How Bitcoin Will Promote Latin American Growth

There has been much ado concerning Bitcoin and how authorities and businesses in China and the United States have reacted to it, but possibly more intriguing possibilities may lie ahead for this currency and other cryptocurrencies. The Wall Street Journal ran a piece a week ago about the obvious divide that exists in Latin America. The Atlantic facing countries have more command oriented economies while the Pacific facing countries, with the exception of Ecuador and Nicaragua, have more market-oriented economies. Latin America has become a continent of focus on a global scale with stifled European growth and an Asia-Pacific region that has already been welcomed into the global economic conversation. Alternative currencies will make their mark on Latin America and it will affect both sides in a different fashion. In the end, Bitcoin and Latin American Growth will go together as they both are in spotlight at the same time and cryptocurrencies (including Bitcoin) will afford Latin American businesses and entrepreneurs the opportunity to operate on a level playing field with the rest of the globe.

Notable State Oriented Economies of Latin America

  • Ecuador
  • Bolivia
  • Cuba
  • Brazil
  • Argentina
  • Nicaragua
  • Venezuela

These countries have economies that are more beholden to national interests. The most extreme state run economy on this list is Cuba, which has a Communist regime that has made slight concessions to economic liberalization. Venezuela has arguably the second most extreme state run economy and is in the midst of a socioeconomic and political crisis. Argentina has had its fair share of instability and command-oriented economic events courtesy of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner including price controls, drama concerning possession of the Falkland Islands, inflation of 26%, police strikes, and the nationalization of YPF just to name a few measures. Brazil is always feared to resort to its old ways and currently there is still a great deal of red tape and taxation is comparatively higher than peers.

Notable Market-Oriented Economies of Latin America

  • Mexico
  • Colombia
  • Panama
  • Chile
  • Peru
  • Belize

Mexico’s efforts to attract and grow business is not just limited to Mexico City, but Guadalajara has been emphasized as a growth destination in the digital and tech space much like the way Bogota is the established economic powerhouse city in Colombia and Medellin has broken out a youthful, digital force. Mexico is currently the 14th largest economy and growing. Mexico is still plagued by the drug cartels as demand for drugs across the northern border still exists. Ciudad Juarez is plagued by cartel-induced violence, which is considered so bad that the Sun Bowl strongly discouraged visitors from traveling across the border as the college bowl game was an opportunity to promote both El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez for tourism and business.

Colombia still is combatting FARC, but it is clearly winning the battle after President Uribe’s term. FARC has been more limited to the jungle areas of Colombia. Active peace talks with FARC are also being negotiated to an extent. The Colombian economy has much room to grow in terms of agriculture, energy, finance, tourism, and digital technology.

Belize is actively courting Americans to purchase real estate in the country marketing their pristine beaches, tax policies, and English fluency. Belize has a lot more growing to do and it has to shake stigmas.

Chile is considered by the Heritage Foundation to be #1 in economic freedom in Latin America. Chile enjoys a trade surplus, a central bank policy rate of 4.5% that would be attractive to investors outside of Chile. Trading the Chilean Peso may be a worthy endeavor for those wishing to take advantage of the carry trade against countries/economic zones that have extremely low interest rates such as the United States, European Union, and Japan. Chile has low inflation and has policies that benefit not just copper exports, but other exports to help maintain the surplus. Morgan Stanley expects Chile, Peru, Colombia, and Mexico to grow on average 4.25% in 2014.

These countries are not facing looting outbreaks, fights over toilet paper, nor do they have leaders that are trying to escalate action against another country.

Bitcoin’s Impact on State-Oriented Economies

In all of these state-oriented economies, there are currency controls. Venezuela and Argentina are infamous for their price controls. Brazil’s government influence in the economy stems from their excessive influence, possible corruption issues, and inflationary concerns. Entrepreneurs, investors, and ordinary individuals will be looking to the marketplace to meet their needs. Rationing, red tape, high costs, and possible surveillance are associated with these state-oriented economies. Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies will meet the needs of many that have access to the internet.

Competing globally in countries that wish to be more insular comes with negative ramifications, but the usage of the internet and the ability to transact in a possibly untraced fashion in a global marketplace will enable competitive pricing for citizens to receive the goods and services needed. Venezuelans will be able to buy toilet paper from foreign sources without having to use a currency that is being grossly debased. Venezuelans will also have the opportunity to engage in entrepreneurship while still in Venezuela to fund their endeavors and possible defection to other countries such as Colombia. Over 26% of Venezuelans use the internet on a daily basis. Venezuela has not filtered the internet just yet and purchasing Bitcoin is far more secure than holding onto Bolivar.

Bitcoin usage could take the government’s tight grip on the economy away by rendering its presence useless by adopting the private currency. Less tax revenues can be collected, a populace that is armed financially and possibly literally (you could have bought anything on Silk Road), and decreased influence from political leaders and enforcers as cryptocurrency usage becomes viral. This thought process can be applied to Venezuela-lite in Argentina, which is an economy with a lot of potential.

The Brazilian economy could grow further by giving businesses more exposure overseas and overcoming the exotic sovereign currency issue. The World Cup in 2014 and Olympics in 2016 will put much pressure on the Brazilian economy to grow and keep up appearances. Lower transaction costs, currency familiarity, and nationality ambivalence with Bitcoin customers will help Brazilian firms seeking to do business outside of Brazil. With a large influx of tourists and business-people coming to Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, the acceptance of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies will remove the barriers of having to convert currencies and engage in secure purchases. Brazil may be a more command-oriented economy like Argentina, but global expectations and aspirations should push them away from past tendencies.

For the state-oriented economies, Bitcoin and its competitors offer greater freedom, monetary security, entrepreneurship opportunities, transaction security, and privacy. In the case of Venezuela, it could spark a change in governance much like the way social media was credited for bringing in the Arab Spring to life. Much of the problems surrounding Venezuela are economic in nature and the black market is a natural alternative. Prevention of seizure of assets by keeping them in a digital wallet in the cloud is far more secure than keeping funds in a bank regulated by the Venezuelan government.

