Sunday, December 23, 2007

Travelling while Nigerian: Kill the European transit visa

I have a dream...that one day Nigerians and Bangladeshi, EU and US, will have similarly easy travel procedures. When the only national borders shall be those seen by space travellers looking out of their window upon a spherical earth: NONE.

Until that day comes, here's a rational and very useful tool for finding out which visas you will need for your trip: Visa and passport requirements for all passports and destinations by TimaticWeb. Here's a tip: boycott connecting flights requiring transit visas whenever possible.

Merry Christmas. Eid mubarak. And a very happy 2008 to everyone.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Nigerian Mobile Toilet Pioneer Speaks

I’m praying for more problems in Nigeria

Published: Sunday, 9 Dec 2007

Isaac Durojaiye, (a.k.a) Otunba Gadaffi, pioneered the mobile toilet idea in Nigeria. He stands at 7ft one inch, and was Chief Security Officer to late Chief M.K.O. Abiola. He talks to ADAEZE AMOS about the ‘shit’ business My motivation for founding Dignified Mobile Toilet Like I have always said, if God really wants to bless you, He does three things. And that is what I call the International Finance Corporation of God. We all know that IFC is the private sector arm of the World Bank. But when you get the IFC of God, you are even greater than the World Bank. The “I” stands for ideas, God will give you an idea of what to do. The F stands for favour, God will favour you, and the C stands for contact, God will give you contacts everywhere. So, if you can have the three, you will be on top of whatever you do. It was an idea I received when I was still in the security service in the United States. Later, I was the Chief Bodyguard and the Chief Security Officer to late Chief MKO Abiola. When Kola Abiola was about to get married, I was in charge of security for the wedding and we were expecting 10,000 guests at the venue. While taking care of the security at the place, I noticed that there were only two toilets meant for 10,000 people and I realised that would constitute nuisance to the venue. And for the first time ever in my life, I did graphics, I never saw mobile toilets before, I didn‘t even know how one looked like. But the word mobile toilet just came to my mind and immediately, I said to myself why don‘t we have mobile toilets. Others agreed with me. We conducted a research across the country for four weeks and there was no single mobile toilet. It was even a strange word to some people. I went to some rental companies to ask them whether they had mobile toilets and they asked me how it looked like. That was when I took my idea seriously and designed mobile toilets using canopies. That was how the first mobile toilet in Nigeria came to be. Years after, I began to see what mobile toilets looked like abroad, I said to myself, so these things actually exist.

Skip to next paragraph
click to expand image
Adaeze Amos

Isaac Durojaiye, (a.k.a) Otunba Gadaffi

The initial challenges

It was tough. People would come and look at my idea; they would only tell me, this is a good idea and turned back. In fact, they could not just imagine themselves, permit me to use the words, ‘shitting inside the canopy’ (laughs). But four years after, a friend of mine was getting married. I told him it was high time we broke the jinx; just give us money to transport the toilets to the party venue and we will take care of the rest. And we did, yes, but because we hadn‘t perfected the technology, the tank that was holding the waste fell off on the road when we were coming back (laughs). The landlord association locked its gate and said we should pack the ‘shit’ off the road. And we had to pack it for six hours. The three guys that started with me resigned the following day. They said, oga, we didn‘t know it was like this. But then, for anything good to come out, there must be some challenges. I was able to overcome the challenges and today I can see the result. I was persistent enough about it and I overcame. I started with just N60,000 and no bank was there for me, and that was in 1992.

What kept me going then

The only thing that kept me going was that I was able to use my security experience. I did a research, I realised that Nigerians could go as far as hiring tables, cutleries and chairs for their parties. They would hire everything including good music. But where are the toilets? And where you have good music, good food, there will be royal rumble, especially where the food is so much and is free; you will see people eating as if tomorrow will not come; as if that is the end of their lives. Some people will forget that after a few hours, they would have to go and ‘off load‘ and it is necessary to do it in a decent way. The toilet must be decent and comfortable enough wherever you are.

My boyhood

I attended a public school in Lagos. There is a school called Jehovah Jireh African Church School at Idi-Oro, Mushin. Can you imagine that something good can come out of Mushin? (laughs). Later on, I travelled out of the country, first to Ghana, then to London. But I always have it in mind that wherever I go, home is home. After staying abroad for a while, I discovered that we have more opportunities in Nigeria, in Africa. People are saying that there are problems in Africa, in Nigeria, and I‘m praying for more problems in Nigeria because for every problem you are able to find a solution to, you are on your way to success. Problems beget riches. The Europe that we normally go to enjoy their facilities, those facilities were problems to them until they found solutions. So, for all the problems we think we have here let us sit back and think of providing a solution. Problems should be seen as stepping stones to achieving greatness.

My unforgetable experience in life

The thing that changed my perception about life that I will never forget was the day MKO Abiola was being buried. I looked at him from where he was laid in his bedroom and I tried to look at his hands to see if he was holding some money. But he was holding nothing. And I said to myself, so we came with nothing, we would go with nothing. Why all the craze about doing all sorts of stupid things that some people do, rituals and all sorts to amass wealth for themselves and at the end of the day, they would just leave it? Even his close associates in those days couldn‘t go close to his body. I said to myself, is that all to life? Since that day, my perception about life changed completely. It has changed my attitude at least to be happy in life, my life must be positive and it must affect my immediate environment, it must affect my society positively and it must affect the nation positively. I must be seen as somebody contributing something good to the nation.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Destination weddings in Africa

I just saw this wedding show on TV.
Please advertise if you're a wedding planner in Nigeria, Kenya, or other gorgeous place in West or East Africa. Post a comment here with business contact information.

Why let South Africa have all the fun?

Saturday, December 01, 2007

How are the stocks doing, really?

Nigerian Stock Exchange All-Shares Index
The Exchange maintains an All-Share Index formulated in January 1984 (January 3, 1984 = 100). Only common stocks (ordinary shares) are included in the computation of the index. The index is value-relative and is computed daily.

Current Price: 54,189.92
Current Index Prices charted on Reuters daily.
Also see Historical stock prices, since 1985, from the Securities and Exchange Commission website.

All the stocks are listed here by sector, copied from the Nigerian Stock Exchange website, nigerianstockexchange.com
SECTORS
2ND-TIER SECURITIES
AGRICULTURE
AIR SERVICES
AUTOMOBILE & TYRE
AVIATION
BANKING
BREWERIES
BUILDING MATERIALS
CHEMICAL & PAINTS
COMMERCIAL/SERVICES
COMPUTER & OFFICE EQUIPMENT
CONGLOMERATES
CONSTRUCTION
ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGY
FOOD/BEVERAGES & TOBACCO
FOOTWEAR
HEALTHCARE
HOTEL & TOURISM
INDUSTRIAL/DOMESTIC PRODUCTS
INSURANCE
LEASING
MACHINERY(MARKETING)
MANAGED FUNDS
MARITIME
MORTGAGE COMPANIES
PACKAGING
PETROLEUM(MARKETING)
PRINTING & PUBLISHING
REAL ESTATE
ROAD TRANSPORTATION
TEXTILES
THE FOREIGN LISTINGS

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Entrepreneurs under 25

Check this out from BusinessWeek's feature on 25 TOP US entrepreneurs under the age of 25. Don't skip the slideshow, some of the entrepreneurs could be your cousins!
See who won in previous years - Click on the pictures for more more more:
I love and admire The Cultural Connect, Amie Street is the s-weetest idea ever, and we could all use the Extreme Entrepreneurship Education. Another past winner is the Facebook guy before becoming famous.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Some Good Blog Posts

At Nigerian Curiousity: I first read there about the ingenious Mubarak: a 24 year old physics undergraduate student who has built his own helicopter, about the Bill Gates visa yarn, and more.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

African Stocks: Investing.

