How Isabella is blazing a trail for mature female entrepreneurs!

A Leamington entrepreneur has been named the Midlands’ Diversity Champion at a prestigious awards ceremony.

Isabella Moore CBE, co-director and chair of COMTEC Translations, is one of a number of businesswomen celebrated at the FL National Awards & Summit 2018 in Birmingham.

Launched nine years ago, the Forward Ladies Awards promote women as an integral and invaluable part of every business, a fact which underpins Isabella's latest research. As an older entrepreneur, Isabella has drawn on her own experiences to carry out extensive research at Aston University Business School into why women in later life are half as likely to set up in business than men. Her findings show that older women feel a social pressure to conform to stereotypical roles, listening to what their family and friends want them to do, rather than choosing to follow a less conventional path.

Isabella’s research has also found that older women in business are often perceived more negatively than men, with women feeling that business support agencies take men more seriously. Through this ground-breaking research, Isabella hopes to influence policymakers and practitioners involved in the design of business support programmes to ensure that the voice of older women is heard. "Women in later life have untapped skills and experience, gained throughout their career, which is perfect for business ventures," Isabella explains. "Yet my research has shown that setting up in business is perceived by most older women as a daunting activity. “If there were more targeted government initiatives to dispel the myths about entrepreneurship, along with a greater availability of informal mentoring and confidence-building business support, older women could gain confidence in their skills and abilities and consider a new business venture as a viable option.

“It is vital that awareness is raised of the considerable wealth-creating potential of such aspiring business-women for our economy.”

Isabella will now join regional finalists from across the UK, with overall national winners in the FL National Awards & Summit 2018 being announced in December.

Read more here: Coventry Life

Working as virtual teams  is growing in popularity as technology is enabling forward-thinking companies to embrace this change in how employees work. According to a global study done by Regus in 2017, 50% of workers report that they work outside the main office for 2.5 days a week or more.

In South Africa, we have seen a growing shift towards employers embracing virtual workers, many realising the financial and productivity benefits of hiring "on demand skills".

While employee demand and advances in technology are mainly responsible for this shift in work style, digitalisation has made it possible for a greater variety of work that can now operate from remote locations. Virtual jobs are now no longer just for data capturers and proofreaders, jobs like cloud-based accountants and IT developers are now also possible.

Whether you are an employer considering hiring virtual workers, or a skilled job-seeker looking for work-from-home job opportunities, knowing what online tools are available to make virtual working possible is essential to making it a success. Email paved the way for faster communication, but now there are new tools available designed to streamline virtual working. Here is a list of free online tools that make virtual working and team collaboration a reality in a digital world.

Real-time Communication

Clear communication is essential to successful remote working arrangements.

Slack allows team members to collaborate in real-time and set up discussion channels relating to a specific topic. Team members can be invited to contribute to different discussion channels. For instance, if you are a business developer and need to connect with members from the marketing and account management departments, Slack is a good platform to use. You can share documents, images, videos and other data necessary to get the job done.

On the free option, you get 5GB storage and integration with up to ten apps. A handy app to integrate Slack with is Google Sheets if you want to share documents and spreadsheets as an example.

Another tool that works wonders for real-time communication is WhatsApp. Using WhatsApp for work may be frowned upon, but it is one of the best ways to quickly notify your team members on issues that need urgent attention. By the way, did you know that you get a WhatsApp web app where you can use WhatsApp on your computer? It is free to use.

Workflow Management

Asana is a web and mobile application designed to help teams organise, track and manage their work. You can add up to fifteen team members, create projects and assign tasks. Asana has a very good free version. As a small company or single user, it will be unlikely that you need to ever upgrade.

Asana allows you to create projects with deadlines and assign it to a team member. This is a perfect tool for administrative tasks. For instance, you can schedule recurring tasks, such as sending out invoices on the 25th of every month. You can sync Asana with Google Calendar and have the task deadlines display on your calendar. Asana can sync with Toggl (read more on Toggl below) to track the time spent on each project.

A similar tool to Asana is Trello. Trello uses a board, like a pin-up board to keep tasks together. You can add a checklist to a project. It shows the project in more detail with colour-coded tasks. This would be a good tool for web developers to use when there are many phases to different projects.

Time Tracking

Billing by the hour? Freelancers often charge per hour, but employers, consultants and other Independent contractors are now using time tracking tools as a way of more accurately tracking time spent on projects. It is easy to spend more time on a project than quoted for. Using a time tracking tool will ensure that you bill or compensate the actual hours spent on a project.

