5 Smart Ways to Improve Your Financial Health

The final quarter for 2018 is drawing near and so now would be a good time to evaluate your finances. Financial wellbeing is a lot like good health. When you have vibrant health, you have the physical and mental capacity you need to live your life to the fullest. In the same way, when you are financially stable, you have the resources you have better quality of life and the freedom to live life in your own terms.

 

No one is ever too young or too old to start working on their finances. If you are feeling motivated, here are 5 things you can do to become better at managing your personal wealth.

 

Change Your Perspective

 

Being financially healthy isn’t just about saving or earning enough money to buy that new signature bag you’ve been lusting after for months. A lot of it has to do with your attitude towards money. In other words, how you view money and what your definition of financial wellbeing will affect all areas of your financial health. It might be a good idea to spend time evaluating what financial success really means to you if you haven’t done it already.

 

One simple exercise would be to take a sheet of paper and list down the problematic views you have about spending that you want to change. In another column, right down what steps you can take to change those views. In another sheet of paper, write down your priorities and evaluate how far along you are in fulfilling those priorities. The goal is to identify what attitudes you can improve and what needs to be eliminated.

 

Be Strategic With Your Buying Habits

 

Today’s world is becoming increasingly consumeristic. When you browse through social media, you’ll be bombarded by subtle and not-so-subtle advertisements that will pressure you to buy more, more, more. If you want to improve your financial status and have better peace of mind then you will have to strive hard to become a conscious buyer and not succumb into this materialistic mentality. One way to do this would be to have a solid financial plan in place so you’ll know how much you actually earn and how much you spend. However, a financial plan isn’t just enough, you’ll also need to be strategic with how you can follow the plan.

 

One strategy would be to avoid the mall and shopping websites unless you really have something to buy. Shopping centers and websites are designed to lure potential customers and spend their money so if you have trouble resisting the urge to shop then it’s best that you avoid window shopping. Lastly, if you go shopping make sure you make a shopping list and stick to it. Avoid lingering in areas that don’t sell the stuff you are looking for so you don’t end up buying things you don’t need.

 

Set Small but Achievable Goals

 

It is necessary to set big financial goals but it is also very important to set smaller objectives that you can more easily achieve. The big goals can sometimes feel overwhelming so having smaller objectives can help keep you motivated and focused. These smaller goals could also serve as stepping stones to help you unlock your bigger goals. For instance, if your major financial goal is to retire comfortably and have enough money to travel the world by the time you hit 60, then you can break down this plan into smaller steps such as starting a retirement fund and saving 20% of your salary every month for the next 30 years.

 

Remember to keep your small goals specific so they are easier to track and measure. Also, make sure they are realistic for you and your current financial state.

 

Invest Your Money

 

Setting up a savings account isn’t just the only way to secure a healthy financial future. Another effective strategy would be to invest your money into something productive. The downside of just putting your money into a bank account is that it might not be able to keep up with inflation. Unlike a savings account, investing has a bigger chance of giving you higher returns.

 

There are plenty of possible ways that you can invest your money. You can put it in stocks or if you are feeling adventurous you could help fund a startup business like one that sells ultra clean shampoo, just in time for the cannabis boom in the United States. To pick the right investment, you will have to examine what your risk tolerance is and how much money you are also willing to invest.

 

If you decide to invest in a business, make sure you read the news and current events so you’ll have a good idea of the present business climate and what industries are worth venturing into.

 

Identify Recurring Expenses You Don’t Need

 

You could save a significant amount of money by eliminating unnecessary expenses. Sometimes these don’t come in big chunks off of your paycheck. In some cases they can just be small yet frequently recurring expenses like that artisanal coffee you drink every morning or services included in your gym membership that you don’t really use. Here’s a simple yet effective exercise you can do:

 

  1. Evaluate the previous month’s spending by checking your credit card bill or make a list of the expenses you recently made. Identify which of these are recurring expenses.
  2. In a second column, write down whether you should keep, eliminate or swap these expenses. Your list might turn up things like cable subscription, your phone’s mobile data plan, snacks and groceries.
  3. Make sure the expenses you decide to keep are really important and eliminate the ones that you don’t really use.
  4. Last but not the least, for items that you marked as “swap,” try to find alternative products or services that are cheaper but will give you similar value.

