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Opportunity For Youths: Free Training & Entrepreneurship Summit In Berlin

Opportunity For Youths: Free Training & Entrepreneurship Summit In Berlin | Diaspora investments | Scoop.it
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Application Deadline: 30 June 2014

UNESCO in partnership with Goi PeaceFoundationand Stiftung Entrepreneurship (Berlin) has launched the Youth Citizen Entrepreneurship Competition - an exciting new opportunity to develop your innovative ideas and projects to create positive change in your community and the world.

The competition provides a global platform for young entrepreneurs who aspire to create positive change in their communities.

By highlighting the best examples of youth entrepreneurship, the competition aims to empower the young generation to take the initiative in social innovation and become pioneers in building a harmonious and sustainable society. With their innovative ideas and leadership, these global citizens will tackle some of the key challenges of today and offer a model of the entrepreneurial potential that will fuel our future.

All participants will receive free training at the online Entrepreneurship Campus. This training provides methods and techniques for developing ideas into solid business models, to turn a budding idea into a fully developed concept, or to improve on an existing business model.

Grand Prize, 2nd Prize, 3rd Prize and People's Choice Prize winners will be selected in each of the following two categories:

· Best Ideas Category: Innovative ideas and plans to be implemented (by the entrant or by others).

· Best Projects Category: Already existing enterprise which has demonstrated social impact.

Winners will be announced on the competition website, as well as the Goi Peace Foundation and UNESCO websites. Finalists not chosen as prize winners will receive honorable mention.

The Grand Prize winners and the People's Choice Prize winners will be invited to the award ceremony during the Entrepreneurship Summit in Berlin in October 2014. Here, they will present their ideas and activities to an international audience.

For more details, please visit this link: https://www.youth-competition.org/about-the-competition

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A second green revolution

A second green revolution | Diaspora investments | Scoop.it

WHEN, in 1961, the government of India asked a celebrated wheat breeder, Norman Borlaug, for advice about new seeds, the subcontinent was thought to be on the verge of starvation. China actually was suffering from famine. Borlaug persuaded India to plant a new semi-dwarf variety of wheat in Punjab. The next year, the country also tried out a dwarf variety of rice called IR8. These short-stemmed crops solved a basic problem: old-fashioned crops were long and leggy, so when fed with fertiliser they grew too tall and fell over. Borlaug’s varieties put out more, heavier seeds instead. They caught on like smartphones. Over the next 40 years the green revolution spread round the world, helping ensure that, where its seeds were planted, famines became things of the past.

Now a second green revolution is stirring in the fields of Asia. It will not be the same as the first one, since it will depend not on a few miracle varieties but on tailoring existing seeds to different environments. But it promises to bring similar benefits—this time to the poor lands and poorer farmers that the first version passed by (see article). Such lands are poor because they are prone to floods, drought and salinity. New seeds have been developed which can survive flooding, and soon there will be varieties that tolerate drought, extreme heat and saltiness, too, making the poorest lands fertile. So the second revolution could do even more to cut poverty than the first.

In this sectionThe lure of shadow bankingPutin’s Ukrainian U-turnEverything is brokenDrug testA second green revolutionReprintsRelated topicsAsiaIndia

This revolution is all the more vital because the gains of the first are plateauing. Annual yield growth has fallen to less than a third what it was in the green revolution and below the current rise in population. Meanwhile demand for rice is rising by almost 2% a year in Asia and soaring by 20% a year in Africa.

The gap threatens to widen, because rice is exceptionally vulnerable to environmental change. Rice farmers use almost a third of Earth’s fresh water, and water shortages are pervasive. The world’s rice bowls are the deltas of Asia’s great rivers. These are subject to changing floods, rising salinity and growing heat stress. (Climate change is sometimes seen as a new problem to worry about now that the issue of providing food is settled. In reality it is a threat to future food supplies.)

A second revolution has been made possible by the sequencing of the rice genome in 2005 (the first cereal crop to be sequenced). This enabled breeders to discover the genes for flood resistance in one obscure variety from eastern India and transfer them to varieties all round the world. Breeders will soon do the same for genes that provide other valuable traits.

There are all sorts of things that governments could do to push this revolution forward, such as getting rid of price subsidies and letting farms consolidate into bigger, more efficient units. But they will also need to spend public money directly on research.

One grain at a time

The first green revolution was largely government-backed, with help from international research centres and American charities. You might think that nowadays the big agribusinesses would be desperate to lead the way, and they have indeed invested heavily in new strains of maize and wheat. But rice, the focus of the second revolution, is different. Farmers can keep the seeds from one harvest and plant them in the next with no loss of yield (unlike maize). The market for rice seeds is thus tiny, so almost all research is carried out by the state.

The amounts needed are small. By one calculation, $3 billion of rice research spread over the next 25 years would pull 150m people out of extreme poverty. That is $20 a person, a bargain compared with any other anti-poverty programme. And it has worked before. The cumulative economic benefits from public research into rice are running at almost $20 billion a year, hundreds of times the cost of the investment.

Governments, though, are nervous. Some politicians worry about publicly backing genetic research, despite all the lives it could save (the latest Luddism is in Vermont—see article). Other health ministries have moved on to sexier causes, like fighting obesity. They should think again. It is hard to think of a way to improve more people’s lives for less money.

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Investments down, but Malaysia says flagship economic program on track

Investments down, but Malaysia says flagship economic program on track | Diaspora investments | Scoop.it
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(Reuters) - Investment commitments under Malaysia's flagship economic development program fell by three quarters last year, as the government struggled to meet its goal of raising the private sector's role in its plan to lift the Southeast Asian country to high-income status by 2020.

The amount of pledged investments fell 75 percent from the previous year to 8 billion ringgit ($2.47 billion), the government announced on Monday as it unveiled the annual report of the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP).

The programme, aimed at generating $444 billion in investments and lifting annual per-capita income to $15,000, was launched in 2010 by Prime Minister Najib Razak to address a long-term stagnation in private and foreign investment in Malaysia.

Domestic critics have said the government has exaggerated the ETP's achievements, saying the plan is a mostly a repackaging of projects that would have gone ahead anyway and that it relies too heavily on public spending.

The government says that overall investments stood at 265 billion ringgit last year, up from 242 billion ringgit in 2012, and that it remains on course to meet its income goal.

The government's Performance Management Delivery Unit, which oversees the ETP, said the fall in committed investments was misleading because projects had been frontloaded and had driven a rise in overall investment in the economy.

"Most of the ETP-specific investment commitment were frontloaded and are being realised, supporting the robust growth in private investment as reflected in the GDP since 2011," it said in e-mailed comments to Reuters.

Malaysia's economy grew 4.7 percent last year, picking up speed in the last quarter as its crucial export sector benefited from a pick-up in global demand. Most economists expect growth to pick up to between 5.0 and 5.5 percent this year, partly driven by ongoing ETP projects such as an $11 billion rail project in the capital Kuala Lumpur.

Annual committed investments under the ETP are down from 179.2 billion ringgit in 2011, and 32.1 billion ringgit in 2012.