Toggl is an online timer which tracks and reports the time spent on a project. Download the desktop app and simply click a button when working and switch it off again once you are done. It calculates the total time spent on the project in a report. You can even download the app on your phone and be sure never to lose time again.

Top Tracker is another option, it works much the same as Toggl. One difference is that it takes a screenshot of the work you have on your screen which can be included in the report.

Collaborate on Documents

Google Docs is a free web-based application in which documents can be created, edited and stored online. You can access it from any computer with an internet connection. Create the document online and share it with team members. You can co-write and comment live on the document. Once you document is ready, you can download it as a Word document.

A lesser-known online collaboration document tool is Dropbox Paper. You need to have a Dropbox account to make use of Dropbox Paper for free. It allows you to create checklists, insert images and even has a presentation setting where you can present a proposal.

File Sharing

Google Drive is a file storage and synchronization service developed by Google. This is the best place to store many company-wide documents. It is completely free for up to 30GB. Create folders as you would on your computer and choose who has permission to access it.

Dropbox can also be used in much the same way as Google Drive. The downside is that you only get 2GB on the free plan.

If you need to send particularly large files, like a video, WeTransfer is the tool to use. It is a cloud-based computer file transfer service for when you need to send big files. It only allows a certain period for the documents to be downloaded and does not store the files on their server.

Virtual Meetings

Zoom provides remote conferencing services using cloud computing. You get a unique URL and anyone with the meeting access code can join the meeting. Forty minute meetings are free, but you can always create a new meeting if the Forty minutes run out. It automatically enlarges the screen of the person speaking, so you can follow the conversation with ease.

Choose the tools that work best for you. The idea is not to use hundreds of apps and further complicate your day but to explore those that fit with your needs. If it improves the workflow of collaborating with a virtual team, then that is the one for you.

 

 

Today, we’re going to take a look at the "must-have's"  for your own VA website.

What makes a website go from:

That’s nice…

to…

“Holy Moly, I have to hire this person!!

We’re going to jump into that today.

Why is having a VA website important? 

Before we get into the nitty-gritty and show you the best ways to make your VA website stand out, we wanted to share with you a few reasons why having a website is important in the first place.

And because we like to number things, here are our top 5 reasons:

Reason #1: While the VA world is still a budding career field, competition is increasing.

Reason #2: You may have all the skills and experience, but if you don’t have a way to showcase those skills and experience, you may be looked over.

Reason #3: A website is an incredible way to show off your unique personality. Clients are going to be attracted to YOU and your website is YOU on a page!

Reason #4: What else are you going to put on your business card?

Reason #5: You have a place to house your services and prices. Aka – if someone isn’t a good fit for you, you don’t have to waste your time in a discovery call with them.

(No sir, I will not work for R3 per hour).

ELEMENT #1: A Services Page

If you’re building a business that offers virtual assistant services you need a Services Page!

A Services Page is simply a page devoted to showing your potential client what you can do. It lists the service that you offer, either as a list or in packages.

Aren’t sure what services you should offer as a VA? 

  1. NEWSLETTER DESIGN
  2. NEWSLETTER CONTENT CREATION
  3. EMAIL AUTOMATION
  4. MAILCHIMP ASSISTANCE / MAINTENANCE
  5. SOCIAL MEDIA AD SET-UP / MANAGEMENT
  6. CONTENT CREATION SERVICES
  7. TECHNICAL WRITING AND HOW TO POSTS
  8. LANDING PAGE CREATION
  9. WORDPRESS UPDATES
  10. WEB DESIGN
  11. SHOPIFY ASSISTANCE
  12. SEO SERVICES
  13. CONTENT CREATION FOR ONLINE COURSES
  14. WEBINAR SETUP
  15. LIVE WEBINAR ASSISTANCE
  16. EDITING
  17. RESUME WRITING
  18. PROOFREADING
  19. TRANSCRIPTION
  20. DATA ENTRY
  21. TELEMARKETING / LEAD GENERATION
  22. INTERNET RESEARCH
  23. CUSTOMER SERVICE
  24. BLOG MANAGEMENT
  25. RESPONDING TO BLOG COMMENTS
  26. BLOG TRAFFIC REPORTING
  27. MAINTAINING EDITORIAL CALENDAR
  28. GHOSTWRITING
  29. SOCIAL MEDIA GRAPHIC DESIGN
  30. VIDEO EDITING
  31. POWERPOINT PRESENTATIONS
  32. EBOOK CONTENT AND DESIGN
  33. CREATING INFOGRAPHICS
  34. LOGO DESIGN / GRAPHIC DESIGN
  35. PAYMENTS AND INVOICING
  36. ACCOUNTING / BOOKKEEPING SERVICES
  37. EMAIL REMINDERS
  38. CALENDAR MANAGEMENT
  39. CREATING / MANAGING DATABASES & CRM’S
  40. SCHEDULING SOCIAL MEDIA
  41. SETTING UP AFFILIATE PROGRAMS & AFFILIATE MANAGEMENT
  42. RUNNING/ MANAGING CONTESTS AND GIVEAWAYS
  43. BRANDING SERVICES
  44. PRESS RELEASES
  45. PR MANAGEMENT
  46. TRAVEL RESEARCH & BOOKING
  47. ......

