How to keep your credit score healthy

South Africans’ appetite for credit shows no sign of abating, according to the latest Consumer Credit Market Report released by the National Credit Regulator. The total value of new credit granted increased from R120.08 billion to R123.64 billion for the quarter ended September 2017, an increase of 2.96% when compared to the previous quarter and an increase of 5.21% year-on-year. The number of applications for credit increased by 483 000 from 9.39 million in June 2017 to 9.87 million in September 2017, representing an increase of 5.15% for the quarter.

The rejection rate for applications was 51.39%. This high rejection rate may be due to an impaired credit record. Learning how to manage and improve your credit score will help many consumers.

Improving your credit score means looking after your Empirica 5 credit score from TransUnion. This score is developed by FICO, the world leader in credit scoring and predictive analytics. When you apply for a loan or credit, lenders use the score to decide how much credit to make available to you, and on which terms.

Understanding how your credit score works is the first step to keeping it healthy.

Your credit score has five categories of information: payment history, amount owed, length of credit history, new credit and credit mix.

Your credit score changes as you change your credit management habits.

Even if you have a low score today, you’re not locked into that score forever. There are no quick fixes, but paying your bills on time and only applying for new credit when you really need it can go a long way to moving you from a negative credit status to a positive one.

Let’s take a closer look at how this works.

1. Make payments on time

Your payment history makes up 40% of your Empirica score. So, the best way to improve your score is to make payments on time. If you pay late, your score will go down — especially if you do this often. If you’ve been making late payments more recently, this will also affect your score.

2.  Only take on credit you really need

Having a lot of debt can reduce your score. Your Empirica score considers the total you owe, how many accounts you owe on, and how much of your credit you’re using.

Did you know that if you’ve applied for credit but haven’t used it, this will actually count against you! This is because your affordability calculation is based on the worst case scenario of assuming you have used up the credit line, be it an overdraft, revolving loan or an additional credit card with a low limit.

3.  Be careful of applying for many accounts at once

The Empirica score also looks at how many accounts you’ve opened or applied for recently. If you’ve opened several new credit accounts in a short period, you are seen as a greater credit risk, and this reduces your score. The score won’t penalise you for shopping for the best rate. If you are shopping like this, it’s best to do it within a 30-day period.

Know more about your credit score

Your Empirica score:

  • Is an objective measure of your credit risk that allows lenders to speed up credit and loan approvals.
  • Provides a balanced look at your entire credit history, not just what you’ve done with one lender.
  • Is fair: it doesn’t consider your gender, race, religion, nationality or marital status.
  • Doesn’t look at your income. People with lower incomes can be better credit risks than people with high incomes.
  • Takes into account your recent payment patterns. By making an extra effort to pay on time, you can improve your score over time.
  • Only includes information found on your TransUnion credit reports, or information that has been proven to predict future credit performance.

Remember, every lender uses credit scores differently and has different lending criteria. If you don’t like what one lender is offering, shop around.

Derick Cluley is FICO’s head of operations in Africa.

Source: Money Web

Insurance for your small business

This article was first published in the 4th quarter 2017 edition of Personal Finance magazine.

CAPE TOWN – As a small businesses owner, it’s important to watch carefully how your business allocates its hard-earned money. You may have limited cash flow, and if something unexpected happens, such as a fire or robbery at your business, you would need sufficient insurance to cover your losses. Sometimes you have to spend some money to save some money. Below are some key considerations.

The roof over your head
Your business premises must be covered against structural damage such as that caused by fire, flooding or a burst geyser. If you are the owner of the premises, you are responsible for the maintenance of your building, but if you are renting, these responsibilities fall on your landlord. Keep in mind, however, that some rental contracts state that tenants are responsible for windows on the premises, or even cleaning gutters – so it is best to obtain clarity to make sure you meet any maintenance expectations.

Everything under your roof
Your business’s contents need to be sufficiently covered. The cost of replacing everything must be factored in, keeping in mind that you must also take inflation into account. You can also have all-risk cover for the items you take with you to and from work, such as your laptop and cellphone.