Why invest in Africa? For the same reason many are already rushing to tap into Brazil, Russia, India and China: It's growing, and it's undervalued.

Africa's stock markets outperformed world averages in 2006, the stocks trade at half the levels of their Western counterparts, and increasing foreign direct investment from countries like the Netherlands, Russia, India and "new best friend" China mean African companies are finding it easier to raise money.

Sub-Saharan African countries, currently the most promising, grew by 6% in 2006 for the third year in a row, riding largely on the strength of commodity prices. If you don't count the boom in India and China, the sub-Sahara is growing faster than most of Asia.

The region has also shown almost complete immunity to the credit crunch rocking the rest of the world's financial markets. "We have no exposure to the subprime market all," said Peter Wharton-Hood, chief executive of personal and business banking at South Africa's Standard Bank.

Institutional investors are taking notice. Money manager Robert Levitt controls a $425 million portfolio of investments for Boca Raton, Fla.-based Levitt Capital Partners. He believes Africa's prospects have changed dramatically in the last few decades. African companies make up about 6% of his portfolio.

"There tends to be a focus on the BRIC countries [Brazil, Russia, India and China] as the only economies that are growing and expanding. But Africa is an example of one of the other places that is changing," said Levitt. "Africa is one of the last bastions of natural resources, and as long as Africa has them, there's going to be money coming in."

Given that the continent produces nearly 30% of the world's gold, half the world's diamonds, and half of the world's platinum, it's no surprise that 13% of Africa's exports now go to rapidly-industrializing China. "As money goes in from Chinese and Indian companies, it helps the economy in general," Levitt said. "The Chinese are putting a lot of money into Nigeria, for instance."

Nigeria has huge oil reserves, while the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia, where there is a high concentration of copper in the rocks, are big in mining, and South Africa is spitting out platinum and gold.

The continent is extremely diverse and should be approached carefully. When deciding how to expand itself beyond its current presence in 17 African countries, South Africa's Standard Bank refused to speak of one set strategy. "Different geographies offer different economic potential," said Wharton-Hood.

For retail investors in the West, opportunities are also limited, and investing is risky, since political instability in certain nations means companies can be seized by governments or their markets thrown into chaos, although more than 60% of countries are now functioning democracies.

In a resource-rich nation, huge swings in weather patterns can also affect output. And there are still not too many brokers out there who, like Levitt, are willing to touch African stocks. A good place to start: mutual funds with holdings in Africa, like the Orbis Africa Equity Fund or Investec's Pan Africa Fund

There are also African companies that issue American depositary receipts (ADRs), which means they are traded on American exchanges like the New York Stock Exchange. ADRs can be bought through the Bank of New York's Global BuyDIRECT program--most investors are eligible to enroll---or through a broker.

There are currently 53 African ADRs, according to the Bank of New York Mellon, though not all of them are accessible to retail investors. The easiest ones to access are mining companies like South Africa's AngloGold. Its stock has nearly doubled in the last five years. Rival Gold Fields has seen similar growth.

Most of Levitt's stock picks are ADR companies based in either Nigeria or South Africa. The latter nation accounts for a quarter of Africa's GDP.

Forestry and paper company Sappi , based in Johannesburg, has seen its shares rise 50% in the last five years, and South African telecommunications company Telkom has seen its stock soar a whopping 1,300% in the same time period.

It's still worth keeping an eye on the companies that don't have ADRs, since circumstances can change. For his part, Levitt is able to purchases African stocks that don't have ADRs through local brokers whom he meets face-to-face on his travels there.

Levitt's visits to Nigeria and Zambia have also revealed promising signs of entrepreneurialism. "I was initially told Nigeria was dangerous, that people there would rob you," he said. But the reality on his first trip was far from that, and when Levitt asked people on the street what they thought about their future, they spoke of education, becoming entrepreneurs, and investing in the Nigerian stock exchange.

South Africa also belies the image of African disarray. "Probably the best financial systems of any emerging market are in South Africa," said Jan Randolph, head of sovereign risk at Global Insight. "Their banks are as good as ours, and their capital markets are as developed as anywhere else in the West, or Japan."

One booming industry: cellphones. "The social changes taking place in Africa mean there is increased demand for wireless services," said Nomura's emerging market analyst Richard Ferguson. Cell phone use in Africa is growing faster than anywhere else in the world, according to a 2005 study by the Centre for Economic Policy Research.

"In Tanzania, everyone is looking for a mobile, certainly in the cities," said Randolph. That's because mobile phones are fast becoming a vital economic tool. Fishermen on Lake Tanzania and farmers in Senegal use a trading system available on their cell phones to help maximize fish and crop prices. Wireless giants like Vodafone, Entesalat and China Mobile are all trying to tap into the demand now.

Investing in Africa takes careful thought and research, but the results can be rewarding. Levitt's stock picks can give ideas of where some of the growth is happening: namely in telecommunications and financials, and in the countries of Nigeria and South Africa.

But watch for the rest of the continent to become more open to investment. A recent report by the World Bank showed Egypt topped the list of countries that were reforming themselves to make it easier to do business. Ghana and Kenya are also in the top 10. The rankings also showed that 56% of African countries made at least one positive reform in the last year, beating statistics from East Asia (46%) and Latin America (36%).

Also see,

In Pictures: Top Ten African Stocks.

coutesy of Forbes.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

One Laptop Per Child

OLPC is about to hit the street: It once was known as the $100 laptop, but you'll have to pay $400 if you want the machine now called the XO. It isn't easy to change the world. But instead of allowing obstacles to deter him from his goal of getting inexpensive laptop computers to the poor children of the world, Nick Negroponte and his many allies have taken a new tack. Read more at Fortune: Fast Forward

...He said you know Nick there's this expression, "Buy one and get two"...you've got to... have a jingle that says, "Buy two and get one." Bingo: 100 percent margin. So, we will release it in the United States and Europe on a buy two and get one basis where you pay whatever it is $300 for it, and what you're doing is you're buying one or more for a kid in Africa and when you walk around with this it will [be] like a yellow bracelet, it will be an expression, it will actually say that. [Sic.] Read more at Valleywag.

Never underestimate the power of COOL.

Post a Comment about this or other SIMPLE Marketing lessons.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Giving back (Re: Ola's rant Re: Funmi Iyanda's rant)

You want to save the world. You can't wait. You want to give your time and energy to helping people who are less privileged. You can't understand how other people go on in life doing their self-serving jobs. You want to start a charity organization, or build the meta-charity organization. You want to source donations and connect urgent needs with resources.
You are not alone.

Check out the links above: Idealist.org and the Craigslist Foundation.
These tools will help you on your way to becoming a charity/non-profit professional - everything from how to start, and connections to like-minded people, to IT tools and support.
Inspired by Ola (where are you?) and Funmi and...many other awesome men and women.

