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Shaping Africa’s Development: Kennedy Okonkwo On Financing The Continent’s Infrastructure Deficit

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Public-private partnerships can ease Nigeria’s housing crisis


Kennedy Okonkwo is Founder and CEO of Nedcomoaks, one of the leading real estate companies engaged in the acquisition, development and management of properties in Nigeria. He reflects on the power of collaboration in the housing sector.

READ MORE | Nedcomoaks

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Print In The Digital Age: Why Omni-Channel Marketing Should Be Your Go-to Strategy

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The internet is convenient and for the most part free, so it’s easy to assume that print marketing is dead. However, this assumption completely negates daily situations that proves printed material to be invaluable. Imagine – you have found the place you were looking for on the internet, but you have to leave your house or office to buy from them. When you finally get there, there is no sign outside the premises and you get lost. Without any print marketing, how would we navigate our daily lives?

Printed marketing materials allows your customers to see, touch and experience the quality of your products first-hand, which other marketing channels unfortunately cannot offer. Print advertising has also become the under-dog of the marketing world, with more and more businesses opting for a solely online strategy. This inadvertently creates a niche segment that could potentially grow your loyal customer base, and differentiate you from your competitors, especially if what you are providing is useful and reliable materials.

How does print fit into your marketing strategy?

Any savvy marketer should constantly be asking themselves: how do customers engage with brands these days? Is it via mono-channel marketing? Multi-channel? Or perhaps omni-channel? In order to reach your business goals, it simply makes sense to use every available resource to your advantage. This sentiment is shared by industry experts. Alexander Knieps, founder of Printulu – an online printing company in South Africa – had this to say about omni-channel marketing:

“We are not in a completely online world, and we are not in a completely offline world. It’s all about multi-channel.” – Alexander Knieps, Founder of Printulu, your online printer.

Printulu’s goal is to help SMEs grow their businesses in an omni-channel world. They are disrupting the printing industry with their innovative approach, and their belief is that in order to grow a business effectively in the digital age, you need to be using every channel available to you strategically. This means using each channel’s strengths to your advantage. It means to choose a channel that suits your business’ constraints so that you can utilise it effectively, and expand your marketing efforts towards other channels as your business grows.

Think about it this way – there are essentially 3 main objectives to any type of marketing strategy. These are market identification, positioning/differentiation, and brand loyalty. So how does including print in your strategy help you reach these objectives?

  • Market identification

In order to grow your business successfully, you will need to segment your target market correctly in order to precisely establish a viable customer base. If you are not catering to a target audience’s specific needs, all of your efforts will be in vain. Taking the time to target the exact market you have identified and using various channels to actively pursue your audience will serve the broader goal of increasing your revenue.

Believe it or not, not everyone is online. Some people (especially us hard-working individuals) simply do not have the time to check Facebook during the day. Forget about Instagram and Twitter! We go to the office, we work hard, and we go home to relax with family – be they of the human or animal variety.

If this sounds like your life, ask yourself: where do you see the most ads? Which brand did you take notice of lately in your busy day? The answer is most likely somewhere on your commute – a printed billboard or poster. Print marketing can reach your most targeted consumers in the same way, cutting through the noise of busy everyday life.

  • Positioning/Differentiation

To position your business means to determine how you want your products and services perceived. The way you market your business is telling to customers of the nature of the company. This is why you want to be giving your customers every opportunity to get to know you through well thought-out marketing campaigns. Using high quality printed materials will assist you in positioning your company as a high quality firm.

Do you think your prospects will be more impressed with an online ad that is placed right next to their neighbour’s latest Facebook status about how much they miss their ex – or with a shiny flyer placed conveniently at their favourite coffee shop?

  • Brand loyalty

If your business’ content marketing is consistent and useful, the potential for your company to be seen as a thought leader by customers is exponential. Creating this consumer preference for your brand is essential for a business’ long-term success.

This one isn’t rocket science. The more channels you’re using (and using well), the more consistent and useful your content will appear to prospects and customers.

Don’t get us wrong – we’re not saying online marketing is bad. Quite the opposite. For one thing, if you’re using online tools right, your ads should be showing up right when and where they should be. However, you might be missing out on quite a few huge opportunities by limiting your marketing efforts to just that.