Business interruption
We find that small businesses focus on insuring portable, expensive all-risk items – those that can affect immediate cash flow. However, a more prudent approach is to focus on things that could interrupt your operations and ultimately put you out of business. It is possible to insure against business interruption. If your trading is interrupted, how will you cover stock supply and financial commitments such as your overdraft, salary and rental payments? Rebuilding what you lose may be next to impossible without cover.

Professional liability cover

Some professions provide advice and services to clients that can be costly if incorrect. Depending on the industry you’re in, there are specific elements to consider when determining the right cover to protect you against claims made against you. The limit of the indemnity cover is determined by various aspects based on your previous year’s gross fees and income, as well as current-year estimates and forecasts for the next financial year. To determine the premium and required excess, the insurer will look at your qualifications (and those of your business partners), insurance and claims history.

Goods-in-transit cover
If you’re in the business of transporting goods to your customers, road accidents are a risk, and happen more often than you might think. Goods-in-transit cover does not extend to transporting your own goods (for example, if you are moving to different premises) but does cover goods you are delivering on consignment. This will cover you from the time the goods are loaded and secured at your business premises to the time they are offloaded at the consignee’s premises.

Fidelity insurance
Fidelity insurance is designed to protect you against losses incurred as a direct result of fraud or theft by an employee. There are a few technicalities, such as that the employee that commits fraud must have gained financially. When the crime was committed will also have a bearing on the outcome.

Determining how much cover you need will be based on your risk profile and other relevant information, such as how many staff you have, stock flow and possible incentives to commit fraud. If your business sells luxury items, for instance, and the value of your stock is high, it will be more susceptible to crime, as it is physical stock that can be stolen.

For small businesses, stock theft or even low-level financial fraud could be financially crippling without cover.

Cyber security
Many business owners make use of the cloud to store data. Although this puts you at risk of your data being compromised or stolen through a cyber-attack, many of the same risks exist if your data is stored locally on your own server.

Risks can be difficult to eradicate completely, but you can insure against data risks under a cyber insurance product. As with any other type of insurance, providers will have certain requirements you must fulfil for them to assume liability.

It is reassuring to know that you can insure yourself against these risks, but commercial insurance does tend to be complex. It is, therefore, best to consult a qualified adviser who can help you to assess and quantify the risks unique to your business.

By Bertus Visser

Bertus Visser is the chief executive of distribution at PSG Insure.

Source: IOL

Ghana’s unprecedented bamboo bikes [Business Africa]

Ghana’s Eco-Friendly Bamboo Bikes
Ghana’s Bamboo made bicycle is fast gaining world recognition while increasing youth employment.
Boomers International is a social enterprise training rural Ghanaian communities in the art of bamboo bicycle manufacturing to address issues like climate change, poverty, rural-urban migration and provide economic freedom – that many of them have never experienced, especially women.

Lourenço’s first economic reforms
When Angolan President Joao Lourenco was sworn in five months ago he promised an “economic miracle”.

But the path to transforming this oil dependent nation seems long as lourenco has been confronted with the bottlenecks the economy faces.

Since January, the new central bank governor has been presiding over a fiscal revolution, weaning the local kwanza currency off its artificial peg to the dollar, and phasing in a floating exchange rate.

Source: Africa News

New partnership to enable startups to have control over their Intellectual Property

A collaboration between the Companies & Intellectual Properties Commission (CIPC), the ZA Domain Name Authority (ZADNA), and the ZA Central Registry NPC (ZACR) will make it possible for South African startups to register a new company and its equivalent domain name at the same time. This will give the startups control over their Intellectual Property (IP).

According to Lucky Masilela, CEO of ZACR, this tripartite arrangement enables new enterprises to benefit by protecting their fledgeling online identities. “This innovative offering seamlessly combines the offline and online worlds in a way that provides total convenience and protection for start-ups.”

