WorldRemit Global Christmas Campaign (Image: WorldRemit)
Holiday Costs in 14 Countries: Nigeria Spends Nearly One-Fifth (16%) of Annual Income
The holiday season is here! Around the world, families are making plans to celebrate the season with unique traditions, once-a-year meals, gifts and more. In line with this exciting time, WorldRemit conducted a multi-country study 1 to determine the true cost of Christmas in 14 countries, mining data to showcase the average costs of traditional Christmas meals, decorations and gifts.
Of the 14 countries observed, data showed Rwandans are most impacted by the disparity between average household income and holiday costs, spending 708% of their monthly income and nearly 60% of their annual income on the holiday.
Meanwhile, Filipinos spend 257% of their monthly income on the holiday. In the region, Christmas celebrations begin in September and extend into January, making it challenging for many families to afford the basic costs of Christmas. Without remittances into countries like the Philippines, celebrating Christmas would be near impossible.
More than 244 million people are classified as immigrants around the world and account for large percentages of populations in countries like the United States (14.4% of total population)2, UK (9%)3, Australia (30%)4 and Canada (21.5%)5.
During the holidays, immigrants and overseas foreign workers are often unable to celebrate with their families in-person, and find themselves working to support not only themselves, but also their families and communities back home.
Christmas is one of the primary reasons immigrants and migrants send money back to their home country. Because of the high cost of coveted seasonal items, food, and the overall impact COVID has had on supply chain and inflation, it is vital for remittance senders to be able to support those dearest to them by helping make Christmas a reality for their loved ones6.
For example, of the 14 countries observed that typically receive remittances, 10 spent more than 50% of their monthly household income on the holiday. A holiday that would be impossible without remittances, the season of giving becomes vital, where the world’s largest send markets typically only spend less than 3% of their annual income on the holiday.
To learn more about the study and see full results, visit: WorldRemit Study
Poly Reveals Top Predictions for Workplace Collaboration in 2022
Poly (NYSE: POLY), announced today the top predictions that will shape workplace collaboration, and ultimately, define the future of work in 2022, and beyond. The highly anticipated return to “normalcy” doesn’t mean going back to our old habits. Hybrid working is here to stay, and the new year brings irreversible changes in the way we perceive -and do- work.
The disruption caused by the global pandemic has forced businesses to enable remote work and tested employees’ ability to embrace new forms of engagement and interaction. The power to drive sustainable, collaborative change will be shared by employers and employees, on an increasingly equal footing. Businesses looking to navigate the year ahead will need to understand, and embrace this fundamental shift to successfully balance technology and transformation.
Prediction 1 – RIP 9-5. Long live “anytime” working
Like a genie that has been released from the bottle, the workers who relished the perks of hybrid and flexible working have no desire to return to corporate life full time. 80% of Europe and the Middle East employees prefer to spend some days working from home, according to Poly’s recent research. They want flexibility, and with the economy picking up and the “great resignation” underway, they have more power to choose how and where they should work from.
“People want work-life balance with flexibility to visit their dentist, attend a school play, or swap their working days around to be able to meet up with an old friend who’s in town. Rather than being an asset that requires managing, employees have adopted a customer persona; they know what they want, why, when and how and they’ll tell you. Ignore them and they’ll go elsewhere,” said Paul Clark, senior vice president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Poly.
Prediction 2 – Polymorphic offices supercharged by tools, not toys
Offices will no longer necessarily be physical spaces with defined, individual spots. Future workplaces will be ecosystems of spaces and rooms that match the working habits or needs of different personas. People will no longer go into the office because they must, but because they want specific, person to person interaction. This will lead to significant changes in architecture, real estate, room design and investment in collaboration devices and technologies in future office buildings, as all these disciplines collide to provide the very best work experiences.
“Organisations that fail to support a flexible workplace in 2022 will struggle to build a collaborative culture. During the pandemic, shrinking networks affected innovation and creativity. Informal chats or unscheduled meetups no longer happen, yet collaborative moments like these contribute to knowledge sharing and problem-solving. Collaboration is required for a happy workforce, with the link between employee well-being and business performance well documented,” adds Clark.
