eKatalyxt - Business Strategy

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The importance of foreign language skills in a global economy seven facts every business owner should know Vision and Entrepreneurship


Overcoming Murphy


Business Continuity Planning: Time is Money


Interview with Julian Robinson

the importance of foreign language skills in a global economy by Nadine Boothe-Gooden


f international business relations are to prosper, it must be facilitated by effective communication and perhaps most importantly, cultural awareness and sensitivity. When you learn a new language, it is imperative to consider cultural differences. In today’s global economy it has become increasingly evident that there is an indispensable relationship between international business, language and cultural awareness. In fact, language differences can be a major impediment to establishing international business relations. Learning a foreign language creates irrefutable opportunities for social and professional advancement, as well as a forum for discovering new cultures. We live in an island where we import a large portion of the products we consume. For example, some of the places from which we import include Europe, Asia and Latin America. This leads us to ponder just how much of our local products and services do we export to these markets. My immediate response is, not enough. I am convinced that a major part of the reason that we engage in such minimal or non-existent export activities to these markets, is our inability to transcend the boundaries of communication. A practical example of cultural misunderstandings is one in which an importer manages to place an online order with a company in Asia, the supplier then promised that the product would be delivered before the New Year. Having settled the terms of payment, the importer transfers the deposit and the elated supplier responds in an email, ”We will send or ship as fast as possible, you will get it by the end of January”. The now infuriated buyer responds,


exclaiming that he thought the supplier had promised to “deliver before the beginning of January.” Here, it is obvious that the problem is not just a result of a language barrier. It is, as well, a cultural one. In the buyer’s country, the end of the year is December 31 however in the supplier’s country; the New Year is celebrated in February. Nowadays, companies with existing international branches or those planning to extend their markets, often require staff with foreign language competence. Whether you are planning to “communicate your way through to a successful career in international business” or giving yourself a competitive edge in your particular field of specialization, you might want to consider pursuing foreign language studies. Your choice of language should be influenced by the following factors.

“In today’s global economy it has become increasingly evident that there is an indispensable relationship between international business, language and cultural awareness.”

The Top Six (6) United Nations’ Languages are:

Arabic Chinese English French Russian Spanish

Bilingual Jobs: Translators Medical Interpreters Government Interpreters International Business Managers Sales Managers Language Teachers Law Enforcers Construction Managers Journalists

you may want to consider the countries in which your company has existing business connections or plans to expand. For example, if you work for a telecommunications company with branches in Latin America; it is an excellent idea to pursue Spanish courses. 5

Firstly the country in which you reside; for example, if you live in Jamaica, your first choice for foreign language studies might be Spanish or an Asian language, given the marked increase in investments and market presence of these groups. However, it is interesting to note that Brazil, where Portuguese is the first language, is a fast emerging market and is not to be overlooked. Secondly, you may want to consider the countries in which your company has existing business connections or plans to expand. For example, if you work for a telecommunications company with branches in Latin America; it is an excellent idea to pursue Spanish courses. This could make the difference between a promotion and stagnation or even being made redundant. Similarly, your career goals and your personal interests should be considered before you expend your resources to embark on any language program. Let us imagine that you wish to become an International Business Manager. An interesting and increasingly pertinent choice in foreign language study would be Mandarin coupled with a Germanic language. It is irrefutable that Asian languages are becoming more valuable as the influence of Asian countries continues to penetrate the globe. China is now labelled “world supplier,” and Japan continues to be a major player in automotive engineering, robotics and cutting-edge electronics. While many people working in international businesses speak English, we must admit that not everyone does. If it is that we are to support the existence of multiculturalism and bilingualism, we will need to make an effort to equip ourselves with the necessary tools to foster positive mutual exchange of ideas and best practices across cultures. The master key to “transcending the Boundaries of Communication”, is increased investment in language and cross-cultural education. Nadine Boothe-Gooden C.E.O.,THE LANGUAGE CRADLE International Business & Language Consulting

Seven Facts every Business Owner should know by Winsome Minott


Know the TAX laws governing your business. This includes laws governing: payroll tax, corporation tax, asset tax, tax on dividends and General Consumption Tax (GCT). A businessperson should accept that taxes are a normal part of doing business in most regions of the world. There are a few tax havens, but these countries are increasingly coming under tighter scrutiny and regulations.


