Feeds:
Posts
Comments

It has been an extremely busy past 2 months for me. I resigned from my lovely Treasury Analyst position in the US of A, packed up, eeehh, tried to pack up the past 5 and ½ years in a few packages and got ready to relocate, ran around with my sister to get ready for her wedding day, attended a WONDERFUL, the most awesome wedding I have attended in my life and watched my sister get married to a wonderful man then got on a flight and began my 30 hour journey to Kenya. I slept a lot on the way and I made a note to myself to make sure I get richer real soon to avoid flying coach on such long journeys 😀

I will blog about some specifics of all these events later – soon – hopefully. For now I want to talk about my woes trying to use my MasterCard Debit Card in Kenya.

Last time I was in Kenya, I did not have to use my card extensively because for one I was there for only 3 weeks and secondly I had carried some USD with me that I exchanged on arrival. The one time I used my card in Kenya, it worked like a charm ( In Nakumatt) – so I assumed I was going to have the same smooth sailing experience this time around.

I had only about USD 200 on me when I arrived in Kenya, that I exchanged for Ksh and with what I am working on right now ( I will also blog about that soon hopefully), that really didn’t last me for long. So I run out of Ksh and I go to a Bank and try to get some money from an ATM using my MasterCard Debit Card. ( My Visa Credit Card – ( I only have one credit card since I refused to get sucked into the fiscal irresponsibility that we tempt ourselves into by having cards we do not need). So my Visa Credit Card is paid off every month and since I am going to be around for a while – I am not intending to put any balances on it – that is how I planned it period!) – Well long story short, after a trip to Barclays, Stanchart, KCB, NBK etc, I was still Ksh-Less! At one of the aforementioned banks they simply told me “we cannot allow you to use our ATMs” – How rude! And, they didnt even give me the option of getting Ksh via Cash Advancing my Card!

One very nice and helpful young man at NBK and a college buddy of mine via Face book directed me to Southern Credit Bank (they deal with MasterCard) and well – I am thankful to them…. 🙂

It made me really consider being a MasterCard Rep to Kenya – Why aren’t our Banks multifaceted and deal with multiple card companies? Seriously – there is nothing special about Visa – or maybe Visa has just done a good job of branding their image in Kenya. Plus now I will have to get used to carrying around wands of cash! I know that we are yet to get to being a cash-less society – but this little experience made me realize just what vast avenues we have yet to address in our financial markets! Such exasperation, such little annoyances that really could be deterring vast potentials out there!

Other issues irritating me are PEOPLE NOT KEEPING TIME! . Anyone that knows me, knows I am always on time! At work in the US of A, I am the one that would get to meeting rooms and call people still at their desks running late for a meeting!

Last week I had a breakfast meeting scheduled with a person helping me out with some of the things I am working on. The meeting was supposed to be at 8am because I had other things to attend to as well on that day. You can imagine my HORROR when he calls me at 915am telling me he is on his way – and finally showed up at 1030am! Gosh! SO, I had to get on the phone and begin canceling most of my other engagements for that day!!

SO right now, I have a bout of Malaria going on – I have been feeling crappy since Sunday – so I might not be very lucid and a little grouchy typing this…Hehehe! But I guess that’s why they call it acclimatization!!! I intend to get well real soon because I have a lot of things to get done!

That’s all for today – Happy goings!

Reflections…

I have been having an amazing time just being, reflecting on things, planning for and just bonding with my inner self – A very, ummmhhh, awakening experience I have been having.

I was happy ( very relative term), when the financials for Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Citi and BofAmerica were released last week – Net Income in the Billions, makes me know that I am not in this profession in vain 🙂 – that there is hope for the global meltdown after-all.

I have also received some very good news – news that will be affecting my next few years and I am so looking forward to ” getting at it ” – Bits and pieces and LOTS of work I will be doing here shortly, but it is both a feat and a challenge that I am going to be embracing, giving it all my all, excelling at – so help me God 🙂 !!!