Prediction 3 – Equality: the new imperative
During the pandemic, it was all about business continuity, but companies will need to adopt a people-first philosophy, based on choice. Choice is a great leveler and a catalyst for easy, meaningful and productive collaboration, enabling all workers to engage and perform at their very best. That approach presents a great opportunity for HR, IT, facilities management and the wider business to be more attuned to what employees want from their experience of work. Recent Stanford University research shows that over 40% of workers would actively look elsewhere, if their employers fail to offer hybrid working.
“The main challenge of flexible, hybrid working is creating equity for all. Clarity and quality of image and sound are essential to better collaboration between colleagues. No matter where people choose (or have) to work from -their car, a meeting room, or home- they will expect to be supported by devices and technologies that guarantee equal inclusivity. Access to reliable communications is key to ensuring people receive the same information, at the same time and to avoid any inadvertent bias,” comments Clark.
Managing Personal Finances
Managing Personal Finances by Nchimunya Muvwende (Image: The Economic Times)
The need to have money to be able to meet the various human needs is the desire of every person whether or not they make enough money. The human mind is made in such a way that they make good plans and aspirations but some of these can only be achieved with proper management of finances and growing of income. It is unfortunate that most of the financial lessons have to be learnt through regret by those who mismanaged what they had but now, it is important that strategies to manage finances are discussed to provide both enlightenment and financial improvement of lives.
Some people have a really toxic relationship with money such that it is impossible to keep it without spending it. Whenever they receive any money, the first thought is what they need to spend on. Others are impulsive spenders such that, whenever they see something, they get the desire to purchase it even if it means borrowing money for it. These plus other habits have hindered the achievement of plans that could have made people live better financially independent lives.
The importance of making a budget and sticking to it cannot be overemphasized. Draw up a budget with necessary things that you cannot do without and try as much as possible to buy only what is budgeted for. If you walk in a shop and admire something you had not budgeted for, ask yourself if indeed it is something you cannot do without in the current moment. Do not be an impulsive buyer but rather, when tempted to buy something at first sight, give yourself some time to reflect on whether it is worth spending on and if found so, you can return to the shop and buy later.
It is never wise to always think that any money that comes to your possession should be immediately spent. Just because you have a consistent source of income is no excuse to spend all you get. For some people, immediately they receive money, even the appetite for home cooked meals disappears and would spend a significant portion on junk foods. Control your expenditure by classifying your budget according to necessities and wants. Necessities are those things that you cannot do without which may include food, shelter, fees among others. Wants are those things you just want but may live without and may include clothes, new phone, make up, recreation among others.
Buying things in bulk reduces the cost of the goods per unit and so, you may consider partnering with friends or families by putting money together to buy the bulk products and share among yourselves. In as much as possible, minimize your expenditure and grow the remaining income so that it may be used to finance your wants without having to worry so much about tomorrow.
Growing your income
It is never a wise decision to let your money be idle in the bank or other storage facilities. In the parable of the talents found in the Bible, the master condemned the servant who buried the money entrusted to him and wished the servant kept the money in an interest earning account. In a similar fashion, instead of keeping huge sums of money as you wait to spend on your plans, it is wise to put it in interest bearing accounts. Fixed deposit and saving accounts are offered by various banks and can be used while you plan how to invest that money. Remember that idle money actually loses value due to inflation and other factors.
Money should be taken to be a seed that can be planted (invested) then nurtured in such a way that it bears fruits. Consider investing your money in some tangible businesses such as farming, retail, supply or any other that will enable your money to earn profit. For those that may not be business minded or have less money that is not substantial to make an impact, consider collaborating and partnering with others. Team up to invest in a business that will bring profit and help grow your money. Do not eat the seeds, consume the fruits instead.
Work towards your goal
The future will be too expensive to afford for those that fail to plan efficiently. Actually, others have argued that failing to plan is planning to fail. Every individual has goals and plans that they wish to achieve in a given period of time. Most of these plans need to be financed through the money that the individual gets and therefore, how one manages their finances has an impact on the time of actualizing the plans. Some goals include building one’s own house to avoid renting or real estate business, building a business empire, education completion for families, clearing loan obligations among others.
Set clear goals you wish to accomplish and set a timeline on when you would want to achieve this. Having done this, guide your expenditure control and income growth strategies to be in line with your plans so that achievement be done earlier where possible. Let your goals and plans guide your financial management. You cannot be spending your money as if you are on your deathbed when tomorrow needs to be financed by the decisions you make today.
