* Acquire a good water purifier to keep your personal water supply healthy.

* Get involved with lawmakers and grassroots groups to keep your local waterways clean and vital.


* There will be monumental efforts to gain global stability while strong pockets of undercurrents attempt to “cause the mountain to fall.”

* We could see the beginnings of a cooling down period in international conflicts.

* There are indicators that more females will come to political power this year.


* Let peace begin with you. Make a personal commitment to creating a harmonious atmosphere in your environment and in your heart. It will have a ripple effect on everyone in your personal life and the whole of humanity.

* Utilize the power of Feng Shui to harmonize the energies in your home and work space. Place a focus symbol of peace and prosperity on your desk such as a photo of the ocean or a waterfall flowing towards you.

* Dedicate 15-30 minutes daily to integrate a spiritual practice or program of personal development.


* In Chinese astrology the Rat is known as a “Flower of Romance” and so increased romance and sociability will be in the air for many. More public love triangles and sex scandals may abound.

* Depending on your individual horoscope the focus on romance may bring unexpected challenges

and break ups for some and/or may trigger unexpected new love for you this year.


*Connecting with others is beneficial this year whether it is for romantic purposes, business networking or any other kind of social involvement.

*Join a dating site, a social networking site, or connect with a special interest group, or spiritual congregation. New friendships will be beneficial and certain kinds of friendships lead to romance.

* If you are in a challenged relationship right now this is a good year to seek counseling to heal your heart and remember the core of love you once shared.


* There is a “depth” and a “hidden” quality to what is buried inside a mountain and what is found under the sea and this may correspond to discovering a deeper understanding of health and how what is buried within our subconscious minds is powerfully affecting it.

* New healing discoveries of plants grown atop mountains or under water may surface.

* In Chinese Medicine “earth disorders” relate to the spleen, pancreas and stomach so obesity, diabetes and digestive system challenges may be more prevalent. The emotion of sadness is related to earth as well so depression and problems with anti-depressants may be more widespread.

* “Water disorders” relate to the urinary/bladder and reproductive systems, and adrenals. The main water emotion is fear.

* The Chinese astrological sign of the Horse (fire element) directly opposes the Rat and this clash may produce increased “fire disorders” such as high blood pressure, heart/circulation/brain conditions, vision problems, fevers, and inflammations. The emotional imbalance for fire is over-excitement.

* More healing, beauty and rejuvenation breakthroughs may be triggered this year through the use of elixirs made of products of the earth, and refined laser and microcurrent or light wave treatments.

* Spirituality is ruled by the fire element and that may spark greater interest in healing from the deeper level of the heart and soul.


* If you have any earth, water or fire related organ weakness think about prevention and focus upon strengthening and vitalizing before anything serious occurs.

* Try some “energy therapy” methods to quickly eliminate sadness, fear, and anxiety to avoid resorting to medication, for example the Emotional Freedom Technique.

* Investigate spiritual healing modalities such as Reiki, Theta Healing, Chi Kung, or Prayer.

* Enjoy the healing benefits of organic teas and elixirs. Consider a water or juice fast one day a month.

* Have fun creating your own health and beauty potions with products of the earth such as clays, herbs, and essential oils.


* The stock market: More unstable in 2008 and generally investors will feel like playing it more cool and cautious.

* The commodities market: Grains and soybeans should do well.

* Investments related to the earth element are somewhat favorable but earth is unstable this year so profits taken may not be strong: Property, mining, hotels, insurance, health care, food business, and products of the earth such as herbs, oil, metals or gems. Diamonds may be found in unusual places on the earth where they’ve never been found before.

* Indicators are that interest rates will rise.

* There will be tougher competition in water related industries: Shipping, cruising, fishing and beverage industries. Bottled waters should outperform other kinds of drinks this year


* Innovative solar energy and environmentally sensitive products, hi-tech industries and internet businesses will continue to be profitable.


* Be more practical (earth) about your money and investments by creating a plan: a sort of “sacred budget” that will curb unconscious spending and intentionally funnel your income into achieving your current year dreams and visions for the future.

* Call upon the power of reflection and wisdom (water) your own or somebody else’s to make the most beneficial choices for your business and personal financial success. My predictions are for educational and research purposes only. Always seek the advice of your personal financial and health professional.

Multinationals: Why Don’t They "Just Do It?"

Business Ethics: Worth a thought?

