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Chamas, Saccos, mutual funds and treasury bills – where should I put my money?

Before committing your hard-accrued savings into business, it is important to make sure that you have chosen the right business idea, have enough capital, a realistic market entry strategy and a definite market niche.

 

Job losses and pay cuts since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in March last year has seen a record number of individuals rush to start their own businesses in a quick survival race.

Data from the Business Registration Service (BRS) shows that 154,155 businesses were registered between July last year and last month, a 30 percent rise from the 118,609 start-ups that were set up in the preceding 12 months.

This number does not capture the thousands of unregulated businesses that sprout up annually especially in informal settlements and rural areas, a factor that highlights the rising appetite and need for new and additional sources of income to cope up with a rising cost of living.

However, it is estimated that for various reasons, a third, or 51,384 businesses that were registered over the past year will not survive beyond their second birthday, a worrying statistic that sheds light on a ruthless business environment that needs skill, strategy and resolve to navigate.

Starting a business

While it is the most preferred means of investment and growing one’s income, starting a business is not the only way to grow your money, therefore, before withdrawing the last bit of your hard-accrued savings from your bank, Sacco or chama and committing it into that long-held business idea, it is important to make sure that you have chosen the right business idea, have enough capital, a realistic market entry strategy and a definite market niche.

Dr Wanjiru Kibe, the lead consultant at Finesse Consulting, points out that an investor should identify market segments that offer the best return on investment to maximise earnings on the initial capital.

“There are many profitable businesses you can start in Kenya without a lot of capital… the only challenge with starting a business is that you are in it for life and cannot cash in and out like happens in the stock market if you make a mistake,” she cautions.

Mutual Funds

The labour-intensive nature of starting and running a business means that it is not the best investment vehicle for everyone, especially individuals who have less time but want to grow their money safely.

Mutual funds include money market funds, equity funds and fixed income funds, they allow individuals to harness the full power of economies of scale by pooling their resources together to invest in highly liquid assets such as bills and bonds.

This diversification spreads investment risks across the portfolio, which minimises some of the inherent risks of going out all alone in business, for example, and generates a steady stream of income at periodic intervals.

Data from the Capital Markets Authority shows that assets being managed by mutual funds in Kenya have grown 85 percent during the past two years alone from Sh56.6 billion in March 2018 to Sh104.7 billion in December last year, highlighting their growing popularity as viable investment tools.

Stocks

The stock market, Dr Kibe says, gives individuals fertile soil to cultivate their money as it does not require significant capital to start trading. Listed stocks at the Nairobi Securities Exchange allow individuals to do their own research to identify the best possible companies to invest in based on market performance and future growth prospects. However, the financial advisor notes that stocks come with a significant measure of risk and can be quite scary to new entrants in the trade, and that it requires pragmatic trading and making of shrewd moves if you spot an opportunity in the market.

Investing in stocks also allows you to shield your investment from inflation which reduces the value of your money, is highly liquid as it can be bought or sold fairly quickly, and exposes your dividends income to relatively lower tax rates compared to other forms of investment.

For instance, your dividend income is only charged a 5 percent tax unless you hold a 12.5 percent voting power or more in the company that is paying the dividend, compared to numerous licenses, levies, operational costs and turnover tax that your income will be subjected to in a business.

Treasury bills and bonds

But if you are risk-averse and do not want to bet on a business that may collapse, stocks that may lose value and wipe your savings or mutual funds that may fold, putting your money in the safe treasury bills and bonds, Dr Kibe advises, could be your best bet yet.

Treasury bills and bonds are a debt instrument used by the government to borrow locally to finance its operations, and earn investors returns on their money over a short period of time.

“If you do not want to lose even a single cent of your money, consider buying a treasury bill which you can get even for as low as Sh50, 000, or a treasury bond, which now goes for Sh100, 000 or Sh200, 000. You can buy these through the Treasury’s online savings bond portal. Treasury bills take 21 days to mature, while bonds run for two years, others five years and above,” Dr Kibe says.

Fixed deposit savings account

The financial advisor says that individuals can also earn tidy income annually from interest accrued on savings in a fixed deposit account at a reputable bank.

“If you are very conventional, then you can put your money into a savings account with a reputable financial institution, where you will start getting returns based on the interest that bank is offering, but here you would get very low returns. If anyone gives you very high rates for a fixed deposit, do not invest there,” she warned.

Saving in a Sacco, meanwhile, gives depositors dividends at the end of each accounting year depending on the Sacco’s performance and amount invested, while also helping the depositor to boost their portfolio for future loans.