I have been feeling very “grown up” the past few weeks and I guess its because I have been eating well, getting enough sleep, having plenty of me-time, staying away from negativity ( from negative blogs, news, TV etc), and just taking some time to enjoy being me – My short term “solitude” is really paying off!

I have also been really thanking God for where I am in my life, where I am going, my family and for generally being able to keep my head above water in this crazy world 😉 .

Here is one of my favorite pieces of poetry. It is by Rudyard Kipling, an English Author and Poet.

Happy goings all and remember to always strive for the more excellent way. I went to a high school where our principal did an awesome job of scaring us away from failure. My Mom also did a wonderful job of threatening myself, my brother and 2 sisters away from mediocrity – so the way I see it – well, you all see it! 🙂

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream — and not make dreams your master;
If you can think — and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings — nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run —
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And — which is more — you’ll be a Man, my son!
________________________
Rudyard Kipling (1865- 1936)

I read in the Daily Nation that the Central Bank of Kenya intends to bring into effect an automated check clearing system with the maximum value of checks being capped at Kshs 1 Million as from October 1st 2009.


This will effectively reduce the number of days it takes for a check to clear from four to one – I like! When I worked in Banking in Kenya a while back, and on those days when I had to cover for someone in the Clearing Department, one of the most common occurrences was people constantly stopping by to check if their checks had cleared ( e-banking, mobile banking etc had not quite hit yet and to think that was just a few years ago!) This will definitely lead to efficiencies and also curtail check kiting to a large extent.

__
Many people were Skeptical when the Check Clearing for the 21st Century Act (Commonly referred to as Check 21) was signed into law in the US 2003 and ultimately became effective end of 2004.

Around this time I was working in banking in the US and yes, we underwent all kinds of training, trouble shooting, etc to address the upcoming switch.

__

Check 21 basically enhances the efficiency of the check clearing process in the US banking system. The law facilitates check truncation by the creation of substitute checks and process check information electronically. Substitute checks can still be sent to parties that want to receive paper copies and they are deemed legally the same as the original checks. This is only applicable to US based checks – foreign checks still have to go through the foreign collections process through intermediary banks.

What this basically means is the time that it takes for checks to clear is significantly reduced. In the US, under Regulation CC – Availability of Funds and Collection of Checks , banks have the right to place checks presented under “holds” up to 11 days until the funds clear, as long as the 1st $100 is made available next day ( I am paraphrasing this Reg coz I don’t want to go Fed Reserve Legal Jargon!

__
What this has translated to is this: Using Checks these days is becoming more like using your Debit Card for a vast majority of merchants. For example – at Wal-Mart, Kroger etc, people will present checks, cashiers will run the check through scanners that will record the check info via the MICR ( Magnetic Ink Character Recognition), hand the paper check back to the customer, have them sign an authorization slip and you get home, check your balance on-line and the check has been processed!

Effective and efficient – give or take! But, in my opinion the good outweighs the “bad”. Plus I know that most senior citizens with grandfathered accounts still need their paper checks sent to them – cant blame them – its what they were used to for as long as they had banking going on.
__

In my opinion, Check 21 is a success and I hope the Central Bank of Kenya’s automated check clearing system will be a resounding success!

So today, we are on an Excessive Heat Advisory till kesho jioni and for the next few days *sigh* It is HOT!….I know it is pretty hot out there because today when I was leaving my house at 715am the temperatures were 82 degrees. Driving back from lunch, temperatures were 102 degrees! BUT, as usual, I am wearing hose –it is summer so it is the sheer kind.

A little information about me and hose, or is it hose and me?

__

If there was an award or a club for Panty Hose wearers – I would be a triple Platinum awardee. I just am so into panty hose – I am not talking about shapers or those other “suck it all in” kind of hose – just your regular wear to work kind of hose.