Some 47 investment projects were announced last year, compared to 110 in 2011. The government said private investment grew at an annual rate of 15.3 per cent from 2010 to 2013, triple the rate from the previous three years. In 2013, it said, private investment reached 161.1 billion ringgit, 8.6 percent above target.

Still, the ETP remains far from its goal of generating 92 percent of investments from private sources. Public investments accounted for 39 percent of the total last year, it said, down only slightly from 42 percent in 2012.

The government says that gross national income per person in Malaysia climbed to $10,060 in 2013 from $7,059 in 2009, putting it on track to reach the $15,000 goal by 2020 or earlier.

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10 Memorable Quotes From The 2014 World Economic Forum On Africa

10 Memorable Quotes From The 2014 World Economic Forum On Africa | Diaspora investments | Scoop.it
homestrings's insight:

The 24th edition of the World Economic Forum on Africa is currently taking place in Abuja, Nigeria. The event, which has brought together close to 1,000 regional and global leaders, is centered on the theme of forging inclusive growth and creating jobs for Africa’s growing population. The began on Wednesday and is slated to close tomorrow. Here are some of the more memorable quotes from Thursday’s plenary and brainstorming sessions:

Africa is an article of faith. I believe in this continent. – Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman,Bharti AirtelNowhere in the world do you get the kind of returns you get in Africa. – Olabisi Onasanya, Group CEO, First Bank of NigeriaAfrica is going through growing pains, but the potential is great. – Mohamed Alabbar, Chairman, Emaar PropertiesThis is the right time for anyone to come and invest into Africa.  - Stephen Olabisi Onasanya, Group CEO, First Bank of NigeriaAfrica’s rise will make the world more stable, more democratic, more robust. – Chinese Premier Li KeqiangAfrica’s people have taken their destiny into their own hands. – China’s Li KeqiangDon’t be afraid to invest in Africa. – Jean-François van Boxmeer, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Heineken InternationalAfrica has been rising for a long time. I hope we will eventually get to a point where we have risen. – Albert Kobina Essien, Group Chief Executive Officer of Ecobank TransnationalAs the economies of Africa grow, progressive businesses will grow with them. – Jean-Francois van Boxmer, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Heineken InternationalAfrica represents our fastest-growing region in the world. If you want to be relevant, you need to be in this part of the world – Dominic Barton, Global Managing Director of McKinsey & Company


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Heineken to Spend 500M Euros Per Year in Africa

Heineken to Spend 500M Euros Per Year in Africa | Diaspora investments | Scoop.it
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Heineken (HEIN) plans capital expenditure of 500 million euros ($690 million) a year in Africa over the next few years to maintain sales growth, a senior executive at the world's third largest brewer told Reuters on Friday.

The money will be used to upgrade production facilities and on training, said Siep Hiemstra, Heineken's president for Africa and Middle East. Africa accounts for one-fifth of Heineken's business and is growing fast, he said.

"We are strong believers in the growth of Africa, the economies of Africa, the consumer base, the middle class. We continue to invest heavily .... We continuously invest about 500 million euros annually and try to be ahead of the growth curve," said Hiemstra.

He was speaking on the sidelines of a World Economic Forum being held in the capital of Nigeria, Africa's biggest economy.

Nigeria has annual beer sales of around 18 million hectolitres, second only to South Africa on the continent. Heineken has around a 70 percent market share in Nigeria, with Diageo's (DGE) Guinness (GUINNES) accounting for over 20 percent.

Heineken had 56 plants in 20 African countries, and Hiemstra said it was weighing acquisitions.

Heineken said on Friday that it would merge its majority owned Nigerian subsidiary Nigerian Breweries Plc (NB) with its rival Consolidated Breweries, which it recently acquired.

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Ghana Hosts Diaspora Engagement Forum

Ghana Hosts Diaspora Engagement Forum | Diaspora investments | Scoop.it
homestrings's insight:

Ghanaians who live outside of Africa met in Accra for a Diaspora Engagement Forum.

Organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration (MFA&RI) with support from the German International Co-oporation, the aim of the event is also to provide stakeholders with data relevant for the enhancement of the capacity of Ghanaians abroad and people of African descent for national development.

The forum will discuss the experiences of Ghanaians abroad, challenges of re-integration, participation of the Ghanaian diaspora in national events, and the way forward, as well as investment and development opportunities for the Ghanaian diaspora.

“But the views of Ghanaian returnees and peoples of African descent who have lived and worked in varied circumstances abroad and at home are important. They have also re-integrated in Ghana successfully and have been able to establish viable businesses in the country,” Mercy Debrah Karikari, Director of Administration, MFA&RI explained.

“Since the struggle for independence, our nation has depended on the resources of the Ghanaian Diaspora and peoples of African descent. However, our early attempts at using the resources of our compatriots abroad were not structured to ensure sustained results.

“In some cases, statements and actions were not coherent, causing considerable frustration, and undermined the very effort of optimizing the benefits to be derived from our nationals abroad,” she said.

The Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda gave relevance to migration and development and its successor (Development Policy) will highlight diaspora engagement as an important aspect of migration and development, reports Ghana Business.

“In an era of globalization and heightened competitiveness in the pursuit of national interest, no nation can develop effectively without implementing a clear strategy that seeks to harness the potentials of a majority of its human resources, including its diaspora and those who consider that country as a homeland.”

“It is our firm conviction that leveraging on the multiple roles of the diaspora as senders of remittances, investors, philanthropists, innovators, exportable labour and first movers in the growth of important sectors such as tourism, health and in the development of human capital, may well contribute to weaning Ghana off its dependency on aid and development financing,” she added.

- See more at: http://afkinsider.com/55730/ghana-hosts-diaspora-engagement-forum/#sthash.BMJztuqY.dpuf

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Nigeria's Incoming Central Banker Faces Growing Challenges

Nigeria's Incoming Central Banker Faces Growing Challenges | Diaspora investments | Scoop.it
Wall Street Journal (blog) Nigeria's Incoming Central Banker Faces Growing Challenges Wall Street Journal (blog) His predecessor is credited with helping Nigeria improve its image on the world stage at a time that was supremely challenging for...
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Japan vows to steadily implement $32 billion in aid for Africa

Japan vows to steadily implement $32 billion in aid for Africa | Diaspora investments | Scoop.it
homestrings's insight:

Japan told foreign ministers and senior officials from about 50 African countries on Sunday that it will steadily implement 3.2 trillion yen, or $32 billion, in aid for Africa over a five-year period through 2017.

With the government and private sectors acting in concert, Japan "will steadily implement assistance it pledged" last year, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said in a speech at the start of a two-day meeting in Cameroon of a Japan-led initiative to promote development in Africa.

Under the program, Japan has already assisted African countries by providing patrol ships to Djibouti, with the building and maintenance of roads in western Africa, and with exchanges of businesswomen between Japan and Africa.

Kishida also said Japan will lend a further $300 million to the African Development Bank to use to nurture the private sector in African countries.