Bitcoin’s Role in Economic Growth for the Pacific Countries

Entrepreneurship as described in the previous section is on a smaller level than what may be in Colombia, Mexico, Chile, and Peru. Colombia and Mexico have cities that have hopes to global players in the digital space. Attracting business from Europe, Canada, and the United States would be easier with lower exchange and transaction fees. Credit cards and PayPal place transaction fees on users wishing to make international transactions and this fee would be reduced.

Latin American outsourcing can experience growth as call centers, development and design firms, and independent contractors are able to not only competitively bid as they do now, but they would be able to accept Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies and this will drive in more business. It is not a fad, it is a matter of making an easier and cheaper transaction. Less barriers to making the purchase will make the sale and it will help Latin American businesses be able to be global, which can lead to Venture Capital growth.

Bitcoin will lead to greater international business transactions for Latin America and enable economic growth. The benefits are different for these countries as the need for stability is not pressing, but rather these countries have an insatiable appetite for growth. Entrepreneurship, competing globally, lower transaction fees, transactional security, competitive biddng, improved economic development, and changing perceptions are all benefits of adopting cryptocurrencies in these countries. A startup in Medellin or Cartagena can compete with a firm in Toronto and another firm in Indianapolis for a services contract. Removing the barriers of nationality from the transaction to focus solely on the services provided and costs involved are a major benefit.

Consumers win too in these countries as they would gain purchasing power because some items are more expensive in their domestic markets than foreign markets. Ex-pats and immigrants can send money to family members in their native country in a simple, inexpensive, quick, and secure fashion. This can help boost local economies.

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies help make the world a smaller place just like the way air travel, the internet, telecommunications, and social media have done. Cryptocurrencies promote globalization and Bitcoin will help provide that opportunity to Latin America, which is eager to compete and grow in the global marketplace.

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Different Methods of Mining Coal

Different methods of coal mining are adapted to dig out the natural coal from the earth. Among them, Surface mining method is applied for producing coal of about nearly 40% in the world. The coal deposits are found on the surface of the earth and make the mining easier for the coal-miners. The various types of coal mining are contour, mountaintop removal and strip mining.

Strip mining is adopted in areas, which has leveled landscape. The surface coal is exposed when the earth covering them is removed in strips. When the whole earth concealing is removed from the surface the coal that lay beneath is exposed. They appear in blocks and are usually extracted either by drilling or blasting. Once the strip is free of coal or goes empty, the strip mining process is continued with the next strip that lay adjacent to the former.

The contour mining is used to remove coal from the layer following the contours found along the ridges of a hill or landscape. The commonly used places for this type of mining are areas with rolling to steep terrain. This method may create landslides and erosion troubles. Using the freshly cut overburden to refill the mined areas rectifies these problems. Strip mining has its own limitations and when the process of strip mining reaches a specific stripping ratio, it may not yield you profit when continued.

Mountaintop removal coal mining can be understood by its name. Removing the mountaintops exposes the coal. This method also involves disposing of mining overburden that is associated with mountaintops removal in nearby valleys. This method is a combination of area and contour strip mining methods. This process creates adverse changes in the topography like creating head of hollow hills and filling valleys with mining wastes.

Latest open cast methods can reveal higher proportion of coal deposit than the underground mining methods.

Deep mining or underground mining is applied to dug out coal that lay underneath the surface of the earth. The primary underground mining ways are Continuous, Longwall, Shortwall, Retreat and Blast Mining.

Longwall mining method is adopted for about 50% of underground mining. This method involves a complex machine with a revolving drum that sways mechanically back and forth across the coal deposit. This method yields high production and ensures safety. This method has sensors that can detect the quantity of remaining coal in the seam and robotic controls contribute to the efficiency of the process.

Continuous mining method is applied for about 45% in underground coal mining. The machine used in this method has a huge revolving steel drum that is facilitated with tungsten carbide teeth to extract the coal from the seam.

Blast mining occupies less than 5% of the whole underground mining in USA. Explosives are used to break the coal seam in this method. The extracted coal is collected and transported to the central area using conveyors or shuttle cars.

Shortwall mining covers 1% and the method is somewhat similar to longwall mining. Retreat mining method employs pillar or coal ribs to support the roof of the mine. This is the most dangerous method as it involves risk of falling roofs that might trap or crush the workers in the mine.

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Online Forex Trading Tools – Understand the Various Options Available

Online forex trading tools are of great help to new forex traders. Even experienced traders often rely on some of these tools to confirm their trading decisions. Due to global connectivity and telecom revolution, forex trading is no longer restricted to large corporations alone. Retail investors too are entering the forex market in a big way with the intention of making money.

Forex market is the largest financial market in the world both in terms of size and volume of transactions handled. It can be risky to start trading forex on your own without any formal forex education or without the help of a reliable forex trading tool.

The major disadvantage of any online product is the possibility of it being a scam. It is very easy to make up false product performance statistics and post them on the Internet. Therefore beware of online scams. Ensure that you carry out proper research to establish the authenticity of information and claims made by the product developers online.

The various options available for you to choose your online forex trading tools are

1. Trading platforms of existing professional traders

A number of successful professional forex traders market their own trading systems online. Check out the reputation of the trader to begin with. If possible verify his / her background over phone with other traders known to you.  Being backed by an existing successful trader, such systems normally deliver whatever promised.

2. Expert advisor

Expert advisor is another online forex trading tool which is very reliable in analyzing charts and making automatic trading decisions. Automated forex trading robots are particularly useful to new forex traders. Robots are programmed to make trading decisions on its own without any human intervention.

3. Forex forums

By participating in popular forex forums, you can get a lot of information on online forex trading. With the help of these forums you can seek advice from experienced traders who are already making use of reliable online tools for trading forex. Information regarding new products launched is also exchanged amongst users of forex forums.

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Data Entry Online Jobs Without Investment

One of the most popular jobs that many people do nowdays is data entry online jobs. With this job, there are many people who have helped raise their family's income despite the global recession. It will give you the opportunity to have income while staying at home. The things that you need are a computer and a reliable internet connection. It does not matter what profession you are in as long as you know how to do some writing jobs and data entry.

These kinds of jobs are not always permanent jobs. Thus, the work does not come with benefits like health insurance, paid vacation and the like. When you work online, you are considered an independent contract worker. This means that you are a free agent. You will be hired based on a project and your contract will last until the project is finished. When the required job is done, it's time for you to find another job.

