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Risk Managers Get Certified October 28, 2013

Posted by Ishmael Chibvuri in Enterprise Risk Management, Risk Management.
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By

Jeremy Greenfield

As companies assess the lessons of the global financial crisis and look for ways to safeguard their firms against the effects of another one, demand has surged for risk managers—professionals who analyze the risk in transactions, from investments in treasury bills to credit default swaps, and make recommendations about whether to move forward.

With the profession in the spotlight, several industry organizations are vying to provide a standard certification for the field, which the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts will grow in the next several years, in part due to the increasing complexity of financial transactions.

While no certification is required to practice risk management—and many companies don’t require one—there has been a jump in the number of people signing up for certification exams.

“You have to have the hard skills. [Getting certified] is a way of getting more familiar with the concepts,” says Gideon Pell, the chief risk officer at New York Life Insurance Co.

The Global Association of Risk Professionals and the Professional Risk Managers’ International Association—a group created by former GARP volunteer officials—are two trade associations to offer certification exams.

The tests, dubbed the Financial Risk Manager exam and the Professional Risk Manager certification, require about 500 to 600 hours of study, and are passed by roughly half or fewer of those who take them, the groups say. Fees for the two-part GARP exam total $1,250, while the Professional Risk Managers’ four-part test costs $500.

An experienced risk manager can often earn the designations with a few months of study, while it can take more than a year for those who are new to the field. Both courses of study require a proficiency in understanding financial markets, the mathematical basis for risk management, current risk management techniques and behavioral ethics, experts say.

Two other groups, the Risk and Insurance Management Society and the Society of Actuaries, also offer certifications geared toward risk managers which are less focused on financial risk than the FRM and PRM.

More than 23,000 people registered for the Financial Risk Manager exam in 2009, a 69% jump over 2008, according to the group. The other groups say they have also seen an uptick in interest.

Risk manager Dave Ingram, who has FRM and PRM certifications, as well as another from the Society of Actuaries, says his certifications have helped him convince possible clients of his expertise, win new business and perform his job at a higher level.

Mr. Ingram, a vice president at Willis Re, a division of international insurance company Willis Group, says there are still times when he talks to a client who hasn’t worked with him before who needs assurance. “The certifications go a long way there,” he says.

A certification can also be a powerful résumé builder. Richard Meyers, chief executive of Richard Meyers & Associates Inc., a N.J.-based risk-management talent search firm, says that certifications such as the FRM or PRM can be the difference between getting a job and not.

“It reflects the extent of their professional commitment,” says Mr. Meyers. “As a recruiter, I’m very attracted to people that have the credentials on their résumé,” he adds.

When it comes to deciding which certification to get, factors like cost, convenience and employer considerations might be more important than course-work. That’s largely because the two main designations are nearly identical, says Mr. Meyers. “When you really get down to it, [they are] hybrids of each other.”

Other risk management designations that are more suited for enterprise risk managers—who work more broadly with risk issues across companies, rather than just in finance—include the RIMS Fellow, the Chartered Enterprise Risk Analyst, the Certified Risk Manager and the Associate in Risk Management.

“The RIMS Fellow designation combines general risk management knowledge with business courses. It’s a very broad certification,” says Mary Roth, executive director of RIMS, which stands for Risk and Insurance Management Society.

In some cases, companies offer rich incentives and rewards to achieve certifications. BDO International Ltd., an international tax and accounting firm with more than 2,700 employees, has a program that helps to pay for certification fees and classes—which can cost as much as $2,530 when study courses are included.

The company also has a “flex” program that allows employees to adjust their work hours when studying for the exams, says Jennifer Salzman, a managing director with BDO’s risk advisory services group. “We do take [designations] into account when we hire and do performance evaluations,” says Ms. Salzman.

New York Life requires that all professionals in its risk management department achieve the FRM or PRM within 18 months of their start date and covers the entire cost of the exams as well as any study materials.

We provide “the tangible help in terms of passing the exam,” says Mr. Pell. He also takes certifications into account when determining starting salaries, raises and promotions.

New York Life pays for the cost of materials, classes and exams, and with 70% of the department already holding certifications, mentors are available to those pursuing the designations, Mr. Pell says.

Corrections & Amplifications

Jennifer Salzman is a managing director with the risk advisory services group of BDO Seidman LLP, an accounting firm that is the U.S. member of BDO International Ltd., a global network of independent accounting firms. In an earlier version of this article, Ms. Salzman was incorrectly identified as an employee of BDO International, which was misidentified as an international tax and accounting firm

—–Jeremy Greenfield is an editor for FINS.com

Source: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304370304575152212605720290

Techies ride Zim’s internet wave October 25, 2013

Posted by Ishmael Chibvuri in I.T Risk Management.
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Developers have little knowledge about how to turn their ideas into dollars, but this is changing.