The corporate world today faces rising ethical dilemmas in every day operations. Ethical issues, often confused with corporate scandals, are not necessarily as dramatic as that. Every department of every organization face moral and ethical dilemmas in their day to day functioning, and often enough corporations get away with unethical or immoral behaviour. Of course, reasons vary. Arguably, organizations cannot afford the risk of not investing their time or resources in developing a comprehensive approach to corporate ethics. This report looks at two multinational organizations, Unilever and Nike Inc. and draws a comparison on their discriminatory practices in the various countries or culture they operate in. Both the firms are identified with unethical behaviour, and although the circumstances and the firm’s ways of handling these issues are different, little seems to have changed.

Unilever Issue: Fair is Lovely!!

An Anglo-Dutch company, Unilever owns many of the world’s consumer product brands in foods, beverages, cleaning agents and personal care products. Unilever employs more than 247,000 people and had a worldwide revenue of US$51.4 billion in 2004. (Unilever 2006). In India however the firm runs under its operations under the name of Hindustan lever. The company has a range of ‘home and personal care’ products in the Indian market. One of the most successful brands of the company is ‘Fair & Lovely’. The company websites claims to be using a patented technology for this fariness cream. The website claims ‘Fair & Lovely’ to be formulated with optimum levels of UV sunscreens and Niacinamide, which acts safely and gently with the natural renewal process of the skin, making complexion fairer over a period of six weeks.

A number of ethical concerns are however related to the product. Apart from the ill effects on the skin, as claimed by some doctors, the advertising and marketing of the product has been doing more harm than good for the society. Its frequently-aired ads typically show a depressed woman with few prospects, gaining a brighter future by having a boyfriend or attaining a job after becoming markedly fairer (emphasized by several silhouettes of her face lined up dark to light). On its Web site the company calls its product, “the miracle worker,” which is “proven to deliver one to three shades of change.” (Unilever 2006). To many it may seem or sound strange for all this to happen in a country where the majority of the people have a dark complexion of skin colour with variations in brownness. Ironically enough though, people from all walks of life, be it a would-be-mother in law, or a young or an old male, everyone seems to have a fascination for lighter skin. Women from all socio-economic backgrounds go to unbelievable lengths to become just a little whiter.

Although the advertising done by Unilever for ‘Fair & Lovely’ is not illegal but it certainly remains objectionable. In an era which is dawned by corporate scandals, such as Enron and the Australian Wheat Board (AWB), Unilever has been successfully running this product in over 38 countries. Ironically most of these countries are under-developed/ developing country, who can do away with such practices. In India, a country with a huge social and cultural divide, high unemployment and illiteracy levels, Unilever successfully deceives and manipulates people through its exaggerated claims. Even if the claims were to be true, and such a product was to make skin lighter, the company looks to gain market share and increase profitability by creating a mindset where lighter skin is superior to a darker complexion. In reality people are buying products that will cause more harm than good. The demand for such “skincare” products is part of an India-wide trend of women wanting to lighten their complexions in the belief that lighter is better. This desire has a long history, a hangover from India’s colonial past fuelled by contemporary global perceptions of beauty that give prominence to western marketing and fashion styles. The advertisements shown fail miserably at all levels of advertising ethics.

One of the concepts that can be used to explain the practices of Unilever advertising is Moral myophia, the failure of Unilever to see the moral dimension at all. The advertisements done by the firm have probably been successful. How else would you explain the never ending promotional campaigns all over the media; print, display or broadcast. Success in this case relates to the increasing profitability of the firm after a particular ad campaign. The social implications of this to the society are however conveniently ignored. Quite clearly, Unilever seems to be following the belief of the only bad advert is one that does not work.

The content of the product website makes things a little more complicated. The website claims to be helping women in India, often considered to be the weaker sex. The Fair and Lovely Foundation, an initiative of Hindustan Lever Limited seeks economic empowerment of Indian women through information and resources in the areas of education, career guidance and skills training. Comprising of an advisory body of leading individuals, this foundation aims to undertake various projects and initiatives in keeping with its vision of empowering women to a brighter future. Prominent women organizations and achievers partner initiative to promote economic empowerment of women. (Grace & Cohen 2005)

Noble thought?