Proper money management and investment is a project that should be taken seriously by everyone. Do what you must with your personal finances to live as you should.
Chinwe Egwim: The Quintessential Economist
Chinwe Egwim; Economist, Author and Advocate (Source: Lilian Madu)
Chinwe Egwim is currently the Senior Economist at a leading financial institution in Africa with over 500 published economic notes primarily geared towards macroeconomics. An award-winning economist, a highly sought after thought leader and an Executive Council member of Women in Management, Business and Public Service (WIMBIZ). She consistently applies rigorous analysis to ensure Africa’s economic landscape is better understood. In this interview with Alaba Ayinuola, Chinwe talks about her career-path, challenges, the causes close to her heart and Africa’s economy. Excerpt.
Alaba: Could you briefly tell me about your background and career-path?
Chinwe: I always find this question interesting because I’d like to think of myself as dynamic and so a succinct description may be difficult to achieve but I will try my best. I am an unapologetic goal-getter, consistently seeking ways to push boundaries and a firm believer of living a purpose-driven life. I also happen to be an Economist with specialization in Macro and Development Economics. I currently work at FBNQuest Merchant Bank (a subsidiary of FBN Holdings) as the Senior Economist.
My role as an economist is refreshing as it gives me an opportunity to critically analyse macroeconomic trends (growth, inflation, reserves, policy rate, oil prices, national account, and trade activities amongst others) for business, policy and investment decision purposes. I currently have well over 500 economic notes under my belt, multiple economic research reports and I have led the analysis of several Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) reports among others. Aside from contributing to the advancement of my firm, I offer recommendations to public office holders as well as investment and economic strategy advice to business owners.
Outside my position as the Senior Economist at FBNQuest, I have engaged in high-level projects which align properly with my career trajectory. On the back of my extensive knowledge on market insights and ability to actively engage multilaterals, government and sub-nationals, I was appointed as a National Consultant by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa; where I led the services trade project partly driven by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. Furthermore, my contributions have also supported notable committees’ setup by development agencies like the World Bank.
I kicked-off my career as an economist in the fiscal analysis division of the research department at the Central Bank of Nigeria (Abuja HQRS). However, I have spent the larger part of my career as a professional economist in the private sector.
Alaba: Why Economics and what sparked the interest?
Chinwe: To be honest, before securing my second degree in Economics I was not completely sure on how I would like to apply myself as an economist. The spark came during my first professional stint as an economist. I must also highlight that proper and well-appreciated guidance from my father contributed to this spark. I also gained mentorship very early and this assisted with my increased interest in economics. It also unlocked the different ways I could excel in my career as an economist.
Additionally, through volunteering activities, I discovered my flare for social impact and the interlinkages it has with macro, financial and development economics. Furthermore, my passion for economics was strengthened when I realised, I could use it as a tool to shape conversations that assist decision-makers and stimulate actionable steps for relevant impact.
Alaba: How has your purpose, mission and values shaped your journey thus far?
I personally believe that life is not just about you as a person, fulfillment for me comes from helping the next person or largely contributing to initiatives that positively impact others; this forms a significant portion of my value-system and is at the center of most of my decisions. I am deliberate with using my role as an economist to add value to my organisation which by extension, is contributing to development via the financial services industry. I am also intentional about working beyond my desk. Therefore, you are very likely to see me offering my expertise to specific impact-driven projects within and outside my current industry.
Alaba: What have you sacrificed for your professional journey? Any regrets?
Chinwe: Interesting question. I will say a lot of play or travel and leisure activities and this is not just due to limited time on the back of increased focus on work but mainly due to channeling financial resources towards tools and resources needed to equip and strengthen me as I climb my career ladder. The opportunity cost has been well worth it and so, no regrets. I also believe that life is in seasons. There are times when laser focus on building and climbing is required and other times when fun, play and ample relaxation can be done with no guilt.
Alaba: As a female executive, kindly share some of your biggest challenges, biases and learning curves?
Chinwe: Well, this is no longer a current issue for me. However, earlier in my career, being the only female or in some cases, one of the very few females in an industry meeting or engagement was somewhat challenging as asserting my voice and making relevant contributions in a relatively loud room was a struggle. I quickly nipped this challenge in the bud. The antidote – ample and very extensive preparation before every external meeting or engagement and understanding that you tastefully seize as many opportunities to contribute/ speak as opposed to waiting for a microphone toss which rarely happens.
