MESA, Ariz. — There were plenty of tools that young A’s pitcher Jesus Luzardo didn’t have on the mound Tuesday.In his third appearance and first start of the spring, the Oakland left-hander said he lacked a feel for his breaking ball. While he felt his overall command was improved from his first two appearances this camp, Luzardo still missed the zone plenty with his other pitches too, putting himself in 3-ball counts against half the hitters he faced. He plunked one batter and issued free …
An M-Pesa agent in the Bunda region of Kenya. It is estimated that a third of the country’s US$44-billion annual economic output now flows through the innovative mobile money transfer service . (Image: Emil Sjöblom, Flickr)• Jarle HetlandMedia officerInternational Trade Centre+41 22 firstname.lastname@example.orgArancha GonzálezSub-Saharan Africa is a rare bright spot in a still-sluggish world economy, with the International Monetary Fund projecting 6% output growth this year. A decade of expansion has been driven by peace, better economic governance, investment and high commodity prices. But make no mistake: it has not just been about resources. Some of the best performing countries are not rich in natural resources, such as Rwanda, Ethiopia and Burkina Faso. Services such as retail and communications, together with agribusiness and manufacturing and exports, have driven growth more than is generally recognised. Business incubators and accelerators are spawning technology start-ups from Accra to Dar es Salaam.That said, Africa faces daunting challenges. The extractive sector propels growth in several countries but does not directly create many stable jobs. By 2050, the continent’s labour force will be bigger than that of China or India. Creating jobs for hundreds of millions of labour market entrants will mean the difference between a demographic dividend and a social time bomb. Africans don’t just need more jobs; they need better jobs. Prosperity hinges on getting people out of subsistence agriculture and marginal self-employment into more productive activities.Growth without diversification, technological improvement, and increased productivity is easily reversed: all it takes is a dip in commodity prices. This is where trade and small to medium enterprises, or SMEs, fit in. Trade demands competitiveness. Exporting firms are more productive, and pay higher wages than their domestically focused counterparts, especially in places like sub-Saharan Africa. If firms manage to thrive in world markets, they tend to increase their productivity even more.Turning mobile phones into banksJust take a look at the success story that is M-Pesa .The impending launch in Europe of this mobile money transfer service, which has transformed the way banking and business are done in East Africa, is more than a feel-good story about technology pioneered in one of the world’s poorest regions being imported to one of its richest.M-Pesa is a powerful example of the gains to be had when the development community works together creatively to empower people and businesses in developing countries. From a modest pilot project focused on microfinance repayments, M-Pesa – “pesa” means “money” in Kiswahili – has grown to the point that an estimated one-third of Kenya’s $44-billion annual economic output now flows through it. M-Pesa has turned mobile phones into both offices and banks.Responsive governments committed to improving the broader trade facilitation and business environment can help companies of all sizes by improving infrastructure: roads, transportation, ports, information and communication technology, and electricity. For enterprises to capitalise on opportunities to grow, they need access to finance. This can be difficult for SMEs that are too big for microfinance institutions but too small to interest commercial lenders.Meeting export markets’ health and quality standards, together with the dizzying array of private voluntary standards, is especially tough for smaller firms, although the rewards for compliance can be considerable. The recent World Trade Organisation agreement on trade facilitation should cut customs-related red tape which weighs heavily on SMEs, making it easier and cheaper to bring goods across borders.Internationalising small businessThe International Trade Centre works to internationalise SMEs in developing countries. Some of our work is with governments to improve policies and to strengthen their institutions in trade and export development. The rest of our work is with the private sector: creating free intelligence tools to help them learn about conditions in potential markets; assisting them to connect to value chains; helping with product branding; and tackling non-tariff measures.In our experience, modest, targeted interventions can yield substantial rewards. Facilitating contact (and contracts) between Southeast Asia and Western and Central Africa yielded over $150-million in deals for cashews, rice, and cotton in the space of a few years. Bringing experts from Bangladesh spinning mills to the Tanzania to train cotton farmers and gin operators on how to reduce contamination, led to higher prices for the farmers and better raw material for the mills. Connecting women in rural Burkina Faso to a rising star in Italian fashion meant more sales than ever for their traditional prints which helped Stella Jean’s high-end customers do some good while being fashionable.Watch: Stella Jean’s “ethical fashion” using prints from Burkina Faso:Governments, African business, foreign investors, and civil society groups have an opportunity to pool their ingenuity and their resources to find innovative new ways to strengthen the African private sector and help SMEs access capital and markets.The broader development community can support the private sector to improve productivity and generate jobs which can free people from unemployment or the drudgery of subsistence labour. Prioritising the private sector will require some development policy experimentation.Small risks, huge payoffsInternational investors, representatives of international and regional organisations, and African leaders from government and civil society, who attended the World Economic Forum on Africa in Abuja, Nigeria last month are seeking to translate the region’s economic promise and youthful demographics into employment opportunities and poverty reduction.A key subject at the Abuja summit was the bottlenecks that prevent existing and yet-to-be-founded firms in African countries from exporting value-added goods and services, and think about how best to encourage investment and hiring in modern, tradable sectors.The policy makers and policy takers at the Abuja meeting could take a lesson from M-Pesa’s success where small risks can have huge payoffs. They can think about how they can work together to help the continent’s biggest job creator: its immense ecosystem of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. Empowering the African private sector to tap into value chains would bolster prospects for growth and job creation.Arancha González is the executive director of the International Trade Centre, Geneva. This article originally appeared on the World Economic Forum Blog.