 

Remember that it is never too late to find ways to improve your financial health. By making just the right changes you can significantly alter your financial outlook and start building the life that you want.  

 

O’Rourke Closing Gap on Incumbent Ted Cruz

Beto O’Rourke, despite a lack of name recognition, is catching up to Ted Cruz in the polls. Cruz was leading with a 15-18 percent majority in the beginning of this year, depending on the source. Polls currently stand at Cruz with 47 percent and O’Rourke with 35, a much thinner margin in a short period of time. The polled voters show that Cruz is seen lately in an unfavorable light, and to have a self-seeking agenda; however, many Texans claim to not know enough about O’Rourke to have an opinion of him so far. Those who do have an opinion cite his charisma and down to earth platform as reasons for his rising numbers.

Affiliation with End Citizens United

End Citizens United is a grassroots campaign originally based to overturn Citizens United and reduce the amount of influence money has on election and politics in general. O’Rourke’s campaign involves only his own strategies, in a utilitarian and no-frills approach to gaining ground for this year’s election. Also relying primarily on himself and the needs of the voters, O’Rourke has not only decided against utilizing political and campaign consultants, and pollsters, he has also rejected any money from Political Acton Committees. Currently, where 96% of voters see the use of money as a way to corrupt a campaign or politician, O’Rourke’s refusal of any money towards his campaign is seen as a positive step towards putting the needs of the voters above those of companies and businesses.

Endorsement by League of Conservative Voters

While the voice of environmental concerns has grown over the years, politicians of the GOP have still found ways to set many of these issues aside in favor of what they depict as more pressing ones. Voters all over are pushing to have these concerns centralized in law making, thus the beginning of the League of Conservative Voters. The LCV pushes to ensure that matters concerning the environment become priorities at every level of government, and that politicians are held accountable for their decisions in this capacity.

The League of Conservative Voters Action Fund has endorsed Beto O’Rourke for his stances on conservation and climate change issues. As these topics become more centralized, endorsements of groups such as the LCV become more important to campaigning politics. This does not bode well for incumbent Cruz, as the LCV has shown disdain for his lack of concern over environmental issues in the past.

A Platform Texans can Relate to

Speaking in general of O’Rourke’s stances on the issues, voters seem to identify with his ideas and priorities. Some describe his campaigning methods as “old school,” particularly in regards to the amount of time he spends traveling. He has now visited every single county in Texas, all 254 of them, even ones such as Cooke County that hasn’t voted a Democrat into office in decades.

When it comes to the issues that the average voter looks at, Beto O’Rourke speaks to them on jobs, healthcare, and immigration as chief areas of concentration. Speaking to every county in Texas, O’Rourke assures them that every citizen who wants a job will be able to get that job, along with the necessary education needed to succeed. He displays his beliefs on the importance of healthcare, citing the need for every citizen to have healthcare in order to become and stay healthy. His stance on immigration displays his belief that every issue should reflect the country’s values, welcoming immigrants and thanking them for what they have done for our country, along with calling to end walls, raids, and overall hostility.

O’Rourke’s plans, if making it to overturn Cruz’s seat in the typically red state, simply highlight his goals to end divisive and contentious actions in politics, calling to simply bring voters together and better the nation by bettering their lives.

Workplace Efficiency Tips for SMEs

If you thought managing SMEs was going to be an easy task, then you might be experiencing some challenges! Small and Medium-sized businesses are always caught between acquiring new customers and delivering quality services to the existing customers. Obviously, this is one of the trickiest balances to strike. Most of these businesses find themselves caught on one side of the game; which implies losing on the other.

Remember, as an entrepreneur, you also have employees under you who need to keep your business’ vision alive and running. This means that you have to work hard to make them see your vision; which of course goes hand in hand with some sort of motivation to ensure that they deliver as expected. Quite a daunting task?

No worries. Here are a few tips to ensure efficiency at the workplace with a bias to SMEs:

Empower Your Workforce

When you lead a team of employees, you probably want the best of them. Offering them incentives or rewards for their hard work would work best to ensure that they remain motivated and focused on achieving the set goals.

No employee likes to be constantly told what to do—they need the space to make independent decisions (of course you’ll still make the final decision as the top management) and exercise their creativity. Empowering your workforce by acknowledging their potential not only leads to high-efficiency levels (with regard to work output) but also greatly contributes to the overall growth of your business.