Oh, and if you work in a non-profit organization or wish to, Post a Comment to mix and mingle. Be heard.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Trump the teacher

The Trump University promotes learning by doing, and the Trump blog has some comments and insights from the diverse faculty.
Find any treasure on the blog? Find any use for the university? Let us know: Post a Comment. Peace.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Women Work

Many women deal with this problem of not having help for their full-time jobs: at work as well as at home. The experience varies but holds in general, for richer or poorer women, all over the world. As a grad student among brilliant research professionals, I heard a lot of worries from colleagues about how the profession was designed without regard for women (no surprise, since women were not at the table at all until recently.)

My thought was always, just do what you want. If some dumb system won't offer you maternity leave, well, leave if you need to and if they can't figure out a way to accommodate you, you take your brilliant self and do something brilliant anyway. Stop being frustrated with misogynistic traditions; take some power and happiness for yourself.

- This post was originally written on Tuesday, August 14, while watching a really cool feature on Oprah about Women at Work.
- Post a Comment: What are women/men/employers/institutions doing to improve quality-of-life?
- Read Women's Lunch Talk, a great blog about Women in the Workplace. Tell us the most useful post you found!

Internet Languages

Wikipedia, Google Search, Google Blogger, other e-utilities ...currently support more than 170 languages. Translations into most of these languages are done by volunteers from around the world who are eager to help people view and search the web in their own native language. To facilitate how we go about getting these languages, we created a volunteer translation program. (Read More, courtesy Googleblog.)

Following the news from original source with the help of translators is not just the future, it is now. I love the potential of automatic translators for communicating across borders. BlogCFA is meant to tap into the Money-Talk-minded Francophone. It urgently needs bloggers, lest it die so young. Please don't let this happen. Be a blogger or invite a blogger. Feedback and suggestions welcome.

Challenge:
Africa may house HUNDREDS of languages, but with maybe six, most people can communicate. Which Six? How would you arrange a virtual forum that works?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Bubble bursting, or something else?

The current meltdown in global markets is driven by sub-prime debt. The following article from TIME.com is a short and readable explanation of the linkages:

Wall Street's Geniuses Blow Up the Lab
By RICHARD BOOKSTABER
Looks like Wall Street's mad scientists have blown up the lab again. The subprime mess that is cutting so wide a swath through financial markets can be traced to the alchemy of creating collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) compounded by the enormous amount of leverage applied by big hedge funds. CDOs are derivatives — synthetic financial instruments derived from another asset.
(...Read More)

Bookstaber is a former hedge fund manager and the author of A Demon of Our Own Design. He blogs here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Do you love school? Hate school?

An opinion from The Case Against College, by Linda Lee:
Here is who belongs in college: the high-achieving student who is interested in learning for learning's sake, those who intend to become schoolteachers and those young people who seem certain to go on to advanced degrees
(...Read more)

Well, what do you think? Should almost everyone go to university? Why or why not? What do you love most about school?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Outsourcing: Can outsourcing be an African Development strategy?

Inspired by this post on Nubian Cheetah
"Here are some key things Africa needs to grow into a outsourcing destination.
1. We need redundant and reliable Internet broadband infrastructure ex. Eassy fiber cable and SAT-3 cable are starters, also we need more Internet infrastructure.
2. We need the Diaspora to come back and start building the Infosys, Wipro's and Tata's of Africa.
3. We need Governments to earmark or allocate IT parks or Tax free zones only for science, Hi-tech or outsourcing related businesses.
4. We need more IT education, we simply lack this right now. Africa needs more programmers in Java, html, and other related IT fields.
5. Last but not least, ..."


What do you think? It looks sort of easy/viable, right? What's the problem then?

The Whole American Job Search thing

If you're coming right out of school especially, try AFTERCOLLEGE.com
It yields more relevant job leads arranged in a more usable manner than say Monster or Careerbuilder.

I've been looking for a job for a while now and find that the site rocks! Good luck with your job searches. Are there tools that you find particularly useful? Please share. By the way, MonsterTRAK is very cool too, depending on your school.

Let's toast (palmwine, anyone?) to having a vibrant job market and awesome job sites for Nigeria/Africa/? soon.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Number

People are different...it would seem that some people actually like the hustle, wondering aloud "what would you do everyday if you didn't have to work?"

What would YOU do? Read these stories from the nineties about dot-com boomers' retirement.

Some people can easily visualize a point beyond which more money wouldn't make them happier, while some continue to strive for more.

Read these Silicon Valley stories...and weigh in about The Number. Thanks.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Blog Carnival

Good Africa articles at African Loft. Check it out! The Loft also hosts a blog carnival promoted by Benin, which features great African business blogging by a diversity of authors.

Experience the previous blog carnival here.
Submit articles for the next blog carnival here.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Investing in Africa/M.East Via ETF

Carl T. Delfeld submits: Do we need an exchange-traded fund for Africa? Why would anyone want to invest in Africa with its high levels of poverty, corruption and bureaucratic roadblocks? Nicholas Vardy notes that between 1995 and 2005, African stocks showed compound annual growth of 22%. Last year, the stock market in Kenya rallied 46%, and the local index is up 9x in dollar terms over the past ten years. In 2006, equities in Morocco were up 75%, 69% in Uganda, and 55% in Botswana. Nigeria's stock market's capitalization has doubled over the 12 months to about $45 billion.
Then there is the China factor. The Chinese leadership has targeted China as a region where there is a great power vacuum they wish to fill not to mention ample natural resources to fuel its 10% plus economic growth. Trade between China and Africa soared 40% to a record $55.5 billion last year. Direct investment has reached a cumulative $6.5 billion and a third of Chinese oil now comes from Africa.
Nigeria has been doing particularly well with a GDP that more than doubled between 2003 and 2006 and thanks to strong oil exports has foreign exchange reserves of just under $50 billion. These markets are, of course, rather thin making an ETF problematic but don't be surprised to see an African ETF in the next year or two...Yahoo notes

Note:
There is already One: GAF
Profile: The investment seeks to track the price and yield performance, before fees and expenses, of the S&P/Citigroup BMI Middle East & Africa Index. The fund will invest at least 90% of assets in the securities that comprise the index. The index is a market capitalization weighted index that defines and measures the investable universe of publicly traded companies domiciled in emerging markets in the Middle East and Africa. It includes companies located in Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa. The fund is nondiversified

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Teacher tribute

Our teachers have done so much to get us ahead in life, and I often feel at loss of word or gesture to say how much this has meant to me.
Post a comment to say thank you to a super-special teacher in your life.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Great Mentor site: Subscribe for motivation

Young, savvy and ambitious just like you, The CulturalConnect is the mentor from college that you call for advice, the good friend at work who always inspires you and your best friend from home that keeps you up-to-date on everything important happening in your community – all rolled into one Web site and a weekly free e-magazine of your choosing.

Founded in 2005 by three college alums, The CulturalConnect has grown from one weekly e-magazine to four weekly e-magazines, a staff of more than 30 (all under 30) with a readership in over 100 countries. The DesiConnect, The MidEastConnect, The LatinConnect and The AsiaConnect are your weekly injections of success through Read more...

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Host and be hosted



Not saying don't be careful with online personalities, but some people who use these sites are consistently happy with the results.

From Haiti to Ghana

African hearts return to start firms
By Orla Ryan
Accra, Ghana

BBC: People of African descent return to their continent of origin to set up business.
Marie Claire Rimpel and her family; Marie Claire's daughter wanted to bring the family back to Africa

Haitian cook Marie Claire Rimpel is tired after a long day at her new restaurant, The Caribbean. Serving the best of Caribbean food, the light and modern restaurant - in the heart of Ghana's capital - is a long way from her native Haiti.