"Japan sees Africa, a region with high economic growth, as a frontier of its diplomacy," he said. "Japan aims to strengthen reciprocal economic relations with Africa through an expansion of trade and investment."

At the fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development in Yokohama in June last year, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe unveiled the 3.2 trillion yen aid package for Africa. In January, Abe visited Ivory Coast, Mozambique and Ethiopia, and vowed Japan's continued support for development of Africa.

The Cameroon gathering, called the First TICAD V Ministerial Meeting, comes as China has pledged $20 billion in aid to Africa.

At the meeting, delegates from Africa and Japan were to discuss how to boost agricultural output in Africa, ways to ensure food and nutrition security on the continent, and how to empower women and youth there, according to Japanese officials.

Referring to the African Union's designation of 2014 as "Year of Agriculture and Food Security" for the continent, Kishida said Japan, as an "international partner," supports Africa's food-related initiatives.

The two sides were also expected to talk about improving the business climate in Africa as an increasing number of Japanese companies show interest in doing business there.

Annual economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa is forecast to accelerate to 5.5 percent in 2015, from around 5 percent in 2013. However, poverty and inequality remain high in many countries.

Promoting engagement with Africa is part of Abe's policy of conducting "diplomacy that takes a panoramic perspective of the world map."

"Peace, stability and prosperity in the world that Japan envisions will not be complete without Africa," Kishida said. "We believe (Abe's policy of) proactively contributing to peace based on the principle of international cooperation will serve to be a new bond between Japan and Africa."

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Colombia's Argos eyes Latin American energy investments

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(Reuters) - Grupo Argos, a Colombian holding company, is looking to invest in the energy sector elsewhere in Latin America later this year, its chief executive officer said on Wednesday.

The investments would be made through its subsidiary, Celsia , an electricity company that currently has operations only in Colombia, CEO Jose Alberto Velez said during a conference call to discuss first-quarter results.

"We are actively looking for possibilities outside of Colombia, that would obviously give Celsia some very obvious advantages in terms of diminishing its risks, country risks and regulatory risks," said Velez.

"Colombia is a very stable country, its politics, its economy ... nevertheless it's very attractive to think of other countries in the region where we could have investment opportunities. We're working hard on that, and we hope to be able to announce during the course of this year something positive on that internationalization front," Velez added.

Grupo Argos, a holding company that is part of Colombia's largest industrial conglomerate, Grupo Empresarial Antioqueno (GEA), owns Argos, the country's largest cement maker. It also has operations in the United States, Panama and the Caribbean.

GEA reported a first-quarter earnings increase of 6 percent to 121.08 billion pesos, about $59 million.

Argos bought French Guyanese company Ciments Guyanais, including its clinker mill and port, from cement giants Lafarge and Holcim earlier this month for 50 million euros.

In January Argos purchased U.S.-based Vulcan Materials for $720 million, which doubled its cement production capacity in the United States.

Grupo Argos said recently it would not participate in bidding for Colombia's third largest electricity generator, Isagen, which is majority-owned by the government, in order to free up funding for other investments. It said the company's profits were not as attractive as first thought.

The Colombian government is seeking to raise 5 trillion pesos ($2.5 billion) from a sale of its 57.6 percent stake in the company.

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Qatar, UAE Move from Frontier to Emerging Market

Qatar, UAE Move from Frontier to Emerging Market | Diaspora investments | Scoop.it
homestrings's insight:

Last June, MSCI announced that it would be reclassifying Qatar and the United Arab Emirates as emerging rather than frontier markets come 2014, and in May that reclassification will tilt the composition of both frontier and emerging market indices and funds in ways that demand attention.

That will be followed in September by a similar reclassification of the two countries from frontier to emerging markets by S&P Dow Jones Indices, which announced its intent last September.

Frontier markets are, of course, considered the riskiest among world markets in which to invest, since some of the countries included in that category may not even have functioning stock markets. Sectors usually found in frontier markets include those that bring in regular monthly payments from customers – such as telecommunications, financial and consumer-oriented companies – and are often less liquid, provide less transparency than offerings in more developed markets and carrier higher investment fees as well.

Currencies in frontier markets may fluctuate more often and to a greater degree than in more developed markets. In addition, frontier markets are often located in countries that are less politically stable, providing other risks – anything from revolution to nationalization.

Emerging markets are farther down the road toward development, providing more political and economic stability, additional transparency, better liquidity and more developed stock markets. However, they still offer greater risk than developed markets, if perhaps in different areas. In addition, their rate of growth may not be as swift as in frontier markets, which may have greater potential as markets advance and businesses grow – hence their allure.

While funds concentrating on frontier markets have been able to provide healthy returns over the last several months – MSCI’s FM (Frontier Market) Index, for example, has seen a 19.5% increase over the 12 months ending March 28, compared with MSCI’s EM (Emerging Market) Index, which is down 4.62% over the same period – that could change once Qatar and the UAE shift positions.

There are three reasons for that, according to Amrita Bargaria, ETF product manager at Van Eck Global.

First, said Bargaria, “For folks who are holding an ETF that tracks a frontier market index like MSCI, they won’t get exposure to those two countries any more. They’re the second and third largest in the index, so [they make up] almost 40% of the index. It’s a big deal.”

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How #bitcoin is moving money in Africa

How #bitcoin is moving money in Africa | Diaspora investments | Scoop.it

It's OK to admit that you still don't know what bitcoin is — but you may now officially be behind the curve. Because all of Africa could soon be getting onboard.

The virtual currency — straight up: computer money — created by an anonymous hacker in 2009 has captured hard-core geeks' hearts. Its appeal? It enables bank-free (aka middleman-free) anonymous purchasing and, crucially, it's a global currency that's not tied to any central bank and not much different than a dollar or a euro. The key characteristics of this digital cash also happen to make it a great fit for people who aren't so down with advanced digital technology: the 326 million Africans who lack access to basic banking services.

This isn't such a crazy idea. Mobile payments that work on standard-feature phones have already made strong inroads in Africa, with 16 percent of Africans using the services. The largest provider of such payments, M-Pesa, already operates in Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa, as well as India and Afghanistan.

But if you were a member of the large and expanding African diaspora, and you wanted to send money home to grandma or the hubby left behind, you couldn't count on mobile payments. M-Pesa, for instance, lets foreign-dwelling folk send money through a partnership with Western Union — but the latter tends to charge onerous fees. Which makes bitcoin super-appealing, if you can get past the expensiveexchange rate — as of publication, one bitcoin was worth nearly US$500.

It'd be a huge loss for Western Union if bitcoin cut into its business: Africans throughout the diaspora send home $32 billion a year, according to the World Bank. Right now, they pay dearly for the privilege: 12 percent of each transaction, on average. Mobile money also doesn't much address larger economic woes back home, such as inflation and scarcity.

According to bitcoin advocates, the cryptocurrency could help solve both problems.

Companies like Kipochi and BitPesa have already begun to use bitcoin for those home-to-grandma payments, known as remittances. For now, bitcoin users need an Internet connection, but these companies are developing platforms for the standard-feature phones commonly used in Africa (rather than building apps for smartphones, which are more rare).

