Half- Year Appraisal

July 1 marked the second half of this year. What were some of the goals you desired to accomplish this year? It’s time to assess your success rates so far. I cannot stress the importance of saving for rainy days. Especially for women who deal with major financial crisis if anything happens to the breadwinner. Ensure the habit of saving 70% of your monthly salary (not lower than 50%) consistently and continously. The power of compound interest works on whatever amount you are stashing away right now. For a minimal sum of N10,000 you can invest in mutual funds managed by ARM Investment (a subsidiary of GTB). Other mutual funds managed by BGL Securities and First Bank Capital require a minimum of N500,000. Whichever way the cookie crumbles, you need to cultivate the habit of regular savings.

I’m a lover of leisure travel, clothes, culinary pleasures and shoes. However, I have not allowed my love for these things to deter me from imbibing a saving culture. I usually have a financial goal for the year which reads thus ‘ In 2011, I will save ……. by year end and invest in the following financial vehicles’. That’s how far I go and once I’ve made this committment, I adhere to my plans and until I achieve this goal, then there’s no travelling or any other pleasurable thing I indulge it. However, once I cross the mark, I whip out my pleasure list to decide what i’m indulging in. Overall, it must also fit within my budget or else I forgo and settle for something affordable.

In appraising your financial situation, you need to take into consideration how much you need to kick your saving gear in the right direction. Once you have a plan, stick to it and accomplish. In subsequent posts, i’ll be giving out information on the financial vehicles you can invest in.

Have a great year (2nd Half) ahead.

BiD Network – Women in Business

The sector competition organised by BiD Network opens today in its second edition. Women entrepreneurs can submit their business proposals for Africa, Asia and Latin America

Amsterdam October 20, 2010-
The Women in Business Challenge, a business plan competition to support women entrepreneurs in the development of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in developing countries, is organized by BiD Network and made possible by its partners ING, ICCO, Plan Nederland and UnitedSuccess.

This competition starts today in its second edition. The first release, which was very successful, ran from October 2009 till January 2010, when five finalists were chosen from among over 200 business proposals.

Participants’ profile
Women, anywhere in the world, who want to start or grow an existing small and medium sized enterprise (SME) in a developing country. They seek finance in the range of US$ 10,000 and US$ 1 million. They either already have a full business plan or need help in developing their business plan. They have the ambition to grow the business in sales and numbers of employees. Plans will be accepted in English and Spanish.

For more information about the criteria and how to submit a plan click here

Prizes
This Challenge brings two prizes. For the five finalists a business trip to The Netherlands for trainings, b2b and investor meetings. For the absolute winner, tailor made advisory services worth €5,000 from UnitedSucces, the worldwide network for business women owners
All participants will receive feedback to improve their plan and may require for a coach to assist them in the writing of their business plan.
Whether or not a participant becomes a finalist, all high quality business plans are eligible for the BiD Network Investor Matchmaking Services.

Award Ceremony
The award ceremony will be hosted by Plan Nederland in the framework of the “Because I am a Girl” campaign, in the summer of 2011.

Time line
December 15, 2010: Deadline for submission of plan application
March 15, 2011: Deadline for submission of completed business plans
Finalists will be announced in June 2011.

 

One Thing to Do With Your Money Right Now

While we may not be able to tell how long the lull in the stock market will last, there are some things you can do to protect your financial future.

Hold More Cash

As always, when things get nutty in the markets cash is king. A healthy cushion in bank commercial deposits or money market funds will let you ride out the slump without having to sells assets at fire-sale prices. A cushion will also put you in position to invest when the downturn’s bottom is in sight — and that could come sooner than you expect.  Tread slowly if you do jump back in, though, and before you go bargain hunting first build your cash position to at least a year’s worth of living expenses, longer if you are retired.
Read more: http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1856339_1856284_1856261,00.html#ixzz0w9MFuYEM

Financial Advice for Women

I have not written specifically about financial matters for some time now. I have been trying to discover other forms of investment since the CBN slashed fixed deposit rates. While watching T.V last month, I came across the advert regarding “Federal Government Bond” and how possible it is for an individual investor to participate.

I decided to find out more but it took me about four weeks to locate the website responsible for disseminating information.

What is a bond?

A bond is a loan and the investor or holder of the bond is the lender. When you purchase a bond, you are lending money to a government, local government council, state government, federal agency or a corporation, known as the issuer. The government uses it to fund budget deficit, for instance, or to build roads, electric power stations, finance factories, etc. When you purchase a bond, in return the issuer promises to pay you a specified rate of interest during the life of the bond and to repay the face value of the bond (the principal) when it ‘matures’.

What is FGN Bonds?