As for biases, I will share that the narrative of being ambitious is not a feminine trait stuck with me to an extent, but I am glad that I didn’t let it linger and I was able to get past it early in my career. There is also the narrative of successful career women being aggressive as opposed to assertive. It is good to see that these biases are gradually being phased out.
Alaba: How can women leverage on sponsorship and mentorship to achieve the success they want in their business and career, especially in male-dominated industry?
Chinwe: I have personally gained a lot from being a mentee to strong leaders within and outside my industry such as sharpening my technical skills. I have also been given opportunities to add value to high level projects, exposed to opportunities that have had a direct impact on my career progression, built very strong networks and strengthened my CV. But let me just say this, understand that the onus is on you as a mentee to make this relationship effective. You must be able to communicate value to your prospective mentor and have a sense of direction. Also, you must understand that time is a luxury for many and so every mentor-mentee meetup should be utilised properly.
I have a few mentees that were paired with me through mentorship camps or programs. A few examples are WIMBIZ Mentorship program and the Leading Ladies Africa mentorship camp. When you are paired with a mentor, dynamics are a bit different. My advice is to find ways to build organic relationships with your mentor while you both progress during the mentorship scheme. It should be a symbiotic relationship.
It is also worth considering peer mentorship. This allows you learn from your peers. Nobody knows it all and so we should all be willing to adopt this style of mentoring as well. Through peer mentorship, I gain fresh perspectives that enable me to do better at work and I also usually get first-hand knowledge on industry related matters which is good for me, especially for my role as a senior economist in the banking and finance industry.
Alaba: As a senior economist with a leading financial institution in Africa. What is your take on the impact of the global pandemic (COVID-19) in Africa?
Chinwe: So far, Africa has been spared the worst of the coronavirus pandemic in terms of cases and deaths, but its economy has not been so lucky, especially the poorer, smaller countries dependent on a single resource or sector. The COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated existing macroeconomic weaknesses – reflected in high ‘twin deficits, rising public debt and soaring inflation in the majority of sub-Saharan African countries. Private capital flows, including foreign direct investment (FDI) and portfolio investment flows, were at historical lows and remittance inflows to Sub-Saharan Africa are expected to shrink.
Of course, in Africa it is a case of different countries, different impact. So, what do I mean by this?
- For diversified economies – such as Ivory Coast, Senegal and Ghana in West Africa and then Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania in East Africa, activity has slowed significantly but they are still managing to grow according to the IMF.
- Meanwhile, oil exporters such as Algeria, Angola and Nigeria suffered significantly from the plunge in crude oil prices, especially in the earlier months of the crisis. For oil exporting countries in Africa their collective GDP expanded by 1.5% in 2019. However, this is expected to decline by over -4%, due to contractions in Angola and Nigeria.
- Now as for tourism-dependent countries such as Morocco, Tunisia and the Seychelles, they have experienced sharp contractions as downturns in international tourism severely impacted the services sector.
Again, the picture is mixed when it comes to how different countries manage debt and raise fresh funds. On one hand, there is Zambia, which is heavily dependent on mining and became the first country to default on its debt last year, while Ivory Coast later easily raised funds on the market through a Eurobond issuance in November 2020; it was about the equivalent of USD1.19bn and it was five times oversubscribed. Since then, the financial markets have found their appetite for risk again, and especially for African debt, but investors remain cautious. Another important source of funds for African countries is remittances from their foreign workers and inevitably this has also suffered due to the pandemic.
Now let me shed some light on banks – African central banks were resilient in 2020 compared with central banks across countries in other continents. Central banks, in a coordinated effort with fiscal authorities have used expansionary monetary policy in the form of increased money supply through traditional, open-market operations as well as quantitative easing. Some central banks have used their monetary flexibility to promptly lower interest rates by c.300 basis points (bps), as we saw at the Central Bank of Egypt, while others have adopted a more gradual approach, like the South African Reserve Bank’s trimming of 275 bps between March to May of last year. All central banks have been attempting to calibrate their actions with government fiscal support measures while preserving their inflation targets. Another tool that central banks are deploying is macro-financial assistance, which comprises medium/long-term loans or grants to businesses or households given the pre-existing difficulties for many with accessing loans from banks.