The pay for data entry job is based on per data sheet completed. The cost per sheet usually ranges from 10 to 20 cents. However, this varies heavily on the type of employer you have. It is expected that as data entry workers, you will also do some other tasks like data collection, change documents into new formats or edit images.

The most important thing when you try to work for online jobs is to watch out for scams. There are so many of them online (especially for data entry jobs) because lots of people are into them due to the fact that they are easier to do. Do your own research and find out the company's legitimacy before you give out personal information. Do not be fooled and unknowingly subject yourself to identity theft.

Be very suspicious when a prospective employer asks you for your financial information. Do not give out your credit card numbers or any forms of financial information when an employer asks you. This should be a red flag signaling you that the company is a hoax. Other scam propaganda requests you to send them a certain amount in exchange for a starter kit so that you may be able to start working for them. When you come across these frauds, run away from them.

It is important that in all your online jobs, you only get those legitimate ones so that you will not be taken advantage of. Check the name of the company first if they are genuine or not. Once you establish your work online, success is within your reach. Data entry jobs will no longer be your only option but you can also get a good position online. Keep looking.

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What Is A Cryptocurrency And Bitcoin?

The Web is part of society and is shaped by society. And until society is a crime-free zone, the Web won’t be a crime-free zone.

So what is a cryptocurrency? A cryptocurrency is a decentralised payment system, which basically lets people send currency to each other over the web without the need for a trusted third party such as a bank or financial institution. The transactions are cheap, and in many cases, they’re free. And also, the payments are pseudo anonymous as well.

As well as that, the main feature is that it’s totally decentralised, which means that there’s no single central point of authority or anything like that. The implications of this is done by everyone having a full copy of all the transactions that have ever happened with Bitcoin. This creates an incredibly resilient network, which means that no one can change or reverse or police any of the transactions.

The high level of anonymity in there means that it’s very hard to trace transactions. It’s not totally impossible, but it’s impractical in most cases. So crime with cryptocurrency– because you’ve got fast, borderless transactions, and you’ve got a high level of anonymity, it in theory creates a system that is ripe for exploitation. So in most cases when it’s a crime online with online payment systems, then they tend to go to the authorities and, say, we can hand over this payment information or we can stop these transactions and reverse them. And none of that can happen with Bitcoin, so it makes it ripe for criminals, in theory.

In light of this, a lot of different agencies are researching into Bitcoin and looking at Bitcoin and trying to understand how it works and what they can do to police it. It’s also been in the media quite a few times, and the media, being the media, like focus on the bad side of it. So they focus very heavily on the crime with it. So if there’s a theft or a scam or something like that, then they tend to blame it on Bitcoin and Bitcoin users.

So the most notable is probably Silk Road, which got taken down recently, and through their $1.2 billion worth of Bitcoins, went to pay for anything from drugs to guns to hit men to those sorts of things. And the media, again, very quickly to blame this on Bitcoins and say that it was the Bitcoin user’s fault.

But there’s actually very little evidence of the scale of the problem of crime with cryptocurrencies. We don’t know if there’s a lot or we don’t know if there’s a little. But despite this, people are very quick to brand it as a criminal thing, and they forget the legitimate uses, such as the fast and quick payment.

So a few research questions I’m looking at in this area is what does crime with Bitcoin look like? So a lot of people will say that scams and thefts have been going on for ages. But the means through which they happen changes with the technology. So a Victorian street swindler would practically be doing something very different to a 419 Nigerian prince scammer.

So the next question that I’d like to research as well is looking at the scale of the problem of crime with cryptocurrency. So by generating a log of known scams and thefts and things like that, we can then cross reference that with the public transaction log of all transactions and see just how much of the transactions are actually illegal and criminal. So my final question would be, to what extent does the technology itself actually facilitate crime? By looking back at the crime logs, we can see which particular sorts of crime happen, and if it is actually the technology’s fault, or is this just the same old crimes that we’ve been looking at before. And once we’ve consider these things, we can start to think about possible solutions to the issue of crime with Bitcoin.

And we can consider that the only suitable solution would be one that preserves the underlying values of the technology itself, which would be privacy and decentralisation. A lot of focus from the media is to look at the criminal aspects of it. And they don’t give enough value to the legitimate uses, because Bitcoin is a technology that enables fast, quick payments, which is useful to anyone that’s ever paid for anything on the web.

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24 Hours in Your Wallet

Every writer faces time restrictions. The trick is to find enough time in the day to spend writing. There are several things I do to find more time to write. Negotiate every one of these ideas to maximize your time of opportunity.

Review your ideas that are laid out in front of you. I use note cards and stick notes on my desk to keep ideas around me. This kick starts the thinking process. I also put a current project I’m working on as a desktop background on my computer as a constant reminder to work on that particular task. Every time I am on the computer, there’s a picture of a document that needs worked on starring me in the face.

Push through the fog even if you have a headache or are feeling bad. Be your own nagging boss that says, “Get to work.” Think of a reward that you’ll give yourself when the work is done and put a picture of it where you see it every day. The reward has to be worth it, not just go out to dinner or something lame like that. I enjoy playing pool and set a goal to not play until I finished a project. Stick to it. That pushes me to finish what I started faster. Delayed gratification is a great tool to use. Use every great tool available.

Be as organized as possible. I know folks that can play office all day and not accomplish anything of real value. Focus on the work as a writer, but keep a clean environment.

Use the best software for the project your working on. I use New Novelist software for book type writing and Movie Magic for screenwriting. Download a free trial of Movie Magic and see if it’s right for you. Use the best software you can to maximize your effectiveness of time management and organization.

Eliminate the unnecessary clutter. Work is work, it doesn’t matter what kind it is, whether it’s dishes, digging a hole, or writing. A proper mindset on the value of work is vital. Sweat Equity is the best tool in the world.

Set goals that are difficult but possible. Write three articles a day, three chapters a day, or three scenes a day. Make time your friend and not a thief.

Role-playing allows me to step into someone else’s shoes and get work done that I might not of accomplished otherwise. Think stat, like you hear a doctor say. I’ve got to operate on this chapter, stat or I’ve got to dig up the research and uncover the true like a good detective. This exercise helps me more than you could possibly understand. An exercise like this can make an ordinary writing assignment seem extraordinary, removing the boring out of work. If you’re having fun, then you’ll get more done.

