Wanna own a house?

Sometime ago, I spoke about investing in properties or the real estate as the sector is better known. I went in search of further information and came across the National Housing Fund. The National Housing Fund was signed into law by the Federal Government of Nigeria in 1992. Basically, the objective of this Act is to provide affordable homes to Nigerians irrespective of the income class. If you earn a minimum of N7,000 monthly, you can subscribe to this fund.

How does it work?

The National Housing Fund is administered by the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria. If you are interested, locate the nearest FMBN branch within your state of residence and approach the officials. You’ll be required to remit 2.5% of your monthly income throughout your working life period into the NHF account. Interested applicant can pick up a form (free of charge), fill it and get your employer to sign their own respective parts. If you’re self-employed, you sign for yourself and also sign as the employer. Then you’ll be given a card which will record every payment you lodge into the NHF account.

The requirements of the NHF Act (1992) states that you can only use the fund for the following:

  • Purchase a property
  • Build a house
  • Renovate existing property

Note that if the property you want to purchase is within your present state of residence, then it is advisable to open a mortgage account within that state. Once the loan has been approved, you’ll be responsible for the inspection and evaluation fees. It is also important that you remit 10% of the total value of the property you wish to purchase into the mortgage account you opened with respective primary mortgage institution.

Repayment Terms:

Interest on the loan is fixed at 6% per annum and to determine repayment period, deduct your present age from 60 years to know how long you will pay back.

Upon attaining 60 years, you’ll present your NHF passbook, a letter from your employer attesting that you have retired and a birth cetificate is also required which will be presented at the nearest FMBN branch where you’ll be paid back your NHF contributions over the years you were in paid or self employment. If you still need further clarification, do let me know.

Passion

“Towards the end of my term at university, my advisor suggested I read ‘Do what you love and the Money Will Follow.’ I didn’t actually read the book, but found the title inspiring enough. I ignored her advice for several years until in 2003 I found myself at a crossroad – either continue down the corporate path that was financially rewarding but soulless or change direction to pursue my passion. I chose passion and have never looked back.” – An excerpt by Mark Weeks

I am at that crossroad right now and for some few months, I’ve been deliberating on the idea to follow my passion by enrolling in short-term courses where I can put to test what I have learnt. I have always been a lover of the arts especially Photography and Interior Design. If I wasn’t working for my present organisation, one industry within this country that needs a lot of innvoation is the industrial and domestic paint industry. The likes of Dulux, CAPL paints require a lot of innovative overhaul to compete effectively within the Nigerian market.

This summer, I’m enrolling for a short-term course in ‘Digital Photography and Photoshop’ at the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, United Kingdom. From my perspective, this is the only time in life where I can dedicate time, finance and mental resources to pursue one of my major interests in life. At least, i’ll be able to look back and consider this event as a major turning point for other things I want to do very soon. Besides, I have also been considering pulling out of the work force by aplying for a one year unpaid sabbatical. I need this time away from a rewarding career to really test run some of my ideas and make it a success. From my perspective there’s really no time like the present to explore and make use of the talent God has bestowed on an individual.

What’s going on?

Working with people in an organization usually requires a lot of tact. Today, a colleague of mine at the Head Office sent a nasty mail carefully couched in polite terms to make it seem non threatning. I sent a response back using carefully worded thoughts which was aimed at hitting below the belt. Sometimes, I just can’t stand the unnecessary superiority exhibition that goes on within the workplace. Honestly, it’s infuriating. This brings me to another careful observation that I have made within the workplace. Have you noticed how a lot of people have thrown caution to the wind and casually express themselves in improper use of the English Language?

Granted it is not our mother tongue but, it is useful in terms of business and social communications since we live in a country with 251 diverse tribes. How else can we express ourselves better? We are not like the South Africans who were able to develop a new language (i.e. Afrikaans) for their larger populace in order to ease communication amongst indigenous and caucasian South Africans. While our lowering educational standards can be one of the reasons, I am of the firm opinion that we require a continous individual development program for better use of the English Language. Oftentimes, I shudder when listening to the radio during one of these call back programmes. I cannot help cringing when someone expresses themselves improperly while trying to air their opinions. I would have loved to state some of the way and manners in which Nigerian express themselves poorly but time will not permit me today. I guess ‘Jenifa’ is a good example that I can think of right away. So, I ask…..what’s going on?

Striving For Excellence

Last year, I attended my sister’s convocation ceremony at the University of Ibadan. I listened to the address given by the Vice-Chancellor of this great university, admonishing the young graduates to make the most of every opportunity they come across in life. Six years ago, I don’t remember listening attentively to the Vice-Chancellor since I was busy exchanging pleasantries with my classmates and we were busy plotting how we were going to work for some of the best organizations within the country. Since then, a lot of water has passed under the bridge. I may not be too sure what career path my younger sister may tread in life, but I know she’s got a passion for striving for excellence in all she does.   