I have all kinds of hose – but my “usual” hose is a Hanes, Control Top, Sandal Foot, Gentle Brown – won’t give the size here lest creative minds begin to visualize my assets. I am petite so jijazie. It took me forever to experiment with shades and the Gentle Brown is PERFECT – you can usually not tell I am wearing hose…..I have been wearing some kind of hose for as long as I have NOT been wearing a Kamisi (which I believe is something like Form 1 second term or on those occasions when my Grandma gives me eyes to suggest there is attire I am missing) – does anyone still wear a Kamisi?

__
Aside:

When we were reporting to Form 1 at our beloved high school – we were sent a list of appropriate things to buy – one of the items was Kamisi – so most of our mothers fully complied and armed us with those. Most of my friends ditched those after a quick term in favor of “bikers”. Plus my school was “liberal” in that we were allowed to carry “home clothes”. I think the rules stated “3 simple dresses”, but coming back in second term, most of us had suitcases full of all kinds of attire.

__

Other kinds of Hose you will find in my drawers are – Jet Black (which I will wear with my dark colored pant-suits), Hanes – the very sheer (which is what I mostly wear in the summer with skirts), and Toeless (for the peep toe heels) etc…

A typical hose shopping replenishment trip will take me about 5 minutes – I know where to get it and what I want…Easy!

__
People have asked me if I am not uncomfortable in hose even in the summer – to which end I hold: NEVER, plus I wear good quality sheer hose that only accentuates my body instead of it being a “drag”. There are those drab, heavy kinds – but I have never developed a fancy for those.
__

When I began my first “official” job after college, I worked in a bank and I did the whole “ I don’t wear skirts” kinda thing seeing as my college years were spent in an assorted collection of jeans – then I discovered, there is nothing that can rival a well tailored, well outfitted skirt suit. Complete with a good pair of heels and accessories ( my usual diamond right hand ring and earrings ( I am not that into necklaces unless they are simple or bold depending on the look I want – most days I am usually without neck jewelry) – priceless look!. And I actually look really nice in skirt suits.

__
I have all kinds of colors of skirt suits – from the conservative black, navy blue, brown and grey to the bold purple, royal blue, red etc. I toyed around with the idea of buying a pink suit (because I saw some awesome pink heels on sale – yes I have my priorities right) – but I have never really been a pink kind of girl – so I bought the shoes and wear them with other things….
And with my wearing of short skirt suits – comes the wearing of hose – I just like that look…..

__
Now, jana I had hose issues….I was wearing peep toe heels so I had sheer toeless hose. As I was parking at work after lunch – I realized I had a run – on the front – and I was in a black on-the-knee length skirt – so the hose had to go. So I took off the hose in my car all the time praying my window tint is dark enough to “shelter” me lest passing by colleagues think they work with a “weirdo” hehehe! Oh – and I have never had such an uncomfortable afternoon being hose-less *sigh* 😦

Then I also started thinking – maybe I should have not put off shaving my legs jana evening – I am usually ok going by for 2 weeks – but that quickly changes when you are in a short skirt and bila hose….So anyway – I made it through the afternoon but it made me wonder just how accustomed one can be to things so small.

__

I worked at a Bank here and when I worked at the Branch – hose wearing was mandatory – no biggie for me, but apparently a big bother to 95% of the women. One teller was once sent to the nearest store – Walgreens – to purchase and wear hose before returning to work.

In Nairobi – at the Bank where I worked, wearing hose was not mandated but 95% of the women regularly shopped for and wore hose. We even had one of those mamas that goes to Turkey or Dubai and owned several exhibitions make deliveries of hose (good quality hose) at the bank – how convenient!

__
The hosiery debate is a huge one and each has their side – my side is stated with enough finality – how do you not wear hose! But at the end of the day – to each woman her own. It’s what works for you – and you should be able to feel comfortable with what you are wearing.

__
But here is a link to an interesting article on hose wearing – I don’t condone some of the pros associated with hose wearing like not taking care of the feet coz they are “hidden” by hose. Hose in my opinion, needs to be enhancing your look, not hiding un- kept toe nails, non- moisturized skin and generally un-attended to feet! I have regular pedicures – self or done at a nail salon and you will NOT catch me with unsightly feet, unpolished toes etc just coz no-one can see them.