In terms of this model, the CIPC Registrar has limited functionality and simply acts as a conduit to the domain name registration platform. The CIPC Registrar does not enjoy all the capabilities of the normal.ZA-accredited commercial domain name RaR (Reseller and Registrar) and does not derive any financial benefit for facilitating such registrations. “Nor will the CIPC Registrar compete with existing RaRs,” says Mr Masilela. “The initial domain name registration with CIPC is for a limited one-year period only and registrants are expected to pay the same domain name price that is charged to all our other accredited registrars. CIPC-registered domain names will need to be transferred to commercial domain name RaR’s to enable full functionality and renewal,” explains Mr Masilela. Additional support, renewal of domain names and hosting services can only be purchased from the greater community of accredited RaRs.

Established in terms of South Africa’s ECT Act, ZADNA regulates.ZA – South Africa’s country code Top Level Domain names (ccTLD’s). ZACR, for its part, is a pioneer of the local and international domain name space and the administrator of such domains as, the three cities’ geographic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) of .joburg (‘dotJoburg’), .capetown (‘dotCapeTown’) and .durban (‘dotDurban’), as well as the administrator of the .africa (‘dotAfrica’) gTLD, through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Registry Africa. CIPC is a 2017 CPSI Innovative Service Delivery Award winner focusing on consumer-driven initiatives aimed at facilitating and promoting the registration and maintenance of companies, co-operatives and protection of intellectual property rights.

“This is a fantastic example of domain name space pioneering coupled with out-the-box thinking in the area of public-private partnerships. We thank our partners and look forward to launching further innovative services for new enterprises, start-ups and other commercial users in the near future,” concluded Masilela.

Edited by Fundisiwe Maseko
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Source: IT News Africa

5 Ways to Drive Leads and Double Your Profits

As a marketer, the right digital strategy can drive leads, increase profits, and eliminate the competition. But in a crowded marketplace, how do you cut through the noise?

Enter Joshua Harris, entrepreneur, master marketer, and member of The Oracles. His company, Agency Growth Secrets, teaches entrepreneurs how to grow highly profitable digital marketing agencies and win their clients unmatched results.

What’s the key ingredient to his secret sauce? The right data. “The data we use plugs into Facebook and Google, slashing the cost on these platforms by 25 percent to 75 percent,” shares Harris.

Here are five data-driven strategies that Harris uses to drive leads—and generate insane profits for his company and clients.

1. Eliminate non-buyers from your targeting.

To get the biggest bang for your buck, eliminate non-buyers from targeting. “In Chet Holmes’ famed market pyramid, he showed that only three percent of people are ready to buy immediately. So, any money you spend on the remaining 97 percent of people is a waste,” Harris explains.

“Current ad platforms don’t have a way to eliminate these non-buyers, so marketers leave money on the table with the standard pay-per-click model,” he adds. Instead of using the “spray and pray” method of broadcasting your message to everyone, Harris recommends using precision targeting to identify people who are ready to get out their credit cards now

“If you know who’s right for your offer, you don’t need to pay $10 to Google for a click. You can put your offer on The Google Display Network. You can send the prospect a postcard. There are multiple ways to reach someone when you know who they are.”

2. Implement a closed-loop attribution tool.

To prove your value proposition to marketing clients, show how your work has influenced sales. The right big data technology has the power to do just that.

“The platform we use shows metrics on a consumer’s browsing history, where they encountered our ad, and how that ad influenced them to buy,” Harris shares.

With closed-loop reporting, cookies and other tracking codes (such as UTM parameters) are used to flag a URL to identify specific visitors. These codes are then used to track where a visitor encounters your ad and how that interaction informs a sale.

What you can’t measure, you can’t manage. By using closed-loop reporting, you can measure success and manage your business.

3. Embrace people-based marketing.

People-based marketing means being able to recognise the name of who you’re dealing with. “Website traffic is mostly anonymous and fraught with fraudsters and bots,” Harris cautions. “With people-based marketing, you track channels to ensure your ad or message is getting delivered to a real person.

“We track URLs, buy data from publishers, and use paid subscriptions to create profiles of our target customers. When we reach out, we know we’re communicating with an actual client.” If you want real results, you need to verify that each person you’re targeting is an actual person.

4. Predict a path-to-purchase.

By analyzing data correctly, marketers can predict who is going to do what next. “With our platform, we feed a hundred potential buyers into our system,” Harris explains. “Then we examine all the different online behaviors of prospective buyers before they purchase. Their searches leave a trail of breadcrumbs, and we connect the dots.”