FGN Bonds are debt securities (liabilities) of the Federal Government of Nigeria issued under the authority of DMO and listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. The FGN has an obligation to pay the bondholder the principal and agreed interest as they fall due. When you buy FGN bonds you are lending to the federal government for a specified period of time. The FGN bond is considered as the safest of all investments in domestic currency securities market because it is backed by the ‘full faith and credit’ of the government. They have no default risk, meaning that it is virtually certain your interest and principal will be paid as and when due. The income you earn is exempt from state and local taxes.

The Government Issues Bonds for the following reasons

  • To finance government deficits in a non-inflationary and sustainable manner
  • To enhance fiscal discipline and for the management of monetary policies
  • To restructure the existing debt stock of short term debt to longer term obligations
  • To establish a benchmark yield curve, which acts as a reference for pricing other bonds issued by other bodies
  • To develop the domestic bond market on a sustainable basis
  • To enhance and deepen the savings and investment opportunities.

Expatiate on Special Purpose FGN Bonds

Special Purpose FGN bonds are bonds issued to meet specific needs of the federal government. For instance, following the approval of Mr. President, special purpose bonds were issued to selected banks for settlement of N75 billion pension arrears in 2006.  Five deposit money banks participated in the private placement arrangement. In addition, in 2006 FGN floated bonds for the payment of debt owed to local contractors worth N91.7 billion. Recently, FGN indicated interest to raise funds through bonds for funding specific projects such as Methanol plant, revival of textile industry, terminal wages of workers, building of infrastructural facilities, etc.

Nature of FGN bonds

  • Denomination: minimum subscription of N10,000.00 + multiple of N1,000.00 thereafter
  • Yield: – Interest payment
    • Fixed interest rates: Most FGN bonds have fixed interest rates which are paid semi-annually:
    • Floating interest rates: Some FGN bonds (e.g. 3rd & 4TH tranches of the 1st FGN bonds) have floating rates of interest which fluctuates around a reference rate(NTB rates) on the basis of specified parameters
    • There are also zero-coupon bonds(not yet in issue in Nigeria) whereby both interest and principal are repaid at the final maturity date of the bond
  • Tenor: Minimum of two (2) years. There are bonds with maturities of 3. 5, 7 and 10 years, in issue and for the future we may have bonds with maturities of 15, 20,30 years or more
  • Default Risk: FGN bonds as a sovereign debt are the safest investment instrument. Default risk is nil. The Government always pays what is due to subscribers on the agreed date.

How do I invest in FGN Bonds?

1. Application forms can be obtained from any of the authorized dealers(PDMMs), or download from the DMO’s website

2. Complete the application forms and submit through any of the PDMMs

3. Common- price auction system is normally employed as opposed to multiple price auctions

4. Payments for the allotment are payable in full on application

5. Minimum of N10,000.00 and multiple of N1,000 thereafter

6. Investors can also access the FGN bonds after the auction through the secondary market

7. FGN bonds purchase is confirmed by registration in the depository (CSCS) or by issue of certificates

8. Interest is paid semi-annually until the maturity date when the principal amount is repaid

9. Payment of interest is through issue of interest warrant(cheque) or direct transfer to current or savings bank accounts

10. Bondholders who do not want to hold the bonds until maturity date can sell them at any time on the floors of Nigerian Stock Exchange or Over the Counter (OTC), through, any of the PDMMs

Why should I invest in these Bonds?

  • Retirement
  • Starting or expanding a business
  • Settlement after apprenticeship
  • Pay children school fees in future(e.g for University education)
  • Building a house
  • Future projects by town unions, associations, student union
  • To fund future social events such as Marriages and weddings, etc
  • Settlement of pension insurance obligation( for Corporate Fund Managers), etc
  • For further information, you can visit the ‘Debt Management Office‘ through this link.

    New Lessons

    What do you do when you suddenly realise you’ve got competition? How do you respond to such threat without making some costly mistakes? How do you know that your strategies for building brand loyalty amongst your target audience is the right one in the face of competition? This is where we are right now and I can tell you the  answers are not easy. I am following my gut instincts by following what my intuition tells me me. This is much different from emotions. I don’t allow emotions to rule me when it comes to business. I simply do what has got to be done.

    The product has given its’ first hint of monumental success based on consumer reactions to it. Yes, we now have another competitive distributor but that has not taken my gaze off my goals and objectives. I have not come this far to give up. I am trudging head on. We’ve also advised the manufacturer to obtain Standard Organisation of Nigeria’s certfication. This will help in affirming the quality of the product and it gives us the right to sell this product within Nigeria.

