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One common trait of successful people is that they don’t waste time. They Invest time rather than spending it. Throughout the World and all history, every Greatness, every Success story, every commanded respect, all begins, is sustained or crumbles by the art of personal time management. I believe Africa is greatly despised by the Globe due to our Lack of and poor time management skills. Anyone who can’t manage his time can’t manage his own life and easily become a slave to the ones who can make use of that time properly. I guess this sadly explains why most Africans work better under other races.

Following major world conferences and engagements, the strategy of keeping girls in school as the solution to ending the girl-child marriage in the world seems very apt.

Statistics show that each day, 41,000 girls marry before they reach the age of 18 (equivalent to 15 million girls every year).

Child marriage no doubt has a dangerous effect on the girl-child, her children, her family, and her society.

By: Faridah Mugimba Kakyama

African pension funds are starting to invest in infrastructure projects on their underdeveloped continent. The African Development Bank hopes the deepening pool of homegrown savings can fill the $45 billion hole it sees in annual infrastructure financing needed in Africa.

“It’s an unprecedented chance to make the investments in infrastructure and other sectors that the continent so desperately needs,” said David Ashiagbor, who runs a division of the bank devoted to developing financial markets in Africa. Until recently, most pension funds in Africa were hesitant to invest in infrastructures such as roads, railroads, and ports. Tying up cash in decade-long projects seemed unnecessarily risky while strong economic growth was driving up local stock markets.

Africa’s economy has recently grown by about 5% annually thanks to strong oil and mineral output as well as the rise of a nascent consumer class. The continent’s sovereign bonds were also generating strong returns because they are issued at a premium that reflects their riskiness relative to developed-market issuers like the U.S. That strategy is still working—almost too well. African pension funds that focus on stocks and bonds in their home markets have swelled. Namibia’s government pension fund manages assets worth 80% of the southern African country’s gross domestic product. Botswana’s local stock-and-bond holdings equal 40% of the diamond-rich nation’s GDP.

In Africa bonds and equities remain the two predominant asset classes for pension funds. While globally there is a larger allocation to equities (42.3%), the picture in Africa is more disparate. Broad asset allocation in sub-Saharan Africa has favoured equities that have shown a steady increase alongside the development of capital markets and regulatory change.

In Nigeria and East Africa, asset allocation is dominated by fixed income allocations, which predominantly constitute local bonds. When viewed alongside the high asset-growth in these regions, this is illustrative of regulation as well as local investment opportunities. This typifies one of the larger challenges pension funds face; identifying appropriate local investment and development opportunities at the same pace as asset growth.

RisCura analysis Local regulation remains one of the main drivers of asset allocation. While much of African regulation is supportive of local investment, there are often significant differences between the regulatory allowances for pension funds, the size of local capital markets and actual portfolio allocations.

Pension Focus November Magazine 2016 explains significant differences between the regulatory allowances for pension funds, the size of local capital markets and actual portfolio allocations. This is reflective of a number of factors, including familiarity with alternative asset classes, such as private equity, development of local capital markets and availability of investment opportunities. In many countries, assets are growing much faster than products are being brought to market, limiting investment opportunities if regulation does not allow for pension funds to invest outside of their own countries.

As pension assets continue to grow and international development assistance decreases, African pension funds have a pivotal role to play in facilitating inclusive growth and social stability. Larger pools of capital allow for investment in economic and capital market development locally and on the continent. Africa would benefit from local investment in longer term projects, including infrastructure. Local institutional investors lend credibility and a measure of validation and often serve as a catalyst for greater external interest. Local investors also allow global peers to leverage local knowledge and networks. With longer investment horizons, pension funds can serve as anchor investors for infrastructure and social development projects.