Zimbabwe has been named as one of the most dynamic countries in the world, with above-average growth in information technology over the past year. (Shepherd Tozvireva)

On the benches outside the pub overlooking the cricket greens at Harare Sports Club, they hunch over laptops, selling ideas as diverse as how to sell cattle and how to help urban dwellers cook traditional meals.

It is a long way from Silicon Valley in California, but, amid a boom in social media use, Zimbabwe is seeing the emergence of a fast-growing start-up scene.

A few years ago Limbikani Makani was a bored IT manager at a non­governmental organisation. He quit his job and set up TechZim, a tech news website that is hosting a “start-up challenge”, attended by dozens of tech developers.

The interest has grown since the first event, which was held two years ago, reflecting the growing number of developers in Zimbabwe.

“We have created a launch pad for these entrepreneurs, enabling them to accelerate their start-ups to a level where they can make revenue,” Makani says.

Teledensity, the ratio of telephones to the population, stood at 91% in February, a big jump from 14% in 2008. Over the same period, mobile access has risen from about 11% to nearly 100%.

Access to the internet
In 2000, only 0.4% of Zimbabweans had access to the internet. Now the figure has risen to 40%, according to official data.

Usage is also rising as access grows. Opera, one of the world’s ­largest mobile browsers, says Zimbabwe is one of its fastest ­growing ­markets, and had the highest numbers of “page views” in Africa in 2011.

And last week, the International ­Telecommunications Union named Zimbabwe among 12 “most dynamic countries” in the world that have recorded above-average growth in information and communications technology over the past year.

In the boom, developers are stirring; the numbers are growing, and so is the range of their ideas.

Last year Allister Banks set up RLMS, or the Remote Livestock Marketing System, a start-up that allows trade of livestock online.

“We have traded close to $4-million so far,” Banks says.

Paying lobola via RLMS
On his website Banks invites users abroad to pay their lobola cattle via RLMS. He has a selection of cattle on display on the site, from which, he says, a prospective groom can choose.

“If there is no space in the in-laws’ residence for the cattle, don’t worry. Each animal you choose and buy can be ear tagged, branded, entered into a national database, kept at one of our partner farms, looked after.”

And then there is ZimboKitchen, a service that delivers tutorials such as “how to make plain sadza”, and gives recipes for other popular Zimbabwean dishes such as beef trotters, or muboora, pumpkin leaves stewed in peanut butter.

There is also TestLabs, a service that provides local high school students and teachers with relevant exam revision tools.

Some of the websites and apps are already popular, but the challenge is to help developers make money.

Investors are conservative and hesitate to gamble on start-ups, most of which are run by “green, fresh-out-of-college dreamers”, as one bank chief executive described them.

Free downloads
For now, most of the apps are free to download. Developers themselves have little knowledge about how to turn their ideas into dollars, a gap the likes of Makani are trying to bridge.

“The two sides don’t speak the same language,” he says.

The techies also struggle to be taken seriously.

“Our society demands that you have an actual job,” developer Pardon Muza says, making finger quotes to show his annoyance.

Muza is one of many developers building an online payments site.

“You have to put up with being asked when you’ll get a proper job, wear a tie and work normal hours and stuff.”

But Makani says developers are now increasingly focusing on building services that don’t just sound cool, but bring solutions that can earn them money.

“Initially, we focused on pure innovation in terms of technology and utility, but this has evolved into a more practical approach where strong market potential overrides technology that is used just for the sake of using cool technology,” Makani says.

Source: http://mg.co.za/article/2013-10-18-00-techies-ride-zims-internet-wave/

 

Agro Initiative Zimbabwe – an opportunity for agribusiness finance October 18, 2013

Posted by Ishmael Chibvuri in Latest Articles!!!.
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agro-initiative-zimbabwe-300x139Agro Initiative Zimbabwe is a competition implemented by TechnoServe Zimbabwe which aims to support creative and sustainable ideas in agriculture through awarding capital prizes and technical assistance.

AIZ is targeted at existing medium-sized Zimbabwean businesses with creative and sustainable ideas in agriculture/agri-business which can be implemented to demonstrate inclusion of smallholder farmers via out-grower/contract farming models and have the potential to influence wider industry development.