Engage Your Employees

Employee engagement is one of the most effective ways to ensure high productivity levels. This entails listening to and addressing their concerns, discussing the business’ progress as a team (after all they contribute to your business’ success), and most importantly engaging them in the decision-making process. By doing all these, you make them feel part of the business which is crucial in ensuring an efficient work environment.

Having an open communication system will also aid a one on one interaction with your team thus enhancing their overall productivity.  

Consider Using Web Forms

With the advanced technology systems, most businesses are going online. It’s now a necessity to have an online platform even if you’re operating a physical store. Why? Most users seek for products online which also means that they prefer online assistance (when it comes to the use of these products) as it’s the fastest and most reliable way to get more information on the products in question.

Web forms will not only save you time but also boost your users’ confidence because they will receive prompt services from you. In addition, it will make your employees more efficient and on the task of providing excellent customer service and alleviate them from answering repetitive phone calls from customers.

The best thing about web forms? You can get started with free templates from EmailMeForm right away and embed them in your website in just a few mere minutes.

Offer Refreshments as a Reward

It may seem weird. But it’s probably one of the most effective ways to get your employees on toes and motivated to tackle the day’s work. Ensure you offer them healthy snacks, foods, and drinks as this will leave them feeling rejuvenated all the time and most importantly, it will greatly enhance time management which is usually a challenge with regard to outside feeding.

Create an efficient work environment (for your employees) by offering them easy access to refreshment products.

Conclusion

Ensuring an efficient workplace isn’t an easy task, but with the right measures in place—it’s achievable. Implementation of the above tips will motivate your employees; thus, it will aid the creation of an efficient work environment. However, you should bear in mind that it’s a gradual process and hence requires patience.

Author Bio: Deborah Tayloe is a freelance copywriter and frequent contributor to EmailMeForm. She has over 25 years of experience in marketing and sales management. She’s a Pennsylvania native who currently lives in North Carolina. When she’s not blogging, she’s probably relaxing in her garden.

How Do You Run Executive Background Checks?

Every year in the United States, businesses employ new executives as a way to expand and enhance leadership from the top down. However, how well do companies screen executives before they are hired? According to one study, at least 45 precent of businesses fail to screen executives before they are hired. In addition, 31 precent of these businesses lack due diligence or don’t perform any kind of screening before hiring an executive.

The Importance of Executive Background Checks

The job market is competitive, which causes many individuals to lie about their degrees, fabricate employment history, and even try to hide past crimes to gain employment. If a business owner or hiring manager only assumes an executive candidate is truthful, they are putting their company at risk. When an individual is hired for an executive position and isn’t truthful about his or her skills, education, and employment history, the lack of skills and experience could cost a company thousands of dollars, and it could also hurt the company’s potential to do business with other companies and vendors.

High-up executives have been known to lie on their resumes. For instance, David Edmondson, former CEO of RadioShack, was untruthful on his resume and stated that he had a four-year college degree. In addition, Kenneth Lonchar, a former executive with Veritas Software Corp., lied about having his MBA from Stanford University in 1997, and Scott Thompson of Yahoo lied about going to school at Stonehill College. Kenneth Lonchar caused Veritas Software Corp. to lose an estimated 15 percent of its stock because of his lies.

Although the scandals with the aforementioned individuals occurred many years ago, there are many instances of this taking place in today’s workforce. Moreover, the influence of social media often leads to public relations catastrophes for companies that have hired deceptive executives.

What is Involved in an Executive Background Check?

When you administer an executive background check for a potential executive, it will involve a different process for screening other employees. As written on the Corporate Resolutions website, executive employees have a significant amount of power, which means their executive background check should be more in-depth and robust. This may include using every legal option offered to protect the reputation and success of the business.

Most experts that offer background checks, such as the team at Corporate Resolutions, will begin the process by verifying basic information. After his or her basic information has been verified, employment verification is the next step in an executive background check. Not only will an executive background check involve validity, it will also ensure the dates of employment are accurate. In addition, it is also important to verify advanced degrees, certifications, transcriptions, or educational awards that are on an executive candidate’s resume. Even if is seems unnecessary to delve into this information, any red flags could let an employer know there may be serious problems deeper into the screening process.

The next step in an executive background check is screening for criminal records. Executives have a position of authority, which means it is vital that they are trustworthy. Many executive background checks will begin this step with civil checks, county court checks, as well as state criminal record checks. In addition, potential executives will also be screened for federal and national criminal records.