This is your place to shine and showcase all of your wonderful offerings to potential clients.

Not only should you have a beautifully designed page, you also need to create a services page that converts.

Here’s our best tips on creating a services page that converts… 

Read more next time:

ELEMENT #2: Responsive design / mobile optimization

Excerpt taken from The Virtual Savvy

Author: ABBEY ASHLEY

As you begin to decide on the tasks that you WILL want to offer – you may change your title from VA to something more specific to what you do.

As you specialize your services, you may choose to call yourself:

A Social Media Manager
A Pinterest Expert
A Sales Funnel Strategist
A Business Consultant
A WordPress Wizard
A Copywriter
A Facebook Ad Manager
A Launch Strategist
A Webinar Rockstar
A Landing Page Liason
A Unicorn Strategist (seriously – it doesn’t really matter what you call yourself – as long as you have a SERVICE to offer and you know WHO to offer it to!)

In general, the term “Virtual Assistant” is what people end up asking for and searching for, even if they really want a specialist in a particular area. It’s the term that they understand. So, even if you choose to change your name to a more “specialist” term – don’t forget to respond to and search for clients looking for a “VA”.

Excerpt from The Virtual Savvy

Author: Abbey Ashley

When you first launch your Virtual Assistant business, there are 1,000 different questions to answer. It’s an exciting time, but, let’s be honest. It can be craaaazy confusing too, right?

So let’s tackle one of the BIG questions that is asked often. You know you’re thinking it, too…

How much should I charge for my services?

Most VA’s just starting out have a very difficult time choosing a rate, because they feel like they don’t have the skills and experience to charge the price that they need to make their business succeed.

That’s why I’m going to break it all apart for you. I’ll show you how self-employment taxes need to be factored into your rate, how to determine what your starting rate should be based off of your hours/ availability and personal financial needs, and the difference between the various types of packages and pricing for your business.

 LET’S FACTOR FOR TAXES

Before you start setting your rates as a VA, it’s important to understand what your tax responsibilities will be.

As a Virtual Assistant, you will be considered an Independent Contractor. This means that you are contracted to perform services for others, without having the legal status of an employee.

The great news? As an Independent Contractor, you choose how, when, and where to work – for as much or little time as you want!

The not so great news? All the work that an HR department would handle for you as far as paying employment taxes, you get to do solo as an Independent Contractor. This means saving for and paying provisional taxes and submitting all the necessary paperwork required to do so.

Something to soften the blow – as an Independent Contractor, you’ll have the advantage of deducting any necessary expenses needed to operate and grow your biz from your taxes.

Some deductions that may apply to you are:

• Education/Training expenses
• Website Development
• Website Hosting
• Computer Purchase
• Advertising Expenses
• Subscriptions to software programs (i.e. Canva, Hoostsuite, Freshbooks)
• Business Cards
• Rent and Utilities for home office space (if used only for your business)
• Office equipment and expenses
• Professional Consulting Expenses
• Business Travel Expenses
• Freelancing Expenses (when you subcontract out your work)

Let me go ahead and throw this out there.

From the beginning – record EVERYTHING.

There’s nothing worse than coming around to tax time and realizing that your invoices and receipts are all over the place, and missing out on deductions because you weren’t organized enough in the first place.

As an independent contractor, you’ll need to save back approximately 25% of your gross income to pay taxes.

As always, it’s best to talk with a tax professional regarding your individual situation.