While investment in private equity in emerging markets has historically come from DFIs, pension funds are slowly joining in. A number of countries including South Africa, Botswana, Nigeria, and Namibia have led the way of alternative asset classes such as private equity. South African pension funds, for example, have been active in African private equity investment, both locally and across the continent, enabled by regulatory change. Since 2011, Regulation 28, which is the governing law for pension funds in South Africa allows up to 10% of pension assets to be invested in private equity, an increase from the previous 2.5% allowance for all ’other’ asset classes. Nigeria first introduced broad pension reforms in 2004 when the National Pension Commission (PenCom) was established and laws were passed introducing mandatory contribution schemes for all unfunded public and private sector employees initiating the change from DB to DC schemes. Regulation in 2010 set the limit for private equity at a prudent 5% and also imposed certain minimum requirements for such investment including a minimum ten years’ experience for investment professionals, a minimum 75% exposure to domestic Nigerian assets and required general partner (GP) investment. Draft regulation released for comment in early 2015 proposes to further relax these limits. While this enables investment, the requirements are quite prescriptive and have hampered practical implementation.

Nigeria is due to pass further legislation that will make provision for additional permissible investment instruments. This is expected to support the development of local capital markets and increase allocations to equity markets. Regulation can also enable regional and international diversification. Namibia, for example, allows up to 35% of assets outside the Common Monetary Area (Lesotho, South Africa, Namibia, and Swaziland), however with a limit of 30% outside Africa, while Botswana allows up to 70% investment abroad. This allows pension funds the freedom to find suitable investment opportunities without being constrained by the current limitations of local market development. This is in contrast with East African countries such as Uganda and Tanzania where offshore investment is not allowed, although in the case of Tanzania it is unclear whether the restriction applies to a country or regional level (East African Community).

African Labour trends determine Life savings

While Africa proves no exception to trends of universally ageing populations, the continent still has a young population compared to the rest of the world. Uganda, for example, has a median age of 15 years, and also the youngest population in the world, with Uganda at the lower end, to 40 years of age or more in several European countries and Japan (CIA, 2013). There are a number of factors driving this demographic trend, amongst them higher than average population growth on the continent and an increase in life expectancy. Over time, a combination of these factors is expected to increase not only the percentage of the labour market population in Africa but also the number of years spent in retirement, creating greater demand for increased coverage and adequate pension provision. The combination of increased life expectancy and working age population is likely to lend strong support to growth in pension fund assets on the continent. Working age population in Africa will increase, as will the number of years spent in retirement.

Working age population in Africa will increase, as will the number of years spent in retirement

By: Sydney Lazarus

 

Procurement functions can play a big role in supporting women-owned businesses, argues a new report produced by UN Women. The report points out that corporations are in a powerful position to help close the gender gap through their procurement and sourcing departments. Even though corporate spend accounts for trillions of dollars every year, only 1% of that sum goes to women-owned businesses. (In comparison, for U.S. federal contracts, the figure is 4.7%)

 

The benefits of sourcing from more women-owned businesses go beyond the women themselves. The World Economic Forum has found that gender equality is positively correlated with the country’s gross domestic product and level of competitiveness. Similarly, the World Bank has reported that “underused or misallocated” female labor leads to economic losses.

 

But what do corporations themselves stand to gain? First, and perhaps most important to the c-suite, there are benefits to the bottom line. The report cites the case of AT&T, which “attributed about $4 billion of revenue to the engagement of women suppliers in 2014.” Studies done by the Hackett Group and Cargill have found companies that emphasize supplier diversity programs generate a greater return on investment.

 

While in recent years companies have tended to prefer large suppliers that would allow them to streamline supply chain operations, this also makes risk more concentrated. A larger and more diversified supplier base allows companies to spread their risk and minimize chances of supply disruption, as well as promote more competition among suppliers. Of course, companies also stand to improve their reputations when they source from women-owned businesses.

 

There are a number of reasons why women-owned businesses tend to be left out of corporate supply chains, despite the fact that as of 2013, women own more than a third of companies worldwide. The report explains that, compared with men, female business owners tend to have less financial capital and less managerial experience.