After this step is complete, an executive will have his or her credit checked to meet FCRA requirements. Although minor issues in credit are not usually a problem when hiring executives, any notifications of bank fraud, unpaid taxes, liens, or cashing bad checks is another red flag the that candidate may not be trustworthy. In addition, an executive background check will also screen potential executives for money theft from past employers or evidence of mishandling money.

Top-level executives may also be subject to reference verification. This is to ensure that reference letters haven’t been falsely enhanced or made up by a friend or college as a favor. A reference verification can ensure that the candidate is truthful, and it is also a way to verify the candidate’s past executive performance.

Business owners and hiring managers should always enlist the help of a business that offers executive background checks, such as Corporate Resolutions, to make certain that the right candidate is selected for the position.

Top 3 Reasons to Hire Angular Developers

Angular is one of the most popular frontend JavaScript development frameworks and with good reason. When you make the decision to hire Angular developers, you are selecting one of the best solutions for how to make a website or app. You will find that the technology itself is well-suited to the development of large-scale apps, while developers that use it are some of the most skilled.

As a business owner, you will want to hire these developers mainly due to their ability to create apps that combine good website design with advanced functionality and speed.  

Reason 1: Angular JS Developers Create Highly Interactive Applications  

Angular has already been used successfully at some of the most technically-accomplished businesses in the world. It boasts a great pedigree and track record.

Google created the framework in 2010, then released a major revision in 2016. Since then, the following companies have used Angular in their projects, in the process availing the services of many teams of expert Angular programmers:

  • PayPal
  • NetFlix
  • AT&T
  • Cisco
  • JPMorgan Chase and Co.
  • Apple
  • HP
  • VMWare
  • Solar City
  • IBM

The ability of AngularJS developers at these companies to create highly interactive applications is largely due to the capabilities of the framework itself.

Reason 2: Faster Apps with Front-End Technologies like the Shadow DOM

Due to the many optimizations in the framework, AngularJS developers can create some of the fastest JavaScript applications possible. In numerous head to head performance tests, Angular has proven to be comparable to React and Vue.js. This means it is among the very best in these categories, ahead of other frameworks like EmberJS, MarionetteJS, and jQuery.  

Angular 2 and 4 make use of the shadow DOM which results in very fast applications, faster than was possible in Version 1 of AngularJS. Working with developers who use the framework, therefore, results in snappy applications that work well on both mobile and desktop computing devices.

Reason 3: Angular Developers Use Typescript for Type-Safe Web Development

Angular developers can easily create apps for a small business or mid-sized business, but their stack is particularly suitable for the unique needs of large enterprise companies. This is the reason why so many Fortune 500 companies and other enterprises have quickly adopted the technology.

Users of the framework are masters at the large-scale development you will need if you have high traffic requirements for your apps. The process of large-scale development is improved, in a lot of cases, by the usage of Typescript, a type-safe programming language from Microsoft that enables your development team to catch errors at compile time. Angular is a showcase for how to improve your business or grow a business through defect-free JavaScript apps.

An Even Better Way to Hire Angular Tech Talent

To help address the challenges of costly Angular developer salary for highly skilled teams, many organizations, large and small, have turned to remote outstaffing services. With outstaffing, you can create remote teams composed of Angular experts just like you would if recruiting locally. Often, outstaffing agencies in tech centers like Kiev and Warsaw can greatly improve your results with outstaffing.

Build a Website with Angular Devs

There are substantial advantages that come with hiring Angular programmers for your next project. Most importantly, your application development will be in the hands of JavaScript app experts with a winning frontend technology.

The performance of Angular teams is often better than with competing stacks. You will get faster apps that scale and can handle very high levels of traffic. The improvements that Google continues to make with its open-source framework will benefit your business for years to come.

What Influences the Economy

If you’ve ever turned on a cable news channel, you’ve heard anchors talk about how the stock market up means that the economy is good, or how a lot of people filing for unemployment means the economy is bad. The truth is, the American economy is a complicated beast that shouldn’t be reduced to just a single number. A lot of factors are at play. Yes, the stock market matters, as do job reports. But that’s not all that matters.