When analyzing data, Harris advises focusing on what signals potential customers give off before they buy. “If you put the pieces together, you can anticipate a client’s next move by their online behavior before they do.”

5. Advertise across channels.

Once you’ve targeted the right client, reach out across channels. “Instead of spending $1,000 on just Google AdWords, use content management software that works across mobile and desktop platforms,” Harris advises.

“Use Facebook, Google, YouTube, Pinterest, Display, direct mail, phone calls. The point is not only to use the best channel, but to use all channels. In other words, become omnipresent. If a prospective buyer sees you everywhere, they’re more likely to buy from you than an obscure competitor.”

Ultimately, with the right data tools, you can consolidate your marketplace and eliminate the competition. As Harris points out, “a competitive advantage is either operating cheaper or commanding a premium price. Our platform allows you to operate at a lower cost with your ads. Because your costs are lower and your frequency is higher, you can convince your customers that you have a better offering, set the buying criteria, and drive profitable sales.”

To learn more about data-driven targeting, click here.

Source: Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurs: Resolve Not to Resolve This New Year

It’s that time of year again. The time for people to set expectations and goals to better themselves — or their businesses. Some squirm in their seat when hearing those three words, “New Year’s resolutions.” Oftentimes those resolutions don’t even see the end of the year. In fact, New Year’s resolutions have a failure rate of around 90 percent, according to various studies. The problem? Setting unrealistic goals.

For small-business owners, 57 percent set annual goals for their businesses, while the remaining 43 percent hold back, according to a recent survey of 217 small businesses from The UPS Store. The main reasons for not setting yearly resolutions include business and market unpredictability, not seeing a need in setting goals, owning a seasonal business or having the mindset that the business is too small for goals. However, setting yearly goals is beneficial for every business. And turning those goals into achievements doesn’t have to be painful. Follow these helpful hints to make your 2018 business goals a success.

Avoid lofty goals.

One thing that will end your resolution quicker than it started is being unrealistic. Set a series of short-term goals that make a long-term impact. Increasing sales and acquiring more customers are among the most popular business goals of 2018 from small-business owners. Many times, people set goals that are unrealistic for their situation. Set yourself up for success by knowing or making a more realistic guess of what will work for your business.

Make it measurable.

Make quarterly or monthly plans to work your way toward your ultimate goal. According to The UPS Store’s survey, 44 percent of respondents check their progress monthly to keep on track. Track your progress and keep records to hold yourself accountable. Having tangible evidence that you’re getting closer to your goal will keep your mind at ease and focused.

Knock down the hurdles.

Sometimes you are your own worst enemy. Did you slip up? Take note of it and move on. Fight the negativity and doubt, and remember why you made the resolution in the first place. Keeping your end result top of mind will keep you motivated to ultimately make it happen, no matter the obstacle.

Plan ahead.

Just because it’s a new year doesn’t mean that your goals will be accomplished immediately. Not only should you plan what to do to reach your ultimate goal, but you should also plan for roadblocks. Sometimes life can get in the way — planning for setbacks before they happen will make the coping and rerouting process more seamless.

Revisit your passion.

What did you envision when you started with just an idea? What made you or motivated you to start your business to begin with? Revisit those roots. Visualizing what you imagined your business to be before it all began can reignite your passion to achieve the goals that will help drive your business forward.

Source: Entrepreneur

Understanding the value of reputation management in insurance

The digital world is relentless when it comes to a brand’s online reputation. Negative reviews can impact how clients interact with your products, can undermine sales, and can halt foot traffic for brick-and- mortar establishments.

About 89% of people say that reviews have a direct influence over their purchasing decisions, with the majority noting that they will refuse to interact with a business if they found negative information online.

Why is it difficult to manage online reputation?

Due to the sheer numbers of people who use social-media platforms, information, even negative information, spreads like wildfire.

One negative review can be retweeted to thousands of people in just seconds. It makes it particularly challenging to control the conversation, and control the merits of your online reputation.

For brands, it is a losing battle — there are way too many people, information is spread way too quickly to control, and damaging information is easily accessible — if you aren’t part of the conversation from the beginning.