Nearly three years in Accra, she is one of several people of African origin who have returned to the continent of their ancestors...
Read more

Sunday, June 17, 2007

LIFE UNLIMITED

A friend is one of the dreamers behind Life Unlimited. They sponsor an award in India to enable people to turn their non-academic dreams into reality.

I post the link to their website in the hope that you'll catch the virus and do something beautiful. Visit the entire site.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Books we love

You want to recommend your favourite three books on our favourite subjects: money, career, business, economic development? Please post a comment!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Gold in farming.

Agriculture, business development, retirement planning, it's all in this interview.
Read here and Post a Comment.

Reminds me of Alexei (the husband) in Anna Karenina.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Goal Dreams

Hi everyone!
Question: Will you consider going to work in Africa? Why?

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Memoirs in work life

The job search
Friday, May 25, 2007
02:15 PM

A friend taught me about persistence. Keep calling until you get what you want. I'm trying this.

Game plan, sort of
Saturday, May 5, 2007
09:04 PM

From now on, I'll only internet twice a week: on Mondays and Fridays. That includes blog browsing, news browsing, email. I'll make exceptions for blog posting occasionally, for building things online, and for short, specific purposes.

Inspired by "The 4-hour workweek," I crave time to do other things, such as go out, learn languages, be active, make money, meet people, etc. If I don't stop being stuck, I won't be the liberated chica I want to be.

My search for a job
Friday, May 4, 2007
05:52 AM

In retrospect, it started out haphazardly, but is converging towards truth. I am very happy about this progress. I have given it the time and effort it takes, without rushing prematurely to aggressively take opportunities.
Nowadays, my desire is for work in electric power and energy.
The trouble with PG&E is location - it's not new enough, and so far from Africa and the Middle East, where I want to be.
EDF is a better idea, since it's based in France, which is a new and fascinating place in a more central location six hours from Lagos or Aden by air, with more vacation weeks, as well as incentives to master French. The only downsides are non-tropical weather, likely not enough weeks for travel, and possibly lower income. With winter clothing, luck, and negotiation, I can handle these problems.

by storm
Friday, Apr 27, 2007
12:32 AM

What's new and exciting?
business connections

Here's the deal: it will sign up thousands of small and very small businesses to use the internet. At the rate of 10-30 new sign-ups a day, it'll take at least a month to get 1000 new customers. If there are vagabond sign-ups, that rate could be higher. Vagabonds include individuals signing up on their own without using our consultants (for video and text representation) as well as those using independent consultants who may charge a fee.
I like the theory, building business ecosystems, as in "chop I chop." This is one definition of sustainability, if other people's business plans support your survival rather than threaten it.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Geekcorps

Geeks for a Good Cause
Source
Does helping to create a Wi-Fi antenna from a water bottle, wire mesh and a motorcycle tire valve stem sound like a great way to spend a few months away from work? How about working on a Linux-based PC that runs off a car battery and solar power?

If so, you may be a natural for Geekcorps, a hard-working nonprofit that trains people in the developing world to use technology. Geekcorps volunteers typically spend at least four months in countries like Lebanon, Mali, Ghana and Nigeria, working intensively with local people who want to use technology to accomplish some goal, like creating a network of regional markets to share prices of staples such as potatoes and pawpaw in African nations. Geekcorps pays the volunteers' travel expenses, housing, meals and other incidental expenses in return for their expertise.

The nonprofit's aim is to make themselves obsolete through training local people and creating systems that can survive in rugged and remote settings.

The water bottle Wi-Fi antenna was created by Moussa Keita, a college student in Mali who was working for the local Geekcorps effort, says Geekcorps Director Wayan Vota. The $1 makeshift antenna works as well as a $300 one from Best Buy, Vota says. But even more important than saving money is the fact that commercial equipment is incredibly difficult to acquire. "Literally, we are working out beyond Timbuktu," he says. "We come into Timbuktu for supplies."

Soon after Keita fashioned the innovative antenna, Geekcorps held a ceremony and fired him. A few days later, Keita returned with business cards for his own consulting service. He now employs a staff of three people handling networking problems in Mali and elsewhere.

Improvisation is also important to create equipment that survives the local conditions. The group uses low-power chips donated by VIA Technologies in PCs capable of operating on low power in hot and dusty conditions. They use Linux for one simple reason: Downloading the constant flow of Windows patches would be almost impossible in areas with sporadic and slow Internet access. Another challenge is to create an interface that works for illiterate people.

The work's is clearly difficult, but rewarding. About 70 percent of Geekcorps volunteers want to re-up and stay beyond their initial term of service, Vota says. "They're experts in their fields and we give them free rein to come up with the best solutions to a problem."

Interested in helping out? Vota is currently searching for French-speaking Linux experts, but no matter your speciality you can add your name to Geekcorps database.

MORE ABOUT GEEKCORPS

Thanks, Nir, for the story link.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Communications Satellite: what does this mean?

From BBC news

China launches Nigerian satellite
China has successfully launched a communications satellite for Nigeria.

The official Xinhua news agency says it is the first time that a foreign buyer has purchased both a Chinese satellite and its launching service. The Nigerian Communication Satellite NIGCOMSAT-1 is expected to offer broadcasting, phone and broadband internet services for Africa.

China beat 21 other bidders in 2004 for the $311m contract to launch the satellite, Xinhua says. The satellite, lofted by a Long March 3-B rocket, is expected to reach its final position later this year and to remain in operation for 15 years. The launch is being portrayed as part of a drive to enhance rural access to technology and the internet and boost Nigeria's and Africa's knowledge economy.

Read the full story here

What does this news mean?

Saturday, May 05, 2007

NIGERIA'S briefcase bankers are finally putting down roots.

Saw this interesting piece..thut I should share ..and una talk say country no good?
___


Briefcase bankers from JPMorgan, Citigroup build Nigerian roots

Investment bankers who until now had flown into Lagos to do deals then retreated to homes in New York or London are now opening offices in the country as record oil revenue, asset sales and a crackdown on corruption spur economic growth. Nigeria may overtake South Africa as the region's largest economy by 2020.

Nigeria's commitment to democracy and free markets will be tested after the election, which may bring the first peaceful transfer of power from one civilian leader to another since independence from Britain 47 years ago. President Olusegun Obasanjo will step down May 29 after eight years in office.

``We're not waiting on the sidelines to see if the elections are successful,'' says London-based Yvonne Ike, JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s country chief, who is moving back to her homeland to open a permanent office. ``We're trying to end briefcase banking in Nigeria.''

Bankers are warming to Nigeria after record oil prices helped slash the country's international debt to $3.4 billion from $35 billion in two years. The government plans to invest $67 billion in the oil and gas industry and spend $7.3 billion to double power production by the end of next year.

Nigeria is also selling state-owned companies to diversify the economy, which gets 95 per cent of its export revenue from oil. The government is seeking investors for coal mines, power plants and oil-services companies. It is also selling stakes in cement and sugar companies owned with neighboring Benin.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. last year advised China's Cnooc Ltd. on its $2.7 billion purchase of a stake in a Nigerian oil field.

``All indications we're getting are that the reforms will continue after the elections,'' says Craig Bond, chief of African operations outside South Africa for Johannesburg-based Standard Bank Group Ltd., which is buying a Nigerian bank. ``We're going into this market boots and all.''