This leads me to a question I’ve been meaning to ask “how many parents out there provide a support base for their children” in terms of achieving their dreams and passions in life. Our parents are rather interested in re-living their own lives through their children and that’s why we have a lot of kids out there pursuing their parent’s passion instead of running with their own dreams. I know how emotional this can get because I personally engaged in several arguments and counter accusations with my dad who wanted his daughter to be a chartered accountant. I never became a chartered accountant cos accounting, though an easy subject proved to be boring for my personality. I couldn’t see myself working in finance and auditing for the rest of my life crunching out numbers.  Now I’m better off pursuing my own passion instead of living out my father’s dream.

How To Sabotage your Career

We’re all so scared of hearing the dreaded words “you’re fired” which can be for varied reasons ranging from fraud to non-performance on the job. Sometimes, it could be our fault because we have not done the following:

  • If you don’t have a personal life plan and adhere to it irrespective of what’s happening in your workplace, you may have yourself to blame. Successful people have a clear life plan. Without a life plan, we’re inevitable leaving our success in the hands of others who may or may not have the time to look after our successes.
  • If someone is capable of producing a greater return and you’re not updating your current set of skills, you’re at risk of being replaced.
  • We’re all familiar with performance reviews and the consequence of performing below expected job standards. Sooner than you know, you’ll be shown the way out.
  • If all you do at the office is sit behind your desk and respond to all the mails pouring in via e-mail, you’ve got another think coming. Communicating in person is imperative for today’s success seekers.
  • Unless you’re Beyonce, don’t give the impression that you’re irreplaceable. As soon as you convince yourself that you can do it all and know it all, your diva will start to fall.
  • Don’t assume you know all the answers. Successful people are always on the drive to learn new ideas and approaches in order to be more relevant in their careers.
  • Learn to give credit when you need to. Never make the mistake of taking all the credit to the detriment of your colleagues.
  • Promote and sell your ideas constantly through case studies, initiatives that you’ve implemented successfully.
  • When you’re at a roadblock and can’t seem to get your creative juices flowing, don’t be afraid to seek the advice of a trusted and respected colleague or friend.

Is Your Career at a Standstill?

I’ve been conducting a career evaluation for my present job role, mapping out the things I need to do before year-end to arrive at my next destination point. Though it gets cloudy a times, however I’m learning to sift the chaff from the wheat to determine if I should be on the search for a new job role. While it’s been fun these past few years, it’s time to move on.

 If you’re in my situation, here are some few tips to keep your career performing well.

·        Conduct an assessment: there’s no better time to conduct a career assessment than now. It gives you an idea of where you are and where you want to be in your career. For example, are you at a point where you’re bored or are there other areas in your life that need more attention?

·        Determine your career path: if your career goal is to be the marketing director of your organization, find out what skills and accomplishments you need and set out to acquire them. If it means leaving your current employer be prepared to launch a full-scale job search.·       

Change your job: sometimes, this may involve changing your career to something entirely different from what you do currently.

·        Watch out for skill upgrades: is there an emerging trend in your industry? Perhaps a new way of marketing or placing sales calls to prospective clients? You need to become an expert in these areas. It will place you above your contemporaries within the marketplace.

·        Don’t fall behind technology: some fields require particular software applications. This is the best time to acquire this knowledge.

·        Review your current resume: when was the last time you reviewed your CV? Was it a year or ten years ago? You cannot afford the luxury of having an outdated CV in your files. Enlist the aid of job and career web sites to get you an updated CV relevant to your area of interest.

·        Masters or MBAs: if your next step involves enrolling for a masters or MBA program, do not hesitate to do so. Leaving it for later may not help your career. I recently lost the opportunity to apply for an exciting job role because I did not possess the required MBA.

·        Keep your contacts: one of the best ways I learn about new job opportunities is through former employees and colleagues who have left for other organizations. If you’re in the habit of losing contact with people, dust up your diary and get your networking skills in order.  

Manage Your Career

Early this year, I attended a focus group session within the organization I work for. We had a resource person from overseas who was conducting this session. One memorable thing I took away from this group session was this quote “Your first responsibility as an employee within an organization is to manage your career and not manage the company”. Why did I remember this quote all of a sudden?

I have a training to attend next week which is part of my personal developmental goals for my career this year. So, I walk up to my line manager all bright and cheery to remind him about this training, only to have him tell me that he and his line manager had discussed about this training and had decided to postpone this training till next year. To say, I was livid was an understatement. I mean, how can people be this selfish with other direct report’s career development plans.