So far, bitcoin activity in Africa has picked up most among young tech-savvy men in urban centers such as Nairobi, says Pelle Braendgaard, the CEO of Kipochi. But it could be spreading. Lately, Braendgaard has seen an increase in exchanges among friends and family members.

His goal: to expand access to women managing household expenses. They're the most common recipients of remittances. "My goal is to make bitcoin usable by ordinary people all over the world, so that even my grandma can use it," he says.

Still, the challenge remains: There's no system to cash out bitcoins for government-issued currency. Unlike a euro or a dollar, you can't hold a bitcoin in your hand or pop it into your wallet to use at the local merchants. There's also still an unsettled debate about whether bitcoin is a currency or payment protocol — a crucial legal distinction that has made regulators especially wary, says Bill Maurer, director of the Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion at the University of California-Irvine. China, for instance, has barred its financial institutions from carrying out bitcoin transactions. African countries have also been hesitant, due to concerns about money laundering.

African banks have started warming up to Bitcoin — but they've stopped short of a full embrace. In February, South Africa's Standard Bank tested a bitcoin trading system, but hasn't yet offered the service to customers. Braendgaard, however, remains hopeful. He says he's in talks with several banks in African countries — including Kenya, Nigeria and Zimbabwe — to enable the conversion of bitcoin into local currencies using Kipochi's service. He expects to launch the first such partnership within six months.

One of bitcoin's strangest facets may be one of its biggest challenges on the continent: the way it's produced through a process called mining. Developers use computer clusters to solve complex mathematical equations and verify transactions, thereby earning, or "mining," bitcoin. But given the computer processing requirements, most people in Africa can't easily mine bitcoin — instead, they receive bitcoin from someone else, often from outside the continent. Receiving the currency from outside "creates dependency," says Will Ruddick, the co-founder of Koru, a nonprofit based in Mombasa, Kenya.

Yet it's tempting to think about the inflationary troubles bitcoin could solve. Specifically, a broader application of bitcoin — as a complementary currency — could appeal to African consumers who are leery of their country's inflationary troubles, which are a constant threat to economic stability. Hyperinflation in Zimbabwe once rendered the country's currency nearly worthless, halting commercial activity. By contrast, because the circulation of bitcoins is capped at 21 million, the cryptocurrency is — at least theoretically — inflation-proof. As a result, proponents argue, it could serve as a trustworthy store of value in periods of economic distress.

It's not the first time Africa's seen an alternate currency, and in the past, new currencies have managed to open up informal economies to broader markets. Take Koru, Ruddick's nonprofit, which developed Bangla-Pesa for a slum in Mombasa called Bangladesh. Small-scale business operators, such as fruit sellers and tailors, join the currency's network upon receiving endorsements from four current members, and then receive 200 Bangla-Pesa (equivalent to 200 Kenyan shillings). The members then use the currency to purchase goods from one another, while reserving shillings for commerce outside the community, such as paying school fees. It's an indirect barter system, says Ruddick. Bangla-Pesa allows economic activity to continue even in periods of scarcity. Using bitcoin could help by providing an easier way to execute and monitor transactions.

But getting to that sort of system would still be a challenge.

Convincing people to put their trust in new money systems takes significant effort. And bitcoin's emphasis on anonymity runs counter to traditional means of doing business in Africa, in which relationship-building is critical. "Bitcoin comes with this notion of pseudo-anonymity, but do people want that?" Maurer asks.

Still, if Africans can get past bitcoin's cloak-and-dagger, mask-and-cape front, the cryptocurrency could get its shot at making good on its promise.

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Strongest Growth to Come from Frontier Markets

Strongest Growth to Come from Frontier Markets | Diaspora investments | Scoop.it
Strongest Growth to Come from Frontier Markets
Morningstar
Strongest Growth to Come from Frontier Markets. With most emerging markets offering growth at a similar pace to developed markets, T.
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Frontier Markets Offer Strongest Growth Over the Next Decade by @Morningstar

Frontier Markets Offer Strongest Growth Over the Next Decade
Morningstar.com
Frontier Markets Offer Strongest Growth Over the Next Decade. With most emerging markets offering growth at a similar pace to developed markets, T.
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African women receive high praise in Twitter ranking

African women receive high praise in Twitter ranking | Diaspora investments | Scoop.it
homestrings's insight:

In their recent top 100 list, Business Insider shone the spotlight on women-power by revealing its candidates for the most influential tech women on Twitter. A platform in which news, updates and comments can be published and shared instantly, it was great to see the merits of this platform and those who use it recognized so publicly.

Proudly joining the final list were two African ladies with plenty of success behind their names. Ory Okolloh entered the list at number 28, while Juliana Rotich featured at number 88.

See More: https://www.homestrings.com/news-and-analysis/2014/may/23/african-women-receive-high-praise-in-twitter-ranking/#.U4MF9fmSxRk

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Obama To Assist Nigeria Build Capacity In Curbing Terrorism

Obama To Assist Nigeria Build Capacity In Curbing Terrorism | Diaspora investments | Scoop.it
homestrings's insight:

The Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation Americas (NIDOA) has urged President Barack Obama of the U.S. to step up efforts to assist Nigeria in fighting terrorism.

This is contained in a statement issued on Thursday and signed by NIDOA’s Acting Chairman and General Secretary, Dr Sandra Dafiaghor and Dr Samuel Afolayan, respectively.

The group, while acknowledging the support already being rendered by the U.S, said Obama should help by providing more sophisticated intelligence-gathering and surveillance.

The Nigerians urged Obama to further assist Nigeria with technical training for military troops, appropriate equipment and long-term support.

“NIDOA will like to thank President Barack Obama and the American people for the support and assistance being given to the Nigerian Government and people at this very difficult time.

“This has come at a time when the abduction of over 200 secondary schoolgirls has thrown the Nigerian nation and the whole world into turmoil and disbelief.

“While acknowledging that the U.S. Government has started providing assistance, the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation calls on Obama to step up the pressure by specifically assisting Nigeria with gaps in capacity,’’ the group said.

The organisation, according to the statement, pledged its commitment to working with the Nigerian and U.S. governments in finding a sustained solution to the menace of terrorism.(NAN)

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Condo developers banking on diaspora dime

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The developers behind a planned 27-storey luxury Yangon condominium project say they expect Myanmar expats living in Singapore to make up a significant share of their buyers following sales events planned for later this month.

The consortium led by Singapore-based CapitaLand Limited will hold events in the city later this month to promote its 369 apartment 68 Residence development in Yangon’s Bahan Township on the corner of Kabar Aye Pagoda and Sayar San Roads.

“We want to launch our condominiums in Singapore for Myanmar people who live in Singapore and international investors, because they will be built to international standards and be an icon in Yangon,” said U Aung Kyaw Win, chair of CapitaLand’s Myanmar partner United GP Development.

Foreigners are currently not allowed to own property in Myanmar, though a draft version of the condominium law currently under consideration allows foreigners to purchase places on the sixth storey or above – provided foreigners make up less than 40 percent of the building’s total occupants.