Related Posts Depending on who you ask, Bing has captured anywhere from 11% to 30% of the search market that’s so heavily dominated by Google. Even so, that represents at least a billion and a half search queries in a given month, and Microsoft’s search engine is still growing. For businesses, it might not quite drive the traffic (Web or otherwise) that Google does, but it’s still worth ensuring that your company is properly represented on Bing. To help, Microsoft launched the Bing Business Portal earlier today. The new portal allows companies to customize their presence on Bing by adding photos, logos and pertinent details like hours of operation, parking availability and other business information. Bars and restaurants can upload their menus and businesses of any kind can offer special deals through the site. To claim their listing, businesses can verify ownership via telephone or postal mail. From there, it’s a matter of logging into the Bing Business Portal, where companies can manage their listing, adding as much detail as they see fit. If this all sounds familiar, it’s because this is what Google has been offering businesses for some time, starting with Google Local and continuing today with Google Places. As Microsoft gradually chips away at Google’s dominance and gains more users, it only makes sense to see them courting businesses, for whom the search engine is becoming an increasingly valuable source of Web traffic and customers. To get started, head over to the portal and click the aptly-labeled ‘Get Started Now!’ button. How much traction does your business get from Bing? Would you use these listing management tools? Let us know your thoughts in the comments. Tags:#biz#How To#tips john paul titlow A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting
MOST READ Catalan, a decorated wushu world champion, thought he had done enough to finally earn a title shot having won five consecutive fights over the last two years, including a second-round stoppage of Chinese prospect Peng Xue Wen last January and a one-sided win over Stefer Rahardian five months ago.“I think my previous performances can vouch for my position as a contender for the belt. I scored five-straight victories against top-tier opponents, which qualifies me to be a title contender,” Catalan said.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSUrgent reply from Philippine football chiefDespite waiting for another time to get a crack at the crown, Catalan said he accepts ONE’s decision in choosing Saruta.“I respect their decision for choosing Yosuke Saruta. Of course, there is a reason behind it. I accept it wholeheartedly. It’s not my time yet,” he said. “I am patiently waiting. I know it will come.” SEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completion Private companies step in to help SEA Games hosting Rene Catalan. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.netFilipino Rene Catalan felt he was worthy to be the replacement challenger to compatriot Joshua Pacio for the strawweight title in the main event of ONE: Eternal Glory on January 19 in Jakarta, Indonesia.Pacio was initially to defend his title in a rematch against Hayato Suzuki but the Japanese had to withdraw from the fight due to an injury and another Japanese in Yosuke Saruta was put in his place.ADVERTISEMENT PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games PLAY LIST 02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krauss TS Kammuri to enter PAR possibly a day after SEA Games opening SEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completion Is Luis Manzano planning to propose to Jessy Mendiola? Catalan, who turned 40 this month, believes his time will eventually come.“My goal is to keep on winning until my time to compete for the title comes,” he stressed. “This kind of situation motivates me more. I expect big and favorable things to happen this 2019.”Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. View comments LOOK: Joyce Pring goes public with engagement to Juancho Triviño Hotel management clarifies SEAG footballers’ kikiam breakfast issue BREAKING: Corrections officer shot dead in front of Bilibid Giannis Antetokounmpo scores 30, Bucks beat Celtics LATEST STORIES