When it comes to factoring your rate with consideration of your taxes, we’re going to assume that you’ll need to save back 25% of your monthly income for taxes.

HOW MUCH DO YOU NEED?

If you are planning to have your Virtual Assistant business be your main source of income, it’s a good idea to determine your rates by working backward from what you need to make.

So, let’s say you make R10000 (gross income)  in a month from your VA Services.  Now – you’ll want to save about 25% back for taxes.

You made R10,000 last month? You’ll save around R2500 for taxes, leaving you with about R7500 remaining.

OR...Need to take home R5000 each month to cover your bills, fees and expenses?

You’ll need to bring in about R6250 for that month in gross profit.

Remember – in this article we are talking about coming up with an ideal hourly rate for you. To really grow your business and skyrocket into making 10k-20k months and beyond, you’ll eventually start subcontracting some of the work that you do and targeting high-end clients with specialized services. The purpose of this particular article is simply to determine your base VA rate and monthly budget.

HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU HAVE?

Listen up.

Being an entrepreneur is not easy.

It’s not something that you can just do in your “spare time” (especially if you are looking for full-time income!).

In the beginning, you’ll have to HUSTLE to get clients. You will put in countless hours, wake up early, and stay up late to make the sale.

Brew up another pot of coffee… ‘cause there are some late nights in your future.

If you have 3 hours to commit per week to start your own business, go ahead and stop reading.

I know things are busy. I know your life is hectic. But I challenge you, don’t FIND time in your schedule.

MAKE time.

Go ahead and decide how many hours you are going to commit to running your business. I suggest making 5 hours per week (at the bare minimum) JUST for building and advertising your business when you first startup. Then, you will have to decide how many “workable hours” you have on top of that.

You may have to get a babysitter one day a week. You may have to wake up 2 hours early. You may have to work during nap time instead of watching the Bachelorette.

How many workable hours will you have during your week, if you schedule your time well?

I challenge you – go ahead and block out your time in your planner or calendar. Decide on the hours you are going to work on your biz and let that time be non-negotiable for change.

LET’S DETERMINE YOUR RATE

So – you’ve figured out how much to need to gross per month when factoring in taxes to meet your monthly budgeting needs.

You’ve also planned out how many workable hours you will have each week to meet your goals.

Now, we will use this information to determine your rate.

Let’s say you can commit 40 total hours per week to your business. We will subtract 5 hours for you to work on developing and marketing your business. Now, you have 35 workable hours per week. That’s roughly 120 hours per month that you can be making money in your business.

We will use this simple formula to discover the rate you should be charging:

Set Rates Virtual Assistant

For example:

R15 000 Gross Income Needed / 140 Hours = R107 per hour

Maybe you’re only able to work part-time on your VA business. We can also work backward to find out how much you could make starting out as a VA.

Let’s meet Jane.

Set Rates Virtual Assistant

Jane has 20 hours per week to commit to working on her business.

She’s going to spend 5 hours per week developing her business and marketing her services.

That means she has 15 hours to commit to working for clients. That’s about 60 hours per month.

She is just starting out, so a rate she feels comfortable charging is R80 per hour, at least for her first clients.

60 Hours Per Month x R80 per Hour = R4800 Gross Income
Let’s subtract the 25% you’ll need to save back for taxes.

R4800 x .25 = R1200 to save. That leaves you with R3600 net income for the month!

LET’S TALK VARIANCES

At this point, your brain may be racing. Let’s chat about what may be running through your head:

I can’t charge that kind of money!

Yes. Yes you can. You have experience and skills that people are willing to pay for! When you factor taxes and expenses for running your business, the take-home rate must be enough for you to live off of!

Here’s what you’ll find. If you offer your services at R10 an hour, you’ll get treated accordingly. People won’t respect your time as much and will want to get the best “bang for their buck”.

Repeat to yourself: “I am not a discount service”.

What’s even the going rate for specific skills?

The average salary of a VA in South Africa is R8299. They may also earn the salary starting at R250 per hour. The specialized virtual assistant may ask for higher rates as well. This salary estimate is based on the information provided by Indeed of the virtual assistant employees, its users and the information retrieved from the advertising agencies in the last 24 months.

