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Aziza Coin announces blockchain solution to render African projects economically viable

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In 2017, Damian Gawlowski, a South Africa insurance contractor based in the City of London, uncovered the hidden impact of intermediary fees with the more risk an investor took on

DAVOS, Switzerland, January 25, 2019/ — In the Financial Times’ (www.FT.com) report on Innovation in South Africa today, Aziza Coin (www.Aziza.io) simulates how to beat high fees and shows why “excessive profits in UK fund management industry handicap growth on the African continent.”

In 2017, Damian Gawlowski, a South Africa insurance contractor based in the City of London, uncovered the hidden impact of intermediary fees with the more risk an investor took on. Up to 78% of returns from private equity are consumed by intermediary fees. Gawlowski investigated and found that while this was the case, the underlying equity and bond returns were over 4% rather than the 1% he actually received. Undisclosed fees added, he calculated, made intermediaries consume over three-quarters of the underlying returns generated by the bond portfolio that was ultimately invested in. Gawlowski considered putting his pension into higher risk investments such as private equity funds and as the mutual fund returns resulted in real depreciation of his pension by 1.3% per year after fees. He modelled a dummy private equity portfolio where he calculated that the portfolio would need to make 140% over a typical seven-year period simply to cover the fees and to keep up with inflation. This meant that an (annualised) internal rate of return of 13.3% would be required to simply retain his 2017 buying power by achieving UK inflation of 2.7%. *

The Financial Conduct Authority has expressed concern about the level of fund management profits when it was quoted as saying in a report lambasting the statutorily-protected revenues of the United Kingdom’s £6.9 trillion fund management industry’s’ profit margin of 36%. It found that “firms do not typically compete on price with their retail active funds in the UK [and that] there is some evidence of a negative relationship between net returns and charges.” **

These fees, which the FCA regards as excessive, have real societal costs. As Einstein is alleged to have said, compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe. A pension that appreciates by 13.3% per annum (ie gross returns without the 78% intermediary fees will return 140% in seven years time, whereas with the fees added, an annual return of 2.7% will only appreciate by 20%. These fees have already broken the defined benefit company pensions system and has the potential to cause real poverty in the Western world, where their effect is not well understood by the general population. The fact that the UK financial services PR industry is worth £2 billion per year does not help. Furthermore, if the fund management industry is taking three-quarters of returns, with 40% of funds disappearing upfront, it becomes distinctly more risk averse, as any loss of retail investor capital will invite scrutiny and therefore shed light on the level of their fees.

This risk aversion is manifested in the fact that 0.02% of assets under management or only 8 billion Euros were allocated to startups in 2016. This matters since start-ups create more jobs than the rest of the economy combined. Pre-ICO, Damian invested in the Aziza Project, which seeks to use distributed ledger technology to automate and disintermediate the layers of fund management costs. The Project was careful to avoid the usual pitfalls that have beset other cryptocurrencies:

  1. From the outset, it avoided the argument as to where it was a security or a utility, by registering under Reg D exemption in the United States as a security token.
  2. Every buyer and seller of coins has been vetted and subject to the level of KYC required to open a high street bank account as well as being checked as being recorded as a taxpayer.
  3. It became the first cryptocurrency in the world to integrate its reporting systems with a tax authority when it became a third party data provider to South African Revenue Services (SARS), ensuring that investor gains were reported and taxed as capital gains. 4. It is asset-backed by seven oil and gas concessions in Southern Africa. Aziza Coin offers something Damian could not find anywhere else – low transparent fees where investor fees are limited to 10% upfront with no further fees. Its Ethereum-based smart contract automates the annual fund management function with a mere 800 lines of code. So if the underlying exploration projects deliver the same underlying returns as Damian’s fictitious portfolio – 140% in seven years, his returns after fees will increase from 20% using traditional fund management fee structures to 126% — over six times times the returns.

Aziza Coin offers something that excites Damian more than reducing the fees. He has starting working on Acqumine, which has had discussions with the South African Revenue to internalise commodities taxation into a smart contract and eventually a pan-African commodities exchange that will enable host countries and local communities in the developing world to receive royalties due to them, while giving end customers piece of mind as to the true source of the minerals that make up consumer goods they buy.

Learn more about Aziza Coin at: www.Aziza.io

Based on IFA trail commissions of 3% upfront plus 0.5% per year, pension fund fees of 1.o% per year, fund of fund fees of 1% per annum and 10% profits and private equity fees of 2% per annum and 20% of profits on exit. Based on a dummy portfolio of five investments delivering an average of 140% over a seven year period.