Capital prizes will be $25 000-50,000 per business which must be used to implement the small farmer model, (e.g., as revolving inputs fund, storage for farmers, farmer equipment, farmer training, risk management etc.) and will be paid in performance-based installments. Prize winners will also receive a package of tailored technical assistance which will be coordinated by TechnoServe, and delivered both by TechnoServe and by local and international service providers depending on the needs of the business. Assistance might include: small farmer business training; structuring contracts between business and farmers; developing and implementing quality assurance mechanisms; risk management approach; further capital raising assistance to expand model. We anticipate awarding 7 prizes (a total prize pot of $350,000) and would like to award at least 1 prize in each of the following categories staples, high value crops (e.g. horticulture, coffee; tea); livestock; food processing/value-added products and other.

Businesses will be assessed on the basis of the following:

  • business background
  • agro innovation
  • impact of innovation
  • wider impact on industry
  • financials

The Application Process

Application forms can be downloaded from (www.aiz.co.zw).

Step 1: Prepare a complete application pack

· A hard copy of the signed participation agreement

· Three hard copies of completed application forms clearly filled out

· Copy of company registration documents (CR 14 and CR 6) and complete list of shareholders and Directors

· Proof of payment for application fee $25. (See bank details below)

Details of AIZ bank account:

Name: TechnoServe
Bank: Stanbic
Branch: Minerva
Account number 024 0059 288 502

Step 2: Submit the application

· Hand deliver or send by recorded delivery or courier to TechnoServe Harare Office, 12 Lomagundi Road, Mount Pleasant, Harare

Time Frame

· Application period opens at 8:00am on 17 April 2012

· Application period closes at 4:00pm on 19 June 2012

· No late applications will be accepted

AIZ Judging of Winners

An independent panel of judges comprising a number of Zimbabwean experts in the financial and agriculture sectors will be responsible for selecting winners in accordance with defined criteria.

AIZ Website

Update calendar of events and deadlines can be found on our website: www.aiz.co.zw. It is important to keep an eye on this website as more details on participating in the competition and downloadable forms can also be found on the website

Source: http://entrepreneurcrunch.com/agro-initiative-zimbabwe-an-opportunity-for-agribusiness-finance/

Richard Branson urges investment in Zimbabwe October 18, 2013

Posted by Ishmael Chibvuri in Latest Articles!!!.
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by Michelle Nichols

 

Billionaire Richard Branson urged people on Monday to invest in Zimbabwe, saying the world was wrong to wait instead of helping the politically volatile, impoverished southern African nation revive itself.

Virgin Unite, the philanthropic arm of Branson’s Virgin Group, has helped create Enterprise Zimbabwe, a nonprofit group connecting philanthropists and commercial investors with business and social development opportunities.

Zimbabwe has struggled to attract foreign aid and investment because of President Robert Mugabe’s policies, which include a plan for local blacks to acquire 51 percent shares in foreign-owned firms, including mines and banks.

Talks to improve Zimbabwe’s ties with the European Union have stalled over slow political reforms in Harare while President Barack Obama said last month he was “heartbroken” by Zimbabwe’s decline.

“Zimbabwe is a magnificent country that has had a really rough few years and either the world can continue to wait and see and not invest … or the world can help (Prime Minister) Morgan Tsvangirai and the coalition government get Zimbabwe back on its feet,” Branson told Reuters in an interview.

“The idea of Enterprise Zimbabwe is to have a sort of safe haven for people to invest through,” said Branson, whom Forbes magazine estimates is worth $4 billion.

Zimbabwe’s once-vibrant economy has been shattered by Mugabe’s policies, particularly the seizure of white-owned farms for the resettlement of landless blacks. Mugagbe has been in power since the country’s independence from Britain in 1980.

A unity government by Mugabe and his political rival Tsvangirai appears to have halted the economy’s decade-long free-fall, but the country is struggling to restore productivity, feed its people and repair its ruined infrastructure. Unemployment is estimated at over 90 percent.

“In life, people have got to take risks. If everybody waits on the sidelines it will be the people who suffer,” said Branson. “The present state of politics in Zimbabwe is by no means perfect, but it’s a great deal better.”

“Zimbabwe, of all the African countries, it’s got the best chance of getting back … it just needs a bit of help being kick-started,” he said.

About 85 percent of Zimbabwe’s 12.5 million people live on less than a $1 a day and annual per capita income is less than $400.

Enterprise Zimbabwe, established by Virgin Unite, Humanity United — run by Pam Omidyar, wife of eBay founder Pierre Omidyar — and The Nduna Foundation, will be officially launched this week at former U.S. President Bill Clinton’s philanthropic summit.

Branson said the three day Clinton Global Initiative in New York was a great place for fundraising.

“We’re hoping to bring in other partners into Enterprise Zimbabwe this week and I’m sure that we will,” he said. “You can get a lot done … it’s a good time to twist arms and get other people sold on your ideas.”

 

Source: http://www.victoriafalls-guide.net/richard-branson-urges-investment-in-zimbabwe.html

 

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