It sure is, but at what expense. Isn’t it strange and ironic that this company, and others in the business, continue to sell fairness as a desirable quality, be it for success in marriage or career, and equate dark complexions with failure and undesirability? Where does a company draw the line between selling a product and being socially sensitive? What is even more disturbing is the fact that there is a constant attempt to disguise these socially unacceptable practices. As noble as the idea behind the Fair and Lovely Foundation might be, it still does not solve the root problem. Addressing one problem in the society can not come at the expense of exaggerating the other one. Women in India need to be empowered, and be told that they are no less than their male counterparts, however the people of India also need to be told that the mere colour of skin does not make one superior. The society needs to get over the colonial hangover, and the least that companies like Unilever can do is not spend millions of dollars on campaigns which do more social harm than good.

Nike Dilemma: Still waiting for them to “do it”!

Another corporate giant having its fare share of controversies over the years is Nike. Nike employs approximately 26,000 people worldwide. In addition, approximately 650,000 workers are employed in Nike contracted factories around the globe. More than 75% of these work in Asia, predominantly in China, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Korea and Malaysia (Nike 2006). In 1998 Nike came under fire for the sweatshop conditions of the workers in the Nike factories in China and other third world countries. The evidence showed that the workers were regularly subject to physical punishment and sexual abuse and exposed to dangerous chemicals. (Nike Accused of Lying About Asian Factories 1998). Sub standard working facilities, bare minimum wages and risks to health of labourers mark NIKE factories in Asia. The firm was also accused of practicing child labour in Pakistan.

So the question now is, why did it happen, and more importantly, has anything been done since to correct it.

So why did it happen?

Well that is quite clear. The reason why most firms outsource their activities to lesser developed countries is to exploit cheaper labour and production costs. Nike has a brand reputation worldwide, and in-fact is a market leader in the sales of athletic shoes. The constant focus is to formulate ways and strategies to reduce production costs, and one way of that is fewer wages to the workers. The high unemployment levels in the third world countries, as well as the desperation for people to be employed, in any kind of work, allows multinationals like Nike , the perfect platform to indulge in malpractices without getting into too much trouble. A look at some of the ethical issues concerned with Nike’s human (or inhuman!) right violations would give a better understanding of the concern.

Ethical Dilemma:

Any firm which expands its operations globally needs to follow the basic code of international ethics:

o Not to intentionally direct harm in the host country. By providing below standard and unsafe working conditions, and low wages, Nike was clearly intentionally doing harm.

o Benefit the host country. Although Nike was indeed expanding the number of jobs available in China, a desirable aspect, but the extremely low wages meant it was all beneficial for the corporation and not the people in China.

o Respect the human rights of employees. Reports of unsafe and hazardous working conditions proved that Nike did not care much about the human rights in China.

o Respect the values, culture and laws of the host country- as long as they are not morally wrong or against human rights. (Grace & Cohen 2005)

It would be a fair assumption to make, if a certain behaviour is unacceptable in the home country, it would most likely be morally wrong in a foreign environment as well. Managing stakeholder interests is also extremely important for any firm. However problems arise when businesses fail to prioritize the stakeholder interests. Nike prioritizes its stakeholders in terms of their importance to the firm, and quite clearly the workers in Asia, do not seem to be anywhere near top of this priority list. As a consequence, all the efforts of the firm are directed towards the consumers, who typically are in developed countries, with more money, and who can not care less about what might be happening in a Nike factory miles away from home.

So has Nike done anything about it?

Since the controversy first broke out in 1998, Nike has claimed to taken several steps to correct the mistakes. Or so is what the organisation claims. This section of the article focuses on Nike’s efforts, the truth, the lies and the myths about it.

After the controversy broke out in the international media, Nike’s founder and CEO Mr. Philip Knight made six commitments:

o All Nike shoe factories will meet the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) standards in indoor air quality.

o The minimum age for Nike factory workers will be raised to 18 for footwear factories and 16 for apparel factories

o Nike will include non-government organizations in its factory monitoring, with summaries of that monitoring released to the public.

o Nike will expand its worker education program, making free high school equivalency courses available to all workers in Nike footwear factories.

o Nike will expand its micro-enterprise loan program to benefit four thousand families in Vietnam, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Thailand.

o Funding university research and open forums on responsible business practices, including programs at four universities in the 1998-99 academic year. (Connor 2001)