If you need advice on how to establish a business you can get help from several government agencies; namely JAMPRO and Small Business Association of Jamaica. In addition, you can consult KATALYXT’s Attorneysat-Law, as well as your Accountant or a representative of an Audit Firm. Mint Management and Finance offers a wide range of services and specializes in establishing businesses and helps entrepreneurs to build a solid foundation.



CHOOSING HOW TO REGISTER YOUR BUSINESS. A business can be registered under the Business Name Act; The Companies Act; as a Co-operative; or be incorporated under a statute. One thing is certain, registration is a requirement. After registration, the business person must register with the National Insurance Service (NIS), as well as obtain a Tax Registration Number (TRN). Business persons should also obtain seal and stamp. Only then can you legitimately open a bank account in Jamaica. In Jamaica, business persons must register for General Consumption Tax (GCT). Businesses, once registered, should display their Certificate of Incorporation as well as their TRN, and GCT numbers at the place of business. Business owners whose total annual sales of goods and services are less than $3M for a twelve-month period will be registered as Registered Persons. The related business will be exempt, i.e. will not collect GCT but will pay GCT on purchases of taxable goods and services and not be eligible for credit. Businesses whose total annual sales of goods and services are $3M and over for a twelvemonth period are required to register as Registered Taxpayers, and will collect and remit GCT. Registered Taxpayers who supply taxable goods or services will pay GCT on their purchases and charge GCT on their sales. If the GCT charged is more than the GCT paid, the difference must be paid to the Collector of Taxes (TAJ); if it is less, the Registered Taxpayer may claim a credit/refund.



Plan the structure of the Business. What are the functional lines of authority needed? Who are the resource persons needed? Who will be responsible for marketing, production, monitoring client relationships, quality control, and administration? Sometimes businesses fail because of insufficient resource allocation. How can you determine the resources your business will need?

6 Know the persons you do business with. We are living in an age of Know Your Client (KYC). Entrepreneurs must be aware of customer needs in order to plan. Know your business partner(s), or business associate(s). Think twice before accepting Board appointments. These matters are very important. One cannot be too careful, but vigilance helps. One rule of thumb is that if you are too busy to go to Directors’ meetings, the best option is to resign. This cuts close to home for me. I served on a board of a Finance company several years ago. I was seated with several high powered individuals on the Board. However, I was over committed and I failed to attend several meetings and maybe missed clues that the business was in problems. After some time I resigned and not too soon. Three years later, the business failed. I found out when travelling and a Police officer stopped to question me about the failure of that company, in spite of my much earlier resignation. I was horrified and distraught by the incident.


Cash is not Profit. Plan for your target income. Break this down to either the number of products sold on a daily basis or the value of the service delivery. Know the breakeven point; know the contribution of every additional amount earned. Several businesses have cash but no profit. Many entrepreneurs fail because they spend the cash needed to grow the business on personal items. There are several cases that can be cited, Grab-A-Juice started a natural juice business, the product was in great demand. The business grew from a business with revenue of J$20 million in year one to over J$100 million in year two. The Directors decided to buy personal assets extracting monies they thought represented profits. However, by month 27 they could not pay creditors, and had to reduce production. Eventually staff layoffs followed and within 36 months were out of business. Lessons learned: cash is not profit. Keep proper records.


Common sense is a good reference. Many Corporate Governance best practices have evolved out of common sense. If it feels wrong, it is wrong. If the average man in the street would frown on it, it is likely to be problematic. Plan your long-term, medium-term and short-term growth strategies and always pay your bills on time. Integrity is your greatest asset.

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ver the past few months I have had the absolute privilege to work in Uganda with female entrepreneurs. I was assigned to Victoria Seeds Limited, a company which has grown from humble beginnings into Uganda’s leading seed house, marketing copious seed varieties and forage crops in the domestic and regional markets. My role there was as a Gender and Entrepreneurship Specialist with a mandate to train farmers, mainly women, on gender equality and entrepreneurship, in addition to assisting with the transition of the company from a local to an international base. The company was founded in 2004 and is spearheaded by a woman, Josephine Okot. Through a clear and distinctive vision, passion and dedication, she overcame seemingly insurmountable challenges and obstacles facing women in business such as, gender inequality and discrimination, to head one of the fastest growing Agricultural inputs in the country. Sitting and talking with her, one will no doubt see the power of having a clear vision and an unquenchable passion. Coming from Gulu, a city in Northern Uganda ravaged by a civil war for over twenty years, she decided that there must be a better life for herself and her family. That was the genesis for her vision, and with that, she moved on to find a way to start a business to provide food security for the area. The vision was clear she says, “my business will allow me to provide quality seeds to all the women farmers in the area, it will allow them to provide food to both themselves and customers who want to buy their produce, it will have branches all over the country and will not have to depend on hand outs for survival”. Okot explains, “I didn’t think about the so-called negatives of not having a formal university education. That was an industry that I knew nothing about. I had my vision and I was going after it! Without passion, and a clear vision about how I wanted this business to work, I probably would have given up and be back in the village”. In 2011, Victoria Seeds Ltd. won the “Africa SMME Industrial Sector Award” from the Africa Growth Institute. Josephine Okot was awarded the “YARA PRIZE 2007 for a Green Revolution in Africa,” in honour of her pioneering work with the agri-input sector and being an outstanding example of