The rates of virtual assistant vary from hourly rates to project rates. The hourly rates further vary in accordance to the services provided to the clients. Sometimes the hourly rates turn out to be more profitable, if the client adds some extra work, make some change in the given task which requires extra time to get the finish. The hourly rate helps the virtual assistant to track the time which he takes to complete it and it further helps him to invoice the amount the time which he actually took to finish that work. It helps him to quote rates in future. The hourly rates may be high if the client is of the local market. The local rates in South Africa for simple typing starts at R 75.00 per hour. The virtual assistant also creates the packages to sell their skills to the clients. The rates for per projects are determined to keep in view the size and the scope of the project.

If you have general Admin, Design, or Marketing Skills (data entry, social media posting, simple graphics, basic calendar management, etc) the going rate can be anything between R100-R250 per hour.

If you have Advanced Skills (Creating graphics, WordPress Edits, Writing Optimized Content, Course Creation, etc.) you can easily charge R250-R450 per hour.

If you have Specialized Skills (Web Design, SEO, Building Landing Pages, Social Media Strategy, Infusionsoft, etc) your rates should be no lower than R450 per hour. You can go up from there as needed.

I have no idea where to start my rates!

If you are going back and forth on deciding where to start your rates for general admin work, take this advice.

Start out at R150 per hour and sign your first client.

Then, with each new client, sign your rates R20 more.

For your second client, you’ll charge R170 per hour. Your third, R200 per hour and so on.

Your skill and comfort are growing, so your rates should too.

PRICING TYPES:

Once you determine your hourly rate, you can decide how you will package your services. Let’s look at the various ways you can package your services as a VA, so you can decide which is best for you.

Hourly Rate Pricing

Hourly rate pricing is where you set a particular hourly price for your services, keep track of your time, and bill your client after the work has been completed. Some clients prefer this method, as they know they are only paying for hours that were worked specifically for them. The downfall – you won’t have guaranteed income each month, as some months your clients may utilize your services for 20 hours and some months they may only utilize 2 hours.

Project Based Packages

A Project-Based Package can be used when a client has a one-time project to complete, and you will charge them a flat rate fee for the project. This is best done by approximating how much time it will take you to complete the project and charging at least your decided hourly rate, multiplied by that projected amount of time. This type of pricing is often used for large-scale projects, like a web design, course creation, or social media overhaul package. Often, the VA will collect half of the funds up-front and the other half after the project has been completed. One issue you may run into with this type of packaging is an inadequate estimate of time needed to complete a certain project or service.

Retainer Packages

A retainer is a monthly package for those who need reoccurring help in their business. For example, a client will pre-pay for 20 hours of services rendered per month on a recurring basis. As a VA, you will still need to provide details of how your time was spent each month. This is a great option for VA’s who would like more security and the ability to project monthly earnings. Plus, you will be paid up-front, which means that you won’t have to deal with unpaid invoices for work already completed!

Usable Hours Packages

With this type of pricing method, your client will pay for a certain amount of hours, to be used at their discretion. These hours are not renewed on a monthly basis. You will keep a record of the hours you have used and, once all hours have been used up, the client can choose to purchase another package of hours or not. It may be helpful to you as a VA to put an expiration on the hours after purchase (example: hours must be utilized within 6 months or a year after purchase).

*** Remember, these examples are posted to inspire your packages and gain clarification on what a great package looks like. Do NOT copy these packages word for word. Find your own groove!

 

Author Abbey Ashley

INTERNATIONAL - Tencent Music Entertainment has delayed its planned US initial public offering (IPO) until at least November as the owner of China’s most popular music apps prefers to wait for global stock markets to stabilize, three sources said.


The music arm of tech giant Tencent Holdings is expected to raise at least $2 billion and was originally planning to launch its offering as soon as next week, the sources said.
However, Wall Street on Wednesday suffered its worst one-day drop in eight months, with the S&P 500 .SPX down 3.29 per cent. The index dropped a further 2.06 percent on Thursday.

“Are they really going to launch into this window?” asked one source involved in the deal, adding that the company had plenty of cash. “Why try and jam something out now?”

Chinese shares have also fallen, with the CSI 300 index of mainland Chinese blue-chips .CSI300 down 4.8 percent to a 27-month low on Thursday.

“Given the recent challenging market conditions, it won’t be a good idea for the company to go ahead with the listing timetable. It makes more sense to wait till the market recovers a bit,” said another person with knowledge of the matter.

Tencent Music declined to comment. The sources declined to be identified as the information was not public.