While Obasanjo has boosted spending on roads, communications and power, a festering insurgency in the oil-producing Niger River delta cost the economy $4.5 billion in oil revenue last year. Poll monitors said that April 14 states elections were tarnished by ballot rigging and violence that left at least 21 people dead, raising concerns about the presidential vote.

``There is a fair bit of turbulence there now because of the elections, and ideally you would like to see that settle down before moving in,'' says Dana Botha, head of African operations at Johannesburg-based Absa Group Ltd. ``The opportunities, however, do exist.''

A ``robust understanding of the risks is critical,'' says Ike, who flies to Nigeria twice a month to meet with clients.

Ike is one of a new breed of bankers who are trading Fifth Avenue and Piccadilly for the streets of Lagos, Africa's most populous city, where vendors weave through miles of gridlock wielding dead rodents to advertise rat poison.

The 40-year-old says she'll miss the things she takes for granted in London, such as well-stocked shops, working telephones and watching television without the hum of a generator in the background. Yet she's upbeat about Nigeria's future, even if she's moving to a city where burning trash blacken the sky.

``Nigeria is delightfully chaotic,'' Ike says. ``You can look at things and think it's terrible, but you can also look at it as an opportunity.''

Deutsche Bank AG, which has seven people in the country, is among the biggest holders of Nigerian government bonds. The Frankfurt-based bank says fees from sub-Saharan Africa, outside South Africa, are growing more than 30 per cent a year, double the rate in Europe.

``Big players are coming to the market,'' says Kayode Akinkugbe, Deutsche Bank's head of global markets coverage for sub- Saharan Africa.

Citigroup Inc., which has rented offices in Nigeria since 1984, will move into its own building on Lagos's Victoria Island in August, says Emeka Emuwa, head of the bank's Nigerian unit.

``It's hard to compete if you're not in the corridors,'' he says.

The biggest U.S. bank is loaning United Cement Co. of Nigeria Ltd., a venture between Lagos-based Flour Mills Nigeria Plc and Switzerland's Holcim Ltd., $205 million to finance a new cement plant in Nigeria.

``In the past we would never have done that much,'' says Emuwa, 46.

BNP Paribas SA, the biggest French bank, opened a representative office in Nigeria last year, helping it win more deals, says Ronke Onadeko-Osayande, the bank's country director in Lagos. Last month it arranged a $1.5 billion loan to Zenon Petroleum & Gas Ltd., which is building an oil-products storage facility and a chain of gas stations.

``We're more on the ground, which makes it easier to spot opportunities,'' she says.

The International Monetary Fund forecasts Nigeria's economy will expand 8.2 per cent this year from an estimated 5.3 per cent growth in 2006. The country's benchmark stock index quadrupled over the past seven years.

Nigeria has proven trustworthy on what it owes. The country last month paid $480 million to Merrill Lynch & Co., the last of its debt to the London Club of commercial lenders.

``The excitement I feel about what is happening in Africa and Nigeria is more about untapped opportunities than about going back to my roots,'' Ike says.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Check this out

Websites don't have to cost a fortune anymore. You can get free domain name registration with your own domain name at www.ixwebhosting.com. If you don't want the host's advertising on your page, you can get decently priced hosting too.

Audition for Who Wants to be a Millionaire in New York. It's better than the lottery.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Nigeria's near future

Yar'adua campaign video. He is to succeed as the next President of Nigeria.
Part One: Power supply is #1 priority.           Part Two: Focus on eradicating poverty.
     
Good politics articulates the desires of a people. We've seen clear articulation in the video!
Better politics focuses resources (people/institutions, money/materials, technology) effectively to meet set goals. Is this a good time for optimism?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Forum Announcement and more friends

The Stanford Africa Business Forum is this weekend, at Stanford University in Northern California. Thank you, Wilson for your enthusiasm, and welcome to UpNaira.

A very hearty welcome also to Patricia. Welcome to this blog and welcome to Nigeria!

So very excited to learn from you.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Naija Elections and CNBC Contest

Currently in the top 15% (with 9.12% return) of the competition not bad for being 100% in cash! The market hit new highs on Friday and I bailed. So I am now waiting for an opportunity to get back in, and the 42 points decline so far today is not it.
I do have a lot of ideas to research though, which should enable me to get back into the market soon, here are some of them:

Top 20 most volatile stocks:
WFMI,SNDK,NVDA,SANM, AV, DYN,AMZN, GTW, HAR,NOVL, HSP, ADCT,WMB,YHOO, ANDW, BRCM, CTXS, CTSH, TLAB and SHLD

Short Squeeze or Insider buying:
TWX,JAS,AVID,UTEK,PRST,ESIO,USMO,CVO, CACC,BHS

Other ideas and other people's portfolios:
MOT, TM,SLG,FD,CYBX,SYMC,REGN,IMCL,GS,COF,FWLT,SGR,C

Naija Elections:
Feel, like I should comment on the Nigerian elections, although my interest is strictly economic as opposed to being political. Y'ardua has been declared the winner of Naija's election. However, I would like to call on the loosers ( I meant guys lucky enough not to win) e.g. Pat Utomi, to expend their passion for Nigeria in other ways. Ways that can go a long way in actualizing their vision for the country outside the purview of the government. Our people needs to learn that our "saviour" is most likely not going to come from the realm of politics. Politics as we know it is simply too dirty as played our society.

Therefore instead of becoming jaded, let us see business the path to Nigeria's freedom and the creation of economic value as the path to Nigeria's greatness.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

NEPA


Click the picture to watch the video (<4 minutes)
Ki le nwi nipa NEPA (What are y'all saying about NEPA?)

Found on radioabeokuta's site, abeokuta.org
This is real! Whatchyu gonna do?

P.S. I still have a sense of humour :)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Remember the Two Cows jokes?

The ones about Corporations
AN AUSTRALIAN CORPORATION
You have two cows.
You sell one, and force the other to produce the milk of four cows. You are surprised when the cow drops dead.

FRENCH CORPORATION
You have two cows.
You go on strike because you want three cows.
(more...)

The ones about Governments
BUREAUCRACY: You have two cows. At first the government regulates what you can feed them and when you can milk them. Then it pays you not to milk them. After that it takes both, shoots one, milks the other and pours the milk down the drain. Then it requires you to fill out forms accounting for the missing cows..
(more...)

BOND MARKET: You have two cows. One is Brazilian, one is Australian. They yield 25 quarts of milk per day. That's half as much as three years ago, when you traded your less-lactiferous German and U.S. cows for them. You are thinking of swapping for a pair of Namibian cows. They only have three legs but, hey, they produce 26 quarts per day.
...
DERIVATIVES: You have two cows. You repackage five of them into a Collateralized Lactating Obligation, pay for a AAA credit rating, slice the CLO into 10 pieces and sell it to investors, skimming the cream from the milk for yourself. Three of the cows fall ill, and the credit rating plummets. You get to keep the cream.

INTEREST-RATE SWAPS: You have two cows. You pledge one of them to me as collateral in a swap for some of my pigs. I pledge the cow to my neighbor as collateral in a swap for some of his sheep. He pledges the cow to his cousin as collateral in a swap for some of his cousin's goats. Better pray the livestock market doesn't crash and we have to try and round up that cow.
(more...)