However there was still no mention of the human rights of workers, higher wages, more reasonable working hours, safer and healthier work places and respect for Workers’ Right to Freedom of Association. Later consumer activist Marc Kasky filed a lawsuit in California regarding newspaper advertisements and letters Nike distributed in response to criticisms of labour conditions in its factories. Kasky claimed that the company made representations that constituted false advertising. Nike responded the false advertising laws did not cover the company’s expression of its views on a public issue, and that these were entitled to First Amendment protection. The local court agreed with Nike’s lawyers, but the California Supreme Court overturned this ruling, claiming that the corporation’s communications were commercial speech and therefore subject to false advertising laws. (Kasky V. Nike 2002)

The parties subsequently settled out of court before any finding on the accuracy of Nike’s statements, for $1.5 million. Discovery in the Kasky case had the potential to open the Nike files to public scrutiny, to document the mistreatment of workers throughout the world, and the flow of money from Nike to public interest groups. However Kasky and his lawyers settled this potential historic case for a $1.5 million donation to a group controlled by the shoe and apparel industry. There hasn’t been a word about it since.

(Weissman & Mokhiber 2002)

In 2004 Nike announced that it would be developing a balanced scorecard to integrate corporate responsibility into its business. The sports goods manufacturer said it would introduce corporate responsibility as an integral part of its contract manufacturing business. Sourcing decisions were to be based not just on price, quality and delivery but also a contractor’s pledge towards labour management and environmental, health and safety programmes.

In 2005, seven years from the time when the controversy was first made public, an independent research conducted showed that although 60% of factories monitored achieved an A or B rating in terms of compliance with agreed standards, a quarter of factories were found to present more serious problems. These ranged from a lack of basic terms of employment and excessive hours of work to unauthorised sub-contracting, confirmed physical or sexual abuse and the existence of conditions which could lead to death or serious injury. The Guardian also reported some of the conditions that existed in the Chinese factories in 2005

o Between 25% and 50% of the factories in the region restrict access to toilets and drinking water during the workday.

o In more than half of Nike’s factories, the report said, employees worked more than 60 hours a week. In up to 25%, workers refusing to do overtime were punished.

o Wages were also below the legal minimum at up to 25% of factories

(What are factory conditions in China 2005)

Once again Nike said it would set up a taskforce to improve compliance with its code of conduct on working hours. It will also work with factories to help them address the most pressing problems as well as seeking to establish a set of common standards across the industry. (Nike opens up in Standards Drive 2005)

The question of course is, would anything still be done. There is a good chance it may never be. Nike sees business ethics as “no good at all”, and believes acting ethically would not be in the best of interests of the business. Not till the time, the sales of the business go down alarmingly, would there be any hope for any drastic improvements in these conditions. Nike has always had its share of controversies, and the firm seems to be thriving on it. The firm manages to use the controversies as a publicity tool. Thus far, Nike has treated allegations as an issue of public relations rather than human rights. Every allegation is followed by the release of public statements across various magazines and newspapers stating the efforts made by the firm to make the difference, but seven years down the road, the differences are yet to be seen. Meanwhile the efforts of Nike to manipulate and win even more customers go on. The corporate website of the firm talks heavily about their shifting approach to labour compliance.

(Evolution: Shifting Approach to labor compliance 2006)

Unlike Nike, Unilever has not quite been indulging itself in illegal activities, but does that make it any less harmful, or does that make Unilever any bit more ethical than Nike?

According to this writer, the answer to both the questions is NO. In fact what makes Unilever’s practices even scarier than those of Nike is the fact that they cause as much harm, but still there seems to be little concern over it. The firm has been in operation since 1978, and even 28 years after there seems to be little or no concern. There is little media coverage over the menace, possibly because of the advertising revenues being paid, or just the ignorant nature of the present day media, which seems to be more interested in scandals rather than some social concerns in a third world country.

The double standards practised by both Nike Inc, and Unilever are quite apparent as well. The majority of Nike clothing is produced in countries it hardly has any sales, but of course the factory conditions of a worker based in an American factory is strikingly different from that of a worker in a Chinese factory. Likewise Unilever manipulates the market by introducing fairness creams in cultures where beauty equates fairness. To boost the sales, the company goes a step further by trying to position the product by changing consumer perception of fairness as being successful, both socially and emotionally.

Social impacts? Did you ask?