African entrepreneurs willing to take risks, take the lead and break new ground within African agriculture. As of 2013, Victoria Seeds Limited boasts three branches throughout Uganda, providing over 900 female farmers with training along with quality products. As an entrepreneur, having a vision is critical; you see, a vision is not just a dream, your vision must pull you forward, your vision must pull you in the direction of making it happen, your vision is the driving force, it gives you the fuel when things seem to be going crazy and going against the tide. Be clear, get a vision and get it quick!

Akosua Edwards is the founder of the Enabling Enterprise Project. The Project aims to assist women and young adults to start and grow businesses .The project has also recently launched NiNa – youth entrepreneurship programme in Trinidad and Tobago. She is presently working in Uganda.

Overcoming Murphy


usiness persons, from time to time, will need to host events to bring awareness to a product or service, to thank sponsors, or to just have a lime. Don’t be left without your checklist of do’s and don’t’s.

5 things to consider when organizing an event by Stefanie Thomas

The devil is in the details when planning any event, and there are just those days when Murphy’s Law sets in and in-spite of careful planning, things tend to keep going wrong. It is a phenomenon that has a life of its own and any event planner knows that there have to be strategies in place to alleviate the potential disasters. After you’ve chosen your excellent speakers, made your guest list, organized your venue, here are 5 things to consider:

one What do you do when the unexpected happens – light goes, sound system starts giving problems, someone on your team calls in sick? On any given occasion there are numerous things that can go wrong. Some of the most common problems that pop up in the Jamaican context certainly have to do with electricity, Water lock offs or losing internet service when you need them most. Always have a “float,” that is, a person who checks the details and ensures that things are going according to plan. This person ideally is someone who is a problem solver and has experience planning events. Always have a plan for rain if your function is outdoors; always have candles/generator close by.


two Your ideal number of guests is 30, how long should your guest list actually be? The question of inviting more persons than you expect can be a tricky one and it depends on how invested your guests are in the mission and goals of the event. For events that are high priority, care must be taken to cater for the full complement of persons invited. However, if it is an event promoting a new product or service or speaker, who guests are not familiar with or understand their connection, to attain your magic number of guests you’ll have to invite more people than you really plan to have at the event.

three Be careful not to leave out any key stakeholders or it may come back to haunt you! Oh! Those invitations that didn’t get mailed, or those emails that bounced back that didn’t get followed up on. It happens to us all. However, for some events follow through with a call to verify that all your key stakeholders are well informed. Even if you have inside knowledge that one of your stakeholders will not be able to participate, it is still courteous to send an invitation especially if it is an event that may recur.


Roles and responsibilities of team members. Too often it is assumed that everyone understands their purpose at an event by simply being on the planning committee. Especially if it’s the first time you’re working with a particular team, or have new members on the team, it is critical to spell out each team members roles and responsibilities. They may resent this at first, but clarity is always a better option than having your greeter helping the waiter to put out extra chairs when your guests are arriving.



Stay calm during the event.

I have been to too many events where the host is so caught up in the details to effectively be the best host. There are cases where the host of an event becomes unraveled when things do not go according to the original plan. THIS DOES NOT HELP. It only serves to make people lose confidence in the purpose of the gathering. Even if things go wrong keep the underlying motivation for the event as the focus and work through whatever situations arise so that in the end, the message is communicated. As with any good plan, an exit strategy should be in place. Do not be afraid to postpone/cancel the event if the circumstances thwart the actualization of your goals significantly. Assess all the variables and seek a second opinion, especially if other stakeholders are heavily invested. What is certain about the process of event planning, is that it is sure to be exciting, nail-biting and if all goes well, extremely satisfying.