Informal savings groups, popularly known as chamas, are also a key instrument in helping one foster a savings culture especially for low-income earners, which can be harnessed to start a business and also be used to access low-interest loans that can be used to pay for necessities when need arises. – nation.co.ke

Mortgage defaults hit Sh70bn, auctions jump

The Central bank of Kenya, Nairobi. 
Defaults on mortgages jumped 48 percent to Sh70.5 billion in the year to March, pointing to widespread distress in real estate in the wake of Covid-19 economic hardships as property auctions pick up.
Latest Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) data shows that mortgages recorded the highest growth in non-performing loans (NPLs) from Sh47.5 billion in March last year, reflecting the struggle by investors to find buyers for their houses amid dwindling returns.
Unpaid mortgages increased by Sh9.1 billion or 14.8 percent in the three months to March, a rise that outpaced other segments like manufacturing (three percent), agriculture (10.7 per cent) and personal loans (three percent) in growth of default on loans, the CBK said.
The mounting defaults in the property market are a reflection of the struggles that mortgage holders are undergoing in an economy that has witnessed a string of job losses across nearly all sectors since the onset of Covid-19 in Kenya in March last year as corporates intensify austerity measures to protect profits.
This has seen workers who took mortgages on the strength of their pay slips default. The slowdown in real estate is hurting property developers who are finding it difficult to sell units that were built on loans.
Banks that had gone slow on property seizures last year following the pandemic
have stepped up debt recovery efforts to clean up their loan books, leading to a spike in auctions.
Thousands of defaulters have since January been appearing in the books of Kenya’s three CRBs — Metropol, TransUnion and Creditinfo International—after the CBK lifted the suspension of listing for loans that were defaulted after April 1 last year.
The CBK has linked the sharp rise in mortgage defaults — credit that goes unpaid for 90 days — to skipped repayments on covid-19 disruptions.
“The real estate sector registered the highest increase in non-performing loans by 14.9 percent (Sh9.1 billion) as a result of disruptions by Covid-19 pandemic,” said the CBK in the banking sector review of first quarter of the year.
Real estate has been one of the country’s fastest growing sectors in the last 15 years, with returns from property outpacing equities and government securities.
The sector has, however, suffered slow growth in sales and rental prices recently due to a huge stock of unsold units, which has seen developers who tapped loans to build and sell houses default.
Low occupancy rates have meant that developers who were dependent on rent collections to repay loans are also struggling.
Industries and other businesses have since cut down their activities in response to the infectious disease, leading to job cuts and unpaid leave for retained staff as profitable firms move into losses.
Businesses that tapped loans based on their projected cash flows are also struggling to meet the loan obligations.
CBK data to April shows that net domestic credit to the real estate sector grew by 5.8 percent to Sh409 billion, the slowest in nine months.
Auctioneers reckon they are holding more forced sales in 2021 linked to mortgage defaults compared to previous years, with banks moving much faster to seize properties from defaulters since the cap was put in place.
But the auctioneers are not selling as fast as they are repossessing due to the minimum bid price, leaving a glut of repossessed vehicles, land, houses and office equipment as cash-strapped buyers seek to buy the properties cheaply and at outsized discounts.
The Land Act, 2012 bars banks from auctioning seized assets at below 75 percent of the prevailing market value.
This has led banks to eye private settlements.
Under private treaties, distressed borrowers agree with banks to look for the best available price for their properties and sell to repay loans as opposed to relying on the auctioneer’s hammer. – businessdailyafrica.com

Jobs in Hotel Industry in Ireland

Our client who is in hotel industry in the Republic of Ireland is looking for people to work in his hotels in Ireland.
He is looking for waiters, waitresses, Supervisors, managers etc, etc. Would you be interested? Alternatively, do you know of anybody who is interested? A little experience in working in Hotel industry is desirable. More training will be offered in Ireland.
For more information, please contact:-
Lawrence Carlos: 07816 229423
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Michael Njuguna: 07440 11 22 53.

UK food workers to be exempt from Covid isolation

The move follows concerns about shortages of food supplies in shops

Key parts of the food industry will be allowed to do daily Covid testing from Friday instead of asking staff to self-isolate.

The government said daily testing would be implemented at key sites, such as supermarket depots and food manufacturers.

Close to 10,000 staff at 500 sites in the UK will eventually be affected.

It comes as supermarket bosses warn of severe staff shortages after thousands received alerts to self-isolate.

Supermarkets said the supply of some products was being affected by the “pingdemic” keeping staff away from work, as a record 618,903 people were told to self-isolate by the NHS Covid app in England and Wales.

While some retailers said they may have to close stores, they downplayed fears of food shortages, saying the problems were not widespread.