Of course that’s hardly on the agenda. The interesting thing is, although Unilever operates in over 40 different counties, including Australia, the ‘Fair & Lovely’ product is only available in a handful of markets. The company does not have any ‘Dark & lovely’ brands in their western markets, possibly because they perceive this market to be more educated and therefore tougher to manipulate.

The firms of course have their reasons, and one of them is us, the consumers, who purchase these products. It is the age old formula of demand and supply. We demand the product, and the firm of course goes to any lengths to fulfil the gap. In Unilever’s case, there is an obvious need in the mind of the consumers in India to have fair skin. Similarly for Nike, the worldwide demand for their apparels compels the firm to go to unbelievable extent to produce lower cost products. The story unfortunately does not end here. We the consumers, then put the firm under even more pressure to maintain their profitability, only this time we take the role of investors. Investor’s of course are only concerned with the share return, and cannot care less about how the firm maintains its profitability.

Jennifer Abbott and Mark Achbar, in their documentary ‘The Corporation’, proved that corporations in the present time fit the definition of a ‘psychopath’. The concern is that this psychopath is being raised and bred by us, the consumers, and the investors. These are average times we are living in, with every day more issues, more scandals and more controversies breaking out. However reading the stories is nearly not enough. Something somehow somewhere needs to change and change sooner rather later, before it gets too late.

End of story?

Unfortunately, I don’t think so.

Why Nano Price Is Mooning?

The Best Crypto-IoT Collaboration

The announcement was made from the Nano center, yesterday. The release of the Nano IoT charger was confirmed by the company and poses as the most promising entry into the IoT industry. The IoT charger and associated apparatus is said to be run on the native Nano coin.

The charger that has been released as of now is still a prototype and the features that have been revealed so far that the charger hosts are:

  • It only requires the user to scan a QR code for transactions
  • The QR code initiates a micro-level managed transaction process; hence no need to worry about change
  • Is so far only compatible with NANO wallets

This announcement from the Nano Centre is a huge milestone for the company and the community alike because as and when the charger is successfully tested and released to the market, there are many real-world use cases that can be catered to. Of course, to do so for real-world use cases, there is a lot of potential harnessing and multiple iterations that will have to take place beforehand.

Nano Branches Out

Nano is not the first cryptocurrency coin and company to venture into the IoT space, it is, in fact, actually third or fourth. Behind IOTA and several other coins that are also in the space as of now. However, the excitement and expectation that surrounds this coin are because before embarking on this journey the company did its market survey in a very interesting way.

The Nano company used its YouTube channel to start engaging with its community and the feedback it got through it was invaluable to the company. The community’s reaction to the YouTube channel and its content very clearly slated for the company what was expected of them and what they needed to do.

The company with this move towards diversifying their business has the potential, with this product, to become a global brand name in the IoT industry. The company’s coin NANO too is starting to be listed in many, many exchanges. Which is a very high reason for the coin’s large adoption and price hike in the market.

Price Hike, More Expected

Over the last week, Nano price has seen more than 90% hike in its value. And a 250% hike over the last two weeks. The price two weeks ago was $1.52 USD. The price/value hike is being attributed to multiple reasons. Among them is the fact that the company’s coin NANO has been listed and adopted by many exchanges and platforms as a transactable crypto coin.

The other two reasons are fairly intuitive from this article, in them being that the company has diversified into the IoT jungle with its charging product and the fact that their initial network stress test came back with results in flying colors. It is very important for every crypto company to have the backing of the community and it is safe to say that NANO does. The current price of the coin, at the time of writing, is, $3.12 USD.

Looking For the Best SEO Services? Things You Must Do

Search engine optimization is very beneficial to any brand with a need to make its online presence felt. When your brand is search engine friendly, you can be sure to enjoy greater and more beneficial traffic. It can really be a waste to have an online business or website that is not easy for anyone to find; hence optimization might be all you need. At times it is not always easy for you to handle all online brand issues to ensure you remain at the top, SEO professionals can help you out a great deal in achieving everything you wish to achieve with the online brand.

Today, there are so many SEO service providers and selecting the best for you is what matters. The services you settle for will determine your end results and you therefore want to make the right decision. To enjoy the best services, there are things you simply cannot forget to do.

1. Understand your brand and its needs. The only way you will have search engines working to your advantage is when you deeply understand your business and what it needs. This way, you will manage to come up with SEO strategies that are bound to bring in good results to the business.