Alaba: Do you think Africa can fully recover from the economic consequence of the pandemic? If yes, How?
Chinwe: Africa is expected to rebound in 2021 with growth varying across countries. Many African countries have seized the opportunity within the crisis to move faster on necessary reforms and investments that will be crucial for long-term development. However, concerns of a second wave are fueling further uncertainty. In such context, the road to recovery will be long and will require policies and investments that focus on connecting people to job opportunities, which can help end extreme poverty, particularly post COVID-19. In a time of lockdowns and social distancing, investing in the digital economy and infrastructure will also be crucial to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and foster a sustained recovery.
Alaba: What causes are closest to your heart?
Chinwe: Economic and Financial literacy, inclusion, gender equality and youth Empowerment.
Alaba: How do you unplug and manage your work-life balance?
Chinwe: Binge on feel-good tv series. As often as possible, I try to get uninterrupted 8 hours of sleep. I try to take walks as often as possible and vacations are also a must -have.
Alaba: If you were a brand, you would be like? Why?
Chinwe: I consider myself as a brand. However, I will take a stab at answering this question. So, Nike is my answer. Nike embodies overcoming of one’s limitations, the pursuit of a mission or calling. This brand is about realizing one’s full potential, taking down barriers, being brave, bold, hardworking and resiliently moving forward, hence the “Just Do It”. It evokes fundamental values needed to thrive. Therefore, it strongly resonates with me and my personal brand.
Alaba: Your top picks to read, watch and listen?
Chinwe: To read
- Understanding Economic “Jargon” by Chinwe Egwim – I authored this book to help its readers stay economically alert and serve as a guide with regards to navigating the macroeconomic landscape. Especially, for those that are keen on staying ahead.
- The “Girl” of Entrepreneurs by Ibukun Awosika – This book is incredibly amazing. It has been my travel companion for years. The book documents the experiences of African businesswomen in terms of their background, their start-up stage, their growth pattern, their challenges, the impact of choices of spouse on their business as well as their work-life balance.
- A-Z of Personal Finance by Nimi Akinkugbe – An awesome book that helps you stay woke with your personal finance. The book provides you with important practical information and useful tips on matters concerning you and your money. Every emerging leader should have this book in their book collection.
- Strategize to Win: The New Way to Start Out, Step Up, Or Start authored by Carla Harris – This book has served as a blueprint for me with regards to navigating my career path. It offers new ways to conceptualize career strategies and gives proven tools for successful change.
- The Last Dance. A documentary that chronicles the rise of Michael Jordan. There are so many career and life lessons to learn from this documentary. A few of them are: you have to start somewhere; to win, you must hold yourself accountable; a great team can make all the difference; play to your strengths; sometimes, you have to take a break and recharge and you need to find your motivation.
- Life in BLOOM with Tosin Durotoye Podcast
- The WIMBIZ Choose to Challenge Podcast
- The Smart Money Tribe by Arese Ugwu Podcast
- The Women Who Transcend Podcast
- Porsha4Real with Porsha Williams Podcast
B I O G R A P H Y
Chinwe Egwim is currently the Senior Economist at a leading financial institution in Africa with over 500 published economic notes primarily geared towards macroeconomics. She consistently applies rigorous analysis to ensure Africa’s economic landscape is better understood.
Chinwe is an advocate for women empowerment and a firm believer of equipping disadvantaged women with tools to enable them to thrive. In 2020, Chinwe was appointed as an Executive Council Member of Women in Management, Business and Public Service (WIMBIZ). She has received multiple recognition and awards for her work as an Economist. Some of which include:the Most Influential People of African Descent (MIPAD), 100 most inspiring Nigerian women by Leading Ladies Africa, the Corporate Nigeria PowerList under 40 and also a leading woman in banking by the Association of Professional Women Bankers. Chinwe was nominated by Future Awards Africa and won the HER Network Career Woman of the Year in 2018.
Chinwe authored a book titled, Understanding Economic “Jargon”. The book uses a simple approach to breakdown how economic indicators and the investment climate react to economic shocks and upswings. It has ranked as a bestseller on Amazon.