The rule of 7 works better with an integrated marketing approach

The rule of seven should also not be disregarded. If you’ve never heard of it, here’s a quick explanation. The rule of seven states that someone needs to come across your brand or offer at least seven times before it really sinks in and they take action.

The rule of seven shows why it is essential that your business does not rely solely on one channel as it grows. No one marketing channel has infinite capabilities, and whilst using one extensively if you have limited resources is a good method to follow, the same strategy should not be used for growing businesses. Adding print marketing to your strategy means that you can target your ads to where your customers will definitely be physically, with the added benefit that they can’t click away. If your product or service is in any way tangible, using tangible marketing is also especially useful.

Can’t fit printed collateral into your budget? Printulu can help you jumpstart your marketing efforts. Click this link to fill in the form and score 25% off your first business card order with Printulu.

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A Business Case For Cloud And Why Finance Needs A Seat At The Table

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Most businesses are by now already at one or another stage of the enterprise cloud transformation journey and a staggering 93 percent of business executives who participated in Deloitte’s 2018 global outsourcing survey, confirmed that their organisations were adopting – or at least considering adopting – cloud.

Deloitte South Africa Finance and Enterprise Performance Management Leader Phillip Hechter says that, “Cloud is not just here, but here to stay. With the potential for significant cost savings and enhanced strategic value, cloud represents a fundamental shift in how technology solutions are developed and in how they are delivered”.

However, a migration to cloud is not without its challenges and the bigger the organisation’s ambitions, the bigger those challenges.

Finance

In the latest iteration of its ‘Crunch time’ series, ‘Crunch Time 8: The CFO Guide to Cloud,’ Deloitte highlights the need for the CFO to take an active role in navigating the challenges that emerge during this process; as well as in making strategic decisions that leverage the technology’s full potential.

The lowered costs on offer with cloud, are one of its biggest drawcards. Broadly speaking, the operational costs are less expensive than those associated with on-site technology and there exists the prospect for massive returns on a cloud investment when what might be ‘unfamiliar’ cost categories – like operating model optimisation, speed-to-market and innovation – are taken into account, alongside more traditional ones.

New core finance platforms

“Cloud solutions should be the default starting point for new core finance platforms and some major Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) providers only offer cloud-native options now. The rest are at the very least, punting cloud-optimised versions of their software. Certain components may need to remain on-site for now and ERP providers will most probably continue to support on-site technology for at least the next decade; but it is unlikely that this will continue in the long run and the industry is now focusing its investments in innovation, in cloud services”, says Hechter.

Financial treatment

The accounting for traditional computing investments is based on established capitalisation principles, which are clearly set out in accounting regulations. In contrast, when it comes to cloud investments the regulatory framework is still evolving to reflect the fact that more and more organisations – across the board – are turning to cloud-based offerings, in order to satisfy their computing requirements.

As a result, the process of determining the appropriate financial treatment for cloud investments is a somewhat subjective one at the moment and each case – along with its unique facts and circumstances – needs to be carefully considered.

In terms of tax, a move to the cloud might impact an organisation’s current tax structures and allowable tax treatments vary in accordance with a number of different factors.

Negotiating contracts

Hechter adds that, “It is important that the approach taken in negotiations is a holistic one and that all deals take into account the costs, benefits and impacts for all parts of the business. Thus, it is crucial that Finance works together with Legal, Procurement and IT. External advisors can also prove valuable, especially in organisations that lack experience in cloud contracting”.

Cloud vendors typically build their services and pricing models and – more often than not – their contracts, around standardisation. This means that they are likely to push back against any major changes to standard agreements. Cloud providers are competing for market share, though, and so there exists the opportunity to negotiate for extra benefits and service capabilities – which could be a key source of competitive differentiation.

Cloud brings with it a range of opportunities for real innovation including reduced time-to-market, scalability and a way to drive agility and innovation. There are a host of examples of companies that are using cloud to transform their service and product offerings, improve efficiency, increase customer engagement and ultimately reap significant rewards as a result. It can be done but at the end of the day, what you get out of it depends on what you put in.