The new daily contact testing measures will begin at 15 supermarket depots from Friday, followed by 150 depots next week, but it will not apply to supermarket store staff.

It will mean depot workers who are alerted by the app or contacted by NHS Test and Trace will be able to continue working if they test negative, whether or not they are vaccinated.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said “disruption is limited at the moment” but it was vital that the government rolls out the scheme as fast as possible and is prepared to take further action if necessary.

In a separate development, other key industries will also be allowed to deploy daily Covid testing instead of self-isolation for a limited number of essential workers who are fully vaccinated.

This scheme covers sectors including transport, emergency services, border control, energy, digital infrastructure, waste, the water industry, essential defence outputs and local government.

Analysis box by Faisal Islam, economics editor
This intervention should alleviate genuine concerns in the food industry about supplies. Hundreds of designated sites – supermarket depots and food manufacturers – will be able to administer the tests that will enable workers to skip the need for self isolation.

This will be the case whatever the vaccination status of the worker. It is not sector-wide and will not, for example, apply to actual supermarket stores.

But it should be enough to stop some of the sporadic shortages become a systemic issue. Shoppers should feel reassured.

More generally the help in other sectors is limited.

The government clarified that the scheme announced earlier this week to allow named double-vaccinated workers approved by letter to avoid isolation will apply to 16 sectors from energy to waste to medicine and essential transport.

The bar is high. The government is trying to keep the Test and Trace system intact as a second line of defence against the pandemic. It is as tricky a balancing act as it has always been.

Hannah Essex, co-executive director of the British Chambers of Commerce, said that while the announcement would be a relief to some businesses, “it will leave many more still facing critical staff shortages and lost revenue as the number of people being asked to isolate remains high”.

CBI director general Tony Danker agreed, warning: “The current approach to self-isolation is closing down the economy, rather than opening it up.”

Businesses have already exhausted contingency plans to get in extra staff and are “at risk of grinding to a halt in the next few weeks”, he added.

Scotland has also launched a system of exemptions from self-isolation, covering workers in sectors such as health and social care.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “We recognise there are some absences in the food supply chain so what we’re announcing is for the top four hundred or so sites, things like supermarket depots, and some of the key food manufacturers.

“We’re going to change the system, and enable them to test and return to work, so somebody who is contacted in future by test and trace or is pinged will be able to have daily contact testing for seven days and be able to carry on working, provided their tests remain negative.”

Mr Eustice added: “We’re still concerned about the level of hospitalisations, so we want to do what’s necessary to get the food supply chain working, but at this stage not go as far as including those stores.”

Kenyan Lady Passes away while traveling from US to Kenya

A Kenya woman Christine Aluoch Babu of Tampa, Florida has Passed away mid-air just an hour before landing in Doha, Qatar. She was traveling from US to Kenya. While on a trip to Kenya. Her body is in Qatar and the family are appealing for Help to Repatriate her to Kenya. Here below is the obituary message:

IT is with deep sorrow that we inform you of the death of Christine Aluoch Babu (Sten), who was based in the USA and was traveling from Tampa, Florida to Nairobi, Kenya for vacation on 14/07/2021. She was accompanied by her 15-year-old daughter and a family friend.

Christine passed out mid-air an hour before landing in Doha, Qatar. Upon landing, she was rushed to Hamad Emergency Hospital for treatment. Unfortunately she did not make it and died after suffering a massive cerebrovascular accident (stroke) as a result of multiple blood clots in her left atrium.

Her body is currently still at the mortuary in Doha, Qatar as we wait for the authorities to conclude their investigations per protocol.

The family is kindly requesting well-wishers support through prayers and finances to help them raise funds to cater for the hospital, mortuary expenses, as well as repatriation of her body to accord her last respects and burial in Gem Ahono village, Siaya County.

Contributions can be made through the following platforms:

CashApp: $Chausikuk
Zelle: 3025629232
M-Changa: Paybill 891300, Account 48531
Alternatively you can send direct MPesa to 0721986088 (Richard Okoth)
GodFundMe: gofundme.com/f/2g2a8p8v4o
Source: diasporamessenger.com

Court stops Kenya Power from effecting NYS meter reading deal

NYS Supervisor Peris Nduati (right) with Kenya Power meter reader Anthony Kagwi on July 16, 2021.

The Labour Court has restrained Kenya Power from replacing over 300 workers meter NYS personnel until a case filed by Ketawu is determined.

The Employment and Labour Relations Court has restrained Kenya Power from implementing a meter reading deal with the National Youth Service (NYS) after more than 300 of the utility firm’s workers, mostly meter readers, rushed to court to stop the agreement.