Singapore is home to a large Myanmar diaspora, with some estimates ranging as high as 150,000. The community may be smaller than Thailand’s Myanmar communities, but members are often considered to be more affluent.

Construction on the 68 Residence project is planned to begin in September and wrap up in 2017, with total costs estimated around US$150 million. Of the 369 apartments, 153 will be serviced by The Ascott Company.

The project includes a number of amenities including ground-floor retail outlets, an infinity swimming pool and 444 spaces in a basement carpark.

68 Residence is designed by Malaysia’s Zone Architect and construction will be managed by SoilBuild Group from Singapore.

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China to extend over $12 bln in aid to Africa

China to extend over $12 bln in aid to Africa | Diaspora investments | Scoop.it
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Chinese Premier Li Keqiang unveiled extra aid for Africa totalling at least $12 billion on Monday, and offered to share advance technology with the continent to help with development of high-speed rail, state media reported.

Li pledged the additional funding in a speech at the Organisation of African Union headquarters in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

China will increase credit lines to Africa by $10 billion and will boost the China-Africa Development Fund by $2 billion, bringing it to a total of $5 billion, Li said, according to the official Xinhua news agency. He provided no details of the timeframe.

Li "depicted a dream that all African capitals are connected with high-speed rail, so as to boost pan-African communication and development," the report said. As China has advanced technologies in this area, Li said China was ready to work with Africa "to make this dream come true".

China will also offer $10 million in aid for wildlife protection, Li added, for a part of the world where the Chinese appetite ivory and rhino horns have driven some species to the brink of extinction.

It is Li's first visit to Africa since he became premier last year, and follows on from a trip to the continent by President Xi Jinping in March 2013, when he renewed an offer of $20 billion in loans to Africa between 2013 and 2015.

Li said that the new $10 billion credit line would be on top of the existing $20 billion already offered, the China News Service reported.

Chinese officials said last week that Li's trip, which also takes in oil-rich Nigeria and Angola, would not simply be for energy deals and Beijing will be seeking to help boost African living standards.

Li said he hoped that some of the loans being offered would be used to support small and medium-seized companies in Africa, adding that economic development on the continent offered huge opportunities for both China and Africa.

"History and reality make clear to all: China's development gives opportunity to Africa; Africa develops, and China also benefits," he said.

Trips by Chinese leaders to Africa are often marked by big natural resource deals, triggering criticism from some quarters that China is only interested in the continent's mineral and energy wealth.

China has a relationship with Africa which pre-dates its current resource-hungry economic boom. In previous decades, China's Communist leaders supported national liberation movements and newly independent states across the continent.

Africans broadly see China as a healthy counterbalance to Western influence but, as ties mature, there are growing calls from policymakers and economists for more balanced trade relations.

This version of the story corrects the figure for wildlife aid in the fifth paragraph. Earlier state media reports put the figure at $100 million, but transcript of speech puts figure at $10 million.

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Africa Should Not Follow China's Model, Beijing's Ambassador Says

Africa Should Not Follow China's Model, Beijing's Ambassador Says | Diaspora investments | Scoop.it
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“I travelled to African countries 30 years ago, and I can see the difference,” says Zhong Jianhua, the special representative of the Chinese government in Africa. “Thirty years ago, you went to an African market and you’d see what they produce is what they’d brought from the village, brought from the fields or brought from the sea. Nothing was industrialized or produced in factories at all.”

Zhong is China’s top diplomat in Africa, responsible for everything from its mediation efforts in conflicts in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, through to its expanding commercial relationships with emerging powerhouses, such as Nigeria. Africa, he says, should not look to copy China’s development, but instead find their own routes out of poverty.

Today, market stalls across sub-Saharan Africa are laden with manufactured goods. Most of it, though, is stamped “Made in China”. Sino-African trade and investment is now worth around $200 billion. In the most part, unrefined commodities leave Africa for China, manufactured goods come back. This structure mirrors that of the old colonial powers’ relationship with the continent, creating a dependence on raw exports, preventing industrialization and cementing a reliance on expensive imports.

China expects to redress this balance, Zhong says. Investments in export processing zones, vehicle assembly plants and textile factories make up the next wave of Chinese commercial expansion. Higher wages, an ageing population and a desire in Beijing to reorient the export-driven economy to one based on domestic consumption are driving a search for new emerging markets by China’s corporates.

“Whether you have a government policy or not, they don’t listen to you,” Zhong admits. “They go after profit, not government policy. Of course we encourage it.

Just as China benefitted from offshoring following its economic liberalization under Deng Xiaoping, Africa is profiting from the development of the Chinese economy.

“The other Asian economies, like Singapore, Japan, they shifted some industry into China. Now it’s our opportunity to shift some industry into Africa and to create this huge market. More than one billion people,” Zhong says.

“When they want to have a better house, that means the materials for building becomes a huge market. When they want to buy a car, that means that automobiles are a huge market. People here want to improve their lives, for us, it’s a huge demand.

The Chinese premier Li Keqiang toured the continent in May, following the president, Xi Xinping, who came last year. Both promised billions in fresh lending and investment as Beijing keeps up more than a decade of concerted diplomatic and commercial courtship of sub-Saharan Africa.

Although, as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton made several visible attempts to reignite American interest in Africa, the Obama administration has been accused of continuing the Bush government’s focus on the humanitarian and security aspects of its relationship with the continent. Support for the French intervention in Mali and the Ugandan army’s hunt for the Lords Resistance Army, as well as the overt backing of the African Union’s military push in Somalia, has left America looking like the policeman to China’s banker.

Commercial programs are underway. The multi-billion dollar “Power Africa” initiative, which uses US development finance to backstop investments by American corporates into electrification, is a direct challenge to the US corporate sector to compete in Africa.

Japan has been ramping up its interests in the continent. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made his first official visit to Africa in 2014, having announced $32 billion in public and private sector lending and investment the previous year. India’s diplomatic approach has often been incoherent and lacking in an obvious strategy, but the country’s businesses and Diaspora are expanding across multiple countries and sectors. Brazil, like China, has peddled a narrative of shared development as it invests in the mining and agriculture sectors.

After the proxy battles that were fought in Africa during the Cold War, many African scholars and politicians are understandably wary of the idea of competition between global powers in their backyard. However, the rapid development of the Chinese economy and its state-led, market-oriented model has given policymakers a compelling alternative to the free market ideologies of the Washington Consensus.

Zhong says that the Chinese economy has been built on a desire to improve the livelihood of the country’s people—a practical approach to achieving results, rather than an ideology.

“We are Chinese,” he says. “This means we follow Deng Xiaoping’s doctrine. His philosophy is that it doesn’t matter if the cat is white or black, as long as it catches a mouse. When we began our reform, we didn’t even know what the model was. We created the things that were good for the Chinese.”

Attempts to copy the Chinese model in Africa are “doomed to fail”, he says. “We know that each country’s model has to be unique, with its own traditions and cultures and ways of living. It can only solve its only problems its own way. If you only try to copy the Chinese model, you will not be successful.”