SOCIALISM: You have two cows. The government takes one and gives it to someone else.
COMMUNISM: You have two cows. The government takes both of them and gives you a share of the milk.
CAPITALISM: You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull.
NAZISM: You have two cows. The goverment takes both and shoots you.

Find A LOT more Two Cows madness at Uncyclopedia

Post a Comment: Write your own Two Cows poetry or share your favourite.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Poverty isn't solved with donations

Business is a means of raising our collective consciousness,and it has the power to change social ills especially in Africa. Not only does business raises up the business person, it raises the community up as well.

Currently in the news is the information that Carlos Slim of Mexico has surpassed Warren Buffett as the second richest person in the world.
However, beyond the news more interesting is the man.

Carlos Slim doesn't believe in handouts.., however he has infused $1.8Bil into his moribound foundation
He thinks business can solve the ills of society
He has been accused of being a "monopolist" however he is surely a tough business man
The basis of his wealth included buying a goverment owned monopolist

Lessons
Ignore the goverment, and use business as an element of social change
Business is hard and tough however it can bring "good' to society
Capitalism is not near perfect or even fair, however it is the best the world has know so far, for economic properity - unless Cuba proves Russia or China wrong :)

The BBC has a series of stories with pictures talking about the real plight of Nigerians living on less that $1 a day. For example -
1. The roadside chef from Markurdi
2. The barber from Abuja
This I hope will make the statistics real and motivates us to change the world with business.

CNBC Recap- Top 16% with an 8.1% return on investments.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Learning requires focus and attention

CNBC Contest
With a return of about 7% in 6 weeks, the return on this contest is not bad, however, it is the lack of focus and concentration that is preventing me from optimizing my learning. Hence, let professionals manage your real money or you can get burned easy.

Currently I am in the top 18% with a 7.68% return.

Sold a bunch for violating the 3% loss rule, so with about 500K in cash, I had to shop. Now having the time and inclination to do serious research, I chose the following for the following reasons:

AUY ( Gold is a measure of safety, when high oil prices leads to inflationary pressures)
DVN (Possible takeover target in the energy sector)
GT (Tyres is a sector, I wish I have stayed in since the beginning)
? - I need a biotech stock, so I will look around for something I like today.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Lessons Learnt

It is week 4, of the CNBC stock contest, and although not close to the leaders by any stretch of the imagination, it is time to take stock of lessons learnt so far.

  1. Invest, with professionals - except one develops discipline in terms of time and approach to the stock market, my level of interest will vary a lot. Hence, real money is better of with a professional, even if you think you can beat the professionals.
  2. Invest play money yourself and use it as a benchmark against the professionals managing your money. With a return of 4.7% in 4 weeks, if my real money works that hard, I will be happy.
  3. Have a clear strategy, be disciplined and follow your own compass, sticking to my rules, have produced consistent, if not spectacular returns and most importantly they have allowed me not to loose money.

Sure, there are many more lessons to come and I will keep y'all posted.
current return 4.7%, ranking -top 22%.

Help - If you are aware of leading indicator of how the market will do in the next week or so timeframe, please share it with me. Including ideas like measuring overall options play etc.

Friday, March 30, 2007

AFRICA - Open for Business

I saw the clip of a movie on Africa, open for business on AfricanIndex.com.
It is a worldbank sponsored documentary showcasing 10 African Entrepreneurs from 10 countries, showing what is possible.
you can also check it out at - http://www.africaopenforbusiness.com/featured.htm

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Getting around Upnaira

By Topic
T1 - Labels
At bottom of page or bottom of each post, see topical labels like tourism or blog-admin? Click on those words to see all posts about the same topic.
T2 - Summaries
Use periodical summaries like this one to see what was covered in the discussions for that multi-month period. Click on the links (words in bold) to go to the full post.
T3 - Search
Type in a keyword in the navbar above the page to the left, and click Search Blog to use google to search for posts in this blog that contain the search term.
Sample Page
By Date
D1 - Archives
At bottom of page, see months like March 2007? Click to see only the posts in that month.
D2 - Recent Comments Feed
In the sidebar, click on Recent Comments to see most recent comments.
D3 - Recent Posts Feed
In the sidebar, click on Recent Posts to see a Table of Contents listing just recent post titles.

Have fun.
Don't forget to Post a Comment!

Bye Bye Goldman, Uncle Ben Blues

Thanks to Uncle Ben's omnious comments, Goldman Sachs has now broken the rules, which is, down 3% and you are gonners.
In my guts I will not want to sell this stock, I think it is a good holding and the performance of the underlying company has not been bad either.
But this is the reality of the discipline of trading that I am trying to learn in the game (CNBC contest), have a simple set of rules, stick to them and trust your guts.

A lot of things I have been reading lately, leads to the conclusion, independent thinkers and travellers win, even if they don't win on other people's measurement, they win having done it their way.

Mundane Report:
I am still top 25%, wilth only about 45K gain in my porfolio, which means people are not gaining that much more. However, due to the selling rules I am now sitting in ~50% cash, which means I have to go shopping again, maybe by the weekend.

If you have a strategy for reading how the market is going to perform one or two weeks out, please share :)

~S

Monday, March 26, 2007

On Business Cycle and Consequences of Short Squeeze (Part 3)

There are peculiar lesssons for the unbeliever in Armstrong's proposition...I have tried to pin point three lessons learned and they are presented below:
Points for Your Personal Finance
1. Get more defensive in investment style. Cash flow more than growth or relative PE will now counts more for stocks. Companies (especially the Large Blue Chip) that have benefited from the mind boggling profit of the past few years and have used little or none of it will benefit from a greater interest rate and better market position to punish the small speculative plays that have depended on cheap money to stay afloat. Many companies will fail like those sub-prime lenders like NEW and NFI have shown, and it is useless staying in the path of a moving train. Back to basics like Fundamental, Value and Large Cap investing will win going forward.

2. Reduce high interest rate debt. The era of cheap money is truly over. As regulators tightens, so will other rates tighten up on consumers. Credit score will matter more going forward than ever.

3. Build emergency savings account and/or Roth IRA that doubles as one. The dollar will ultimately crumble under the weight of debt, but intervention is not unlikely. This will drive its rate upwards overnight causing a desperate short squeeze on the dollar--cash will then become king. Understand that the net effect of this is continuing rise in interest rate for the least credit worthy...so only an interest earning account is positioned to capture its net benefit.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Props

DonCasiragi regularly contributes to Nigerians in America, a site that publishes smart columns by a few dozen dynamic authors.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Restrategize, Reload or Stick to your guns - CNBC Contest

Top 24, this weeks performance -1.13, total portfolio return 1.17%.
This week was not pretty with loses across the board, I had to cut my loses on some of my position, that were loosing more than 3%.
Overall, the more I learn about the game, the more I am conviced my strategy is not optimized to win. However, my goal is to learn, so we'll see how we do next week, and if we need to tweak the strategy.

Monday, March 12, 2007

On Business Cycle and Consequences of Short Squeeze (Part 2)

Misinterpretations
We will start where we left off...on the Misinterpretations of Armstrong’s theory of business cycles.

