Lender to poorest of the poor has no bad debt

SEF (Small Enterprise Foundation) is a South African lender most people have never heard of – yet it has no bad debt.

Lending to the poorest of the poor, it has created close to 200 000 jobs.

Many major banks have tried to break into this market, with varying degrees of success – largely due to their lending models relying on collateral and proof of income, which the economically disempowered are unable to obtain.

Small Enterprise Foundation (SEF) has modelled itself on the hugely successful Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, and has managed to succeed where other banks have failed:

  • Since 1992, it has awarded R8.7-billion in loans to people who do not qualify for traditional bank loans
  • It has created 200 000 jobs
  • The percentage of its portfolio at risk is just 0.2%
  • Overall, about 3% of SA banks’ combined loan books are non-performing
  • Capitec has the highest exposure to unsecured lending, reporting a 12.2% provision for doubtful debts
  • Unsecured lending has multiplied four-fold to R200-billion since 2009
  • Unsecured lending grew 21% last year alone
  • SEF attempts to avoid bad debt by using existing, trusted clients to onboard new ones
  • People borrowing money are then allocated to a cell of five or six other borrowers, where each cell member undertakes to cover the loan repayments of the others
  • This is a form of positive peer pressure, and ensures loans are recovered

FILA posts positive results

Stationery, school and art supplies manufacturer FILA has reported improvements in key European and North American operations.

The Italian group reported is back on a growth trajectory following the steep declines seen in the first quarter.

Key figures in the report include:

  • Core operating revenue of €350.7 million, +37.4% on the same period of the previous year (€255.2 million in H1 2018);
  • Core operating revenue up 2.4% in H1 2019 (-0.5% net of currency effect) compared to the first six months of the previous year on a pro-forma basis with the first six months of 2018 for the Pacon Group;
  • Significant growth in Asia (+23%), particularly in India, and major recovery for North American revenue in the second quarter of the year, featuring a school’s campaign increasingly concentrated in the second and third quarters, and in Europe for the resolution of the effects stemming from the 2018 reorganisation of and for the efficiency of the Annonay central warehouse from March 2019;
  • Adjusted EBITDA of€58.2 million, +31.2% on €44.4 million for H1 2018;
  • Adjusted EBITDA in H1 2019 recovers significantly on the first quarter, up 1.3% (-2.5% net of the currency effect) on the first half of 2018 on a pro-forma basis with the first six months of 2018 for the Pacon Group;
  • Adjusted net profit of €22-million, against €15.5 million in H1 2018, growth of 42% and mainly due to the M&A effect; and
  • Net debt of €521.9-million at June 30, 2019 (net of the IFRS 16 effect of €80.5-million), compared to €452.8-million at December 31, 2018.

“The first half of 2019 comprehensively highlighted the recovery of Group operating efficiency and the resolution of the main issues stemming from the 2018 reorganisation, while in March the central Annonay European warehouse achieved full efficiency, in line with expectations,” says Massimo Candela, CEO of F.I.L.A.

MTN South Africa to sell off branded stores

Source: Telecom Paper

MTN South Africa employees have expressed fears the company’s move to sell off its stores will result in them losing their jobs, a report form ITWeb has revealed.

Already, an employee representative, who opted to remain anonymous, contacted ITWeb alleging the mobile operator was looking to sell off its stores and in the process “dupe them into joblessness without proper consultations” with the workers at these facilities.

MTN denied the retrenchment accusation but confirmed there are plans to sell stores. Employees will be transferred to new employers at their current total cost to company packages, for a minimum period of twelve months.

Jacqui O’Sullivan, executive for corporate affairs at MTN said the company’s objective with this project is not to close stores, but to grow the company’s store footprint and BBBEE ownership of MTN stores.

The plan will see MTN increasing its number of stores in the coming two years, creating businesses for new owners and job opportunities for new store employees.

Telkom has informed its customers that it will be migrating them to fibre and wireless services soon, as it will no longer support copper-based voice and DSL services.

  • ADSL and VDSL customers  will be migrated to capped and uncapped fibre packages
  • DSL users will be migrated to fixed-LTE products if no fibre is available
  • Cable theft and inclement weather will no longer impact DSL subscribers, so they can therefore expect better service levels and less downtime
  • This will impact ISPs which have thousands of ADSL subscribers
  • These subscribers can be moved onto other broadband solutions, which are better products
  • The move will likely make Telkom more competitive

Facebook to rename WhatsApp, Instagram

By Alex Heath for The Information

In a big shift, Facebook plans to signal its control of Instagram and WhatsApp by adding its name to both apps, according to three people familiar with the matter. The social network will rebrand the apps to “Instagram from Facebook” and “WhatsApp from Facebook,” the people said.