__
Being confident as a person is about tending to those “hidden” things that no-one can see – be it clothes, issues, thoughts, habits etc
Try have a cool summer everyone – hydrate and take care of those things no-one can see. 🙂

__
The Hosiery Dilemma

My Kenya

Today – I said a prayer for Kenya, I thought about the country that gave me my Me-Ness! God Bless Kenya 🙂 !

I have a personal philosophy; I believe that you cannot change a society by mere giving – I believe that you change a society by enabling its members to be participants in economic development. I believe that you can only effect sustainable development by building capacities in men and women in ways that will ensure they are able to earn their own livelihoods. This is my cornerstone for my passion for entrepreneurial activities, entrepreneurship research and specifically female entrepreneurship.

__

Many years ago, fresh from high school, equipped with a diploma in computer studies, I had an opportunity to work for an entrepreneurship development center in Kenya as I got ready to go to college. The center basically did project proposal appraisal, but mostly geared its efforts towards issues facing women entrepreneurs in one rural part of Kenya. I was immediately drawn into that vision and that sparked my interest for business, entrepreneurship etc.
__

For undergrad, our Business class was required to write a thesis/paper either based on our industrial attachment experience or on a business area of interest to you. I didn’t really gain much from my internship experience so I wrote a 120 page paper on Integration of Women in Entrepreneurship and did a case study of one specific Metropolis in Kenya. I knew that this was just the beginning of things to come – and I was right.

When I was working on my MBA a few years ago – my focus on what it is that I wanted to do say 20 years from today was even further accentuated….Not that I am going to write it here….Lol:-)

All, all and all need to know are that I have an immense zeal for female entrepreneurship activities in Kenya – name it – R&D, training, understanding role conflict, motivation for business, issues in running businesses, success factors, micro financing, public private partnerships etc and all those other things that will ensure that women are well placed to be able to engage in entrepreneurial activities.
__

A while back I read Prof Muhammad Yunus’s, Banker to the Poor and was totally floored. Honestly, I had heard only briefly about the then, Dr Yunus and his Grameen Foundation and the work they were doing among women entrepreneurs in Bangladesh. After reading the book, then listening to a series of interviews he did after that, I totally understood why he had won the Nobel Peace Prize.
__

One of my favorite books is End of Poverty, Economic Possibilities for our time by Jeffrey Sachs – Prof Sachs simply says that we CAN alleviate poverty, and do it in our time, not our great great grand children’s times – paraphrasing the book would be an insult – its one of those you have to read to draw your own paraphrases. He stresses the need to work towards attaining the MDG’s – Millennium Development Goals, among them Eradicating extreme hunger and poverty – no man, woman or child should die because they are hungry or because of Malaria 😦
__

I have a hypothesis – hear me out:

Attaining the MDG’s first has to begin with an empowered society. I believe that sustainable development requires a fully participative population – that you have men and women that are WILLING and ABLE to earn their livelihoods in some way.

Aside:
You know when people talk about earning a livelihood – most people have images of people waking up, dressing up in suits and going to a job or driving an expensive car or sending their kids to the best schools in the country. Well, fortunately, that is not the case being referenced to as far as the MDG’s are concerned.

What we need is that people will be able to feed their families, allow children to have some kind of education ( so that they don’t vote for some way ward politician because he has offered them a pack of Unga etc), have access to health care and be treated equally in the things that be…

So back to my hypothesis, it is about time, specifically in Africa that people were able to have a “decent” livelihood going on – something that will only be possible if the WILLING are ALLOWED to earn their livelihoods. By “allowing” I mean, access to resources and an environment that fosters “participation” – just to be short, since this we can discuss for elongated periods of time 🙂
__

Dr. Dambisa Moyo, a Zambian Economist, has been fueling some global discussions about Foreign Aid to Africa. A friend recently recommended her book, Dead Aid: Why Aid is not working and how there is another way for Africa to me. I got the book, but I have yet to read it – Yaani I have SO much going on, BUT, I shall be reading the book from next weekend – that has been placed on my calender 🙂 – So I am not going to comment on the contents of the book yet.