 

Cultural factors also come into play, with women in many, if not most, countries expected to take charge of childcare and housework, leaving less time for developing and growing their businesses.

 

Becoming a corporate supplier can have a huge effect on a small business’s revenue, growth, and survival. The UN Women report has a number of recommendations for corporations interested in sourcing more from women-owned businesses:

  • Simplify the supplier application process. A number of companies take part in Supplier Connection, a standardized application that allows suppliers to apply to multiple companies in one go.
  • Limit bundled contracts. Not only does this decrease the risk of supply disruptions, limiting the size of contracts also allows newer, smaller businesses to enter the corporate supply chain.
  • Provide post-award feedback. Information on why a tender was not selected can help a business bid more successfully in the future.
  • When deciding among bidders, opt for best value over lowest price. The former approach also considers factors such as quality, cost effectiveness, and after-sales service.

 

By: Monica Burdick

Those of us with careers in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM fields, in today’s common parlance) know the importance of truths revealed by numbers. How can it be, then, that so many people in our numbers-based fields are inured to the deep disappointment I feel regarding statistics on gender disparities in STEM-related jobs?

According to 2016 figures from the National Science Board, women make up half of the total U.S. college-educated workforce and only 29 percent of the science and engineering workforce. Though female and male students show no significant differences in their math and science abilities between kindergarten and senior year of high school, somehow only 35 percent of chemists, 17 percent of industrial engineers, 11 percent of physicists and astronomers, and 8 percent of mechanical engineers are women.

These imbalances ought to provoke outrage in their own right—or, at the very least, an investigation into their causes. But the byproducts of the under-representation of women across STEM fields are just as troubling because they shape the very questions and technological priorities that drive these fields.

That is to say: Might it be a related problem that researchers often neglect to account for gender differences in their medical research (likely negatively impacting women) or that efforts to develop better contraception options have been woefully weak in recent decades?

The gender imbalance in STEM fields goes beyond women in these industries: It’s bad for women across our society. And if it’s bad for women, then it’s bad for society as a whole. If we can agree on that, surely we can agree that we must try to do something to fix the problem. Here is what I believe we can start doing today:

Women must be encouraged to ask questions. From “Are there any internship positions available with you?” to proposing research hypotheses, we need to hear from women more broadly across these fields, which means we need to make sure that they have the confidence to pursue their curiosities—and to see their inquisitiveness and pursuits as valid.

Women and the people around them in the workplace need to actively separate their gender from their role. The problem of inequality affects all of us, and we can only correct for it if we all work together to own the problem. In my labs and meetings, I do my best to eradicate all gender roles, both for women and for men. I do not want women to be the default “maintainers” of the labs, and I don’t want to see men as the only thought leaders in meetings. We will just be creating tension that distracts from our work unless we all acknowledge that there are no gender-specific roles in these settings.

We must acknowledge the persistence of stereotypes and unconsciously biased actions in order to overcome them. As an Asian-American woman, I face hindering stereotypes when I fulfill my duties as a leader in the lab. I have to actively remind myself that it’s OK to be outspoken and firm, even though it’s not what a stereotype would dictate of me. An accounting by women and anyone who works with women about what our perceived stereotypes misguidedly push us to do and say is a good first step in escaping their grasp. If an individual is not confident enough to stand up to domineering co-workers and express her thoughts, I encourage her to find a mentor to help her represent herself—and to see this as a learning opportunity. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, but with guidance and practice, a person can develop the ability to express ideas freely.

I began my career with naive resignation to the lack of consideration given to the gender gap in STEM fields. As the years have worn on, that youthful foolishness has given way to shock that hasn’t had reason to dissipate. It’s good to see more discussion about some of these issues, but the talk doesn’t mean much until we see a culture shift and real steps taken at all levels, especially by senior figures within corporations and institutions. As a female professor of engineering, I believe that we must listen to understand how women are being discouraged and harmed by this problem, and then we must act.

Without customers, no business would exist. Customers are responsible for paying the bills and making sure you remain in business. But what happens when you begin to lose your customers?