Growth rates matter

If you read that the American economy experienced modest growth at the beginning of 2018, that’s because even though things like a low unemployment rate are helping, consumer spending could be better. If people aren’t increasing their spending, that means there’s some financial uncertainty at play. People tend to spend more when they’re feeling confident about their financial status, and they tend to scrimp and save when that status seems threatened. Consumer spending is still increasing, but barely.

What about the stock market, though? If it doesn’t matter, why are news outlets so eager to report every increase or decrease? Well, they probably do that because it’s their job to report the news, and the stock market is a piece of the news puzzle. Most normal people, however, only need to pay attention to the stock market in certain circumstances. In general, day-to-day fluctuations aren’t nearly as important as long-term trends. Only about half of all Americans own any stock at all, which means the number of people directly affected isn’t as big as it may seem. If you’re interested in investing in the stock market, it’s probably because you’re at a point where it makes financial sense to do so. People who don’t have a lot of disposable income generally aren’t rushing to put what little they have into stocks, after all. Before you invest, educate yourself. Researching what stocks to buy is always going to be more helpful than just closing your eyes and pointing to a stock. Once you invest, you’ll no doubt be more interested in what’s happening on Wall Street, because you’ll have a personal stake in it.

The tax cut question

Unless you were in a cave with no Internet access at the end of 2017 and beginning of 2018, you no doubt heard something about the tax cut bill passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump. Do tax cuts really boost the economy, though? That depends on who you ask.

A few years ago, the Congressional Research Service published a report that found no connection between top tax rates and economic growth. In other words, the service found no evidence that cutting taxes for the rich helps the economy in general. That wasn’t the end of the story, though, because Republicans in Congress said the report contained errors. Politico studied the issue and declared there to be no “predictable effect” on economic growth. In early 2018, Reuters took a poll of economists, the majority of whom said the tax bill would provide a short-term boost for the economy. One economist interviewed compared it to a “sugar rush.” We can make educated guesses, but, like many things, we’re ultimately going to have to wait and see. If it spurs long-term growth, then it will be hailed as a genius move. If it leads to negative growth, then Republican members of Congress could be at risk of losing their jobs, as could the president.

The Smart Investor

The stock market can seem like an amorphous cloud. With so many options, how will you know where to put your money? Maybe you’re thinking it might be easier to simply tuck that money away for a rainy day. But don’t worry, and don’t hide your money! The stock market can yield great dividends for risky and cautious investors alike. If you’re wondering where to begin, here are a few tips to get you started as an investor.

Find What You Stand For

An investment is essentially your financial support of an individual, company, or cause. Some investments that yield great dividends might not be the best for the world. That may or may not matter to you as an investor, but it is nevertheless important to consider before you can take the next steps. Depending on how risky you are willing to get, startups can be a good investment to reflect your beliefs–if you have done your homework. Knowing why a company will grow is imperative to making a smart investment. If your beliefs align with the company’s, you can feel even better about giving them your money.

Do Your Research

Whether you’re investing a little or a lot, it’s important to do your research. There are many ways online to learn about the investments that interest you. For example, with a risky investment like medical marijuana, you could spend some time reading up on marijuana stocks to track how the stock is doing. Sites like this will give you the scoop on your investment as it stands in politics, and more. For a less straightforward stock like Bitcoin and cryptocurrency, you may want to read blockchain news articles to become informed on the basics of the market. It’s also a great place to go if you have no idea what the cryptocurrency hype is about but want to get in on the investment. An informed investment decision can make all the difference between huge dividends and a huge bust.

Ask for Help

There is nothing wrong with seeking the advice of a financial planner. These professionals are trained to have a keen eye on the economy, and can help you plan your financial future based on your risk-level preferences. In a way, hiring a CFP is like an investment in itself. Their advice will lead you to the best fit for you. This will make your life as an investor less stressful, and hopefully more prosperous–with more dollars going into your bank than going out.

Take the Leap

Plenty of people wait around for the economy to “get better” in order to invest.The fact is we live in a society where the economy will always be in flux. No matter how it looks today, it will look much different in ten and even twenty years. As an investor, you can feel confident walking in with a long-term mindset. You know your dividends will be on their way, as investing is a game of longevity. There is no such thing as quick money, but with these tools you could make big money in the long run.

 

Turmoil at the World Bank

The World Bank’s central mission, when it was established in 1944, was to reduce global poverty and ensure that global development was environmentally-sound and socially-inclusive. However, since then, the Bank has only served as an extension of US foreign policy and commercial interests!