Often, it is easy to snarl at this unorthodox theory that takes the boom-burst cycle from within our control into the realm of some natural cycle. On due consideration, we will realize however that Armstrong talk of Business NOT Economic Cycle. While the stock market correlates more with business cycles, it is a forward predictor of the state of the economy and economic cycles. Hence even though the economy was strong between 1999 and 2000, the stock market crashed in anticipation of the quick recession (correction) of 2001-02. Same can be said of the strength of 1994-95 in the midst of very bad economic indicators. Hence the stock market is not an absolute measure of economy: it is better used as a predictor of how the economy will perform in the near future as investors (always thinking of themselves as smarter than the average Joe) always want to pre-empt economy weaknesses or strengths.

However, stock indexes are more closely co-related with business performance: we have no better proof than Wall Street’s obsession with quarterly reports and earnings estimate and the far long lasting impact of a quarterly report on stock pricing than those weekly economic indicators that are usually shaken off as soon as their forward economic ramifications are swallowed. Hence, Armstrong’s analysis (a product of analyzing the market) can only suffice for actual business cycle not economic boom or bursts which is a lagging function as far as stock market performance is concerned. In addition to this, a peaking of a singular self driven factor relative to the rest generally result in a spasm across board which jumpstarts a boom or a recession.

Current Business Cycle Dissected
The questions we should ask are: did we have a business cycle up until Feb 27? What are the unintended consequences driving the “turn” in that business cycle? What/ when is the next business cycle and what consequences does it have on our personal finance?

Of course, there was a business cycle on the offing especially since the end of 2002. Since then, the stock market have been hitting new highs every quarter courtesy of a number of reasons chief amongst them being: Cheap Money (read low interest rates), high corporate profit and BRIC (I prefer CRIB) Boom which opened up a considerably huge market in highly populated China, India and Brazil. The net consequential effect of all of these was a booming housing market and net overall increase in wealth and spending in the internal economy.

What are the factors external factors and unintended consequences driving the turn? Like any good balanced natural cycle, the same thing responsible for the boom is responsible for the burst. In this case, cheap money have made the internal economy soaked in high public deficit spending (ask those drunk legislators in DC) and the escalating home value has caused your neighbor to borrow all the equity off his property putting your own portfolio at considerable risk (ask holders of NEW and NFI stocks that have fell 80% since January whether they were credit bingers too). In addition to all of these, we have the New Communist (sorry Democratic) Party in Congress that is determined to stifle China, and promote protectionism all factors that will drive huge private equity buy outs(where the big boys are) and low risk taking and Feds insistence on driving up rates to negate those and other extreme corporate action.

What has peaked?
Remember the one trick pony argument of Armstrong which I deduced in the last post as: “a peaking of a singular self driven factor relative to the rest generally result in a spasm across board which jumpstarts a boom or a recession” Hence, what singular factor will peak this year and cause the correction that is all but assured?

Naturally, I realize this factor is not going to be plainly obvious but deducible from the immediate impacts of such spasms. One that however seems to stand out is the flattening out of corporate profits; there is no doubt that corporate profit have been growing with no commensurate re-investment (may be due to Sarbanes-Oxley and/or limited growth opportunities). This eventually results in high cash on books, and saturation of growth room. This results in eventual profit flattening and a consequential inability of financing houses that have previously been willing to extend credit to speculative entities to do so again. Erstwhile, they had made these speculative credit offerings on the believe of a healthy balance sheet going forward that will more than adequately cover the debt or possibility of a buy out by one of the blue chips with a lot of cash on hand and no growth room. What a flat profit margin will do is to induce a waiting game by the blue chips that are cash rich to buy the speculative in fire sale bargain instead i.e. a buyers market instead of the current sellers’ market phenomenon. The spasm of flattening profit is then felt first on the credit side not on the balance sheet and eventually in the buy out/ M&A field where a lot of killing has been made in the past few years. This is exactly what we see in the failings of the sub-prime lenders and the effect it is having on big dogs like HSBC and Credit Suisse.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Week in Review - CNBC Contest

Thanks Don, T and Ira for your comments.

I ended the week in the top 20% (2.33% return), and my plan is to spend the weekend, pruning my positions.
How?

  1. Sell anything with close to 3% loss ( here, I hope to learn the discipline of sticking to strategy)
  2. Buy anything that looks like a sure win for the next week and better than the worst thing in my portfolio.

Based on Ira's and Don comments, that this is a momentum game and not a strategy play, I would need to consider buying LEND and Sell CRM down 1.63%.

Hmnn, LEND - everybody and the kitchen sink is playing the sub prime game, and I can't quite figure out how to research the fact that the momentum/upside will be there.

CRM - fundamentally is good, and my thesis may hold over 10 weeks, the question is where will we end the week.

Decision, give it a day, do more homework on LEND and the sub prime sector as a whole, are they oversold? Is there a basket to diversify risk?
Gas is almost $3 in myneighbourhood, what is the outlook for oil and gas, next week.
In addition, I am at about 10% cash, which is where, I will like to be to be able to take advantage of a sudden downturn if it happens.

Top 20% is not bad for simply wanting to learn. So as not be a pig, it is do nothing weekend.

Cheers!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Last of the shopping spree - CNBC Contest

First, I should report that I am now in the top 25%. Not surprising.

I suspect the main reason is because I am not full invested, I still have about $400K fake cash left. Therefore, it is time to go shopping. My strategy this time is to do a market sweep because 60% of a stock performance is based on its sector. I included 2 of Cramer's recommendations - after doing my homework of course.

So here are the picks and the reasons:
Goodyear Tire (GT) - token purchase a la Cramer
Medco Health (MHS) - ditto, although the Healtcare sector is somewhere in the middle, the stock did not stand out
Next, I try to buy a bucket of minerals with XLE, but you can't buy anything but stocks, so I chose the following as a substitute.
Phelps Dogde (PD) - Mining stood out in analysis, and may be in consolidation mode
XOM -oil is up this morning ($61/barrel), might as well pick the granddaddy of them all
AMD - 52 weeks low? what? I am taking a risk on this one, will do more research this weekend to determine if it really needs to be here
Diageo (DEO) - worst of the worst, here I was going for a pick in a sector that is not doing well now, I intend to pick the best of the worst, ROX, however its capitalization is too small for CNBC, so I settled on DEO.
Wayeheurser (WY) my token NW stock is actually in a good sector, the only big name in the tree sector.
AIG - a worst of the best approach due to capitalization pick, alternative to VTKI

I should be almost as fully invested as I set out to be by now, so expect more sporadic postings on prunings et al.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

CNBC Challenge - What I hope to learn

Currently ranked top 4% with a one day $10,430 gain, I feel pretty cool for a minute. [ I know there are at least 80,000 people in the competition] however, this is probably as high as I would get. Why? I realize that to win in this kind of competition one has to use an extreme strategy.
An effective strategy will be, some like buying the lowest stock price that is available (you can't trade penny stocks), that you think, will go up the highest in the next day or two, be fully invested and dump it, when you have your gain.

I may be wrong, but we'll see. What I hope to learn though is - what kind of return can one get from an aggressive/safety strategy. Slightly diversified, but go for battered stocks and dump anything that looses more than 5%.

Todays Trades & Why
CRM (Salesforce.com) - Software as a Service is huge and I expect some recovery from recent beatdowns.
CSL (Carlisle) - A secret hedge fund, try to get a clean image, something tells me these guys have something up thier sleeves
NXG (Northgate) & OXY (Occidental) - now that it is all about subprime lenders, time to get into Natural resources

My goal is to be 85-95% fully invested, so I still have some more shopping to do. I will keep y'all posted and do post your own trades.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

On Business Cycle and Consequences of Short Squeeze (Part 1)

This is a three part series I have written and broken up for ease of assimilation. I have tried to write it in layman language and leave out the lingoes to make it accessible to all- feel free to seek clarification of term usage as it intended meaning might be lost in the simplification.