Business Continuity Planning

Time Is Money - Be Prepared or Else! Part 2 by Bruce Scott


he last article ended, with the question of what is the cost of developing and implementing a business continuity program. This article will seek to address this question.

Do a cost-benefit analysis The amount of money that should be spent on a continuity program should be treated like any other investment decision that a company makes. Generally, companies do this kind of analysis before regular investment decisions are made. In business continuity language, the cost-benefit analysis is equivalent to the business impact analysis. One of the key deliverables of the business impact analysis is that it shows the estimated financial (e.g. lost sales, penalties) and non-financial (e.g. customer inconvenience, customer dissatisfaction) damage that would be suffered as a result of a major disaster. The cost or cash outflow of implementing the business continuity strategy represents the investment and the savings that would accrue from using the plan to continue in business despite a significant disruption represents the “cash inflow”. These “savings” or “cash inflow” include the protection of the company’s reputation, money saved from not compensating clients for delivery delays and additional sales made that would otherwise have been lost if there was no continuity plan, inter alia.


It should always be remembered that a business continuity plan does not have to be in place for a company to survive a disaster although the statistics show that 93% of these companies go out of business within 5 years – this is because of the severity of the after effects caused by the disaster. Many companies survived 9/11 even though they had no disaster plan. The main message however, is that a plan will facilitate a faster recovery and hence will save your company money – the cost of implementing the plan is therefore a worthwhile investment! So how much should I spend on business continuity planning? The amount that should be spent on your business continuity plan should be enough to provide the minimum resources required to keep your business going after a disaster, until the business is in a position to return to pre-disaster levels. This amount that is spent, however, should be less than the financial and non financial impact that would result if a disaster were to occur. This article was written by Bruce L Scott CBCP, Partner, Risk & Internal Audit Services at PwC Jamaica. He can be reached at bruce.scott@jm.pwc.com.

Interview with Julian Robinson by Stefanie Thomas

The eKatalyxt team sat down with the Hon. Julian Robinson in his state office to discuss personal life affinities, as well as to speak on the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector, and ways toward further development and growth. Julian Robinson is Minister of State in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining and also serves as a Member of the Jamaican parliament.

eKatalyxt: What are three (3) policies that are now in place that have the most potential if utilized to increase the contribution of information and communications technologies to Jamaica’s growth?

out in a couple weeks. The auctioning of the licenses will bring new players into the market and hopefully will make the data race most competitive primarily for users who are young persons in high school or university.

Minister Robinson: The Universal Service fund has as its mandate to provide universal access to computers and to internet for all Jamaicans across the country. Through the universal service fund we have funded an e-learning project which has provided computer labs and content to over 200 high schools.

eKatalyxt: How important is developing a market conducive to the growth of a venture capital system to the growth of ICT?

Community Access Project has built over 120 computer labs, in community centres, church halls and other community based organizations. Competitive Licences We have also funded a project to establish an island-wide broadband network. This network has been built across both northern and southern segments of the country. That policy deals with access, which is important in the game. Secondly, we have done a number of things to enhance competition within the ICT sector. We have seen where competition has driven down prices and has enhanced the number of service offerings. For example, we are auctioning 2 licences for our 700 megahertz frequency, which should come


Minister Robinson: There are two main issues that have hindered the growth of the ICT sector from an entrepreneurial perspective. One is the absence of funding. Traditional funding mechanisms in Jamaica are primarily financed through our commercial banks, and persons who don’t have collateral simply can’t access the funding. The second relates to an absence of business support and mentoring to guide persons who may have good ideas and who want to translate those good ideas into businesses. So, I think having a venture capital system necessitates creating an ecosystem first as a framework. Without the framework you can’t attract the persons who will have the capital and who want to put the capital into businesses, so it is critical to establish the framework, which would then act as a basis to bring in private capital into the industry. It’s absolutely vital if we’re going to develop our ICT sector and other forms of entrepreneurship.