Asset Management Market Study – Final Report Market Study – MS15/2.3-June 2017 recommendations 1.9 1.10 and 1.11 page 4 https://bit.ly/2tnjKVw

Note: Aziza Coin is not available for sale.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Financial Times Africa Representative.

Logistics

Digitalization in logistics – A user’s experience

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Geraldine Mamburu, Founder & MD PDQ Logistics (Source: Geraldine Mamburu)

In some cultures, children are sometimes named after events that would have taken place close to or during their birth.  Jokes around naming children Quarantine Buthelezi, Social-distance Moyo, or Pandemic Ndlovu, were circulating in 2020 and made for a good laugh, however, one couple in India took this a little too seriously and named their twin boy and girl, Corona and Covid.

Looking back, I do not recall ever coming across a proposal to name children after any of the variations around the word digital, after all, every second Point of View that was being released was around digitalization and digital transformation. It got me thinking, and realised that a lot of these terminologies are thrown about in the corporate space, but what does this actually mean to the end-user? How does the user interact, make use of, and appreciate digitalization?

Being in the logistics space has found me interacting with a lot more digital platforms over and above e-commerce, social media, and the all-so-dreaded-virtual-meeting platforms. My favourite most convenient app (which is currently the best thing ever since sliced bread in my books) has got to be Truck Fuel Net (TFN). TFN offers a cloud-based, real-time software management solution that helps me manage all my on-road refuelling and driver spend needs. Given that the bulk of operational costs in road freight is fuel, one must have their finger on the pulse and be on the constant lookout for the best price, over and above monitoring driver efficiency. The TFN Management system helps me decide, where, when, and how much the driver can refuel.

Sidebar – I’ve been driving a Ford Kuga 1.6 AWD for a few years (NB: No fire starter jokes allowed) and for such a small engine, that car can chow fuel – I’m talking 11 – 12km/100! I never used to fill up because it was painful watching all that money go down the drain. When I filled up the truck for the first-time round, let’s just say I needed to sit down because I felt a little dizzy.

Every day, we transport goods worth millions of Rands. It goes without saying that the safety and security of the driver, the goods we carry, as well as the trucks themselves, is of paramount importance. TFN’s solutions enable us to run a cashless operation. In the road freight sector, cargo, equipment, and increasingly drivers, are all targets for criminals and if we can take one incentive out of the equation, the better off we are.

Whilst on cashless operations, I would like to give SANRAL a standing ovation. Now, now, before your eyes roll all the way to the back of your head, let me just say that we might have qualms as “Gautengers” about how they went about the e-toll saga, but their app is such a lifesaver! With an e-tag fitted on the vehicle, I can manage my account quickly and securely. The app works in real-time, allowing me to be kept informed of my spend on vehicles. And lo and behold when I do forget to top up (because …you know …admin), I immediately get a notification the moment my funds are depleted, allowing me to top up immediately whilst the truck is still on route, contributing to a seamless operation. Well done SANRAL. Sometimes the government does get it right …sometimes.

The South African logistics sector contributes about 12% towards the GDP, according to Stellenbosch University and the World Bank. Of that percentage, approximately ¾ is attributed to road freight alone. With such modestly generous figures, it’s encouraging to see various organisations come up with digitally inspired solutions to cater to this industry.

This brings me to my most used platforms, Car Track and Tracker. I can only assume that before the advancement in technology, one must have had to have a great deal of faith, composure, and trust. Not to say that we no longer require these skills, but the ability to log onto these apps and be able to get real-time updates on the exact location of a customer’s goods in transit certainly prevents a blood vessel or two from popping (in the event that you cannot reach the driver.) As for Google Maps, it goes without saying, that this is the backbone of my interaction with these tracking platforms.

There are a bunch of other digital platforms such as Linebooker that I am still to explore as the business continues to grow. However, it’s been interesting to know that before we start thinking self-driven trucks (think of that one scene from Terminator, were the machine is operating the truck…but I digress) and other seemingly complex technological advancements aimed at this industry, there are still digital channels that make the day to day operations in logistics that much easier.

What other digital platforms are you using or have you heard off that have made a world of a difference in the logistics space?