Zhong is also quick to head off talk that China sees its interests in Africa as competitive with other powers—even though its representatives have, in the recent past, talked tough over moves by Japan to expand its influence in the continent.

When Abe’s visited Ethiopia, Xie Xiaoyan, the Chinese ambassador to the African Union, called the Japanese prime minister “the biggest troublemaker in Asia”, and said that Japan’s activities in Africa to be part of a strategy to contain China’s expansion.

Zhong is more conciliatory. “There is, whether you’re willing or not, some kind of competition. But you must bear in mind: This is Africa. You are Chinese, he is American. You do not come here to compete in somebody else’s house. Who are you? You are the guest,” he says.

“If you are welcomed by the host, good luck. If you are not welcomed by the host, bad luck. But there is no room for two guests to fight each other in somebody else’s house.”

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Investing In The Caribbean Is "Good Business" Says Sandals Resorts

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NEW YORK -The Caribbean region remains a great business investment and still offers "the single best holiday product in the world."

So insists Chairman of Sandals Resorts International, Hon. Gordon "Butch" Stewart, OJ, CD, Hon. LLD, the man who built a tourism empire in the Caribbean from the ground-up and today remains active in investments across the region.

The Jamaican-born Stewart's pearls of wisdom to global investors come as he gears up to receive the 2014 Invest Caribbean Now Leadership Award this June 4, 2014 at the Harvard Club in New York City.

Invest Caribbean Now, the biggest global summit on the Caribbean outside the region, is honoring Stewart this year for his investment, commitment and dedication to the Caribbean "and for inspiring us all." Past ICN honorees have included Sir Richard Branson and Royal Caribbean Cruises International.

Stewart, former CEO of Air Jamaica and President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association, calls it "an honor to be considered a leader among those serving and succeeding in the Caribbean."

"My work here, the companies I have built, the jobs we have created and the people we have served are the best example of what is possible in the Caribbean and why we must continue to invest here at home," he added.

"Gordon 'Butch' Stewart is a name that has become synonymous with Caribbean tourism globally," said ICN Founder and Chairman Felicia J. Persaud. "Mr. Stewart is an inspiration to all Caribbean entrepreneurs. He embodies the core value of what can be accomplished through vision, leadership and hard work. There is no one more deserving to receive the prestigious ICN Leadership Award in 2014 and we are honored he will be joining us to accept this award."

Meanwhile, Stewart warns Caribbean governments to consider the lasting effects of the investment they accept on their resources and their constituencies, especially as he puts it, "it's not simply about land development or acquisition but about investing in people, giving them the resources and opportunity to contribute in real, meaningful ways."

"Human capital will always return the greatest reward and is where thoughtful leaders spend their time and their resources," said the former President of the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica and the country's one time director of tourism. "As a private investor in the region, our footprint is something we think about every day and we are making conscientious decisions to be good, effective corporate citizens. The fact is job creation leads to immense opportunity in education and no other sector is capable of distributing wealth as rapidly and efficiently as the tourism dollar."

Multiple-Award Emmy winning TV Anchor, Ernie Anastos, will emcee the Summit beginning at 11:30 a.m. on June 4th while Dr. Ma, Lin, Deputy Secretary-General of Beijing Municipal Government will bring greetings and Caribbean scholar Dr. Isaac Newton will deliver the key note address. Trinidad & Tobago's Minister of Trade, Industry, Investment and Communications, Senator Vasant Bharath will put the spotlight on investment opportunities in the twin-island Republic and Sheila Newton-Moses will put the project spotlight on the Caribbean Market Village.

Panels at the summit will include 'Global Trends & The Caribbean' featuring Ambassador Dr. Richard Bernal of the Inter-American Development Bank; Janine Craane of Merrill Lynch; Valentin Romanov, Sun Energy, Russia; Sergio Millian, of the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce and Anthony A. L. Adjasse of the Allied African Nations Chamber Of Commerce and 'Medical Tourism - The New Trend In Caribbean Tourism,' with Colin Childress of Global Med Choices, Turks & Caicos; Paul Angelchik of American World Clinics and Patrick Goodness of The Goodness Company of Costa Rica among others.

Additionally, there will be a panel on 'Clean Energy and the Future of the Caribbean' with Justin Locke of Sir Richard Branson's Carbon War Room; Diana Jensen of OPIC; Mark Austin of Bright Capital and Jacques-Philippe Piverger of MPowered as well as a panel on the 'Emerging Relationship Of Chinese Tourism & Investments In The Caribbean,' featuring Cao, PengChen of the Beijing Municipal Commission of Tourism Development among others.

This year's featured interview will focus on the 'Caribbean Diaspora As An Investment Source' with Qahir Dhanani of the World Bank Group; Leigh Moran of the US State Department and USAID's IdEA and Irwine Clare of the Caribbean Immigrant Services.

Beverly Hills designer to the stars, Woody Wilson, will make a special announcement regarding his line and the Caribbean while offering a preview of his tropical collection for the region to wrap up the summit.

One Caribbean Television weatherman, Joey Stevens, and his famous side-kick, Bob, will host this year's ICN Awards Reception, set for 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. It will include remarks from Hollywood Actor Malik Yoba and the presentation of awards to Sandals' Stewart and four corporations from across the region.

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Egypt Seeking GCC Investments for Tourism Industry, Zaazou Says

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Egypt is seeking to lure tourism investments from Gulf Cooperation Council states as the Arab world’s most populous nation prepares to sell more coastal land, Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou said.

Egypt aims to sell land on a 65-kilometer (40-mile) stretch of the Mediterranean coast near the town of el-Alamein, Zaazou said in a Dubai interview. The government wants to find investors by the end of the summer to increase the number of hotels rooms in the area to 15,000 from 7,000 in five years, he said.

“I want to target big companies,” Zaazou said. “I don’t want to mention names, but some of them are Gulf companies, and they’re interested. This area is fantastic, it has pure white sand, you feel like you’re in the Caribbean.”

The number of tourists visiting Egypt fell to 9.5 million last year, a drop of 2 million from 2012, as violence in the country claimed hundreds of lives and led some governments to issue travel warnings.

Tourist revenue is set to grow to $9 billion this year from $5.8 billion in 2013, Zaazou said. The government is targeting 25 million tourists and $25 billion in revenue by 2020, he said.

The six-nation GCC, which includes oil-rich Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates andKuwait, has pledged $15 billion since the ouster of former President Mohamed Mursi in July 2013.

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Africa is on the Rise, and We Need To Help Make Sure it Continues - US Department of State (press release)

Africa is on the Rise, and We Need To Help Make Sure it Continues - US Department of State (press release) | Diaspora investments | Scoop.it
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The best untold story of the last decade may be the story of Africa. Real income hasincreased more than 30 percent , reversing two decades of decline. Seven of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies are in Africa, and GDP is expected to rise 6 percent per year in the next decade. HIV infections are down nearly 40 percent in sub-Saharan Africa andmalaria deaths among children have declined 50 percent . Child mortality rates are falling, and life expectancy is increasing.