Steal every minute you can from the day. Take your laptop with you to work and pull it out on lunch break if you work a regular job too. I take my laptop fishing with me. When it’s slow and the fish are not biting, I can kick back and type away, glancing at the pole once in a while. The thrill of fishing is the catch, not the wait. Work while you wait. That may sound extreme, but don’t knock it until you try it.

Gather all the best tools and use those to fight against the time steelers.

Copyright© 2007 – AJ Dowell

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UK Corporations Feeling the Financial Crunch, But Do not Panic As Advice is Available!

Your business may not be a high-profile company that makes headlines every month but that does not mean you can not have the same problems as Northern Rock or Bradford & Bingley. After years of being successful and profitable you may find that your company is currently having financial difficulties and you need more cash. Before you set out to raise more cash any way you can imagine, take the time to speak to a lawyer and discuss all your legal options.

It is important that any business acts early when they start to see a decline in finances. You need to review your businesses cash flow on a regular basis even if you have an accountant or a financial department. Whilst you may delegate the financial process of your company to other people, do not make the mistake of not reviewing the financial statements. Stay up-to-date with your company's finances and you will be able to adjust quickly when financial difficulties start to appear.

If you do find your business is in need of more cash do not panic and start making poor decisions that could jeopardize your business. Whilst it is important to plan for a downtimes and be proactive before the creditors start calling, sometimes the problem will catch you by surprise and you may find yourself needing to take action quickly. The Companies Act of 2006 sets out the duties directors owe a company and you need to ensure that you follow these guidelines. Speaking to a lawyer can help you keep on top of the current regulations and verify that your company is following all the appropriate laws for every country your company does business in.

If you trade while insolvent you could be breaking the law. Whilst you may be panicked due to your company's cash flow problems, it is important to take the advice of your lawyers and financial personnel in order to make sensible and legal decisions for your business. You may need to make some tough choices that require you to change the structure of your business. You may need to let some of your employees go but whatever decisions you need to make you should discuss your choices with a lawyer to always confirm you are following the appropriate laws correctly.

It is understandable to make foolish and short sided decisions when your business is in trouble. If you built a large company from the ground up, you may be feeling that the company's financial problems are your own problems. It is important that during tough financial time you take charge and make arrangement with any creditors.

If you need assistance in negotiating settlements and arrangements with creditors a experienced solicitor can assist you with the process.

It may be possible to sell off the shares in the company or the company assets instead of liquidating the entire company or filing for bankruptcy. You may be able to save your company and rebuild once your cash issues are resolved. A solicitor can help you plan your business future and keep you focused during a very difficult time in your business career.

This article is free to republish provided the authors resource box below remains intact.

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69 Dirty Talk Messages to Crank Up Your Texting Life

The ability to text message from ANYWHERE on the planet is something new, and gives relationships something they’ve never had before…the ability to keep our relationships exciting, even if we are separated from our lovers.

Now the hard part is trying to be creativity and erotic on your own. While sometimes it just rolls off the tongue, and thinking of what to say is quite easy. Other times, you might receive a sexy message and be dumbfounded on how to respond.

Below is a list of dirty talk messages that should be used when you can’t see the person you want, and your goal is to make them think OBSESS about you and the fact they can’t have you right now.

Some of these dirty talk messages are fun, some are serious, so use them wisely and don’t randomly use them. Sometimes humor when you’re having a seriously sexy chat can spoil the mood.

1. Hi. I’m horny.

2. I just thought about how awesome you are. And how awesome I am. Let’s hook up!

3. If you were the new burger at McDonalds you would be the McSexy!

4. You’re so f’n sexy!!

5. I want you right NOW.

6. The thought of you is turning me on!

7. Can you send me a picture so I can show Santa what I want for Christmas?

8. I can’t wait to see you later

9. You are SO hot

10. I love your body

11. I’ve been thinking about you ALL day

12. You make me want to do BAD things to you…and myself;)

13. I’m so h*rd/w3t right now

14. I would give anything to be with you right now!

15. I’ll be waiting for you later…naked;)

16. You can do whatever you want

17. The fact I can’t have you right now makes me want you MORE

18. What would YOU do to ME?

19. I’ve never been so turned on by someone!

20. I’ve NEVER wanted someone like I want you

21. You’d look so hot going down on me:)

22. No one does me like you!

23. I want you so bad I don’t notice anyone else

24. I’ve never met someone who turns me on like you!

25. You have the nicest a$$ on the planet, is it real?

26. Hey I just realized this, but you look a lot like my next girlfriend/boyfriend!

27. What are you wearing?

28. Your body makes me happy

29. I’m not wearing any underwear… maybe I can wear you later

30. Hello, I’m a thief, and I’m here to steal your heart.

31. Can I please be your slave tonight?

32. Do you know, your hair and my pillow are perfectly color coordinated?

33. God must have been in a very good mood the day we met.

34. I think I could fall madly in bed with you.

35. I want to melt in your mouth, not in your hand.

36. I wonder what our children will look like.

37. I’d like to name a multiple orgasm after you!

38. I’ll cook you dinner if you cook me breakfast.

39. I’ve got a condom with your name on it.

40. Picture this, you, me, bubble baths, and a bottle of champagne.

41. What do you like for breakfast?

42. Why don’t you surprise your roommate and not come home tonight???

43. Will you marry me for just one night?

44. Can I buy you a drink, or do you just want the money?;)

45. Don’t be so picky… I wasn’t! Just kidding, I love you

46. You want me. I can smell it.

47. Damn…..your ass is fine! Want to come see mine?

48. You’re like pizza. Even when you’re bad, you’re good.

49. I would lose my wallet just to see you right now

50. I’m in one of those ‘you could do whatever you want moods’ too bad you’re not here

51. Got any raisins? (No.) Then how about a date?

52. Milk does the body good, but damn how much did you drink?

53. Do you sleep on your stomach? (yes/no) Can I?

54. You so fine!

55. I say we Déjà vu last night all over again later?

56. Hi. My name is (name). I’ll be your play toy tonight.

57. Are you a virgin? (No.) Prove it!

58. My bedroom has a very interesting ceiling…

59. So what did you think of me last night? Pretty fantastic eh?

60. You’re on my list of things to do tonight.

61. OH GOD! OH GOD! Just practicing;)

62. Do you know how to use a whip? hehe

63. I’m drunk:)

64. Didn’t anyone tell you that you wanted to sleep with me??? I thought you knew!

65. Hey babe, wanna get LUCKY!?

66. Your place or mine?

67. You *will* come home with me tonight (Jedi mind trick)

68. I’m gay, think you can convert me?

69. I’m just looking for a friend with benefits (Uhm?) No not sex. A car, nice stuff, etc. Get your mind out of the gutter.