At $2 billion, the IPO would be one of the largest by a Chinese company in the United States this year, behind the $2.4 billion raised by video streaming company iQiyi in March but ahead of the $1.6 billion garnered by online group discounter Pinduoduo in July.
In total, Chinese companies have raised $7.5 billion from US markets so far this year - the biggest amount since 2014 - according to Refinitiv data.

Tencent Music filed for its IPO earlier this month, setting a placeholder sum of $1 billion for registration purposes.

The company owns streaming apps QQ Music, Kugou and Kuwo as well as karaoke app WeSing, and claims more than 800 million monthly active users.

The number of Tencent Music shares to be sold were not disclosed and potential valuations were unclear. Its Swedish music streaming counterpart Spotify Technology SA is currently valued at around $27.1 billion.

The Chinese firm, which has a cross shareholding deal with Spotify, offers more in the way of socially interactive services that makes it profitable, while the Swedish firm is not. Tencent Music reported a 92 percent jump in sales in the first half of this year and net profit of $263 million.

REUTERS 

JOHANNESBURG – B-BBEE practitioner Mpopi Khupe believes that she was driven into entrepreneurship to find creative solutions to empowerment challenges.

The executive director of Zevoli Consulting says she founded the enterprise and supplier development (ESD) advisory and programme management firm with Hepsy Mkhungo in 2014 precisely to address the implementation of the new rules.

Today, Zevoli provides strategy development, review and re-alignment services aimed at 
designing and implementing ESD programmes that support the achievement of overall business objective.

“We exist to unlock shared value and powered by our purpose, we are growth catalysts,” says Khupe, who holds a BCom from the former University of Port Elizabeth now known as Nelson Mandela University.

She says the firm is creating unexpected opportunities for meaningful connections between small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and corporates to unlock tangible commercial growth and success.

Khupe was part of the core team that produced the initial version of the formulation of the Codes of Good Practice on B-BBEE (Codes). 

She was also part of the team that assisted the Department of Trade and Industry with the recent review of the B-BBEE Act and the review and update of the Codes.

“Part of what drove me to become an entrepreneur is because I firmly believed it would allow me to be more creative in finding solutions to the B-BBEE implementation challenges that I had come to understand,” she says.

Zevoli blue chip clients include Coca Cola Beverages Africa, Sasol, Procter & Gamble, Acsa, Unilever, Sappi and Monsanto, among others.

Khupe says the a lot of corporates were grappling with understanding and effectively implementing the codes in a way that gives them a competitive advantage. 

“I felt it was the perfect time for me to lend my skills set to more than one corporate and the only way to do so was to start my own business.” 

Khupe says she ventured into entrepreneurship after eight years in the corporate world.

She says this was because the birth of her son changed the lens through which she viewed herself, the world and her priorities and aspirations shifted fundamentally.

“I resigned and started MTS (which focused exclusively on B-BBEE advisory services), both because I wanted to be a more present mom and because it became clear to me that I no longer fit the corporate mould.” 

As the market’s understanding of the codes became richer, enterprise development stood out as the scorecard through which the most innovative successes through the stimulation of entrepreneurship could be achieved. 

This led to the birth of Zevoli Consulting.

Khupe says there is great potential to unlock tangible shared value in South Africa and the broader region when working with clients who have defined local, regional and global sustainability objectives and aspirations to 
have a presence and relevance across the identified geographies.

“We have been given the platform to be disruptors in how brand loyalty and brand consumption are defined, measured and how the definition of success is determined,” she says.

“In certain markets the magic lies in creating brand ambassadors and entrepreneurs that will not only speak well of your brand, but also consume your products and services.”

The businesswoman says for the company strategy to succeed firms must master their 
programme development and implementation art on familiar territory and customise it for other markets. 

But she stresses that this would be done without deviating from the client’s core objectives.  Khupe says corporates tend to grapple with identifying clear strategies of how to compete against brands in unknown territories such as peri-urban, rural and township-based communities, where there is less brand recognition and loyalty, and fierce competition. “This is the environment in which we thrive,” she says.

BUSINESS REPORT

INTERNATIONAL - China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, the world’s largest telecom-equipment maker, plans to invest 1 billion yuan ($145 million) over the next three year to develop artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities for its cloud business, it said on Friday.

Zheng Yelai, president of Huawei’s cloud unit, also said the company planned to start offering public cloud service in South Africa, as it is “a strong base from which to develop cloud business in the African continent”.