Thanks to this phenomenon an industry called ORM or Online Reputation Management has exploded and insurance providers like Zurich and Metlife are examining ways they can protect their insurance brokers and employees.

Financial risk meets online reputation risk

According to the latest Zurich Risk Index Survey, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) view online reputation as an essential factor when it comes to the business.

About 41% say they feel that it will become an even more relevant issue in the future according to a recent feature on insurance risk and its relation to online reputation management.

Most enterprises recognise the value of the viable online reputation, but many do not do enough to monitor that metric. It’s a dangerous blind spot for those who aren’t savvy enough or interested enough to track the online conversation.

John Taylor, an analyst for insurer Zurich, notes that over the past five years “business reputation has become one of the top concerns for SMEs”.

Understanding the value of online reputation for SMEs

Even if a business does not utilise an online platform for customer outreach or as a component of their marketing plan, customers and would-be clients are still talking.

An analysis of consumers’ online behaviour reveals that a whopping 81% of shoppers do research online before they purchase a product, and when they do research, they want to engage with a business that is interested in being reliable and reputable.

The consumer confidence index measures how optimistic consumers are, noting that more confident and satisfied consumers are positioned to invest more in services and goods. Negative opinions surrounding your brand will decimate consumer confidence.

Even if an SME is hesitant to invest in an online platform, it quickly becoming a necessity. In the past, businesses relied on a word-of-mouth via stakeholders to establish confidence and trust.

In the modern age of social media and online reviews, the consumer has interjected themselves into that equation. The educated consumer is going to tap into instant communication and will quickly paint the picture of your reputation on a constant basis, and it is up to the SME to respond to the curious consumer.

For an SME, they may think of their online presence as only being their website and social media tools — platforms that they have complete control over.

However, there are other aspects of this communication between brands and consumers. An SME also needs to consider review sites or another person’s posts on social media.

Zurich’s SME includes free tools from Profile Defenders, a leading reputation management provider who has the ability to completely delete and erase complaints about Insurance Brokers as well as a reputation management platform that can track reviews in real time with a central dashboard.

Online reputation tools are notoriously expensive and can be cumbersome, typically only being suitable for large enterprises.

However, for the burgeoning SME that is curious as to what people are saying and wants to do so in a manageable way, then Reputation is an affordable way to access your online reputational risk.

The services from allow their customers — small businesses and SMEs — the ability to track the position of the online reputation in metrics that are easily quantified.

These parameters provide SMEs benchmarks that will also help them compare their performance to others in their niche and spotlight areas of improvement.

From realtors, offices, restaurants, insurance companies and designers, they all have to cater to the online reputation if they want to experience longevity. Consumers are only becoming smarter in their quest to buy services and goods that will provide solutions to their problems.

Brokers need to add valuable risk management advice, ensuring that they are highlighting issues to their clients.

Brokers need to communicate the tenets of managing online reputation, whether a client is even aware of their reputation profile, and what risk management tools they need to mitigate recurring issues and prevent future ones.

Thanks to everybody having access to instant reviews it’s never been more important than it is now to protect your image and brand with positive content and to lower your insurance risk and premiums.

Source: Ventureburn

Women in business: slow progress towards equality

The 2017 edition of the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Gender Gap Report has calculated that women may have to wait a staggering 217 years for pay parity. This was bad enough. But worse still, it was 47 years more than in 2016.

In search of better news, we sought out examples of progress in gender equality. Iceland has been sitting at the top of the WEF’s ranking for the last six years, and The Guardian and The Economist declared it the best place to be a working woman today. So what is Iceland doing differently?

Challenging stereotypes through education

The root causes of a lack of equality in the workplace are complex. For instance, stereotypes of which roles should be undertaken by who have been stubborn to shake, starting from a child’s upbringing and first years in education.

Explanations for the gender pay gap also extend to women choosing lower-paid professions, part-time work paying less, and the fact that women are less likely to ask for sufficient pay compensation. Notably, many schools in Iceland take a targeted approach to empowering girls, teaching a range of subjects as well as courage, strength and how to use their voice.