Employees for the apps were recently notified about the changes, which come as antitrust regulators are examining Facebook’s acquisitions of both apps. The app rebranding is a major departure for Facebook, which until recently had allowed the apps to operate and be branded independently. The distance has helped both apps avoid being tarnished by the privacy scandals that have hurt Facebook. The move to add Facebook’s name to the apps has been met with surprise and confusion internally, reflecting the autonomy that the units have operated under.

But Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has also been frustrated that Facebook doesn’t get more credit for the growth of Instagram and WhatsApp. Associating those apps with Facebook could improve the overall companies’ brand with consumers.

Bertie Thomson, a Facebook spokeswoman, confirmed the branding change to Instagram and WhatsApp. “We want to be clearer about the products and services that are part of Facebook,” she told The Information, noting that the company uses similar branding for other products like Workplace, its enterprise chat tool.

The ‘from Facebook’ branding will be visible inside the apps—users will see it when they log on, for instance—and elsewhere, such as in app stores.

Zuckerberg has in recent months rallied his lieutenants to unify the messaging systems behind the company’s apps, with the goal of allowing users to communicate across them. The company has also taken steps over the past year to exert more influence over both organizations. The co-founders of both WhatsApp and Instagram abruptly departed Facebook last year, and Zuckerberg has replaced them with veteran Facebook executives who now report to him.

In another sign that Facebook is bringing what employees internally refer to as its “family of apps” closer together, employees responsible for Instagram’s messaging feature called Direct were recently notified that they will report into the team behind Facebook’s standalone Messenger app, according to a person familiar with the matter. Thomson declined to comment.

Significant challenges

While the undertaking to connect the apps presents significant technical challenges, Facebook hopes that letting users message across its apps will open up more opportunities for e-commerce and keep users loyal to its messaging ecosystem.

Facebook acquired Instagram for $1 billion in 2012 when the photo-sharing app had tens of millions of users and was growing quickly. Two years later, Facebook paid $22 billion to buy the messaging service WhatsApp, which at the time had 600 million monthly users. The deals cemented Facebook’s dominance in the global social media landscape, and both apps play an increasingly important role in Facebook’s future growth prospects. Both apps now have more than 1 billion users. Instagram has been estimated to be worth more than $100 billion if it were a standalone company.

Internal Facebook research has recently shown that WhatsApp and Messenger compete for user attention, and that Facebook users are increasingly also sharing to Instagram and WhatsApp, The Information previously reported. Of all the Facebook apps, the research showed that Instagram was growing the fastest globally while overall engagement for the Facebook app was flat in 2018 after falling the year prior.

Facebook recently confirmed that it’s under antitrust investigation by the Federal Trade Commission, and recent reports by The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg said regulators are specifically examining the social network’s history of acquisitions and whether they were defensive moves to stifle competition. The Department of Justice has also recently said that it’s beginning a broad antitrust probe of large tech companies.

While studies show that Facebook’s brand has been tarnished by its many privacy scandals, and that users are increasingly becoming more aware of the firm’s data collection practices, Instagram and WhatsApp have largely remained unscathed. Two 2018 surveys conducted by the privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo found that more than half of Americans didn’t know Facebook owned Instagram or WhatsApp.

Axiz and Dell host Women’s Day Luncheon

Axiz, in conjunction with Dell, hosted a Women’s Day Empowerment Luncheon on Thursday 8 August 2019.

The luncheon was focused on creating awareness of the power of strong women in South Africa, exploring the potential of women working together. With the right mind-set, knowledge and resources, women will grow in confidence.

Women from some of South Africa’s largest organisations attended the event, providing support for young graduates to help them seek and secure jobs. Topics included creating CVs, developing communication skills, working on functional competencies and behaviours at work, and personal success stories. In addition, attendees were asked to bring items of work attire to donate to Harambee, for use during job interviews.

Morgan Gronn, product marketing manager at Axiz, said that there are many women who others can look up to and be inspired by.

She added that first impressions were important and the donated work clothes would help young women feel more confident.

The Axiz and Dell Women’s Day Empowerment Luncheon set a new standard in women empowerment, communication and collaboration.

South Africa could be heading for yet another dark period, with an Eskom strike drawing near, according to The South African.

Having just recently posted a record-breaking R20-billion loss in the last financial year, the struggle power utility is now facing labour disputes.