The 320 employees through their union, the Kenya Electrical Trades and Allied Workers Union (Ketawu), moved to court seeking orders to restrain the electricity distributor from firing them. They also sought to have Kenya Power restrained from outsourcing information and data gathering, arguing that it was breach of a collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

This was after Kenya Power last year entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with NYS, agreeing to take up 300 officers and 10 supervisors from the youth service to do meter reading.

In the MoU, Kenya Power would cater for costs and pay the outsourced meter readers Sh1,000 daily while the supervisors would be paid Sh2,000 daily. On its part, NYS would provide labour, transport and work equipment.

But the Labour court has now stopped Kenya Power from implementing the MoU until the matter raised by Ketawu is resolved.

Status quo remains

“In the meantime, the status quo pending as of today July 19, 2021 is to be maintained pending the inter partes hearing of the application,” ordered Justice Maureen Onyango, while setting the matter for hearing on July 28.

The workers complained to the court that Kenya Power made the move without consulting them, despite a CBA already in force which protects their interests.

“The recognition agreement between the union and Kenya Power is categorical in protecting the potential impact on employees and envisages prior consultation on such radical measures in the working environment,” said the union’s general secretary Ernest Nadome in an affidavit.

Issues the workers have raised include unlawful, unfair, illegal and wrongful labour practices and outsourcing of the provision of meter reading services by Kenya Power, violation and breach of the recognition agreement and the CBA. – nation.co.ke

Special cells for female terror convicts at Langata Women’s Prison

Langata Women’s Maximum Security Prison in Nairobi.

 

Langata Women’s Prison has become the first penal institution in Kenya to host a separate holding block for female terror convicts.

This is after the facility, which has the capacity to hold 12 people, was officially handed to prison authorities by the British Council and a United Nations agency on Wednesday.

The holding block is meant to separate criminals convicted of extremism-related charges, who are considered high risk, from the rest of the general population in efforts aimed at curbing radicalisation at the facility.

It also comes with two guardrooms, and will accommodate the convicts as well as their children.

The block will soon be surrounded by a perimeter wall backed up by two watch towers to ensure maximum security.

The new facility was built after a manual from Kenya’s strategy on countering violent extremism, first launched in 2016 by President Uhuru Kenyatta, recommended separating terror suspects at correctional facilities across the country.

The manual recommends their separation be done in a manner that does not dehumanise the convicts’ rights as human beings.

As a strategy, this requires careful handling to ensure that violent extremist prisoners do not get to form exclusive groups behind bars, while also ensuring there is no discrimination.

The booklet was produced after the national strategy on countering violent extremism identified prisons and remand centres as hotspots of radicalisation in the country.

Other hotspots include educational and religious institutions, the internet, media and refugee camps.

According to prison officials, the country is currently holding less than 100 terrorism and violent extremism-related convicts in its 129 penal institutions.

Speaking during the handing over ceremony on Wednesday, Deputy British High Commissioner to Kenya Josephine Gauld said the facility was built by the British Council through the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) at a cost of Sh10.7 million.

“This is very important because we do not want these convicts who have already been radicalised in a range of different settings getting to radicalise other vulnerable prisoners once detained. So we want to keep them separate and run a rehabilitation programme to help them understand what they have done and really think about the consequences of their actions,” she said.

Commissioner General of Prisons Wyclife Ogallo said the block will help with rehabilitation of high risk offenders and called on prison staff to uphold integrity while handling them.

“We’d rather they be hosted where they are not able to radicalize the general population,” said Mr Ogallo.

UNODC also helped with construction of the Kahawa Law Courts, Kenya’s first court dedicated to handling terrorism offences, in partnership with the Kenya Prisons Service. – nation.co.ke

Dubai is making its own fake enhanced rain to beat 122F heat

The monsoon-like downpour drenches a busy highway, causing tricky driving conditions for the stream of SUVs. Sudden waterfalls appear on the side of the road.
It would be a common sight in parts of Southeast Asia, but this is the United Arab Emirates, in the height of a summer heatwave which has seen temperatures regularly surpass 120F.
And according to the UAE’s National Center of Meteorology, the precipitation was enhanced by cloud seeding operations to increase rainfall in the Gulf country.
On Sunday, the UAE’s national weather service released video footage of the heavy downpours.
Its cloud seeding operations are part of an ongoing mission to generate precipitation in the Middle East country, which has an average rainfall of just four inches.
The enhanced rain is created using drone technology that unleashes electrical charges into clouds in order for them to clump together and form precipitation.
The National reported the heavy rainfall caused waterfalls to appear in the city of Ail Ain and made driving conditions hazardous.
In an effort to curb the country’s sinking water table, the UAE invested $15 million in nine different rain-making projects in 2017.
To find out what others are saying and join the conversation scroll down for the comments section or click here for our most commented on articles
The current system being used to change the electrical charge of the clouds is being led by researchers at the University of Reading in England. Professor Maarten Ambaum, who worked on the project, told the BBC in March that the UAE has enough clouds to create conditions conducive to rain.
The project tries to get the water drops to merge and stick when they receive an electrical pulse, “like dry hair to a comb”.
“When the drops merge and are big enough, they will fall as rain”, Prof Ambaum told the BBC.
Applying electrical shocks to clouds is preferred as it doesn’t require the use of chemicals.