Many female entrepreneurs have wondered why their customers don’t return and what can be done to turn the tables around. In this article, you’ll learn five common reasons why you’re losing customers (and profit) and what you can do about this.

Let’s dive right in and see five common reasons why you could be losing customers and profits to your competitors;

  1. Poor Customer Service.

This is by far the biggest reason why you’re losing customers and profit to your competitors. Consider the following statistics:

  • 89% of customers will switch to a competitor immediately after a bad customer service experience.
  • A customer who is dissatisfied will tell 9 – 15 people about their bad experience.
  • 13% of people tell 20 people about their bad experience.
  • It takes 12 good experiences to make up for one bad experience.

You’ll agree that the figures above can be quite scary. Rather than allow this scare you, this should motivate you to invest in your customer service unit to ensure that they’re not chasing your customers away seeing that it is seven times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to retain existing ones and existing customers spend 33% more than new customers.

So work on your customer service to ensure you’re not sending them to your competitors.

  1. You’re not listening to your customers.

One of the reasons why you’re losing customers could also be because of unmet expectations which are likely to occur when you’re not listening to your customers.

It has been found that 96% of customers will not complain about a bad experience and 91% of the customers who do not complain will not return.

When a customer complains about a feature of your product, your service or any aspect of your business, take it as an act of kindness because about 10 people felt the same way but just didn’t tell you.

This is not a negative criticism but feedback to help you improve your business offering and be better positioned to thrive.

Here’s how Bill Gates puts it; “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”

  1. You fail to deliver on your promise

A significant number of customers will not return when you failed to deliver on your promise to them. Be wary of salespeople who lie and make unrealistic claims in a bid to convert a new prospect into a customer. They’re doing more harm to your business than good. Not only will you lose the chance to do business with them again but you they also get to tell other people about their bad experience which further harms your brand.

Customers will do business with you if they trust you and honesty is an essential ingredient to building trust. Build trust with your customers by delivering on your promise.

losing_customers

  1. You’re changing too many people they know.

It can be really tempting to assume that what keeps loyal customers is love for your brand, this is not necessarily true. They most likely love your people. As a small business owner, you need to understand that customers don’t buy from companies; they buy from people.  Be careful not to change the people who are in direct contact with your customers at the slightest mistake.

  1. Your problem resolution process is too tedious.

When it comes to making employees meet up to operational standards, policies and guidelines are great. But a customer with a problem doesn’t care about your policies – she just wants her problem fixed. If your conflict resolution process is too tedious, you’ll lose customers to your competitors. People want to know they can call if they run into a problem and be attended to – the faster the better.

So there you have it, 5 reasons why you could be losing customers to your competitors and what you can do to turn the tides in your favor.

For some women, enrolling in an engineering course is like running a psychological gauntlet. If they dodge overt problems like sexual harassment, sexist jokes, or poor treatment from professors, they often still have to evade subtle obstacles like the implicit tendency to see engineering as a male discipline. It’s no wonder women in the U.S. hold just 13 to 22 percent of the doctorates in engineering, compared to an already low 33 percent in the sciences as a whole.

Nilanjana Dasgupta, from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, thinks that mentors—people who can give advice, share experiences, or make social connections—can dismantle the gauntlet, and help young women to find their place in an often hostile field.

In a year-long study—one of the strongest yet to look at the value of mentorship—Dasgupta showed that female engineering undergraduates who are paired with a female mentor felt more motivated, more self-assured, and less anxious than those who had either no mentor or a male one. They were less likely to drop out of their courses, and keener to look for engineering jobs after they graduated. “Often, science is messy and things don’t turn out neatly,” Dasgupta says. But in this study, “it was very gratifying how clean the results were.”

She sees mentors as “social vaccines.” Just as medical vaccines prepare the immune system to deal with infections, good mentors inoculate the mind against the stultifying effects of negative stereotypes. “And this study isn’t just about women,” adds Radhika Nagpal, from Harvard University. “It’s about all the groups who have been historically and legally excluded and are now slowly entering the world from which their members were barred. There’s a famous saying: You can’t be what you can’t see.”