I have however, listened to a couple of excerpts from Interviews she has done and read the NUMEROUS reviews about her all over the net.

Aside:

Special note is being made to her being an African Woman FIRST – then being a PhD in Economics among other academic credentials and professional qualifications.
Well – I am glad the world is finally coming to terms with what we have LONG known – that we African women can do whatever we set our minds to do 🙂 – and do it excellently – and we CAN do all that in Stilettos if we choose to 🙂 :-)!

Dr Moyo, basically says – there are other ways that Africa can get on the path towards sustainable development and keep going forward. She advocates such avenues as incentivising poor countries to access finance on international markets, supported by the tripod of micro finance, trade/FDI and remittances – Instead of GIVING, LOAN! I like!

I am not going to say that I buy into her arguments hook, line and sinker; but I do like the central idea which is – don’t just give aid, give aid to the right persons e.g to the entrepreneurs that need capital for raw materials instead of giving it to Governments without PRECISE stipulations on where the Aid money should be used. How many governments in Africa are misusing Aid Funds? Too Many! Mere giving is not going to change Africa if people are not presented with some kind of responsibility.
__

I like that idea and like Prof Yunus and Prof Sachs, I know the day is coming when we will see an African Continent that is empowered. I also know that Female Entrepreneurship is well on its way to “officially” becoming the IT, that will transform the lives of so many families in Africa!

__
I am intending to make my own contribution to this – as I best know how to 🙂

__

Edit:

A friend of mine ( thank you! ), this morning pointed it out that Prof Sachs and Dr Moyo recently had a fall-out as concerns the Foreign Aid Model and Africa. Prof Sachs ( once Dr Moyo’s professor at Harvard), seems to believe that the Model she is proposing i.e not depending on foreign aid for sustainable development is more suited for emerging economies and not the developing nations per se. And we wonder why Africa is still lagging behind in economic development! *sigh*

__

I would like to say that my personal opinion is one where Africa will NOT have to depend of Foreign Aid – each Nation will have to curve out its only model to wean itself off Aid, but I believe we need to get away from the just receiving attitude we seem so complacent with and know we CAN use other available investment avenues to get onto sustainable development keep going from there :-). I like what Dr Moyo says, she says Foreign Aid should be short, targeted and finite – not indefinite as we currently have it!

__

In Sub-Saharan Africa, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, has been a strong proponent for African Nations to begin weaning themselves off Foreign Aid by building up Savvy business Ventures and developing and embracing smart economic policy – I like that!

Rwanda may be depending on Aid right now, as does the rest of Africa, but at least we have a President that is thinking progressively and long term in terms of sustainable development for his country. They may not get there today – but it is a commitment they have emarbarked on – Slowly but surely! I can bet in the near future – Rwanda will be so worth watching economically speaking – if it isnt already! I dont care what political views Kagame holds, all I can see is that he is thinking smart policy for his country.

I wish we had more such progressive leaders in Africa!

So the Fed Reserve reports that the economy is “slowly” getting better. NFP (Non- Farm Payroll) numbers being released are evidencing better than expected results – that, even considering downward prior month (s) revisions and an increase in government jobs (though temporary because this relates to the upcoming US census)

_____

That is good news, that we have signs of “improving” economic conditions especially considering the bearish sentiments many of us have held for a while and still hold on to.
Now all we need to do is ensure the cyclical factors that promote sustainable economic progression i.e. employment numbers, manufacturing, retailing etc, keep getting better right? – I would say that is just part of the equation. Let me explain:

_______

Today, driving back to work from lunch (it’s a beautiful day to waste inside eating lunch at the cafeteria downstairs or at my desk. There is nothing quite as good as driving with windows rolled slightly down, moon roof open listening to some IL Divo). Nway, I was driving back and took a little detour to enjoy the fine weather for a little longer and there was a wreck on one of the streets and cops has sealed off part of it – meaning all cars were being re-rerouted into some residences and eventually back into the streets after a series of turns.

