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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Home Loans in the UK

Owning a home is the most important dream of any person. It is one of the basic necessities of life as stated by Maslow in his 'Theory of Hierarchy of Needs'. People generally desire to have a home which not only gives them shelter, but also should be the expression of their artistic tastes, and an object of pride. Owning a home is a matter of spending of life's savings. For some- related to the high e-learning group, it is not a problem; but for others arranging financing for their dream home is a very critical decision, they ever take in their life. To enable people to realize there dream, financial institutions and banks offer home loans to people.

Home loans play a very important role in the lives of UK nationals. Every year there are borrowings worth billions of pounds by the UK nationals for home loans. Now days, home loans have become a necessary part of life as it is not essential that one has the necessary amount of money to finance his immediate requirement for purchasing home. One can avail home loans, after signing a document with a financial institution on a specified amount of money to go with the purchase with that borrowed money. Lenders and financial institutions keep the house or any other residential property as collateral. In the UK, home loans are offered by innumerable financial institutions at various APR. The amount of loan approved usually depends on the income and assets of the borrower and his capacity to pay back the loan.

In the UK, home loans offered are of two types:

Fixed rate home loan

Variable rate home loan

Fixed rate home loans are offered to borrowers at a prefixed rate of interest for a specified time period. In case of upward fluctuations in interest rates in the market, customers enjoy the benefit of not paying any extra sum money on the increased rate of interest. Variable rate home loans, on the other hand are left to the mercy of lenders and government regulations. In case of upward trend, the borrowers have to tighten their budget.

With the ever increasing competition in the market, more and more financial institutions are offering home loans at lower APR along with customer oriented services. All companies claim to be the leading loan and other financial services provider with the best service. In order to tap the growing market companies and lending institutions are coming up with more innovative products to cater to the requirements of all the customers. With the advent of internet, the services offered have become more fast and efficient. Now one can compare the best rate offered in the market at the click of the mouse.

The complications in home owner loans fall when borrower defaults in the payment of the monthly installment. In many cases, it has been seen that lenders start charging more interest rate than the standard rate. Wise borrowers, in such situation, switch over to a new lender for better rate of interest and fee waivers. This is termed as remortgage. Remortgage is a very prudent way of avoiding heavy interest rate. There are innumerable agencies which suggest better remortgage options to the borrowers.

Moreover, with gradual shift from the sellers 'market to the buyers' market, the ultimate beneficiary is the customer. Companies even offer value added services to the borrowers to evolve brand loyalty. Companies are even leveraging strength from modern management practices and corporate governance. In the long run, company which offers the best financial solution with the right set of marketing mix will win the race.

For Detail email with the subject "Inquiry".

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Agriculture Investment Funds – The Best Alternative

In times of a rapidly expanding population, low interest rates, inflation and murky equity markets, investors are searching for assets that will grow in value, produce a regular income, and retain value in the event of a crash. Essentially we need a safe haven for our cash and that is leading many investors towards the agricultural sector as 75 million new mouths to feed every year and a changing diet in developing economies supports the theory that agribusiness will do well in the mid to long term.

There are a number of options open for investors choosing this sector, from agricultural investment funds, ETFs, direct investment into agribusiness companies, or trading soft-commodities such as wheat. My problem here lies in the fact that these investment strategies do not tick all of our boxes. Funds incur management fees, and over the lifetime of a mutual fund, investors lose 80% of their gain to management fees, commodities can be volatile in the short term, and investing into agribusiness companies does provide any level of non-correlation.

So what is the alternative? More and more canny investors, both private and institutional, are snapping up what little good quality agricultural land is left in the hope that as time passes, and the population continues to grow, the land we have will become more valuable in the face of a higher demand for food. We also know that well tilled land will produce an income every year from the growth and sale of crops, replacing the lost risk-free income we no longer achieve from holding cash. Of course, if someone somewhere finds an alternative to food then the value of farmland will fall, but I think we can all agree that we will all have to eat at some point and therefore arable land retains value even in the worst of circumstances.

So how does the small investor source a piece of agricultural land large enough to farm commercially? And how do we reduce general agricultural risk such as exposure to poor weather, commodity prices and quality farm management? There are opportunities for the smaller investor to take part in large farmland investment transactions, either pooling capital with other investors in order to purchase better and larger land parcels, and other very interesting structured vehicles allowing the small investor to purchase a small piece of a much larger, commercially managed farm, with the farmer shouldering the general agricultural risk and paying the land owning investor a fixed annual income. This methodology, provides the farmer with much needed liquid capital to expand operations and invest in the his business, whilst providing the investor with risk-managed exposure to high-yielding farmland, consistent income, principle protection and capital growth.

Where should one consider purchasing farmland? The EU, Latin America and Australia are all investable locations, and have consistently achieved returns of between 10% and 20% over income and growth depending on the location of the farm and the structure of the investment.