This is a moment of great opportunity for Africans. It is also a moment of decision.

The choices that Africans and their leaders make will determine whether a decade of progress leads to an era of African prosperity and stability — or whether Africa falls back into the cycle of violence and weak governance that held back the promise of the continent for far too long.

 

The challenges are real. Bitter and bloody conflicts are embroiling South Sudan, the Central African Republic and Congo. Corruption remains rampant; the African Union reports that $148 billion is wasted through corrupt practices each year. Africa needs strong leaders and strong institutions to stand up for human rights, address discrimination against women and minorities, and remove restrictions on freedom of expression.

The United States and African nations have deep historic and economic ties. The U.S. government has invested billions of dollars in health care, leading to real progress in combating AIDS and malaria. Our security forces work with their African counterparts to fight extremism. U.S. companies are investing in Africa through trade preferences under the African Growth and Opportunity Act. As a friend, the United States has a role to play in helping Africans build a better future.

Many of the choices are crystal clear. African leaders need to set aside sectarian and religious differences in favor of inclusiveness, acknowledge and advocate for the rights of women and minorities, and they must accept that sexual orientation is a private matter. They must also build on their economic progress by eliminating graft and opening markets to free trade.

The conflict and crises that have held Africa back for too long were evident Friday when I flew into Juba, the capital of South Sudan. I remember arriving in Juba in January 2011 when the people of South Sudan voted overwhelmingly for independence. Even in that moment of jubilation, the threat of ethnic violence loomed just over the horizon.

The violence turned tragically real in December when fighting broke out between forces loyal to the government and militias aligned with a rebel leader. Today we see the echoes of too many earlier conflicts: thousands of innocent people killed, both sides recruiting child soldiers and a country on the cusp of famine.

Led by the U.S. special envoy to South Sudan, Donald Booth, the United States and our partners in Africa have been trying to mediate the conflict. On Friday, when I met with President Salva Kiir, I reminded him of our conversations about his nation’s promise. I urged him to set aside old grudges and reach a settlement with the opposition before that promise is soaked in more blood.

Resolutions of age-old grievances are difficult, but they are possible. For two decades, Africa’s Great Lakes region has endured a crisis as militants and gangs have fought over mineral wealth and ethnic differences. In recent weeks, Angola has demonstrated remarkable leadership in working with other African countries and the State Department’s special envoy to the Great Lakes region, Russ Feingold, to promote a framework for peace. There is a long way to go, but the progress is real and it represents hope for the region and the continent.

Our role in Africa goes beyond security assistance. We are working to develop the prosperity that is critical to a better future. One aspect of that effort is Power Africa, a public-private partnership conceived by President Obama to pump billions of dollars into the continent’s energy sector and double the number of people with access to electricity.

And we are engaging the promise of a new generation of leaders across Africa. This summer, 500 Africans will come to the United States for the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. The fellowship is part of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative, providing training, resources and platforms to support leadership development, promote entrepreneurship and connect leaders with one another and the United States. In August, the president will host the first summit between African and U.S. leaders.

Africa can be a beacon for the world: Dramatic transformations are possible, prosperity can replace poverty, cooperation can triumph over conflict. This is tough work, and it requires sober commitment, regional cooperation and a clear vision of a better future. The goal of a prosperous, healthy and stable continent is within reach if Africans and their leaders make the right decisions.

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$2B Facebook Acquisition Raises Question: Is Equity Crowdfunding Better?

$2B Facebook Acquisition Raises Question: Is Equity Crowdfunding Better? | Diaspora investments | Scoop.it
homestrings's insight:

Fox and the media had caught wind of the growing Oculus Rift backlash from people who had donated to the $2 million Oculus Rift campaign on Kickstarter.

Those supporters/donators didn’t get any benefit from Facebook’s recent acquisition of Oculus Rift for $2 Billion. Yes, billion.

Had the $2.4 million that Oculus raised to launch the company been investment via an equity crowdfundingsite like Crowdfunder.com, then it’s estimated that those backers would have gotten a 200x return on their investment.

But because Oculus raised via Kickstarter, which doesn’t offer investment, the 9,500 donors to Oculus didn’t receive and profits or return from the giant $2 billion exit event.

Rewards vs Equity: Will Equity Crowdfunding Go “Mainstream”?

This huge liquidity event for investors in Oculus Rift, but not for Kickstarter backers, is leading to more and more people to asking about and understanding the differences between Rewards-based crowdfunding on sites like Kickstarter, and Equity-based crowdfunding on sites like Crowdfunder.com.

But it also highlights a larger point, which is that you and I live inside a bubble.

If you already understand the difference between rewards-based and equity crowdfunding, you’re probably part of the minority 0.5% of the population who lives inside the “Startup / TechCrunch / Forbes / Bi-Coastal / Sharing Economy” bubble.

Inside the echo chamber of our nice little bubble we constantly hear about products validated and sold for millions on Kickstarter.

We also hear over and over about companies raising millions in Seed & Series A rounds on equity crowdfunding sites like Crowdfunder and CircleUp.

With all the hype, it’s hard to remember that most people don’t live in our bubble, and are just starting to become aware of the power and opportunity of equity crowdfunding.

That said, this nascent industry is rapidly accelerating.

Within the short period of roughly two quarters since recent SEC No Action Letters, and the finalization of Title II of the JOBS Act, equity crowdfunding is rapidly becoming the new normal for companies raising Seed and Series A investment rounds.

Early stage entrepreneurs across all kinds of industries are rapidly waking up to the fact that financing their business with investors, even when it’s done with angels and VCs, isn’t just a Board Room activity anymore. They can now use a platform like Crowdfunder to do so, while telling a much bigger story about their company, build brand equity and momentum, engage their community by offering equity, and ultimately raise money faster and more efficiently.

As an example, a startup named TradeYa recently closed out their Seed round on Crowdfunder in just 3 days. One of the angels who invested online was also smart money who the TradeYa team made a strategic Advisor weeks later.

First Rewards, Then Equity Crowdfunding: Don’t “Rift” Your Community

It’s clear that rewards-based crowdfunding plays an important role in supporting and funding ideas, creative concepts, and newer businesses or projects. It’s a great way to get an idea off the ground and build a brand and community.

With that, the Oculus Rift outcome demonstrates that companies looking to raise money via rewards-based crowdfunding need to think about how they continue on after taking rewards-based funding.

Equity crowdfunding as a follow-on to further engage their community and offer them the ability to participate via an ownership stake makes for a great way to both formally finance a business and gives supporters the opportunity to become investors and shareholders.

Another example that drives the point home is the Zach Braff crowdfunding backlash.

Zach Braff raised millions in rewards-based crowdfuding for his film project, then immediately went and sold equity to institutional investors who got a participation in future profits.

The crowd lashed back very publicly, as they did not have the opportunity to invest after supporting the project with millions in donations.

Not only was there tremendous negative PR around the crowd feeling slighted, but a huge opportunity was missed to further engage the community by offering them the opportunity to invest.