The neighborhood was HORRIBLE! But the cars parked on the sidewalks and a tiny parking lot in the midst were EXPENSIVE cars. And, there were Auction Signs by a couple of the houses – that is not even an oxymoron – it is total madness and doesn’t begin to make economic sense! As I finally wound back on the main street – I kept thinking about how badly the banks were blamed in the Sub-Prime Mortgages drama that has changed global financial markets forever!

_______

Don’t get me wrong – I know now like so many others that there was some “creative finance” going on as concerns lending and hedge fund management, market and financial disclosure, mark to market analysis, regulations, leveraging of firms as concerns equity and the overall financial health of the previously financial giants.

BUT – I also have to go back to the issue that ultimately; things have to begin with personal financial responsibility. I think so many of us are trying to keep up with whatever (coz it really is a lot of things), and then blame everyone else but ourselves when things go south!
__

Why would you want to buy a house or a car that you obviously cannot afford and know that you will still not be able to afford 2 years from today no matter what you do? Should it matter that the bank has “qualified” you for $ 300K, yet you only make $ 30K a year? How do you propose you are going to afford to make your mortgage? And why then would you go ahead and get a $ 50K car on top of that because your local car dealer sent you a “pre- approval” thing in the mail? How does a person live in such a neighborhood, yet afford to drive such an expensive car? Kuna Kitu! And in my opinion I choose to, in the spirit of being “nice”, call it BS – people need to get reality checks already!

________

Aside:

When I was in grad school – I shared a house with a friend of mine also in grad school and from Kenya – that was the wise thing to do – split the bills, make your tuition and graduate debt- free – and we did just that! After graduation 2 years ago – we both began to live “normal” lives, she moved to a different state for work and we both began doing other things without being haunted for years to come over school loans.

My life was “normal” until I had a case of serious identity theft that put my financial life in a very interesting situation. An employee at my then bank sold info to a third party – that’s as bad as it can get! Basically that means someone has your SSN (Social Security Number), Date of Birth, Address and all those other details they need to be “you”

__

One day – I was checking my balance online before going shopping and the balance was in the RED in many digits! ALL the money was gone – e-checks had been presented and paid from both of my accounts and my bank REFUSED to do anything about it!

I still have court cases regarding that to date! (And it’s been two years!) I think I should blog about things I have learned from that experience!

________

But seriously that’s what you do – live within your means as you work to expand your means. We can blame the banks for the Sub-Prime, predatory etc lending we have going on – but the bottom line – No-one was forced to take out a loan they couldn’t afford.

____

So Geithner and Bernanke are working economics that they have probably not worked before in a bid to ease the effects of the recession, but in my opinion, if the personal responsibility does not kick in real fast – no economic theory – however tried and true and edge cutting will last in the long run.

I can understand the injections into the markets, I can understand why some things have to be reformulated – but I can’t understand why anyone thinks that just because his/her job has been saved – then things are obviously going to get better!

Indices mean a lot on the macro- picture – that’s it. Just because the Dow closed at a decent level, NFP numbers are not so bad, the markets are somewhat bullish, the NYSE is buzzing, the USD is gaining strength etc, doesn’t mean there is going to be food on my table if I don’t do something to put that food there!

____

Nway – that’s what I wanted to say today – no economic theories from me. 😉 I hope everyone has a lovely Memorial Weekend/Weekend.

Mine is going to be busy – I have a 4 day “weekend” and I decided I am going to get at least the Introduction to my Comprehensive Research Proposal done. You see, if I intend to move from PhD Student to PhD Candidate anytime soon – I better get some writing going on. So I will be doing just that – personal responsibility!

Have a responsible weekend! 🙂