So, I began to take note of all the various training programs this same manager had attended this year and it was more than twelve – all sponsored by the company. All the trainings I’ve attended this year have been paid for out of my own pocket. I have only one company sponsored training scheduled for this year and yet, I’m not being allowed to attend. Did I tell you why I can’t attend this training program? It’s because, this particular boss is worried about meeting year end volume targets, that she had to schedule a regional meeting for next week Monday, to ask the team to brainstorm on strategies to achieve this year end target. So, I ask myself where does the company draw the line in terms of line mangers who take the credit for all the good job being done by their direct reports and also being a good people manger.

This afternoon, I’ll be meeting with both of them to press home my reasons and the benefits of attending this particular training. When organizations begin to undermine employees personal development for the company’s bottom line, the employee feels demoralized, disenfranchised and begins to consider the greener grass on the other side of the fence. I’ll keep you posted on whether I attended this training or not.

Top Post

I had planned on wrtiting an article regarding the various salary scales employers of labour attach to specific job roles, when I read the following article posted by Mr. Cheap @ cheapcanuck.wordpress.com.You may wish to add your comments to this interesting article.

I am a bookworm to the core. So, when Bubbles from bouncingbubbles.wordpress.com reviewed the book “Purple Hibiscus”, I knew my voice had to be heard. Basically she spoke about our African novelists and their penchance for portraying a state of depair in their novels, which I totally agree with.

I will be away tomorrow. So have a splendid weekend ahead.

Protecting the Corporate Image

The headline was shocking. It read “NDLEA arrests flight crew member over cocaine”. The first thought that came into my mind was whoa! Hold it! How did this happen? Which airline employed this crewmember? I discovered that the culprit is an employee of Virgin Atlantic. After reading the story, I came to the conclusion that “We all have a corporate image, but few work to protect and project it”. According to nutritionists, it is said, “you are what you eat”.
As a corporate entity, you are what people think you are.

According to the Opinion Research Corporation, corporate image is what sells a company and its’prodcuts or services. Corporate image is defined as the perceived sum of the entire organization, its objectives and plans. Many firms focus little attention on their corporate image until it has been severely damaged (as in the case of Virgin Atlantic).

According to A.C. Nielson, thirty brands that are currently leaders in their respective categories will lose their positions in less than two years. This is attributable to the following factors that determine a firm’s image;

· Influences on image.

· Launching an Image.

· Image Audiences.

· Reaching Audiences

· Plan of Action.

It is important that firms apart from projecting an image to their stakeholders such as shareholders, corporate society, social communities and political circles, also have a responsibility to inculcate this project into the hearts and minds of its’ employees. It is important that employees understand that their skills, attitudes and dedication are a large part of what makes up the company’s image and helps ensure the firm’s success. An undesirable corporate identity is a lot like obesity. It takes a long time to develop the symptoms, and it will probably take just as long, if not longer to achieve significant improvement. It is a multifaceted activity that includes everyone in the organization.

My Colleague earns More Than I do?

Last week, I was reading the pages of some of my favorite personal finance blogs when I read the above named comment made by a reader regarding salary irregularities within the workplace.  This particular reader was considering leaving the organization unless the employer increased her salary.

While I empathize with the reader, I was struck by the realization that a lot of employees face these issues on a daily basis. Sadly, employers are choosing to turn a blind eye to salary inequalities going on in the workplace especially for employees on the same job grade.

When I got my first job, I was told that discussing your salary was a taboo amongst employees and so, for a very long time, I never knew how much my colleagues on the same job role as I was were earning till I stumbled across their pay slip. I was struck with the huge differences between what I earned and what other colleagues were earning. I raised my concern with my manager then and he said something regarding performance pay being tied to my salary. What it meant was that if I desired a better salary, I had to work very hard for it.

However, my contention with this notion was that the job role in question had no fixed figure as a starting base before considering performance. This continued for some time till colleagues who were not satisfied with their pay resigned and left for other companies who were wiling to pay a more attractive market anchor rate. Human resource became concerned with people’s indifference to work and decided to conduct a survey, which revealed that about 95% of the employees within my workplace were considering leaving.

Various committees were set up and I was part of the chosen few selected to represent a large pool of my peers. During the sessions, we actually encouraged honest feedbacks and drew up action plans for top management to consider, while insisting that the company had to pay competitive salaries in order to retain it’s large pool of talents. At the end of the day, we were able to arrive at a better market anchor rate for ourselves and peers within the same job role now receive the same salary.

If you’re in this position, I usually advise that you conduct an audit of the skills (personal and professional) you’ve acquired within your present role. Also think of adding value to yourself by going for further trainings and workshops that will enhance you career prospects. If after doing this, your employer does not consider a salary review, then it’s time to move on. However, bear in mind that most times, especially for an organization that has reached a rapid growth rate in terms of its talent resource pool, space at the top may be limited resulting in little or no opportunity for employee growth.