As always we had a lot of fun putting together this list. We know that we’ve missed some GREAT dirty talk lines so please feel free to comment some of your favorite messages.

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Dress Hangers – A Wise Investment For Every Wardrobe

Hangers were invented in the early 1900s, when Albert J. Parkhouse twisted a wire to use for hanging coats. A century later, shoppers can find a plethora of hanger types, including dress hangers.

More than a handy tool for holding clothes while in storage, a dress hanger is also an accessory that helps an item of clothing maintain its form. This is especially true for dresses, which require additional support to keep the garment in shape.

Options for dress hanger selections include the wood, metal or acrylic varieties, which offer a distinct look as well as strength. The wooden type appears classy and natural, with colors that range from taupe to chestnut and to dark brown. Metals are known for their remarkable durability, but select makers of plastic hangers have become popular in recent years for developing a sturdier – even touted as 'unbreakable' – line.

For that extra touch of fabric care, shoppers can also opt for dress hangers that come with fabric padding made of velvet, linen or satin finish. This type is perfect for dresses that are crafted using lace, silk, taffeta and similar fabrics that can be sentenced to damage. Clips, stay-on details and drop and bar attachments may likewise be added to address particular clothing display needs.

Investing in good hangers is a wise decision not just for women with an extensive wardrobe, but also for clothing store owners that need reliable garment storage and display accessories. A hanger can even serve to market a company's brand, through the artful use of logos that are etched, printed or embossed onto its surface. High-quality dress hangers can contribute to the creation of a shopper-friendly vibe in stores, and even make the merchandise become even more appealing.

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Building a Kingdom – Case Study of Kingdom Financial Holdings Limited

This article presents a case study of sustained entrepreneurial growth of Kingdom Financial Holdings. It is one of the entrepreneurial banks which survived the financial crisis that started in Zimbabwe in 2003. The bank was established in 1994 by four entrepreneurial young bankers. It has grown substantially over the years. The case examines the origins, growth and expansion of the bank. It concludes by summarizing lessons or principles that can be derived from this case that maybe applicable to entrepreneurs.

Profile of an Entrepreneur: Nigel Chanakira

Nigel Chanakira was raised in the Highfield suburb of Harare in an entrepreneurial family. His father and uncle operated a public transport company Modern Express and later diversified into retail shops. Nigel’s father later exited the family business. He bought out one of the shops and expanded it. During school holidays young Nigel, as the first born, would work in the shops. His parents, particularly his mother, insisted that he acquire an education first.

On completion of high school, Nigel failed to enter dental or medical school, which were his first passions. In fact his grades could only qualify him for the Bachelor of Arts degree programme at the University of Zimbabwe. However, he “sweet-talked his way into a transfer” to the Bachelor in Economics degree programme. Academically he worked hard, exploiting his strong competitive character that was developed during his sporting days. Nigel rigorously applied himself to his academic pursuits and passed his studies with excellent grades, which opened the door to employment as an economist with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ).

During his stint with the Reserve Bank, his economic mindset indicated to him that wealth creation was happening in the banking sector therefore he determined to understand banking and financial markets. While employed at RBZ, he read for a Master’s degree in Financial Economics and Financial Markets as preparation for his debut into banking. At the Reserve Bank under Dr Moyana, he was part of the research team that put together the policy framework for the liberalization of the financial services within the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme. Being at the right place at the right time, he became aware of the opportunities which were opening up. Nigel exploited his position to identify the most profitable banking institution to work for as preparation for his future. He headed to Bard Discount House and worked for five years under Charles Gurney.

A short while later the two black executives at Bard, Nick Vingirayi and Gibson Muringai, left to form Intermarket Discount House. Their departure inspired the young Nigel. If these two could establish a banking institution of their own so could he, given time. The departure also created an opportunity for him to rise to fill the vacancy. This gave the aspiring banker critical managerial experience. Subsequently he became a director for Bard Investment Services where he gained critical experience in portfolio management, client relationships and dealing within the dealing department. While there he met Franky Kufa, a young dealer who was making waves, who would later become a key co-entrepreneur with him.

Despite his professional business engagement his father enrolled Nigel in the Barclays Bank “Start Your Own Business” Programme. However what really made an impact on the young entrepreneur was the Empretec Entrepreneur Training programme (May 1994), to which he was introduced by Mrs Tsitsi Masiyiwa. The course demonstrated that he had the requisite entrepreneurial competences.

Nigel talked Charles Gurney into an attempted management buy-out of Bard from Anglo -American. This failed and the increasingly frustrated aspiring entrepreneur considered employment opportunities with Nick Vingirai’s Intermarket and Never Mhlanga’s National Discount House which was on the verge of being formed – hoping to join as a shareholder since he was acquainted with the promoters. He was denied this opportunity.

Being frustrated at Bard and having been denied entry into the club by pioneers, he resigned in October 1994 with the encouragement of Mrs Masiyiwa to pursue his entrepreneurial dream.

The Dream

Inspired by the messages of his pastor, Rev. Tom Deuschle, and frustrated at his inability to participate in the church’s massive building project, Nigel sought a way of generating huge financial resources. During a time of prayer he claims that he had a divine encounter where he obtained a mandate from God to start Kingdom Bank. He visited his pastor and told him of this encounter and the subsequent desire to start a bank. The godly pastor was amazed at the 26 year old with “big spectacles and wearing tennis shoes” who wanted to start a bank. The pastor prayed before counselling the young man. Having been convinced of the genuineness of Nigel’s dream, the pastor did something unusual. He asked him to give a testimony to the congregation of how God was leading him to start a bank. Though timid, the young man complied. That experience was a powerful vote of confidence from the godly pastor. It demonstrates the power of mentors to build a protégé.

