How to be a SMART Rwandan: 2012

Kezio-Musoke David takes us through a few business resolutions which could make a real change for the better in the New Year. Some could take years and a great deal of coordination to implement while others could be enacted with just the flick of a pen.

Acquire a smart phone and probably a tablet
In 2012 smart phones are definitely going to evolve into pocket-size, convergence centers that enable users take their business content with them.Smart communication, like receiving emails in real time is key to results oriented bosses.

Tigo Rwanda and MTN Rwanda are selling (among others) three of the world’s most celebrated smartphone brands. They include the BlackBerry, the i-Phone and probably the Samsung Galaxy tabs. Tigo is also selling the i-Pad, while MTN has seriously pushed the Galaxy. Until last year smart gadgets used to be for those who can afford and probably for public servants including cabinet ministers but not anymore. In Rwanda, purchasing of smart gadgets will no longer major on strong brands simply because top-tier manufacturers have now started launching low-cost models. This will ensure that the entire market is catered for in terms of affordability and also in regard to status, age, not forgetting occupation based need..

Move your business to a digital platform
Everyone has a Facebook account, everyone is twitting, even President Paul Kagame is doing so. Brands and businesses are making their presence felt on social networks. As the social media landscape becomes more crowded in 2012, businesses will pick their battles and dig in. What used to be simply Facebook and Twitter is now Google+, LinkedIn and who knows what’s next? The New Year is definitely one for photo and video-based social interaction to grow. Given that the camera on your smartphone is almost as good as your actual camera, the multimedia-driven social networks are here to stay and will be an emerging force for brands in 2012. Brands will embrace real time. And while they move to agile marketing and real-time thinking, gone will be the days when it took six months to develop and launch a campaign or five days to answer a disgruntled customer. Brands will master the art of opportunistic marketing and the art of real-time response.

Buy BK or Bralirwa shares
By Friday last week, BK and BRALIRWA shares closed at Rwf125 and Rwf325 respectively at the Rwanda Stock Exchange. At the end of formal trading hours, there were outstanding offers of 595,200 BK shares while on the BRALIRWA counter; there were offers of 24,400 shares.

Let’s start with why one should buy shares in these two entities. Last year, BRALIRWA announced volume growth of 26.3 percent driven by strong growth of the Primus and Mützig beer brands and higher soft drink sales. Revenue grew 26.5 percent, driven mainly by higher volumes. By the end of the year, BRALIRWA was already announcing the payment of an interim dividend of Rwf7.3 per share amounting to Rwf3.7 billion to shareholders.

BK is, without doubt, the biggest and most profitable bank in Rwanda with total financial assets of Rwf197 billion and profits of Rwf6.179 billion. Buying shares in the country’s biggest corporations gives an immediate source of profits. Shares are the quickest and easiest asset one can own without any intricacies. It is also a way of saving money for the future. And what better way to invest in some of the most profitable companies? Probably 2012 is when you might consider buying shares from either or both.

Register on a mobile money platform
After MTN’s Mobile Money, Tigo Rwanda launched Tigo Cash and soon after came two other instant revolutionaries. Bank de Kigali launched ‘Mobiserve’ and thereafter BanquePopularie (BPR) introduced Izi Cash, another way of transferring money in Rwanda in real time. This means mobile money is no longer an exclusive product for telecoms.

MobiServe and Izi Cash are proudly Rwandan products. One can send money using Izi Cash to a non BPR account holder and they will be able to withdraw transferred amount from BPR ATM machines anywhere in the country without an ATM card. The same goes with BK’s Mobiserve and its amazing! We all know the benefits of mobile money platforms, fast and convenient, but the question is: how much are these benefits worth? For the receiver, there is increasing security, certainty to reduce fraud and charge back risk. For the sender, all payment types are incorporated into a single device. But the main benefit is that with mobile money, one can transfer money seamlessly without expensive wire transfers or cheques. For a frequent banker, the average cost of a wire transfer is Rwf 9000.

Become your own boss in 2012
Ever wondered how many billionaires we have in Rwanda? Or maybe, who could be the richest person in the country? Whether we have billionaires or not, it’s embarrassing that the few rich in our society are less of entrepreneurs and hardly own any of their own businesses. They are simply employed. Rwanda’s private sector is still nascent and one can only imagine what would happen, if government decided to take a few days of holiday. Simply put, the economy would stumble. 2012 is probably the year when you might want to be an entrepreneur, start your own business and make a difference to Rwanda’s economic future. It’s disturbing to imagine that up to today, most of the chicken sold in supermarkets and consumed in hotels and restaurant is packed and imported from neighbouring countries. Why not set up a poultry farm that processes and packs chicken? Developing an enterprise which is as small as a piggery or poultry farm is not about signing cheques to gain points. It’s about having a holistic approach. And since it takes only hours to register a business with Rwanda Development Board, this could be your year.

Cut the costs
Whether you are running a business or not and you have not given too much thought to what the landscape will look like in 2012, I could save you the time. Let’s start with the global trend. There is the European debt crisis and huge deficit in the US. You might be thinking this has nothing to do with you. Yes, but it’s only the foolish who believe that what is impacting most of the world will not come back to haunt us. It is simply a result of an unavoidable domino effect. With all the knowledge we now have about the global economy, it’s not hard to predict further deterioration in 2012. Therefore, it is better to take action now. Cutting costs can be painful but it reaps immediate results and is under your direct control. An owner or manager needs to eliminate or trim all but the definitively necessary costs during the course of the year.

Open a US dollar account
The trends in the global economy definitely diluted the value of the exchange rate. Those who travel regularly and have business interests in overseas must have felt the pinch. However, if one makes regular transactions in US dollars, you may benefit from a US dollar bank account. You’ll also need an account in US dollars if you are paid in the currency.

The main reason you might want to open a U.S. dollar account is to stockpile the currency while at a favourable exchange rate. While it is a question of whether the dollar will stay at parity, 2012 will certainly be a good time for Rwandans to purchase the greenback, if they intend to use them .The benefits are clear as one can avoid the exchange rates at latter times. With this account in some banks, you can apply for a dollar deferred debit card to withdraw cash or make payments anywhere a VISA sign is displayed worldwide.

Consider cloud computing
If you are a big enterprise or government institution investing in technology or upgrading might be your priority for 2012. Businesses should look to the cloud. Allowing software programmes and databases to be accessed via a remote server, cloud computing does away with the need for cumbersome and expensive computer systems. It can be adopted by government. Rather than every ministry running a separate database, a terminal and an access code could link up tax collectors to the payroll department, saving time and money. In the private sector, a cloud would allow companies to concentrate in-house on what they are good at.

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