Sometimes in September last year, I had come across an article by Martin Armstrong - a former high profile Wall Streeter now in jail indefinitely on contempt charges. In that article, the lifer and eccentric had argued that the “economy” grow and burst in predictable cycles and even though he relied on back testing more than numerical analysis, he came up with 8.6 years cycle. I saved the article and laughed it off especially given the reputation of the writer (now in jail of course). However, I noted that the next turn (major or minor) predicted by date was February 27, 2007- just few months away.

I only remembered I had saved some Nostradamus like article on Thursday the 1st of March when I dug in my archives and came up with Armstrong's article. I was more than stunned to observe that he was bull’s eye accurate. True to his prediction, the market has since experienced feverish jitters since that date. More so, his track record of predictions speaks for itself. Hence, I took it upon my self to perhaps read the article again, and come up with a new interpretation untainted by my lack of objectivity the first time around.

The Gist
The core gist of Armstrong’s hypothesis was business cycle and the boom-burst cycle occasioned by an externally driven cycles either exaggerated by intervention or a lack of it. Indeed, he postulated that given his 8.6 year cycles and the mini-quartet cycles in-between them, the total number of days (3141) was a function of pi, thus confirming its natural periodicity (one of those eccentric calculations or approximations that will befuddle engineers and mathematicians reading this). But on second read, beyond these quick approximations and weakness of the Armstrong hypothesis I found a particular unexploited abyss: it is nearly almost impossible to correctly interpret or apply this hypothesis. But at each turn, the consequences of these holes were the strengths and abiding infallibility of the ultimate calculation of the 8.6 years he came up with. It is my intention to glean the misinterpretations of his gist and its consequences in my next posting. Feel free to pore through the article, and highlight the “weaknesses” you spot.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Trade Stock with Play Money - Win a Million Bucks

The CNBC stock trading competition is on once again. And this time instead of a maserati, you get a cool million dollars.
Trading in a down market for quick gains, is essentially crap shoot, however, I think one can learn a thing or two about the market.
This is to encourage you to join the game. I will blog about my choices and why and I hope you can join me too.
First trades -- 1000 shares of Goldman Sachs (GS) and 1000 shares of Sears Holding (SHLD).
Why? GS is the best managed brokerage; and SHLD is an investment holding company disguising as a retailers. More importantly, I expect both to rebound once the market has hit rock bottom.

Happy Trading!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Trade African Equities

If you add a risky stock into a portfolio that is already risky, how is the overall portfolio risk affected?
a. It becomes riskier
b. It becomes less risky
c. Overall risk is unaffected
d. It depends on the stock
Answer - it depends, whether the risky portfolio and risky stock moves in the same direction.

I am sure you have heard about the meltdown in the US stock market yesterday triggered by a down day in China and other factors. An important thing to note is the fact that African market including the JSE (Johannesburg Stock Exchange) was not affected.

This is a reason to invest in African equities!

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Engineering Development

If you're an engineer wondering what to do this summer, have you considered the Summer Engineering Experience in Development (SEED) program of ESW?

Also, I was back on the site of Engineers Without Borders today.

Both ESW and EWB have several exciting projects in progress, for example:
Engineers for a Sustainable World US, Int'l;
Engineers Without Borders US, Int'l, Conferences

My sister thinks I should work on one of these. I think: maybe :)

If you're working on your five percent, consider giving here for ESW or here for EWB-International (find the donate button in bottom left sidebar). I really like the various quotes at the top of the EWB pages.

Peace.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A woman of substance

Follow the links to read a long and inspiring interview with a courageous Nigerian lady named Funmi.
Page 1: "Nigerians need to connect for change"
Page 2: "My parting word is that I want Nigerians to stop talking and start doing.
And we need to stop pointing fingers."

Me, I'm working on my five - percent, slowly but hopefully, which takes us back to the questions asked here many months ago: when you give, do you give in secret, or do you show it off? I think in future, I'll publicly document my five percent, like write a list of major donations online or something. Not this year though. Comments?

Friday, February 23, 2007

Secret Weapons

I'm assuming you know that Rich Dad, Poor Dad and the other Robert Kiyosaki books are very inspiring and worth reading and re-reading.

I also value Barbara Winter's writings, and hope to soon read her Making a Living Without a Job.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Tech news

Upnaira is now hosted on the "new" version of blogger. Please follow their instructions to login with the new blogger.

Please don't forget to
- Visit the Welcome page and feel free to join the group blog,
- Sign the About You section and get to know other users,
- Comment when you have an opinion or suggestion.

Peace. Thanks.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Thanks for the Introduction

Tosin, I just wanted to say thank you for the introduction. Also, what is happening here on the Money Talk blog is really exciting and I feel very happy to be a part of it.

To all of the readers of Money Talk hello, I am really looking forward to meeting you and having many meaningful conversations about business in Africa and particularly in Nigeria. Whereas, when I'm writing on my blog, The Benin Epilogue, the focus is on entrepreneurship in Africa; for now, I think that my focus here might be on Fair Trade. Over the past year, this is an area that has gradually begun to capture my attention.

In closing, Happy blogging to all and by all means let's everybody feel free to chime in with your comments and we can "go to work"!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Sustainability, Nigeria buildings, and Nigeria Electric Power

Miss America on Monday
News dispatch from Nir. Thanks, Nir.
The current Miss Rhode Island, Allison Rogers, promotes global warming awareness, and writes on this site, itsgettinghotinhere.org. She'll be competing in the Miss America pageant on Monday.

Material-cheap Building
My father lamented long ago about how Nigerian homes are over-designed and modern homes use way too much materials. He was contrasting the concrete and marble duplexes of Lagos with the lighter, simpler homes in the United States.

I wonder if green-building has taken hold in tropical areas with similar needs.

If you're looking for a hobby and like architecture, green-building just rocks! And they have nifty magazines and jobs; there is a thriving community of (eco-)architects with various interpretations of sustainable building. These range from using less material and using more natural or biodegradable materials, to using natural light/ventilation/heat and integrating more nature/scenery. Please add links to great eco-building sources...Nir knows a lot about this?

Basic Electricity
In this day and age in Nigeria, people would really appreciate sustainability in their electrical power supply. Why this is not already a solved problem is a small mystery. To all Power-detectives: I'll be posting all I find about solving the Nigeria Electricity Problem. I need a lot of help with this project, so give all you can.

Welcome, Welcome

Also, note a couple of new people in the community. They both write blogs that are sisters of UPNAIRA/Money Talk:
One is the writer of one of my favourite links, Timbuktu Chronicles, where hundreds of African businesses are profiled. It's an utterly beautiful piece of work.

The other is Benin, the author of an Africa Business blog-magazine that even features cool entrepreneur interviews.

They, and all private readers and blog contributors are all very welcome. Peace and love.

Advertisement: Read my books.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy 2007 to you!!!

I just saw a TV show this morning titled Rob Black and your Money, on which the host answers callers' money questions.

He's really good. His context is the American system, but I believe all audiences can learn something precious.

For the FREE webcasts, visit robblack.com - click on "media" - or even better, visit his page on KRON4, the Bay area's news station.

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