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Obtaining A First Mortgage For Investment Property

As the name implies, a first mortgage for investment property is simply the first loan that is issued for the property. When you purchase a piece of real estate, the loan that you receive as financing is also known as a first mortgage.

Before you apply for a first mortgage for investment property, it’s a good idea to obtain a copy of your credit report and confirm the accuracy of the information listed therein. Every 12 months, you are entitled to receive a free copy of your credit file from each of the three credit reporting agencies, including Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. The best way to choose a lender for your first mortgage for investment property is to shop around. Compare interest rates, required down payments and other loan terms in order to find the best fit.

When you speak to a lender regarding a first mortgage, they will explain the required down payment, invite you to fill out a loan application, access your credit file and possibly even provide you with a loan decision within hours. In most cases, a lender will require a down payment ranging from 20-35% for investment properties. Depending on your credit history, you may be asked to pay a slightly higher down payment than average. Because the purchase will not be used as a primary residence, the loan term will likely be shorter than a traditional mortgage.

When it comes to a first mortgage, every lender will require that a title search be performed on the property prior to approving a loan. A title search can be performed by a licensed attorney specializing in real estate and is beneficial for making sure that there are no judgments, liens or back taxes on the property. In addition, a title search will confirm the identity of the property owner and will ensure that the seller has the full right to deed the property to a new owner.

While shopping for a lender, most investment property buyers will apply with more than one lending institution. Although it is widely known that multiple credit inquiries in a short period of time may lower your credit score, applying for a mortgage is slightly different if the inquiries are made close together. The reason is because lenders expect that you will apply at multiple locations and may, therefore, not let recent inquiries for a mortgage loan deter them from approving your application for a first mortgage for investment property.

A first mortgage for investment property will be more likely to be approved if the hopeful buyer can provide an appraisal confirming the market value of the property. A loan is even likelier to be approved if the property is being sold for below market value, which will result in instant equity. These factors, combined with an appreciating market and a large down payment will increase your chances of being granted a first mortgage for investment property.

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VT Nonprofit Lender Mulls Life After End of Student Loan Program

The Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC) was established in 1965 as a public nonprofit agency designed to oversee the issuing of federal education loans to Vermont students. But with the sweeping reforms to the federal student loan program that were passed in 2009, bundled in with the national health care reform bill, VSAC and agencies like it were stripped of their ability to originate new federal education loans.

As of July 1, 2010, all federal parent and college loans are now provided to borrowers directly by the U.S. Department of Education, and VSAC is now facing a staff reduction of nearly two-thirds as it tries to find ways to survive in the age of the Federal Direct Student Loan Program.

The agency had been a lender in the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP), which was discontinued as part of the federal college loan reforms. As part of its lending functions under the FFEL program, VSAC acted as both a lender and servicer of federal college loans.

Under the new world order, with FFELP disbanded, VSAC can still manage (i.e., “service”) all the college loans it had issued in the past, but the agency is no longer able to issue new loans.

Revenues from the repayment of issued loans were used to fund new student loans as well as ongoing financial aid and student loan education programs, so the agency faces a revenue reduction of about 90 percent as its existing loans are repaid.

VSAC still issues a small number of private student loans, non-federal loans funded by VSAC rather than by the Department of Education, but the agency is looking for a new role with the Direct Loan program.

VSAC recently submitted a proposal to the Education Department to service more than the current statutory maximum of 100,000 federal education loans. Under the proposal, the agency is seeking permission to service the student loans of all Vermont students and all non-resident students enrolled at Vermont colleges and universities. Under the new Direct Loan program rules, only four organizations have been authorized so far by the Education Department to service more than the allotted 100,000 federal student loans.

Even if VSAC’s proposal is approved, however, the revenue from servicing the federal direct loans would bring in only a fraction of the revenue the agency once earned as a lender in the FFEL program.

VSAC is also asking the Vermont state legislature to help underwrite its administrative costs by allowing the agency to divert about 7 percent of its $21 million state appropriation from need-based grants and scholarships for students to the agency itself. VSAC is also asking legislators to allow its private student loan borrowers to deduct up to $500 of the interest on its private student loans from their state taxes.

The agency’s future role is unclear and is likely to remain that way until at least April, while it waits for a determination on the expanded servicing of federal college loans made through the Direct Loan program. The state legislature is likely to render a decision more quickly.

But even with its private student loan portfolio, a favorable decision on student loan servicing from Washington, and additional support from the Vermont legislature, VSAC will still need to reduce its budget by about 10 percent a year for the next three years in order to remain solvent.