2. Understand the latest market trends. The fact is your brand is not the only brand offering the services or products that it does. You therefore will find it very important to understand your target market and what is most appealing to it. It will all help in choosing the right online content and SEO approaches that will attract and retain your target audience.

3. Evaluate SEO services. A good SEO company will of course have a list of services it can offer you. When looking for the best, make sure it has all services you feel are important to the business. Link building and use of keywords are some of the services companies offer, but you can enjoy so much more depending on the service provider you choose. Look at the available services and how beneficial they are going to be to your brand and then make your final decision. Some providers can offer content writing and other unique services to bring out the best from your online brand.

4. Consider your financial status. It can determine what services are most affordable and valuable to you. SEO services are offered on different terms and you should choose an SEO company that offers you terms suitable enough for your needs. The secret is to make sure that you don’t go over the limit you can comfortably afford even when going for newer and better SEO strategies that might make all the difference for your brand. You are safer within your financial limits.

5. Stand out from the rest. What makes you unique can be what makes SEO services work for you. Being creative with your content can be what boosts your ranking on search engines. Try and come up with creative ideas that add value to the approaches you take with the services.

The Unique Way to Market With SEO

SEO which stands for “SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION” is method to increase your website or a page raking in Google, Bing, YouTube, Facebook any other social media platform for personal or business purpose. It’s working is simple I.e it helps you to increase the visibility of your website, web-page, product, services thought organic search results also called as earned results. It may target different kinds of search, including image search, video search, academic search, news search and industry-specific vertical search engines. The browser and the language in which a web-page or website is generated plays a vital role as the more the web-page, website is readable the easier or better chance is of that page or site is to get a top rank in search results.

SEO service is one of the technology through which a single or a team of people can make a product or a service visible to users in today’s world. It is a new and optimal way to market or promote a products, services, a cause, a article, new tech, a campaign and many other things. It is the new and growing way to make people aware of the things or objects the world is offering today. It is kind of a service that is use by a single man to optimize its page to small business to rank its business to multi-national companies to generate more business and gain more potential clients, but to that you should have a proper knowledge of SEO.

Many people don’t understand of SEO as they don’t have the proper skills or knowledge they try it but there product or page don’t get properly ranked as it requires skills, time it is too technical, getting the traffic but not getting any business or less business from expected perception and many other factors, but through proper skills, time and resources you to can get the benefits of SEO.

In today’s era on the firms that operate online or have a major online business knows that it is vital part of there business as without it they won’t be able to list there product or services in the up-growing market and humongous completion that is why they use SEO as a resource to target audience to get the things done.

A person with the correct skills can present it’s brand or services in its market or international market without spending a whole lot of money on marketing and any other resources.

So to get a better chance of success in this market you should consider SEO as a tool that when used properly can get the things done easily without any hassle. With it you also require other tools as well. So you can’t get professional help from different service provider or experts who can help you achieve your target.

Fire Your Share Analyst

Lack of knowledge of what it takes to make headway in the venture of buying and selling stocks has discouraged many prospective investors from investing in stocks in Nigeria and beyond. Even most of those already trading in stocks often get their fingers burnt due to inadequate knowledge of stock analysis. It was the desire to guide such people that made Ayo Arowolo, my former Managing Editor/CEO at “Financial Standard” newspaper, Lagos, Nigeria write this text entitled “Fire Your Share Analyst”.

Arowolo, also author of “The New Millionaires’ Capsules”, is a Reuters Award winner who has been involved in financial education in more than 20 years as a financial and investigative journalist. He has worked for leading newspapers in Nigeria, including the Concord Group, “The Guardian”, “The News” and “This Day”. Arowolo was the founding CEO of The Investment Club Network (TICN), Lagos, Nigeria. He now speaks to audiences around the country, focusing on how individuals can take full charge of their personal financial affairs.

The author says this text is designed to assist personal finance consumers in acquiring basic skills needed to take sound and prudent investment decisions. He adds that the purpose of the text is to create an easy-to-read guide that allows people to easily navigate today’s complex investment marketplace. Arowolo stresses that the text contains a lot of hands-on tips, which will help people to spot any shortcomings they might have as well as how to turn the shortcomings around to their advantage.

He educates that one requirement for making money in any investment is to gain deep knowledge of the particular investment terrain before making any financial commitment.