Levelling the playing field through paternity rights

Studies show that unconscious bias in hiring practices or lack of support for working parents can also provide a disproportionate barrier to women accessing the most lucrative career paths. For example, The Economist’s ‘glass-ceiling’ index now incorporates paternity rights as an indicator. This is based on evidence that fathers taking parental leave can allow mothers to return to work, ultimately resulting in a closing of the earnings gap. In Iceland, men get the equivalent of 8.3 weeks’ paid paternity leave.

Although some industries have adapted to embrace change and harness the proven benefits of equality, the final hurdle remains a shake-up of the jobs right at the top. In many cases, women are still being sidelined, denying them any real decision-making power, and with it, access to the highest salaries and greatest career progression opportunities.

Creating a virtuous cycle

Crucially, WEF’s research suggests that better representation of women in higher management can lead to a virtuous cycle. Studying data sourced from LinkedIn, they found that when women are better represented in leadership roles, more women are hired across the board. This finding that holds true even when considering disparities in the size of female talent pools in different industries. Additionally, their research indicates that female CEOs actually pay their high-earning women more than male CEOs do, creating a financial incentive for women to join such companies.

Research from Catalyst has found that three women or more are needed to create a ‘critical mass’ which can change boardroom dynamics substantially and enhance the likelihood that “women’s voices and ideas are heard”. Boardroom equality is certainly increasing, and there are several high-profile women across the business landscape: Sheryl Sandberg, COO and Board Member at Facebook, Indra Nooyi, CEO and Chair of PepsiCo, Irene Dorner and Jayne-Anne Gadhia at Virgin Money (the first all-female leadership team in a FTSE 350 company), to name but a few.

But a Credit Suisse report shows that women remain underrepresented globally: in 2015, of 3,000 global companies, women held 14.7 per cent of board seats. In Iceland, women have 44 per cent of seats on listed-company boards, in part due to gender quotas set out in legislation.

Fostering equal representation in power

Representation at a political level can also have a powerful effect in providing role models and a more equal balance of power. The number of women as heads of state or government has fallen from 19 to 17 since 2015, and progress in the number of women in parliament continues to be slow, with 28 per cent of parliamentarians and just 21 per cent of ministers being female in 2017. Those at the helm impact the make-up of administrations: female political empowerment increased in Canada and France when Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron appointed more women to ministerial positions within their governments, while the US has hit its lowest rate in 10 years, with only 27 per cent of all jobs within the Trump administration being taken by women. In Iceland, 41 per cent of MPs are female.

Social activism and awareness can also play a role. In 1975, the first universal women’s strike took place in Iceland, and despite the recorded levels of progress, women made headlines by going on strike again in October 2016 in protest against the 14 per cent gender pay gap that still exists.

Understanding the economic benefits

There is also increasing evidence that, beyond a box-ticking exercise, greater diversity and inclusion in business can have concrete positive outcomes. The think-tank Centre for Talent Innovation found that the 48 per cent of companies in the US with more diversity at senior management level improved their market share the previous year. Only 33 per cent of companies with less diverse management reported similar growth.

On a bigger scale, WEF’s report also estimates economic gender parity could add an additional US$250 billion to the UK’s GDP, US$1,750 billion in the US, US$2.5 trillion in China, and US$5.3 trillion globally by 2025. “We are moving from the era of capitalism into the era of talentism,” Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of WEF said. “Those will succeed best, who understand to integrate women as an important force into their talent pool.”

Proactivity not complacency

Taking Iceland by way of example, and the evidence put forward by the WEF, fostering female leadership across sectors is one of the key pathways to increasing gender equality in the global workforce, with widespread benefits for businesses, innovation and the global economy as well as social equality. Most importantly, it highlights that change does not come about organically. Proactive adjustments in both mindset and policy among businesses, politicians and individuals – male and female – are desperately needed to order to reignite progress.

As Saadia Zahidi, Head of Education, Gender and Work at WEF, said: “Gender equality is both a moral and economic imperative. Some countries understand this, and they are now seeing dividends from the proactive measures they have taken to address their gender gaps.” For now, perhaps it’s time to see what jobs are going in Iceland…

Source: Regus

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