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Archive for August, 2011

Immigration myth buster!

31 Aug

Some will argue that immigration has become somewhat of a lifeline for the developed world’s economy, yet others still believe that immigrants have become a burden to the British economy and society at large. Are the latter claims founded, or are they xenophobic attempts to justify discrimination against foreigners?

Maybe for some odd reason this is the picture of immigration that you have…

I have made an attempt to debunk some of the myths about immigration and immigrants in the UK by giving a few facts to counter these myths.

The myth: Immigration leads to unemployment

The facts:

  • Immigrants actually do the jobs that most native workers do not want or cannot do. Large areas of the health service and transport would collapse without workers from abroad
  • About a fifth of the people who do the vital job of caring for our older people were born abroad.

The myth: Migrants cause the housing crises

The facts:

  • There are two bedrooms for every person in the UK. The real problem is not the shortage of houses but rather the distribution; housing is distributed according to what people can afford not what they need.
  • There are nearly a million empty properties in Britain. The problem stems from the control by private developers and landlords.

The myth: Many asylum seekers are illegal

The fact:

  • The UK signed the 1951 convention on refugees, which means that by law anyone has the right to apply for asylum in the UK and remain until a final decision on their application has been made. Therefore, by definition there is no such thing as an illegal asylum seeker.

The myth: The UK is ‘swamped’ by huge numbers of refugees and asylum seekers

The fact:

  • There are 12 million refugees around the world, the majority of who are living in less developed countries; 72% of the global refugee population are in less developed countries and only 28% in the first world.
  • In essence, UK hosts only 1-2% of the world’s refugees and asylum seekers.

Although not comprehensive in any way, this account will hopefully help to do away with some of these myths on immigration; it actually does have some pros that should be accepted and embraced.

 
 

Kenyans embracing mobile internet

24 Aug

Mobile phones!

To some they are just a means of communication; to others mobile phones are a symbol of status and yet to some they are a tool for social and financial inclusion. They have become the crucial link between Kenyans in the Diaspora wanting to send money to Kenya and their loved ones back home.

Kenyans are now among Africa’s top users of the internet on their mobile phones. According to a new Pew Global Attitudes study, cell phone ownership in Kenya has increased from 9% in 2002 to 65% in 2010.

Believe it or not, phones in the developing world are becoming the centre of human survival in many ways than people could have imagined ten years ago. Think remittances, social networking (very important!), email usage and bridging the educational gap… the opportunities that mobile phones have provided are very diverse and crucial in allowing equal access

 
 

The circle of funds

23 Aug

Remittance plays a very crucial part in financial inclusion. Ideally, financial inclusion means having access to a savings or cheque account with a local bank.

So in essence, we can safely say that anyone who does not have a bank account is not financially included.

What exactly is financial inclusion?

It is basically the delivery of banking services at an affordable cost to the disadvantaged and low income groups.

In order to understand this better, let us look at the impacts of financial exclusion which include:

  • Loss of consumers: This will impact small businesses negatively.
  • Increased unemployment
  • General decline in investments.
  • Social exclusion.

How does remittance play a role in financial inclusion?

In simple terms remittance allows people who ordinarily do not have access to banking services to actually go into a bank with just their ID document and collect or send money.

So, although the banking system sometimes marginalises the already marginalised, remittance makes available the banking and payment services to the entire population without discrimination.

 
 

Why use a remittance company?

18 Aug

Whether you are buying a house back home, sending money for a once off payment, or just sending the usual small amount for your family’s daily sustenance, remittance companies offer exchange rates that are better than most banks. They know the currency market and unlike banks they want to get you a good exchange rate and help you use your market to your advantage.

Money transfer companies can offer the best exchange rates because they buy and sell such vast amounts of currency. They can offer great exchange rates and still make a profit because they are dealing with such big volumes. Using a money transfer company can help you save thousands of pounds and avoid steep commissions next time you send money back home. They also take the hassle out of international money transfers, offering you a relatively stress-free and painless experience.

So it only makes sense if you are sending money to Kenya that you look for a company that sends large volumes of money there, because they will be able offer you a more reasonable rate.

 
 

Remittance products

15 Aug

If you were to take a superficial glance at the different remittance related issues that we have covered over the past few months, you will probably pick up among other things, one recurring motif that runs through every blog post. That is the importance of remittances.

Remittances are critical to the lives of millions of people in developing countries. Nearly 200 million people live outside their home countries and according to a recent WWB Innovation Brief, official remittances to the developing world now total USD 93 billion per year, making them the second most important resource of external funding in developing countries ahead of capital market flows and external funding for developing countries.