Between 180 and 200 senior managers are dragging the utility before the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) after not receiving salary increases and incentive bonus in the past year. The managers earn between R1.5 million and R3 million per annum.

Eskom recently granted middle managers a 4,7% increase, but they are dissatisfied and are looking for 7,5%.

Yet a recent report on eNCA states that 365 senior employees have had lifestyle audits conducted on them.

Eskom’s vast wage bill, its poor financial management and its uncontrollable debt mean that load-shedding is likely imminent. The utility is struggling to generate sufficient supply – something that will anger South Africans as rumours of a deal brokered with neighbouring Zimbabwe to supply 400MW of power per week.

 

What unemployment looks like in South Africa

South Africa’s unemployment rate is getting worse. The latest stats from Stats SA, as well as the opinions of leading economic and labour experts, paint a very dire picture:

  • The unemployment rate increased by 1,4 percentage points from 27,6% in the first quarter of 2019 to 29,0% in the second quarter of 2019
  • The number of people unemployed grew by 455 000
  • The number of people employed grew by just 21 000
  • Government’s failed Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP) was supposed to create 350 000 manufacturing jobs
  • 320 000 manufacturing jobs have been lost since 2008
  • Gang violence on the Cape Flats is a direct result of the loss of jobs in the textile industry in the areas
  • 6,7-million people are currently unemployed in South Africa – the size of the entire country of Bulgaria

By Josh Hall for Prolific London

Retail sales rose by just 0.3 per cent in July, their lowest level since records began.

The figure was down significantly on the 1.6 per cent increase seen in the same month in 2018, and follows what was also the worst June on record.

The survey, conducted by the British Retail Consortium and KPMG, are based on responses from retailers making up an estimated 40 per cent of all British retail sales. Their records began in 1995.

According to the Consortium, “the combination of slow wage growth and Brexit uncertainty” are to blame for the collapse.

But the group also said that last year’s figures had been inflated by the World Cup.

KPMG head of retail Paul Martin said: “Shoppers are notably disengaged overall. The pressure continues to build between online and physical offerings, costs continue to rise and the demands of consumers continue to grow.”

Meanwhile as we reported yesterday the UK service sector recorded a slight and unexpected growth during July.

The performance put it out of kilter with other UK sectors, in which the outlook remains gloomy.

Six ways to make work more meaningful

According to a Gallup poll called the State of the Global Workplace which studied employee engagement in 142 countries, only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work.

Isla Galloway-Gaul, MD of Inspiration Office, says: ”When people are engaged, they adopt the vision, values, and purpose of the organisation they work for. They become passionate contributors, innovative problem solvers, and are a joy to work with.

“The answer to winning back disengaged employees, and keeping the engaged employees engaged, isn’t only pay, perks or promotions. It’s meaning – that is, giving work a greater sense of significance, and making work matter.”

Here are six ways to make people more engaged at work:

1. Show people their work matters
“Make time for employees to explore the purpose–or profound why–of what they do,” So, introduce your team to their customers. Explain how their work helps others, even in small ways, and encourage them to share their own stories. Reframe the work your team is doing so they can understand how and why they fit into that work.

2. Create a learning environment to encourage personal growth
Make space for people to create and execute their own learning plans, offering help along the way. Understand their different learning styles and attention spans, and provide experiences for growth expanding on what they already know, with immediate opportunities for putting into practice at work.

3. Help make people feel valued and valuable
“You care about your personal family and friends, but what about your ‘work family,’ whom you probably see the most? Do you ever ask how your employees are doing, and care about what they say?,” said Galloway-Gaul. By showing employees their value, they will feel valued as individuals and in turn are more likely to live up to their value in the workplace.

4. Involve people in decisions to crate a sense of control, and grant autonomy liberally
Micromanagement can be a meaning-killer. “Including your employees in decisions and giving them space to get the job done helps them feel less like numbers and more like contributors. Whether it’s where to put the new soda fridge, or how to solve a million-dollar problem, don’t manage in a vacuum,” Galloway-Gaul advised.

5. Allow people to bring their real self to work
By being your authentic self, you give employees permission not to check their identities at the door, even if they are a quirkier than everyone else. Of course, this must be within the bounds of workplace professionalism.

6. Help people see where they fit in the mission, and that the mission depends on them to achieve it
“Employees will never think their work matters if they don’t know that they matter. Achieve this by showing them the long-term vision and how they fit in it and contribute to to – beyond the org chart of course,” said Galloway-Gaul.

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