Nigel teamed up with young Franky Kufa. Nigel Chanakira left Bard at the position of Chief Economist. They would build their own entrepreneurial venture. Their idea was to identify players who had specific competences and would each be able to generate financial resources from his activity. Their vision was to create a one – stop financial institution offering a discount house, an asset management company and a merchant bank. Nigel used his Empretec model to develop a business plan for their venture. They headhunted Solomon Mugavazi, a stockbroker from Edwards and Company and B. R. Purohit, a corporate banker from Stanbic. Kufa would provide money market expertise while Nigel provided income from government bond dealings as well as overall supervision of the team.

Each of the budding partners brought in an equal portion of the Z$120,000 as start-up capital. Nigel talked to his wife and they sold their recently acquired Eastlea home and vehicles to raise the equivalent of US$17,000 as their initial capital. Nigel, his wife and three kids headed back to Highfield to live in with his parents. The partners established Garmony Investments which started trading as an unregistered financial institution. The entrepreneurs agreed not to draw a salary in their first year of operations as a bootstrapping strategy.

Mugavazi introduced and recommended Lysias Sibanda, a chartered accountant, to join the team. Nigel was initially reluctant as each person had to bring in an earning capacity and it was not clear how an accountant would generate revenue at start up in a financial institution. Nigel initially retained a 26% share which assured him a blocking vote as well as giving him the position of controlling shareholder.

Nigel credits the Success Motivation Institute (SMI) course “The Dynamics of Successful Management” as the lethal weapon that enabled him to acquire managerial competences. Initially he insisted that all his key executives undertake this training programme.

Birth of the Kingdom

Kingdom Securities P/L commenced operations in November 1994 as a wholly owned subsidiary of Garmony Investments (Pvt) Ltd. It traded as a broker on both money and stock markets.

On 24th February 1995 Kingdom Securities Holding was born with the following subsidiaries: Kingdom Securities Ltd, Kingdom Stockbrokers (Pvt) Ltd and Kingdom Asset Managers (Pvt) Ltd. The flagship Kingdom Securities Ltd was registered as a Discount House under Banking Act Chapter 188 on 25th July 1995. Kingdom Stockbrokers was registered with the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange under ZSE Chapter 195 on 1st August 1995. The pre-licensing trading had generated good revenue but they still had a 20% deficit of the required capital. Most institutional investors turned them down as they were a greenfield company promoted by people perceived to be “too young”. At this stage National Merchant Bank, Intermarket and others were on the market raising equity and these were run by seasoned and mature promoters. However Rachel Kupara, then MD for Zimnat, believed in the young entrepreneurs and took up the first equity portion for Zimnat at 5%.

Norman Sachikonye, then Financial Director and Investments Manager at First Mutual followed suit, taking up an equity share of 15%. These two institutional investors were inducted as shareholders of Kingdom Securities Holdings on 1st August 1995. Garmony Investments ceased operations and reversed itself into Kingdom Securities on 31st July 1995, thereby becoming an 80% shareholder.

The first year of operations was marked by intense competition as well as discrimination against new financial institutions by public organisations. All the other operating units performed well except for the corporate finance department with Kingdom Securities, led by Purohit. This monetary loss, differing spiritual and ethical values led to the forced departure of Purohit as an executive director and shareholder on 31st December 1995. From then the Kingdom started to grow exponentially.

Structural Growth

Nigel and his team pursued an aggressive growth strategy with the intention of increasing market share, profitability, and geographic spread while developing a strong brand. The growth strategy was built around a business philosophy of simplifying financial services and making them easily accessible to the general public. An IT strategy that created a low cost delivery channel exploiting ATMs and POS while providing a platform that was ready for Internet and web-based applications, was espoused.

On 1st April 1997, Kingdom Financial Services was licensed as an accepting house focusing on trading and distributing foreign currency, treasury activities, corporate finance, investment banking and advisory services. It was formed under the leadership of Victor Chando with the intention of becoming the merchant banking arm of the Group. In 1998, Kingdom Merchant Bank (KMB) was licensed and it took over the assets and liabilities of Kingdom Securities Limited. Its main focus was treasury related products, off-balance sheet finance, foreign currency and trade finance. Kingdom Research Institute was established as a support service to the other units.

The entrepreneurial bankers, cognisant of their limitations, sought to achieve critical mass quickly by actively seeking capital injection from equity investors. The aim was to broaden ownership while lending strategic support in areas of mutual interest. An attempt at equity uptake from Global Emerging Markets from London failed. However in 1997 the efforts of the bankers were rewarded when the following organisations took up some equity, reducing the shareholding of executive directors as shown below: ïEUR Ipcorn 0.7%, ïEUR Zambezi Fund Mauritius P/L 1.1%, ïEUR Zambezi Fund P/L 0.7%. ïEUR Kingdom Employee Share Trust 5%, ïEUR Southern Africa Enterprise Development Fund – 8% redeemable preference shares amounting to US$1,5m as the first investee company in Southern Africa from the US Fund initiated by US President Bill Clinton, ïEUR Weiland Investments, a company belonging to Mr Richard Muirimi, a long standing friend of Nigel and associate in the fund management business took up 1.7%, Garmony Investments 71.7% -executive directors. ïEUR After a rights issue Zimnat fell to 4.8% while FML went down to 14.3%.

In 1998, Kingdom launched four Unit Trusts which proved very popular with the market. Initially these products were focused at individual clients of the discount house as well as private portfolios of Kingdom Stockbroking. Aggressive marketing and awareness campaigns established the Kingdom Unit Trust as the most popular retail brand of the group. The Kingdom brand was thus born.

Acquisition of Discount Company of Zimbabwe (DCZ)

After a spurt of organic growth, the Kingdom entrepreneurs decided to hasten the growth rate synergistically. They set out to acquire the oldest discount house in the country and the world, The Discount Company of Zimbabwe, which was a listed entity. With this acquisition Kingdom would acquire critical competences as well as achieve the much coveted ZSE listing inexpensively through a reverse listing. Initial efforts at a negotiated merger with DCZ were rebuffed by its executives who could not countenance a forty year old institution being swallowed up by a four year old business. The entrepreneurs were not deterred. Nigel approached his friend Greg Brackenridge at Stanbic to finance and effect the acquisition of the sixty percent shares which were in the hands of about ten shareholders, on behalf of Kingdom Financial Holdings but to be placed in the ownership of Stanbic Nominees. This strategy masked the identity of the acquirer. Claud Chonzi, the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) GM and a friend to Lysias Sibanda (a Kingdom executive director), agreed to act as a front in the negotiations with the DCZ shareholders. NSSA is a well known institutional investor and hence these shareholders may have believed that they were dealing with an institutional investor. Once Kingdom controlled 60% of DCZ, it took over the company and reverse listed itself onto the Stock Exchange as Kingdom Financial Holdings Limited (KFHL). Because of the negative real interest rates, Kingdom successfully used debt finance to structure the acquisition. This acquisition and the subsequent listing gave the once despised young entrepreneurs confidence and credibility on the market.