NEW YORK – The world is at a crossroads. Either the global community will join together to fight poverty, resource depletion, and climate change, or it will face a generation of resource wars, political instability, and environmental ruin.

The World Bank, if properly led, can play a key role in averting these threats and the risks that they imply. The global stakes are thus very high this spring as the Bank’s 187 member countries choose a new president to succeed Robert Zoellick, whose term ends in July 2012.

The World Bank was established in 1944 to promote economic development, and virtually every country is now a member. Its central mission is to reduce global poverty and ensure that global development is environmentally sound and socially inclusive. Achieving these goals would not only improve the lives of billions of people, but would also forestall violent conflicts that are stoked by poverty, famine, and struggles over scarce resources.

American officials have traditionally viewed the World Bank as an extension of United States foreign policy and commercial interests. With the Bank just two blocks away from the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue, it has been all too easy for the US to dominate the institution. Now many members, including Brazil, China, India, and several African countries, are raising their voices in support of more collegial leadership and an improved strategy that works for all.

From the Bank’s establishment until today, the unwritten rule has been that the US Government simply designates each new president. All 11 have been Americans… And not a single one has been an expert in economic development, the Bank’s core responsibility, or had a career in fighting poverty or promoting environmental sustainability!

Instead, the US has selected Wall Street bankers and politicians, presumably to ensure that the Bank’s policies are suitably friendly to US commercial and political interests.

Yet, the policy is backfiring on the US and badly hurting the world. Because of a long-standing lack of strategic expertise at the top, the Bank has lacked a clear direction. Many projects have catered to US corporate interests rather than to sustainable development. The Bank has cut a lot of ribbons on development projects, but has solved far too few global problems.

For too long, the Bank’s leadership has imposed US concepts that are often utterly inappropriate for the poorest countries and their poorest people. For example, the Bank completely fumbled the exploding pandemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria during the 1990s, failing to get help to where it was needed to curb these outbreaks and save millions of lives.

Even worse, the Bank advocated user fees and “cost recovery” for health services, thereby putting life-saving health care beyond the reach of the poorest of the poor – precisely those most in need of it. In 2000, at the Durban AIDS Summit, I recommended a new “Global Fund” to fight these diseases, precisely on the grounds that the World Bank was not doing its job. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria emerged, and has since saved millions of lives, with malaria deaths in Africa alone falling by at least 30 per cent.

The Bank similarly missed crucial opportunities to support smallholder subsistence farmers and to promote integrated rural development more generally in impoverished rural communities in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

For around 20 years — roughly from 1985 to 2005 — the Bank resisted the well-proven use of targeted support for small landholders to enable impoverished subsistence farmers to improve yields and break out of poverty. More recently, the Bank has increased its support for smallholders, but there is still far more that it can and should do.

The Bank’s staff is highly professional, and would accomplish much more if freed from the dominance of narrow US interests and viewpoints. The Bank has the potential to be a catalyst of progress in key areas that will shape the world’s future.

Its priorities should include agricultural productivity; mobilization of information technologies for sustainable development; deployment of low-carbon energy systems; and quality education for all, with greater reliance on new forms of communication to reach hundreds of millions of under-served students.

The Bank’s activities currently touch on all of these areas, but it fails to lead effectively on any of them. Despite the excellence of its staff, the Bank has not been strategic or agile enough to be an effective agent of change. Getting the Bank’s role right will be hard work, requiring expertise at the top.

Most importantly, the Bank’s new president should have first-hand professional experience regarding the range of pressing development challenges. The world should not accept the status quo.

A World Bank leader who once again comes from Wall Street or from US politics would be a heavy blow for a planet in need of creative solutions to complex development challenges. The Bank needs an accomplished professional who is ready to tackle the great challenges of sustainable development from day one. [Project-Syndicate-2012].

EDITOR’S NOTE: Jeffrey D. Sachs is a Professor of Economics and the Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. He is also a Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on the Millennium Development Goals, and the founder and co-President of the Millennium Promise Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending extreme poverty and hunger.

Common Market Protocol Goes Into Effect in East Africa

ARUSHA – Implementation of the East African Community (EAC) Common Market Protocol has been made easier with the launching of the third version of the Microsoft 2010 Kiswahili local language package, an official of the EAC has said.