Huawei established BU in 2017 to go into the public cloud service market in China, currently dominated by Alibaba.

Huawei already offers cloud services in Hong Kong, Russia and Malaysia outside mainland China.

Huawei earlier this week unveiled two AI chips that it said are more powerful than existing chips in the market in an attempt to boost its cloud business.

REUTERS
INTERNATIONAL - In the 1960s and ’70s, few sedans oozed ultra-cool style as the Jaguar XJ does. Long and slender, with liquid lines yawning from the limpid headlamps back to an elegantly tapered tail, they seemed to slither down the road like something from a naughty dream.


Jerry Hall, Tom Petty, and Frank Sinatra owned them. So did the royal family.

Owning one now can also be a nightmare.

Complications from rust damage, overheating issues, and cracked cables can spell hours stranded on the side of the road instead of tooling to a picnic or swishing through London streets to a nighttime haunt. And if you try to go more modern by buying an XJ from the later generations of the 1980s and ’90s, you’ll find that they lag, underpowered, comparable vehicles from BMW and Mercedes.

But since it broke away from former owner Ford Motor Co. in 2008, Jaguar has been back in a major way. The brand, now owned by Tata Motors Ltd., has just produced an excellent all-electric SUV, the I-Pace and leads the field for value with the affordable, powerful, stylish, and fun-to-drive F-Type coupe and convertibles.

So it was from a position of confidence that the brand took a moment to reflect on its heritage—lovely and occasionally soft as it was—with the arrival of the latest iteration of the XJ.

This fall, it launched the $75,400 2019 Jaguar XJ sedan on the 50th anniversary of the car’s debut at the Paris Motor Show in 1968. Then it added context: Jag sprang all eight generations of the XJ line out of storage and put them on the road driving overnight from company headquarters in Coventry, England, to the Paris Motor Show.

This was especially daring because vintage Jaguar collectors and enthusiasts well know the ecstasy of loving such a stylish auto—in its day, the very top car for elegance and performance—and the agony of owning it 50 years later.

The potential for disappointment was high on the back roads as we drove from the Castle Bromwich Assembly Plant outside London through the Goodwood Motor Circuit, Saint-Malo Port, and Le Mans racetrack on the way to Paris. But Jaguar boldly set us off on that two-day quest, a group of writers and travelers, come what may. I respected the company’s confidence. (A complete squat team of eager British mechanics followed in an SUV should anything happen. It would have been worth popping a flat just to see them in action—almost.)

The 2018 XJ50 sedan at Les Hauts de Pardaillan in Epernon, France. Photographer: Hannah Elliott/Bloomberg
Our convoy included everything from a retro-cool 1978 XJ Coupe V12 and a long, four-door 1973 Daimler Double-Six Vanden Plas Limousine (Jaguar bought Daimler in 1960 and continued the line as an upscale trim level for Jaguar) to a 1988 Daimler 3.6 and the new $122,400 Jaguar XJR575 sedan, which is as aggressive as any jungle cat you’d find in the wild, with the mean engine scream to boot. I loved it. (That’s a different review).


My favorite ride of the vintage group was the Series I. When it debuted at the Paris Motor Show in 1968, it was the last creation gift of Jaguar founder William Lyons. It had a 180-horsepower engine, a well-balanced body with four-wheel independent suspension, a then-ultra-modern automatic transmission, and luxurious details inside such as polished burled walnut doors and golden-filigree enamel-filled logos, enough to give anyone driving one a sense of occasion, even if the trip was merely to fetch milk down the road. They were so good the brand sold more than 250,000 of them in their 18-year generation.


The one we drove had a thin, wide, black plastic steering wheel that feels as elegant as a Capri cigarette in a ladies’ hand. The seats, stitched as tight and soft as an old boxer’s leather punching bag, bounced happily as the car glided over speed bumps and cobbles. For me, a five-foot, 10-inch lanky type, the footwells were heaven—I could fully straighten my legs and still not feel the end of the car.


Driving down back roads in Bordeaux felt like living inside a Godard film, smooth and smart and cool as Serge Gainsborough himself. (Give yourself a few miles to re-adjust your expectations on the steering—vague—and the brakes—delayed—from modern calibrations to more classically inclined response times.)


These days, it’s just the type of inexpensive vintage car that was top of the line when it debuted and has aged into something worth the potential high cost of ownership. The Hagerty Price Guide lauds “the visceral charms of the motor,” which shine through in the sedan. In terms of collectability, it notes, early Series I cars are the best of the group to collect, since  they have purer looks and a more classic interior. 