Other Strategic Acquisitions

Within the same year Kingdom Merchant Bank acquired a strategic stake in CFX Bureau de Change owned by Sean Maloney as well as another stake in a greenfield microlending franchise, Pfihwa P/L. CFX was changed into KFX and used in most foreign currency trading activities. KFHL set as a strategic intention the acquisition of an additional 24.9% stake in CFX Holdings to safeguard the initial investment and ensure management control. This did not work out. Instead, Sean Maloney opted out and took over the failed Universal Merchant Bank licence to form CFX Merchant Bank. Although Kingdom executives contend that the alliance failed due to the abolition of bureau de change by government, it appears that Sean Maloney refused to give up control of the extra shareholding sought by Kingdom. It therefore would be reasonable that once Kingdom could not control KFX, a fall out ensued. The liquidation of this investment in 2002 resulted in a loss of Z$403 million on that investment. However this was manageable in light of the strong group profitability.

Pfihwa P/L financed the informal sector as a form of corporate social responsibility. However when the hyperinflationary environment and stringent regulatory environment encroached on the viability of the project, it was wound up in early 2004. Kingdom pursued its financing of the informal sector through MicroKing, which was established with international assistance. By 2002 MicroKing had eight branches located in the midst of, or near, micro-enterprise clusters.

In 2000, due to increased activity on the foreign currency front within the banking sector, Kingdom opened a private banking facility through the discount house to exploit revenue streams from this market. Following market trends, it engaged the insurance company AIG to enter the bancassurance market in 2003.

Meikles Strategic Alliance

In 1999 the entrepreneurial Chanakira on advice from his executives and the legendary corporate finance team from Barclays bank led by the affable Hugh Van Hoffen entered into a strategic alliance with Meikles Africa whereby it injected some Z$322 million into Kingdom for an equity shareholding of 25%. Interestingly, the deal nearly collapsed on pricing as Meikles only wanted to pay $250 million whilst KFHL valued themselves at Z$322 million which in real terms was the largest private sector deal done between an indigenous bank and a listed corporate. Nigel testifies that it was a walk through the incomplete Celebration Church site on the Saturday preceding the signing of the Meikles deal that led him to sign the deal which he saw as a means for him to sow a whopping seed into the church to boost the Building Fund. God was faithful! Kingdom’s share price shot up dramatically from $2,15 at the time he made the commitment to the Pastor all the way to $112,00 by the following October!

In return Kingdom acquired a powerful cash-rich shareholder that allowed it entrance into retail banking through an innovative in-store banking strategy. Meikles Africa opened its retail branches, namely TM Supermarkets, Clicks, Barbours, Medix Pharmacies and Greatermans, as distribution channels for Kingdom commercial bank or as account holders providing deposits and requiring banking services. This was a cheaper way of entering retail banking. It proved useful during the 2003 cash crisis because Meikles with its massive cash resources within its business units assisted Kingdom Bank, thus cushioning it from a liquidity crisis. The alliance also raised the reputation and credibility of Kingdom Bank and created an opportunity for Kingdom to finance Meikles Africa’s customers through the jointly owned Meikles Financial Services. Kingdom provided the funding for all lease and hire purchases from Meikles’ subsidiaries, thus driving sales for Meikles while providing easy lending opportunities for Kingdom. Meikles managed the relationship with the client.

Meikles Africa as a strategic shareholder assured Kingdom of success when recapitalisation was required and has enhanced Kingdom’s brand image. This strategic relationship has created powerful synergies for mutual benefit.

Commercial Banking

Exploiting the opportunities arising from the strategic relationship with Meikles Africa, Kingdom made its debut into retail banking in January 2001 with in-store branches at High Glen and Chitungwiza TM supermarkets. The target was principally the mass market. This rode on the strong brand Kingdom had created through the Unit Trusts. In-store banking offered low cost delivery channels with minimal investment in brick and mortar. By the end of 2001, thirteen branches were operational across the country. This followed a deliberate strategy for aggressive roll-out of the branches with two flagship branches ïEUR­ïEUR one in Bulawayo and the other in Harare. There was a huge emphasis on an IT driven strategy with significant cross-selling between the commercial bank and other SBUs.

However, it was further discovered that there was a market for the upmarket clients and hence Crown banking outlets were established to diversify the target market. In 2004, after closing three in-store branches in a rationalization exercise, there were 16 in-store branches and 9 Crown banking outlets.

The entrance into commercial banking was probably held at the wrong time, considering the imminent changes in the banking industry. Commercial banking does provide cheap deposits, however at the price of huge staff costs and human resource management complications. Nigel concedes that, with hindsight, this could have been delayed or done at a slower pace. However, the need for increased market share in a fiercely competitive industry necessitated this. Another reason for persisting with the commercial banking project was that of prior agreements with Meikles Africa. It is possible that Meikles Africa had been sold on the equity take-up deal on the back of promises to engage in in-store banking, which would increase revenue for its subsidiaries.

Innovative Products and Services

KFHL continued its aggressive pursuit of product innovation. After the failure of the KFX project, CurrencyKing was established to continue the work. However this was abolished in November 2002 by government ministerial intervention when bureau de change were prohibited in an effort to stamp out parallel market foreign currency trading.

Sadly this governmental decision was misguided for not only did it fail to banish foreign currency parallel trading but it drove underground, made it more lucrative and subsequently the government lost all control of the management of the exchange rate.

In October 2002, KFHL established Kingdom Leasing after being granted a finance house licence. Its mandate was to exploit opportunities to trade in financial leases, lease hire and short term financial products.