     Apart from selling the brand through large retail chains or stores, I have also decided to engage the services of Direct Sales Agent who will be brand ambassadors and engage in one on one communication with our target audience. For our affiliate program, we have put in place an attractive sales commission for our agents. Based on our sales forecast, our agents will be making a minimum of N5,000 – N10,000 weekly. We intend to also offer more incentives as sales increase. For now, we’re taking it one step at a time.  Got to go peeps.

    Have a wonderful holiday. Merry Christmas.

    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.

    Yipee!

    I read it somewhere that ‘if you not satisfied with your current situation, create the kind of situation you want‘. In otherwords, take charge of your life and create your own future.  Often times, I have griped on this blog about the unnecessary politics and ass licking within the organization I work for. Honestly, I have had it up to here with such a superficial set up. So in 2009, I had one or two objectives I hoped to accomplish. One of these was to start my own business, conclude my MBA program and move on to other personal issues such as starting a family. So, this is eleven months down the line, and I was just thinking how time has gone and how closer I have come to accomplishing these goals.

    One of the few things I did was to stick a post-it-note on the walls of my wardrobe or closet, itemising those things I wanted to accomplish. The business idea I started out with eventually did not sail through because I did not have the kind of money I actually required. Which left me thinking of other things I could do. I still intend to resurrect that particular business idea in the long term. One of the few people who really inspired me is my blogger friend Nan,  cos she has gone through a lot of emotional upheavals during the year and was able to start her design business. You can click on the link above to place orders (she resides in the U.K and can only take orders within).

    I have always been interested in manufacturing and therefore, went in search of a product that could give me the leverage I needed. I was successful and stumbled on a Canadian company that was manufacturing a product that every woman needs on a daily basis. I approached them and was lucky enough to have been given the distribution rights for Africa. This did not happen overnight, it involved a series of relationship and trust building between the supplier and myself over a period of 12 months (since October 2008). It’s a new product and I was involved throughout the design process. The first set of products have been shipped and I’m expecting it by next week hopefully.

    While we were going through the design process, I approached Shoprite Nigeria and South Africa, selling the benefits and huge margins on this brand. I sent in a proposal and Shoprite Nigeria has agreed to start stocking the brand come January 2010 while talks are still ongoing with Shoprite South Africa.

    Why am I saying all these? Are you unhappy with your present job or is it a family situation you need to get out of?Please believe in yourself cos no one will ever do if you doubt your God-given abilities. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do anything cos you can. Just refuse to give in and accept all the negative comments from family and friends. Stand up on a daily basis, look at yourself in the mirror and demand from Life what you want. If  you don’t demand and believe, you just might not get it. But if you do, then the sky is just the beginning.

    Have a wonderful weekend peeps!

    Investing in turbulent times

    Hey, don’t go thinking I know all the answers cos I don’t. I am actually trying to discover what everyone is investing in amidst the global financial crisis. I spoke with a friend of mine yesterday and she suggested real estate. My grouse with buying land in Nigeria is the issue of  “Omo o nile” and attendant dubious charges. I would rather buy a detached three bedroom bungalow, within the range of N5mn – N6mn (which is dependent on whether I can access mortgage facilties), located in Lagos. Since I don’t have such huge funds right now, I have to think of something else.

    For the past one month, I have been trying to scout for other alternative investment options (long-term), and someone had suggested ARM Investment. Please note that I did not include the link to the website. I’d rather not cos from my own point of view, either they are yet to engage the services of a social media strategist, or someone is simply not doing their job. I filled in the forms a month ago and I am yet to be contacted by a Wealth Advisor. What is the essence of setting up a website if there’s no one capable of attending to visitor’s enquiries. I also tried calling the numbers stated on the websites and unfortunately, none seems to be working.

    My question today is: If you have some funds sitting idle in your savings account, where would you invest it?

    Back at last

    I do not know where to begin but I guess i’ll start. My laptop’s symantec subscription expired some few weeks back and I had saved all my passwords on my Norton account to safeguard sites I regularly visit from hackers. For the past three weeks, I have been trying to recover my password to this blog unsuccessfully. Today, I had to change my password to gain access and I can’t say how glad I am to be back on the blogging scene. Thanks to all who dropped one comment or the other (hey, this is a special shout out to F), I will respond to all questions as soon as possible.

    So much has happened in the past one month within this country, and I begin to wonder where I will start from. However, I am not going to talk about the banking crisis or banking tsunami (according to the Nigerian media), neither am I going to talk about the ongoing ASUU strike. A lot has been said about these issues and I’d rather observe where this is all going to end. One resolution I adopted while away on vacation is the need to be a more positive thinker, dare to do the impossible and take a conscious stand on the kind of people I want in public offices. Enough is enough! We need to take our destiny into our hands if this country is to move forward. I have had it with mediocrity. Phew….