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Healthy Nations Are Wealthy Nations

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 We live in a world where even a pover­ty-stricken Ghanaian child can dream of solving Africa’s health problems. I believe that everything begins with a vision for a better future and a passion for one’s continent and people, with perseverance, no obstacle cannot be overcome. Perseverance conquers all difficulties.

While an individual cannot provide a solu­tion to all of Africa’s unmet health needs, any effort goes a long way. I was a Ghanaian child that dreamt of an Africa in which all citizens would have access to adequate and affordable healthcare.

Africa is the second most populous continent, and home to 16%of the world’s population. The continent receives just a mere 1% of global expenditure on healthcare, a fact which is not only morally reprehensible, but economically unsustainable for families and their entire countries, as evidenced by the high medical costs, often inaccurate diagnoses, med­ication errors, and inadequate or unsafe clinical facilities for those who cannot afford better.

How does Africa, with a public healthcare system that is largely under-resourced and underfunded, build healthier nations? I have a few ideas:

1. Africa’s healthcare gap is worse in low and middle-income countries where 10-15% of hospitalized patients can expect to acquire an infection during their stay, as compared to 5-7% in high-income countries. This is despite hospital-acquired infections being easily avoided through better hygiene, improved infection control practices and appropriate use of antimicrobials. Because of statistics such as these, I am committed to doing my part to bring quality healthcare to people in developing nations through my non-profit, R.E.S.T.O.R.E Worldwide Inc.

Through the R.E.S.T.O.R.E foundation, which is primarily focussed on reconstruc­tive surgery, not only do I donate my surgical skills, but also my vast knowledge in regard to sustainable healthcare and capacity building within the industry.

Individual efforts to better a community ultimately culminate into a nation built by individuals and this is the Africa we want to see. This is not as difficult as we think to implement in practical ways, for example; if ones passion point is education, one can gather a few of the young people in the area and conduct lessons.

2. I am privileged, not only to be able to pro­vide but also have access to quality healthcare. However, I realize that this is not universal. As I write this, my thoughts are with the people of Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi who are affected by Cyclone Idai.

What the survivors of this tragedy have in common is their immediate need for resources, stability, comfort, and medical help, among many other things. As well all know, healthcare does not exist in a vacuum. Efforts also have to go towards improving education, skills, and resources, as well as creating strategic partner­ships among key stakeholders.

Public-private partnerships exist in all forms to lend a hand to all kinds of causes. Neighborhoods and local governments could team up for a cleaning exercise, professional associations and governing bodies can also team up to help a cause of their own, either as a short or long-term endeavour.

An estimated 60% of healthcare financing in Africa comes from private sources which is a testament to the fact that public-private partnerships are a sustainable and feasible way to grow any sector.

3. Africa is confronted by a heavy burden of diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV – not to mention the disease of “inadequate surgical providers”. Studies show a gross lack of knowledge about the basics of how to diagnose and manage common diseases

Africa is definitely ready for relevant, reli­able healthcare dialogue. The top 30 innovators showcased at the recently concluded WHO Africa Health Forum in Cape Verde has given me and all other stakeholders immense hope. These 30 brilliant minds from across Africa and beyond have developed simple solutions to the complex and unmet health needs on the continent and these are the success stories that reinforce my belief in the future of a healthy Africa.

4. As healthcare stakeholders, it’s our re­sponsibility to develop new medicines to treat disease, but these medicines are useless if they can’t get to the patients who need them the most. We need to commit ourselves to work to­gether with all other healthcare players and to move away from simply donating aid, to build­ing sustainable infrastructure and capacity.

To answer my opening question on how a public healthcare system that is largely so under-resourced and underfunded can build healthier nations; I say this is one way that a little boy from Ghana or any part of the pover­ty-stricken parts of the developing world can solve health problems in his or her community and ultimately build healthier nations across the globe. This can be done through identifying their passion point, doing all they can in their power, seeking out other like-minded stake­holders to partner with and working to create better paths for the generations to come.

-For more information visit: restoreworldwide.org

-Dr Michael K Obeng; Founder and CEO of RESTORE Worldwide, Inc. & Global Health Solution

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