Regional Expansion

Around 2000 it became evident that the domestic market was highly competitive, with limited prospects of future growth. A decision was made to diversify revenue streams and reduce country risk through penetration into the regional markets. This strategy would exploit the proven competences in securities trading, asset management and corporate advisory services from a small capital base. Therefore the entrance had low risk in terms of capital injection. Considering the foreign exchange control limitations and shortage of foreign currency in Zimbabwe, this was a prudent strategy but not without its downside, as will be seen in the Botswana venture.

In 2001, KFHL acquired a 25.1% stake in a greenfield banking enterprise in Malawi, First Discount House Ltd. To safeguard its investment and ensure managerial control, an executive director and dealer were seconded to the Malawi venture while Nigel Chanakira chaired the Board. This investment has continued to grow and yield positive returns. As of July 2006 Kingdom had finally managed to up its stake from 25,1% to 40% in this investment and may ultimately control it to the point of seeking a conversion of the license to a commercial bank.

KFHL also took up a 25% equity stake in Investrust Merchant Bank Zambia. Franky Kufa was seconded to it as an executive director while Nigel took a seat on the Board.

KFHL had been promised an option to gain a controlling stake. However when the bank stabilized, the Zambian shareholders entered into some questionable transactions and were not prepared to allow KFHL to up it’s stake and so KFHL decided to pull out as relationships turned frosty. The Zambian Central Bank intervened with a promise to grant KFHL its own banking license. This did not materialize as the Zambian Central Bank exploited the banking crisis in Zimbabwe to deny KHFL a licence. A reasonable premium of Z$2.5 billion was obtained at disinvestment.

In Botswana, a subsidiary called Kingdom Bank Africa Ltd (KBAL) was established as an offshore bank in the International Finance Centre. KBAL was intended to spearhead and manage regional initiatives for Kingdom. It was headed by Mrs Irene Chamney, seconded by Lysias Sibanda with the concurrence of Nigel after managerial challenges in Zimbabwe. Two other senior executives were seconded there. She successfully set up the KBAL’s banking infrastructure and had good relations with the Botswana authorities.

However, the business model chosen of an offshore bank ahead of a domestic Botswana merchant bank license turned out to be the Achilles heel of the bank more so when the Zimbabwe banking crisis set in between 2003 and 2005. There were fundamental differences in how Mrs Chamney and Chanakira saw the bank surviving and going forward.

Ultimately, it was deemed prudent for Mrs. Chamney to leave the bank in 2005. In 2001 KFHL acquired the mandate as the sole distributor of the American Express card in the whole of Africa except for RSA. This was handled through KBAL. Kingdom Private Bank was transferred from the discount house to become a subsidiary of KBAL due to the prevailing regulatory environment in Zimbabwe.

In 2004 KBAL was temporarily placed under curatorship due to undercapitalisation. At this stage the parent company had regulatory constraints that prevented foreign currency capital injection.

A solution was found in the sourcing of local partners and the transfer of US$1 million previously realised from the proceeds of the Investrust liquidation to Botswana. Nigel Chanakira took a more active management role in KBAL because of its huge strategic significance to the future of KFHL. Currently efforts are underway to acquire a local commercial bank licence in Botswana as well. Once this is acquired there are two possible scenarios, namely maintaining both licences or giving up the offshore licence.

The interviewees were divided in their opinion on this. However in my view, judging from the stakeholder power involved, KFHL is likely to give up the off shore banking licence and use the local Kingdom Bank Botswana (Pula Bank) licence for regional and domestic expansion.

Human Resources

The staff complement grew from the initial 23 in 1995 to more than 947 by 2003. The growth was consistent with the growing institution. It exploded, especially during the launch and expansion of the commercial bank. Kingdom from inception had a strong human resourcing strategy which entailed significant training both internally and externally. Before the foreign currency crisis, employees were sent for training in such countries as RSA, Sweden, India and the USA. In the person of Faith Ntabeni Bhebhe, Kingdom had an energetic HR driver who created powerful HR systems for the emerging behemoth.

As a sign of its commitment to building the human resource capability, in 1998 Kingdom Financial Services entered a management agreement with Holland based AMSCO for the provision of seasoned bankers. Through this strategic alliance Kingdom strengthened its skills base and increased opportunities for skills transfer to locals. This helped the entrepreneurial bankers create a solid managerial system for the bank while the seasoned bankers from Holland compensated for the youthfulness of the emerging bankers. What a foresight!

In-house self-paced interactive learning, team building exercises and mentoring were all part of the learning menu targeted at developing the human resource capacity of the group. Work and job profiling was introduced to best match employees to suitable posts. Career path and succession planning were embraced. Kingdom was the first entrepreneurial bank to have smooth unforced CEO transitions. The founding CEO passed on the baton to Lysias Sibanda in 1999 as he stepped into the role of Group CEO and board deputy chair. His role was now to pursue and spearhead global and regional niche financial markets. A few years later there was another change of the guard as

Franky Kufa stepped in as Group CEO to replace Sibanda, who resigned on medical grounds. One could argue that these smooth transitions were due to the fact that the baton was passing to founding directors.

With the explosive growth in staff complement due to the commercial bank project, culture issues emerged. Consequently, KFHL engaged in an enculturation programme resulting in a culture revolution dubbed “Team Kingdom”. This culture had to be reinforced due to dilutions through significant mergers and acquisitions, significant staff turnover because of increased competition, emigration to greener pastures and the age profile of the staff increased the risk of high mobility and fraudulent activities in collusion with members of the public. Culture changes are difficult to effect and their effectiveness even harder to assess.

In 2004, with a high staff turnover of around 14%, a compensation strategy that ring fenced critical skills like IT and treasury was implemented. Due to the low margins and the financial stress experienced in 2004, KFHL lost more than 341 staff members due to retrenchment, natural attrition and emigration. This was acceptable as profitability fell while staff costs soared. At this stage, staff costs accounted for 58% of all expenses.

Despite the impressive growth, the financial performance when inflation adjusted was mediocre. Actually a loss position was reported in 2004. This growth was severely compromised by the hyperinflationary conditions and the restrictive regulatory environment.

Conclusion

This article shows the determination of entrepreneurs to push through to the realisation of their dreams despite significant odds. In a subsequent article we will tackle the challenges faced by Nigel Chanakira in solidifying his investments.

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