“Although the Common Market Protocol provides for the free movement of capital, goods, services, and has led to increased regional trade but our small and medium scale traders still experience the problem of communicating in Swahili,” said the EAC Secretary-General, Dr. Richard Sezibera.

“Swahili is now the minimum medium of communication and, currently, the lingua franca of the Community. Therefore, the launching of the updated version of the Microsoft 2010 ki-Swahili local language package which can be downloaded on <www.microsoft.com/language> is timely at the time when our traders needed most in order to effectively communicate on a regional basis,” Sezibera said at the launching of the product at Arusha in Tanzania in February.

The version, with over 300,000 words translated into Swahili, is part of the project that has so far cost the company $2m over the last five years. It has been developed as ‘Windows’ and ‘Office’ products in 15 written and spoken languages in Africa: Afrikaans, Amharic, Arabic, English, French, Hausa, Igbo, ki-Swahili, and Portuguese among others.

Sezibera said use of information ICT in the EAC has contributed 40 per cent of the region’s economic growth.

“But ICT is not working in a abstract, and can only be useful to people if it is translated into local languages,” he said at the launching ceremony.

The translated versions in ki-Swahili would lead to improvement in public service delivery, development of the private sector, promote good governance and help in the fight against poverty.

The next phase of the regional economic development will have to depend on the small and medium scale firms (SMEs).

The Microsoft regional education manager, Dr. Mark Matunga, said the technology will play a major role in the maintenance of linguistic diversity in the region.

“All too often, small traders are excluded from information technology skills and the accompanying job and trading opportunities for lack of technology in their local languages, providing a native language is critical to helping people access the tools needed to create better economic opportunities,” he explained. [EABW].

Fish Sausage is the Latest Culinary Trend

KAMPALA – Having nursed the dream of making a breakthrough in the business world by bringing onto the market a new product, Ms. Lovin Kobusingye finally had her prayers answered when she introduced fish sausages onto the Ugandan market!

For five years, Kobusingye thought of introducing a fresher product that would get instant attention on the Ugandan market. But financial power always stood in the way.

Starting the business required about Ush58 million ($25,000), an amount that was not readily available and just like any other Small or Medium Enterprise (SME), access to credit was difficult.

Kobusingye, who started off by marketing fish and fish fillets and roast fish sold her idea to the Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI) who supported her to kick start her business and on February 1, 2012, fish sausages, the first of their kind in the country were produced in Uganda.
UIRI provided free consultancy services and despite her having Ushs20 million, the organization provided additional funds to start off the business.

Speaking in an exclusive interview, Kobusingye said many Ugandans had come to appreciate the fish sausages.

“This being a new product on the market, many customers are inquisitive and this has made me give out many packs as samples. Otherwise, business is good and those who have tasted it have appreciated it”, Kobusingye says.

She needs half a tonne of fish per week to make one tonne of fish sausages. As a result of this, Kobusingye has an arrangement with various fish farmers who supply on a weekly basis.

She is in the process of identifying large fish farmers with whom she hopes to sign contracts to sustain supply.

Beef and pork sausages are already available on the Ugandan market, and cost approximately Ush8,000 ($3.5) a kilo. The fish sausages sell for Ush12,000 ($5.2). According to Kobusingye, this is because of the high cost of the fish.

“A kilogramme of the fish freshly harvested from the ponds cost Ush5,000 ($2.2) and these have the bones and all the parts that will later on be chopped off. To make the sausages, we need bone free fish and by the time we make the sausages, so many fish have been used,” she said.

Kobusingye is not in a hurry to explore the regional markets as there is ready demand from South Sudan, Kenya among other countries.

“At present, my aim is to satisfy the local market and when we have fully exploited the potential here (Uganda), then we shall think of tapping into the region,” she added.

Her company will provide fish farmers with ready market for their produce because of the demand.

The Uganda fish industry is currently facing uncertainty following the dwindling of fish catches.

The National Investment Policy on Aquaculture Parks in Uganda, though still in its draft form, seeks to increase the value of aquaculture production from the current 90,000 tonnes valued at $180 million annually to at least 300,000 tonnes by 2016.

It is innovations like Kobusingye’s which will go a long way in encouraging the development of fish farming as fish in Uganda has of late become a delicacy rather than a cheaper option to meat because the price of fish is higher than the price of meat.