The agency, which currently employs about 300 people, has already cut about 60 positions through attrition. If the added student loan servicing work doesn’t materialize and legislators don’t agree to support the agency’s administrative costs and financial aid counseling and outreach work, the agency will likely reduce its staff by an additional 200 positions before the start of the next fiscal year.

college loans

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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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Brown Seaweed

On this wonderful place called earth there are many bodies of water that brown seaweed thrives, however not all these places that it grows under the water is pristine and pure free of contaminants that can harm people if it is consumed by them.

It is for this very reason I chose to write this, I have traveled the world and many of the locations that the native persons are harvesting this brown seaweed are in shipping lanes and so forth. They do this because they are well aware of the truly life sustaining properties of it.

And they eat it in there daily diet in its raw form. Even though it is a little hard on ones pallet, they still do this because it is grate grateful to there body. You see it's briny and rubbery to the taste.

You see this brown seaweed gathers its vitamins and nutrients from the water and sun shining through the water as it grows, so anything floating in the water or in the soil it grows in is absorbed in the brown seaweed.

This is a concern of mine and others, because things like Mercury, lead and other things can be very harmful if consumed. So it is very important to get the brown seaweed from the purest places, one of those places is around the islands of Tonga.

There are no shipping lanes there at all, and it is the purest waters there are, the brown seaweed grows there in grape abundance. And you should know that the business that I'm in not only has it in a liquid form that 15 years was spent developing the cold process.

But also owns the rights to this process, And for your information not only can you buy brown seaweed bottled and mixed with mangos, papayas, apples and pears so it taste really good, It is way more potent than just eating it in it's raw form !

Furthermore you can get residual income while investing in your health from this very beneficial brown seaweed! The people of Tonga and Asia have known this for thousands of years! And now you know. Start using this knowledge.

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Get Help And Advice Online From Car Loan Articles

Car loan articles can be found online with a specialist motoring website and they hold a vast amount of useful information for those who are looking to finance a new or used car. A good site will offer articles on all aspects of car loans which all go towards you finding the best deal for your particular circumstances as well as offering hints and tips on choosing your new vehicle.

By having this knowledge, it means you can make an educated choice as to the right type of car finance for you.

When it comes to finding a loan there are many types to choose from so getting doing your homework is essential, so take advantage of articles aimed at car loans and you get to the best start possible. Articles are often laid out in specific categories which mean you can instantly find access to the information you are looking for.

Car loan articles will tell you all about the various options when it comes to financing your new or used car. Car loan articles giving information for the standard loan will explain the options you have and how to get the best deal possible on a secured or unsecured loan.

The secured loan means that you take the borrowing over a specific amount of time and then spread the repayments in monthly installments over this period. The beauty of this is that you are able to keep the repayments down to a level you can afford each month. However of course the longer you take the loan over, the more interest you will pay. If you have a less than perfect credit rating then this is usually the best chance of securing a loan for a car, as the car will be taken as security against the borrowing.

If you are considering buying a used car then get as much information as you can by way of car loan articles focusing on used car loans or unsecured borrowing. If you have an excellent credit rating and do not need to borrow a lot then you can get a loan without having to put up anything as security. The unsecured loan will usually come with an interest rate that is higher than that of the secured. However by allowing a specialist website to search within the car finance marketplace you can make great savings.

Any type of loan is confusing when it comes to the technical jargon and interest rates. Car loan articles will take the confusion away for you. They will explain clearly what APR means and the tricks that some lenders play to make you believe you are getting an excellent interest rate. For example, some lenders will quotes an interest rate that is for weekly terms and of course if the individual compares this against a monthly or yearly rate then it can seem extremely low. Taking the time to read through the articles and learning as much as possible about car loan and finance can save you a lot of money and of course, a specialist website will offer these resources for free.

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Discover The Best Way To Shop For A New Car Loan

Shopping for a new car when your old one is about to give up isn’t most people’s idea of a good time. It’s not deciding what kind of car you want that’s the problem. Most people are able to think seriously and be realistic about what kind of car they can afford to own. They’ll happily settle for a sedan, even if they dream of a sports car.

However, your credit might get in the way. If you’ve got less than great credit, car dealers can make you feel like a second class citizen. They don’t want to take the risk of selling you the car you need, so they steer you towards other, less desirable models. They don’t want to waste their time on you if you are not going to qualify for financing.

Very few people have perfect credit these days. There’s always an occasion where you miss a few payments on a credit card or other bill, or get laid off from your job and have to put off the least vital bills. However, even if things are now different and you can deal with your financial responsibilities, you’ll still have that black mark on your credit.

Credit bureaus can keep the information about those missed payments on your record for a long time. When you start investigating your options for financing your new car, they’re sure to turn up. This means that you’re on the defensive, and have to relive the period when you weren’t able to live up to your responsibilities. It’s necessary for you to explain to the dealership what happened, why you weren’t able to make those payments, and to justify your ability to make them now. Here’s some information to help you do this more easily.