Jaguar bought Daimler Co. in 1960 and continued to sell cars under the Daimler name, which it used to denote its higher-level vehicles. Photographer: Hannah Elliott/Bloomberg


“I think the reputation for being unreliable is a bit unfair,” Jonathan Klinger, the spokesman for Hagerty, tells me. “Yes, they do have some quirks, but nothing that can't be overcome. The reality is many of these cars were allowed to go into disrepair and deferred maintenance.”


In fact, he says, the early XJ Series I cars did indeed combine incredible refinement, luxury, and performance.


The only catch is finding a good one.


Keep in mind that this is a car to love, not a business opportunity. Given that even top examples sell for less than $50,000—Bring a Trailer’s record-setter cost only $21,000, and most sell for less than $10,000—recouping the cost of a full restoration is often impossible. (The average value of a 1969 XJ in good condition, for example, has hovered near $13,000 for years, according to Hagerty.) Buy one with low mileage and immaculate underpinnings (read: no rust). Even better if it has been owned by only one person over its lifetime, which means less chance that maintenance has been deferred.   


In the end, Jag needn’t have worried about roadside mishaps; every car in the starting group finished the drive with nary a flub. The only real issue was finding decent rest stops along the way; if there’s one thing the English believe, it’s that you can never have too much Earl Grey. 


Between this and Jaguar’s confidence in the nobility and value of British automotive heritage, it’s no wonder the brand set up the launch of its flagship model between its Coventry, England, headquarters and the location of XJ’s debut decades ago. The confidence to embrace both the old you and the new you can make anything sexy—even a large sedan.


BLOOMBERG 

JOHANNESBURG – The murky world of facilitation, referral or commission fees came back to spook South Africa this week after it emerged that most of the people who received large sums of money from the failed VBS Mutual Bank acted as middlemen.

While some have defended the practice as standard, others have raised concerns about how the facilitators contributed to the bank’s spectacular collapse this year.

The SA Reserve Bank (Sarb) forensic investigation into VBS Mutual Bank’s affairs unearthed the role played by middlemen in the bank’s collapse.

The report identified ANC Limpopo treasurer Danny Msiza as the brains behind a multimillion-rand commission scheme which paid out bribes to municipal officials who made payments to VBS Mutual Bank on behalf of municipalities. 

He reportedly collected about R4 million in cash for facilitating the deals.

EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu’s brother, Brian, was also singled out after he pocketed a windfall of R16m, for what the report claimed was a gratuitous payment.

Econometrix chief economist Azar Jammine said paying commission was conducive to massive corruption. 

“I have always found that practice to be very conducive to corruption, but that’s how the business world works. It’s not only in South Africa, but in many parts of the world,” Jammine said.

Concerns

Concerns around the practice increased after businessman Fana Hlongwane reportedly received more than R200m from British multinational BAE Systems for facilitating the arms deal. Swedish authorities also said Hlongwane, who was then defence minister Joe Modise’s adviser on the deal, reportedly collected a further R24m in 2003.

He was also reportedly paid R7m by British Aerospace project manager Bernard Collier in 2007 through a company called Ivema, itself 51% owned by Hlongwane through Ngwane Defence Holdings.

Former VBS chairman Tshifhiwa Matodzi’s company Vele allegedly scored R325m from the failed bank.

The Sarb report, conducted by advocate Terry Motau, identified Matodzi as the central figure in the VBS looting spree.

Nedbank chief economist Dennis Dykes said the VBS payments looked suspicious.

“If you look at the VBS issue, for example, it looks highly irregular, because you are paying officials to direct deposits to your institution. It certainly is irregular,” Dykes said.

The Competition Commission sanctioned SAA in 2005 for abusing its dominance by paying an override commission to travel agents in addition to the 7 percent that was charged by all airlines.

In the year ended March 2017, SAA paid R1.8 billion in what it described as commissions and network charges.

Gupta lieutenant Salim Essa reportedly pocketed a R10m facilitation fee by China South Rail for the sale of locomotives to Transnet, while German software group SAP reportedly paid a 10 percent “sales commission” to a company controlled by the Guptas to secure a Transnet contract. 

Dykes said commissions were certainly being paid in both the private and public sectors.

“All we know is that there is a lot of money being channelled around by suspicious characters.”

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