“The mentors helped to straighten these arcs that, by default, veer towards exclusion and attrition.”

Between 2011 and 2015, Dasgupta and her colleague Tara Dennehy recruited 150 women who enrolled in the university’s engineering course and randomly assigned them to either a female mentor, a male mentor, or no mentor. The mentors were all high-performing senior students who shared the same majors as their mentees. After a brief training session, they were asked to meet with their charges once a month, and help them to wrestle with academic problems, develop long-term plans, find a social network, and more.

A year later, Dennehy and Dasgupta surveyed the volunteers. Compared to their mentor-less peers, the students with female mentors felt more accepted by their peers and less invisible. They were more confident in their engineering skills and more likely to think they had a talent for the subject. They were more likely to think that their ability to overcome their academic challenges outweighed the stress and uncertainty they felt.

“It’s not that having a female mentor increased belonging or confidence—it just preserved it,” Dasgupta notes. This is a critical point. Without any mentorship at all, the volunteers felt increasingly anxious, under-confident, and out of the place through the year. But the mentors helped to straighten these arcs that, by default, veer towards exclusion and attrition.

That has long-term effects. As the months wore on, Dennehy and Dasgupta found that women without mentors increasingly thought about switching majors, and became less keen on pursuing graduate degrees in engineering. By the end of the first year, 11 percent of them had dropped out. By contrast, the students with female mentors remained equally committed to their fields, and every single one of them stayed the course.

womeninengineering

Why? The answer had nothing to do with academic performance: The students’ actual grades had no bearing on their odds of staying in engineering. Instead, “the active ingredients are belonging and confidence,” says Dasgupta. “Humans are social animals. Our ability alone doesn’t determine whether we stay in or leave a field. It’s ability mixed in that feeling that these are your people, this is where you belong. Absent, that even high-performers might not feel motivated to stay.” Which makes you wonder: How many brilliant minds have been lost from engineering and other STEM disciplines because those disciplines didn’t create spaces for them?

Dennehy and Dasgupta also found that male mentors were somewhat of a mixed bag. In some measures, they were just as effective as female mentors. In others, they were indistinguishable from having no mentor at all. And in some cases, they were worse: They actually increased women’s anxiety about their performance over time.

Why? Dasgupta expected that the female mentors would provide more social and emotional support—but that wasn’t the case. The mentors all kept diaries about their conversations with their mentees, and these revealed that both genders largely talked about the same kinds of academic problems. And the mentees themselves felt that the male mentors were just as supportive and available as the female ones. Instead, Dasgupta speculates that the men just couldn’t act as role models in the same way that other women could, and so couldn’t catalyze those all-important feelings of belonging.

That’s not to say that the men have no role to play. “They could connect women to other women in engineering, or to female faculty who could do the work of social belonging in a way that the male mentors can’t provide themselves,” Dasgupta says.

Lin Bian from the University of Illinois, who recently showed that gendered stereotypes about intelligence take root at the young age of 6, says that Dasgupta’s study reveals how “role models inoculate women against negative beliefs during critical transitions.” The start of college is one such transition—a point when life gets upended, and when people feel a surge of uncertainty about their place in the world. That’s when mentoring can make the most difference.

“It makes an incredible case for near-peer mentoring to increase the graduation rate of women in engineering degree programs,” says Sheila Boyington, the president of the Million Women Mentors initiative. “While much of the study is indeed intuitive, it affirms a well-defined path forward for universities to follow if they want to increase diversity in STEM.”

And although mentoring is just one of many possible solutions, “it’s not an either-or situation,” says Nagpal. “We need to do everything, like mentoring, fighting sexist exclusionary behaviors, training men to behave better, and investing money in better practices. We need to make up for a century of neither-nor.”

Source: The Atlantic