The first thing you should do is realistically figure out how much you can afford for your new car payment. Don’t make the mistake of being too optimistic about your ability to save money or reduce expenses. Buying a new car shouldn’t affect your quality of life. If it’s necessary to stretch your budget that thin, you should put off getting a new car until things improve.

When you are realistically figuring out your budget, remember that cars do not drive on air. You will need to put gas in them and it would be a good idea to set aside money every month for maintenance like tires, oil changes, etc.

Also, it’s important to retain a good sense of reality in regards to how much you’ll get when you trade in your car. You probably won’t get the blue book price. For instance, if your car is worth $6000 as a trade in, realize that this is only $6000 off the sticker price of the new car. If you receive a discount on the sticker price (rarely do people ever pay the sticker price!), you probably won’t get as much for your trade-in. Sometimes the amount that the dealer discounts your trade in turns out to be the same as if you’d paid the sticker price in the first place.

However, should you be able to work things out with your dealer and arrive at a fair price, you still need to shop for a new car loan. Even if you’re getting a good deal on your trade in vehicle, you’ll almost certainly need to borrow money to buy a new car. What kind of loan you get is almost as important as picking out the car.

If you happen to have a good credit rating, you can often get a good deal on your new car financing through the dealer. They’ll use the manufacturer’s lending resources to help find you the right financing. The best deal you can get is a zero percent finance rate. There’s no interest with a zero percent rate. You can also get one point nine or two point nine percent interest rates, which are a lot better than you can get through most other lenders. Therefore, if you can get a good deal through the dealer, you should probably go for it.

However, those with less than perfect credit may need to look at other options for their new car financing. You may be able to find attractive loan programs through other lenders. These programs are designed for people with a few credit problems. You can even get loans designed for people with very poor credit or even those who’ve filed bankruptcy. However, you should be careful with these kinds of loans. Slipping up with them can put you in line for lots of fees and penalties, and the interest rate is going to be higher because they will consider you a higher risk.

Remember, when you buy a new car, shopping for the right car loan is just as important as picking out the perfect car. If you go with the first financing you’re offered, you may find yourself paying several thousand dollars more than you would have if you had bothered to shop around. Don’t underestimate the value to you of getting the right financing. There’s an option available for you, no matter what your credit history looks like.

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Forex Strategy: Fundamental Vs Technical Currency Analysis

Chances are, if you’re just getting started analyzing currencies, you have a long list of questions: What is currency analysis? What are the different ways to analyze Forex assets? And how will my analysis inform my trading efforts? These are important questions to answer, and it’s probably best to start with a quick definition of currency analysis.

In the simplest terms, currency analysis is the research of economic factors that affect exchange rates, as well as researching historical market data. Essentially, a day trader’s goal is to extrapolate the future movement of a particular currency by analyzing market factors and economic data. This will help a day trader make better guesses as to whether a currency pair will lose or gain value.

Fundamental Currency Analysis

There are many different macroeconomic factors that can affect the value of a currency and its exchange rate. Fundamental analysis looks at these factors to determine the overall well-being of a country’s economy, because economic standing is a strong determinant of currency value. Some factors a fundamental analysis might consider include:

Inflation rates

Trade balances

GDP

Interest rates

And job growth

In effect, the goal is to get a gauge of the overall economic factors that may affect that country’s currency. For example, a country with an increasing inflation rate may experience a decrease in currency value. A Forex trader might then enter a trading position betting on the downward trend of that currency. It’s important to note, though, that it’s difficult to trade on fundamental analysis alone. Most frequently, a trader will also need to conduct technical analysis.

Technical Currency Analysis

With the advances in technology, day traders have access to a wealth of Foreign Exchange market data. Technical analysis is the process of digging into this data to reveal market behaviors and price patterns. This analysis can be carried out over long periods of time – say a year or more – or in short, 4-hour time periods.

Forex trading software can be a useful tool for improving the insights yielded by technical analysis. For example, many Forex trading applications today are designed with advanced algorithms that measure these behaviors and price patterns in real-time, effectively automating the process of picking trades. One advantage of this type of analysis is that day traders have better knowledge of when to enter and exit a particular position.

Fundamental vs. Technical Analysis: Which is Better?

Ask any day trader what they prefer, and they’ll likely say they use a combination of both. When used together, fundamental and technical analysis yield greater insights into the market, as another layer of data is added into the equation.

We can break it down further. For example, let’s say a country just elected a politician who wants to enact a quantitative easing program. This program has the potential to weaken the value of the currency – that’s a valuable piece of fundamental analysis. Combining this data with a technical analysis of that country’s currency – long-term and short-term trends – will help you best determine the positions that will be most beneficial to you.

Interested in learning Forex trading? Enroll today in the Learn Forex course from Learn To Trade; you’ll polish your fundamental and technical analysis skills, learn new strategies for minimizing your trading risk, and develop better knowledge of the Foreign Exchange market.

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