Record number of migrants cross Channel in one day

A second boat load of 42 migrants, some of which are children arrive onto UK shores onboard the Dungeness RNLI lifeboat after being intercepted by Border Force off the coast.

 

Humanitarian groups have warned that Priti Patel’s new asylum legislation will do nothing to address the root causes of dangerous Channel crossings, following a record-breaking day of people arriving in Kent in small boats.

The Home Office said that at least 430 people made the crossing across the Dover Strait on Monday, a new daily record.

In Dungeness, also in Kent, about 50 people, including women and young children, were seen arriving on a beach after crossing the Channel in a single dinghy.

The previous daily high for arrivals was in September when 416 people arrived in the UK from across the Channel.

Patel, the home secretary, pledged to make the crossing “unviable”, but people have continued to make the dangerous journey this summer.

Patel’s flagship asylum legislation, the nationality and borders bill, which had its second reading in the Commons on Monday, has been branded the “anti-refugee bill” by critics.

But refugee charities have said that as well as being cruel the bill would not solve the issue of Channel crossings.

Tim Naor Hilton, the chief executive of Refugee Action, said: “The government’s relentless desire to raise the drawbridge without creating more routes to safety leaves desperate refugees with little choice than to put their lives in the hands of people smugglers.

“And the cruel and unworkable anti-refugee bill is pure political theatre that makes no attempt to improve our asylum system or address the root causes of Channel crossings.

“Ministers must throw out this extreme bill and instead design an effective and just asylum system that creates more routes to safety, such as family reunion, and a long-term resettlement programme that welcomes 10,000 refugees a year.”

Beth Gardiner-Smith, the CEO of Safe Passage International, said: “In the last year this government has presided over the closure of nearly all safe routes to the UK for refugees in France and other countries, so it’s no wonder smugglers are exploiting those who are faced with no other option to reach family and safety.

“Now instead of opening safe routes the government plans to rip up refugee rights, and criminalise and punish those seeking protection with their Nationality and Borders bill.

“The government must ditch these inhumane and unworkable plans and open safe routes to save lives. This would prevent Channel crossings and break the business model of smugglers, whilst reuniting separated families and offering hope to child refugees stranded and alone in Europe.”

The bill would make it a criminal offence to knowingly arrive in the UK illegally, and people could face up to four years in prison. It also includes clauses that would allow the UK to send asylum seekers to a “safe third country”.

Eight boats carrying 241 people arrived in the UK on Saturday, and, to date, nearly 8,000 people have reached the UK this year, according to analysis by the PA Media news agency.

The dinghy that reached Dungeness is believed to have left northern France or Belgium earlier in the day before crossing the 21-mile Dover Strait. It was watched by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution as it approached before landing at about 1pm. The migrants included children who were too young to walk, and some of the people needed help as they walked on to the beach.

Despite the surge in such crossings, the UK continues to see far fewer boat arrivals and asylum claims than many of its European counterparts.

At least 44,230 people have arrived in Europe via the Mediterranean by land and sea so far this year, according to data from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Despite the sharp rise in small boat arrivals on the UK south coast, asylum applications in Britain fell in 2020 to 29,456. This was significantly lower than the 93,475 asylum applications made in France and the 121,955 in Germany.

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With no shareholders or billionaire owner, we can set our own agenda and provide trustworthy journalism that’s free from commercial and political influence, offering a counterweight to the spread of misinformation. When it’s never mattered more, we can investigate and challenge without fear or favour.

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We aim to offer readers a comprehensive, international perspective on critical events shaping our world – from the Black Lives Matter movement, to the new American administration, Brexit, and the world’s slow emergence from a global pandemic. We are committed to upholding our reputation for urgent, powerful reporting on the climate emergency, and made the decision to reject advertising from fossil fuel companies, divest from the oil and gas industries, and set a course to achieve net zero emissions by 2030. – guardian, london

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