At Crowdfunder we’re seeing a strong movement of companies like this coming on to our platform- companies who were previously funded between $25,000 and $5M on Kickstarter or Indiegogo, and who are now coming to also offer equity investment to their community.

I’d post about them, but I don’t want to be seen as publicly representing them or generally solicit, as many companies are doing private raises within the Crowdfunder investor network of currently over 45,000 individual accredited investors, angels, VCs, and entrepreneurs.

For these companies raising investment online, equity crowdfunding isn’t just the next stage of their financing roadmap and maturity. It also now allows them to offer true ownership to their supporter community.

That way they don’t feel “Rifted” by not getting the opportunity to invest online.

We also hear over and over about companies raising millions in Seed & Series A rounds on equity crowdfunding sites like Crowdfunder and CircleUp.

With all the hype, it’s hard to remember that most people don’t live in our bubble, and are just starting to become aware of the power and opportunity of equity crowdfunding.

That said, this nascent industry is rapidly accelerating.

Within the short period of roughly two quarters since recent SEC No Action Letters, and the finalization of Title II of the JOBS Act, equity crowdfunding is rapidly becoming the new normal for companies raising Seed and Series A investment rounds.

Those supporters/donators didn’t get any benefit from Facebook’s recent acquisition of Oculus Rift for $2 Billion. Yes, billion.

Had the $2.4 million that Oculus raised to launch the company been investment via an equity crowdfundingsite like Crowdfunder.com, then it’s estimated that those backers would have gotten a 200x return on their investment.

But because Oculus raised via Kickstarter, which doesn’t offer investment, the 9,500 donors to Oculus didn’t receive and profits or return from the giant $2 billion exit event.

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Frontier markets performing strongly, in spite of risk

Frontier markets performing strongly, in spite of risk | Diaspora investments | Scoop.it
Frontier markets performing strongly, in spite of risk FT Adviser For the 12 months to April 16 2014 the MSCI Frontier Markets index delivered a return of 18.5 per cent, outperforming the MSCI indices for Europe, North America, AC World and...
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Frontier markets may entail more risk, both political and economic, as seen in Ukraine, but as a whole their performance has generated some strong returns in the past year.
For the 12 months to April 16 2014 the MSCI Frontier Markets index delivered a return of 18.5 per cent, outperforming the MSCI indices for Europe, North America, AC World and Emerging Markets.The same is true for the year-to-date performance figures, with data from FE Analytics showing the MSCI Frontier Markets index return of 11.32 per cent significantly outstripping its nearest rival, the MSCI Europe index, which produced a return of 0.32 per cent.In addition, the MSCI indices for North America, AC World and the Emerging Markets all posted losses in the same period, with the MSCI Emerging Markets index continuing to trail behind with a loss of 0.86 per cent.One of the possible drivers behind the strong performance of frontier markets is their uncorrelated relationship with other emerging and developed markets and between the frontier constituents.The 26 countries covered by the index – soon to be 24 when Qatar and United Arab Emirates (UAE) are upgraded next month – include a group as diverse as Ukraine, Vietnam, Mauritius, Lebanon and Nigeria.

Working on the same premise as many multi-asset funds, this wide cross section of countries means that should one part suffer – a prime example being Ukraine – other strong performers can more than offset the drag on performance.

In terms of the funds specialising in frontier markets, there are effectively three different types: those that have a broad spectrum of frontier markets, those that focus on emerging markets but include frontier markets within the remit, and those that target specific frontier areas, such as Emerging Europe, Middle East and North Africa (Mena) or Africa in general.


A search of the IMA sectors reveals approximately 12 funds that have a frontier, Mena or African focus specifically in their name. Of these 12 vehicles, the best performer in 2013 was the Charlemagne Magna New Frontiers vehicle, run by Stefan Böttcher and team, with a return of 32.02 per cent. At the opposite end of the spectrum, three funds posted a loss in 2013, according to FE Analytics, although only three funds produced a figure that outstripped the MSCI Frontier Markets index return of 23.56 per cent, two of which were Mena-focused funds.


Within the closed-end space a search of the AIC sectors reveals approximately seven vehicles with a frontier, Eastern European, or African mandate in the name, and no specific Mena- or Middle East-focused vehicles.

Perhaps the best known of these is the BlackRock Frontiers Investment Trust, managed by Sam Vecht, which delivered a return of 45.97 per cent in 2013, roughly 43 percentage points ahead of its nearest open-ended rival.

The upgrade of Qatar and the UAE is expected to thrust frontier markets into the limelight and, combined with the dismal returns of its emerging market cousins in recent months, this sector could see a spike in interest in the near future.

The only question is whether the continued turmoil in Ukraine, and the election season in many emerging and frontier markets in the rest of 2014, will derail performance or whether the uncorrelated appeal of these markets will withstand the additional pressures.

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Zimbabwe's Richest Man Announces Award To Support African Innovation - Forbes

Zimbabwe's Richest Man Announces Award To Support African Innovation - Forbes | Diaspora investments | Scoop.it

Zimbabwe’s richest man, Strive Masiyiwa, plans to set up an annual prize to recognize Africa’s most brilliant innovators and inventors.

Masiyiwa, a 53 year-old mobile telecom tycoon who founded mobile phone operator Econet Wireless Group, announced his plans on his personalFacebook page yesterday, where he stated that he was setting up the award in response to suggestions made by several of his Facebook followers.

The Econet boss did not divulge many details of the awards, but he noted that he will award an undisclosed cash prize to recipients who create groundbreaking technologies and successfully register patents. There will also be prizes for business and social entrepreneurs, and even authors.

 

Masiyiwa is worth about $600 million according to FORBES estimates, thanks largely to his stake in the Econet Wireless, which has operations in Africa,Europe, South America and East Asia.

Here’s the full announcement from Masiyiwa: 

I am pleased to announce that as a result of many suggestions, made by the readers of this page, I plan to set up an annual award to encourage innovators and inventors in Africa. I will be setting up an independent panel that will write the rules, and publish them on a special website, linked to this Facebook page. Once it is up and running, you will be able to participate for cash prizes. The prizes will go to both business entrepreneurs, as well as social entrepreneurs. There will also be a special category for those who successfully register new patents. Nominations for awards will come from those who participate in this forum. So get ready.

For those of you who want to write books, on the lessons I have shared in these posts, there will be a special book prize, for someone who writes the most interesting book, which we will then publish in ebook format. If you want to write movie scripts, that is also ok. But wait for the rules, which will be published. It should be fun for those budding writers, and worth it for the winners!

On Monday, I will also announce, the long awaited award for teachers in Africa, that I spoke of two weeks ago. Its time to remember all those teachers, on whose shoulders we all stand!

God bless.

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The $8 billion gift to Nigeria

The $8 billion gift to Nigeria | Diaspora investments | Scoop.it
A Gift to Nigeria
AllAfrica.com
At present, there are over $8 billion of private investment commitments from agribusiness ventures such as: Flour Mills of Nigeria, the Dangote Group, Syngenta, Indorama, AGCO, and Belstar Capital.
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