As the average remitter becomes more sophisticated, their needs also begin to change. Remittance has thus become more than just a monthly payment to the developing world that will cover basic expenses. Remittances provide an opportunity for investment, development, financial inclusion, savings, and entrepreneurial innovation, among other things.

Remittance products are therefore an important part of the remittance industry. It is crucial for remittance companies to come up with innovative ways to cater for their evolving clientele, keep up with technological advancements and at the same time remain accessible to the average recipient of remittance money in the developing world.

If you are interested in more than just sending money to Kenya, go check out mukuru.com to get an idea of the innovative products they have on offer!

 
 

THE IMPACT OF TECHNOLOGY ON THE REMITTENCE INDUSTRY

12 Aug

We may are living in a world where technology has really superseded our wildest imagination in terms  of what it can do for us a species , but most  importantly is the global impact that it has on the remittance industry.

We see the benefits of this in various countries all over the world . This is even more captivating  where at the touch of a button you can for example send money Kenya. I am sure that when  Dr Martin Cooper had no idea what he was about to start when he invented the technology responsible for the cell phone in 1973. I am sure Kenya was not one of the countries he was thinking of.

Just by way of explanation and one case study  lets look at Kenya and how it has been impacted by this modern technology . Kenyans are able to receive a message on their cell phone in the form of a code and they can walk into an Mpesa branch and withdraw the money they need.

This facility for a country like Kenya has made a huge impact in terms of money being accessible to the rural community that would otherwise not have had a banking facility.

The financial impact on this country alone according to statics provided from a report provided by  The University of Maryland June 2010  are as follows:

By August  2009  over 7.7 Million Kenyans ( about 38 percent of the Adult population ) had become registered users of M – PESA which far exceeded expectations and by January 2010 the numbers was over 9milion. The monthly value or person -to-person transfers was over KSH26 Billion ( approximately  U.S $330 million)

All this would not have been available had technology not stepped in when it did and just the sheer scale of users is a sound indication that a small invention can make a huge impact.

Makes you wonder if we as a species think that it cant get better than this what the next best invention will be.

 
 

East Africa’s Investment choice

09 Aug

The property market in Kenya has seen massive opportunity, mainly along the Indian Ocean coastline within the many game reserves Kenya is so famous for. In addition to being the business hub of East Africa, Kenya is blessed with natural beauty, incredible scenery and abundance of rare and amazing wildlife. Its tourism sector has continued to flourish and the country even attracted property investment into the game reserves in the form of commercial lodges for tourism and also along the Indian Ocean coastal region in the form of a few second home and retirement home developments as well as some holiday resorts and commercial ventures as well. The increasing number of visitors to Kenya has inevitably boosted the more conservative business confidence in the country and gradually the economic fortunes of Kenya are beginning to see a sustained positive shift. So weather you are making a long term residential or commercial property investment, Kenya is definitely a significant choice thanks to the growing tourism sector and the solid growth in their underlying investment technology.

 
 

Evolving remittance trends

04 Aug

Did you know that in many countries around the world, one member of a family lives and works in another country where they can make a larger salary than they could back home? And yet, less than 10% of the world has a bank account. This basically means almost every family, especially in the developing world are in some way dependant on some form of income from a member of the family who but actually do not have access to a bank account.

So with so many people living and working away from home, and a whole lot more who are financially excluded , it is interesting to see how the remittance world has evolved over the past few years in order to accommodate the most secluded and illiterate people in developing countries.

Back in the day, sending money to Kenya for example was a long complicated process that involved a lot of unnecessary costs on the part of the sender and even the receiver.

With advancements in technologies, the costs of remitting money have substantially dropped; the ease and accessibility of money transfer have also increased.  Contrary to past trends, informal systems are now considered more expensive, slower and less versatile than formal systems.

 
 

Kenyan remittance in numbers

03 Aug

Remittances to Kenya leapt 42 percent in January from a year earlier to $64.14 million, but were down slightly on the previous month, central bank data showed on Wednesday.

Remittances are the fourth-largest source of foreign exchange in east Africa’s biggest economy after revenue from tea, horticulture and tourism.

According to Charles Koori, director of research at the Central Bank of Kenya, the improved performance reflects continued economic recovery in source markets, and a favourable domestic economic environment.

Kenyans sent home a total of $65.62 million in December, capping a record year for remittances to the country where money sent home is typically invested in equities or property, or used to help pay routine bills and medical charges.

According to recent research done by Remittance Gateway, Kenyans living abroad sent home $124.9 million in the first two months of 2011, compared with $91.5 million in the same period a year earlier, the central bank said.

Official figures obtained from The Nairobi-based Central Bank of Kenya show that the amount of remittances in February surged 31 percent to $60.8 million as economic growth in source markets improved