Arowolo explains that there is a banquet of prosperity in the Nigerian stock market, because it makes individual investors who invest in the shares of quoted companies, millionaires daily. He however adds many private investors also lose money in the market daily.

The text is segmented into six chapters. Chapter one is entitled “The basics”. Here, this author says many people who put their money in stocks fail to realise that investing in stocks is like buying into a company. That is, you are a part-owner. Arowolo therefore advises that before you put your money in shares of any company, you should ask certain pertinent questions. As he puts it, “Would you, for instance, invest in a company you don’t know anything about its management? Would you put your money in a company without proper paper investigations that will reveal the financial health of the company…? Yet, this is what many stock investors do. They commit their money into the hands of brokers who could be experimenting with their retirement money.”

Arowolo adds that this accounts for why many investors are daily watching their financial fortunes disappear. He illuminates that a smart stock investor only calls his broker after he has decided on the stocks he wants to invest in through research. The author asserts that a smart investor would not rely only on what the newspapers say to make decisions because it is often already late by the time the information is in the newspapers.

He advises that instead, you need to sniff around the company you want to invest in and gather relevant information that can assist you to take informed investment decisions. Arowolo says interestingly, this exercise is usually not as difficult as many people think. “Do you know, for instance, that if you know how to read the stock exchange daily official list, with some bit of analysis using the published accounts of companies, you can take intelligent investment decisions all by yourself?” he asks rather rhetorically.

On the choice between putting your money in the bank and investing in stocks, the author says if you put your money in a bank, you can only get back what is referred to as “interest”, which is your reward for allowing the bank to use your money. He expatiates that if however, you invest in shares of a good company, you may get what is called “dividend”, which is a portion of the profit made by the company distributed to shareholders. Arowolo stresses that additionally, if you decide to sell your shares, you may get capital appreciation if the price you are selling is higher than the price you bought the shares. He educates that some companies also reward shareholders with free shares, that is, bonus.

Chapter two is based on the subject matter of getting started. Here, Arowolo says before investing stocks, you need to be clear as to your objective of wanting to buy stocks. The author advises that your investment objective must be determined and understood first, before you even start to make enquiries about investment opportunities. Arowolo asserts that embarking on investing in stocks without a clear objective is a recipe for confusion and retirement misfortune.

He educates that the next step is to look at the industries that have growth prospects you can consider. According to Arowolo, part of your investigations at this stage is to also find out the key economic indicators and how they would impact on the industries. He adds that you also need to find out if there is any government policy that may impact positively or negatively on the target sectors and ultimately the companies you want to invest in. The author says you should also assess the companies whose shares you may want to include in your basket of investment.

According to him, “Factors you may consider include dividend and bonus history…, sales and profitability history. You may also want to decide whether to include companies whose shares are selling below N10:00 (penny stocks) or the expensive stocks. You may not do any extensive analysis at this stage. The objective, is to ensure that you don’t waste time analysing stocks that are worthless in the first instance. You do not need to go through the entire list of companies quoted on Stock Exchange before deciding the few to consider.”

In chapters three to five, Arowolo analytically X-rays the concepts of interpreting the stock market table; doing it yourself; and Moneywise analysis process.

Chapter six, the last chapter is based on the subject matter of Moneywise guide to analysing companies. Here, the author quotes John Maynard Keyness here thus: “The social object of skilled investment should be to defeat the dark forces of time and ignorance which enveloped out.” Arowolo stresses that one rewarding hobby you can develop as an investor in shares is to learn how to use publicly-available information of a company, especially its annual accounts, to determine how good the company is.

He stresses that this surprisingly does not require any special skills; neither does it require you to be an accountant or an economist. In Arowolo’s words, “Once you have the basic knowledge of the components of an account, the balance sheet, the profit and loss statement and the cash flow statements, and with determination, you can determine the health of the company you are investigating fairly easily.”

Style-wise, this text is okay. Arowolo injects illuminating quotes to achieve conceptual amplification and lend authorial credibility to the text. What’s more, he also employs graphical embroidery to achieve visual reinforcement of readers’ understanding. The language of the text is simple and the concepts are convincing.

However, some errors are noticed in this text, but Arowolo has compiled these errors and corrected them in a section called “Corrigenda” on page one. Probably he noticed the errors after the text had been printed.

Generally, this text is intellectually rich. It is highly recommended to those who want to be successful investors through sound financial and investment knowledge.

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