Article by: Geraldine Mamburu, Founder & MD PDQ Logistics

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Three African-American Female Engineers Who Changed Our World

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Image source: Pexels

The fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) produce innovation that drives us forward as a species. Despite the fact that women and people of color have often been at the forefront of new discoveries, their representation within the STEM fields is historically low.

As culture progresses in understanding toward the value of a diverse workforce, those seeking out the future leaders of STEM are reaching out to underrepresented populations – specifically, women and people of color. One such outreach is ‘Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day’, a global campaign established by the National Society of Professional Engineers.

The event, which takes place this February 25, is run by teachers, volunteers, and STEM professionals, and includes engaging engineering-based learning activities that encourage young women to develop problem solving skills and indulge their interest in science and engineering.

The road to their future success was paved by the intrepid women who came before them, including these three remarkable African-American female engineers:

  • Kimberly Bryant: Seeking to create an inclusive technology learning space for young women of color, Ms. Bryant created the not-for-profit coding camp Black Girls Code. As of late 2019, the organization has 15 chapters, and Ms. Bryant has been recognized as a White House Champion of Change for Tech Inclusion as well as one of 2013’s 25 Most Influential African Americans in Technology.
  • Dr. Patricia Bath: An early pioneer of laser surgery for cataract treatment, Dr. Bath was the first female member of the Jules Stein Eye Institute, the first female African-American surgeon at UCLA Medical Center, and the first female leader of a postgraduate ophthalmology training program.
  • Alice Parker: A housewife from New Jersey, Mrs. Parker developed and filed a patent for a gas-powered central heating system inspired by cold coastal winters. Her filing came before both the Women’s Liberation Movement and the Civil Rights Movement, a remarkable achievement for an African-American woman during her time.

More stories of African-American female engineers and  female leadership in engineering can be seen here:

To discover more about Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, visit NSPE online.

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Press Release

North Ladder Secures $5 Million Series A Financing Round To Accelerate Global Expansion

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North Ladder Team (Source: Siddharth Sudhakar)

North Ladder (previously called BuyBack Bazaar), a UAE based secured trading platform for pre-owned luxury assets and electronics, today announced a $5 million Series A funding round led by regional venture capital firm BECO Capital. The new investment will help the company scale up its technology platform, enhance customer experience and pursue further geographic expansion.

The homegrown start-up also revealed that it will begin operating under the new brand name North Ladder effective immediately, representing the company’s strategy of charting new markets and supporting individuals across the globe in their endeavour to elevate their financial situation. The disruptive and innovative technology platform is the first of its kind, providing access to verified buyers of second-hand goods and instant cash. North Ladder currently enables users to sell electronics such as phones, laptops, tablets, and smart watches, as well as luxury assets including watches and cars, with a unique option of buying it back within a few months.

The Series A financing builds on an exceptional year for North Ladder which saw rapid growth of its clients, network of buyers and corporate partnerships. To date, the platform has witnessed over 15,000 transactions in the UAE, with over 85 different nationalities served while earning an impressive 4.9/5 customer satisfaction rating. In 2021, the start-up is looking to establish its presence in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States, with a focus on scaling the platform significantly in the next 18 to 24 months.

“North Ladder has demonstrated tremendous success with its unique model of helping customers access immediate funds against their assets. The provision of a seamless and trusted digital platform for the sale of pre-owned goods has immense socially transformative potential at a global scale. We are excited about partnering with them to take their services to the next level,” said Dany Farha, CEO & Managing Partner, BECO Capital.

The company recently appointed Sandeep Shetty, former Managing Director of the core ride hailing business at Careem, as Cofounder and Chief Executive Officer of North Ladder. Prior to Careem he also led the digital transformation program at Emirates NBD and has held leadership positions at McKinsey & Company and GE Capital across India, the United States and the Middle East. Sandeep joins the leadership team of co-founders Pishu Ganglani and Ricky Husaini who together bring years of prior global start-up, financial services, technology and operations experience.

“Our exciting partnership with the region’s leading investor BECO Capital gives us the opportunity to scale operations in the UAE and expand to other strategic markets, with the mission of meaningfully impacting people across all strata of society,” said Sandeep Shetty of North Ladder. “Our global auction brings professional buyers from around the world to compete and provide local customers with the best prices and no hidden surprises.”

Since its launch in 2018, North Ladder has been recognized as one of the “Top 5 innovative start-ups in the MENA region” by PayPal backed accelerator, Village Capital and awarded as an Innovator by Entrepreneur Middle East.

 

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