“So, I think having a venture capital system necessitates creating an ecosystem first as a framework. Without the framework you can’t attract the persons who will have the capital and who want to put the capital intobusinesses into businesses...”

eKatalyxt: Most analysts would agree that Jamaica is not completely Information Technology ready. The Global Information Technology (2012) reports that Jamaica ranked 74th of 138 countries regarding global technology readiness. This is compounded by the fact, that the 2011 census notes that only 30% of Jamaican households have computers and only 19% have internet access. Can the government solve this? Or does the solution lie with the private sector? Minister Robinson: One of the challenges we have is that I don’t think any of the available reports or data accurately reflect the reality on the ground. Even if there is 30% computer penetration in the home, the fact is that a lot of people access the internet through their smart devices and they access it at work and other places apart from home. There are some statistics from the internet world stats, which indicate that 1.5 million Jamaicans actually have access to the internet, which represents a 55% penetration, which is the most representative data I have seen. The official data understates what really happens on the ground. But the reality is, we recognize there is a lot more to do in ensuring that Jamaica has access and ensuring we have competition to drive down prices to a point where it is attractive for persons to go online. eKatalyxt: You’re on Twitter. What have been some of the practical benefits of your use of social media? Minister Robinson: I use social media heavily. For someone involved in representational politics, the main challenge that constituents have is communicating and having access to their representatives. And, I use it a lot to communicate about the things I am doing in my constituency. To inform persons of activities, for example, just literally 5 minutes ago, I posted information about a health fair, which is next week. They gave me 10 flyers, and, obviously for 10 flyers, even if I photocopy it 100 times


it still won’t be sufficient, so I posted it on both Facebook and Twitter, which would reach an audience much wider than I could walking around distributing flyers. I find that a lot of my constituents contact me via this media (social media), they will send me information on Facebook, Twitter, or via a text message. eKatalyxt: What have been your most difficult decisions to date as ICT Minister? What factors did you use to make your final decision? Minister Robinson: There is an ongoing project, where we had to make a decision on how to proceed. We didn’t have 100% of the data at the time and I think it was a case where we would have waited an inordinately long time to collect 100% of the data to make a decision to act. But we made a decision to move ahead based on the data that we had and the sample of the data we felt represented the majority of what the situation was. I would say what informed it was that we live in a world where we won’t have the perfect scenario, of always having full information

at our finger tips to make decisions. But we used available data and other knowledge to inform the decision to go ahead.

“There are some statistics from the internet world stats, which indicate that 1.5 million Jamaicans actually have access to the internet, which represents a 55% penetration, which is the most representative data I have seen.

“Trust is important; honesty, communication and responsiveness are important. Those are general traits that should exist whether they are personal or business type relationships.”

eKatalyxt: What do you value most in professional partnerships? Minister Robinson: Trust is important; honesty, communication and responsiveness are important. Those are general traits that should exist whether they are personal or business type relationships. Those are the things that are important in any type of relationship – personal, political, professional, etc. eKatalyxt: Is there an achievement that you are particularly proud of? Minister Robinson: The extent to which the work of the universal service fund has provided access to technology and computers across the country- it is not well known and we should do more to promote it. We have over 120 community access points. eKatalyxt: In light of the tough economic circumstances currently facing Jamaica, do you see a solution for development? Minister Robinson: I wouldn’t be doing this, if I felt we couldn’t get out


of these challenges. And the ICT industry provides an opportunity for us to achieve economic growth and development. Let’s take the Apps world; there is always an App for something. The Apps market in the US is conservatively estimated to be US$20 billion and employs over half a million persons in the US at the moment. A Jamaican once he or she has access to the computer and the internet can develop an app. An app which you can get on the iphone network, you have access to millions or billions who might want to purchase an app. eKatalyxt: Do we think competitively in ICT? Are we really competitive with other countries? Minister Robinson: We are. We certainly won’t have the same penetration rates as most developed countries in the world, but we are taking steps to provide access so that we have those penetration rates. Secondly, what we always have a competitive advantage in, is the creativity and talent that we have in Jamaica, which is expressed in our music, culture and sport. It is the same creativity that can be leveraged in business if the correct infrastructure is

provided. By the infrastructure I mean, first ensuring that persons have access to the technology and secondly, ensuring that there is business mentorship support to turn what amounts to be good ideas to successful businesses. eKatalyxt: What are three (3) facts people don’t know about you? Minister Robinson: I wake up at 4 o’clock every morning. I exercise a lot, I do yoga. I start my day with devotion. I watch movies; I like drama, action, suspense. I used to play cricket and football at high school for Campion College. I played club cricket. And, I follow sports; I am an avid sports fan, particularly cricket and track and field. eKatalyxt: Do you have a favourite movie? Minister Robinson: No, I just like movies. ‘The Call’ was the last movie I watched. And, I try to read more when I have spare time.

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