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How to Save on Festive Season Phone Calls

We all like to speak to family and friends on Christmas day, but when they live in another country, the cost of the call can be prohibitive.

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Howzit MSN publisher Marcus Stephens says using Skype can save you a fortune in telephone calls this festive season.

With the festive season looming, you probably have a lot of ‘Merry Christmas’ and ‘Happy New Year’ phone calls to make to friends and family.

Save yourself some money this year by arranging to chat to them from your PC on Skype rather than on your cellphone or landline.

Skype is a great tool – an instant messaging application, a videocalling system, an Internet telephony service, and so much more, all in one. As long as you have a reliable broadband connection, you can call another Skype user for free wherever he or she is on the planet.

And you can buy Skype credits to make cheap phone calls to any fixed-line or mobile number in the world. It’s a real money saver for international calls to family living outside of South Africa.

You can even chat on video – your family can huddle around the screen so that you can at least see each other even if you can’t be together.

Remember, you can also download Skype onto mobile devices such as your iPad so that you have it with you wherever you are.

Top Skype tips

Here are a few power tips to get the most from this service:

1. Call Forwarding

Worried about missing a call from your daughter in America or your aunt in Australia? Use call forward to receive Skype calls wherever you are. You do need to buy some Skype credits to use call forwarding – but this feature will enable you to reroute Skype calls to a landline or mobile phone. If you don’t want to buy credits, Skype has a voicemail service so that anyone who calls when you’re unavailable can leave you a message.

2. Get a Bluetooth headset

A Bluetooth wireless headset might help you to enjoy a better Skype experience because it means you won’t need to listen to your calls through your speakers or be chained to your desk by a wired headset. It’s a great addition to your setup if you like to pace while you talk.

3. Customise the font settings

You can customise Skype’s font settings through the Tools>Options>IM and SMS>IM appearance tab so that you can choose a font and text size that SMSs are comfortable for you to view.

4. Add Skype apps to improve your experience

Skype supports a large of range of apps that can increase its functionality. Some of them support features such as automated text translation, call recording, desktop sharing, and much more.

5. Share files with friends

You can easily transfer big files like your holiday videos to people you’re chatting to on Skype. Click your contact’s name in the address book. In the Conversation menu, go to Send, then File to open Windows Explorer. Select files you want to send, holding down the CTRL key to select multiple files.

6. Stay in touch via Facebook

Completing the ecosystem for your natural online experience, your Facebook feed is included for ease and convenience.

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Future Proofing Children In The Western Cape

Through entrepreneurial education.

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The education system in South Africa is responsible for preparing children to build successful lives.  They should be prepared for the wide range of possibilities that lie ahead of them. There are many who believe that entrepreneurship is a trait that you are born with and that it can’t be taught.  This is simply not true.

Most schools nowadays teach Business Studies, Business Management or Economics to students. The sad reality though, is that while this subject does indeed focus on the ins and outs of starting and managing a business, it does not teach our ambitious young children and teenagers what it really means to be an entrepreneur. It does not teach them which of their personality traits and characteristics they should be aiming to hone in on. They don’t learn about the experiences and failures of ‘first hand’ entrepreneurs – all our coaches are entrepreneurs themselves and running their own businesses, with some success and some failure – who believe it or not, not all performed actually well at school!  Or how to look for problems as opportunities and that a business can be made from doing this.

Related: Plan My Wedding Share 5 Fantastic Tips To Win Over The Shark Tank

Recently myself, Jason Newmark (Co-founder and director of Future Proof Western Cape) & lead coach Lana Sinclair, spent 3 days in the Bredasdorp community of the Western Cape, with children between the ages of 9 and 11, from 5 disadvantaged schools attending, under the initiative of NGO organisation, Education Connection and Managing Director, Marius Stolz, introduced the children to the 4-lesson initiative that we at Future Proof have been rolling out around the country.

One of the core focuses of the 4 lessons, is how children can start identifying problems that surround them and the opportunities it can lead to, by starting a business and getting paid to do it.  The second lesson focuses and helps these children to create a one page business model canvas that kids are able to put their ideas down and more importantly something they can implement immediately when they go back to their communities.  On the canvas the children are put into groups, where they discuss and identify which problem/opportunity they are going to implement, and they write it down on the middle of the page.  The page is then divided into 4 quadrants – Customers, Stuff, Tell People and price.

The children are then demonstrated through activities, and real life experiences and knowledge of how to firstly find customers.  This exercise is done by hanging apples in trees (low hanging fruit) in various locations.  Children are then told to try and get as many as possible and then return to the meeting area.

Once all apples have been collected children are then asked: ‘Why did they go for the apples that they did?’  There are usually a whole host of various answers, but the end answer they usually come to is ‘ they went for the quickest and easiest apples’.  The activity learning outcome is then show to them, that they need to think of apples as your customers, you need to always try get to the quickest and easiest customers, not the ones far away or that are hard to get to and you need to be faster than anyone else! And that the first thing you need to start a business is a customer! If you cant find customers first, then you cant run a business. Children are then asked to write down who there ‘apples’ are for their problem and opportunity they are using as their business idea. The kids are then guided through the other 3 quadrants on what ‘stuff’ (inventory) they will need, how they will ‘tell people’ (marketing) and what price they will charge for their business.

Related: 6 Steps To Grow A Funding Ready Start-up

Its incredible the ideas the kids come up with and the little lightbulbs that go off once this lesson is over and they know how to actually start a business. The concepts we show them are taught in Harvard Business school, yet when broken down into their simplest form, children are able to easily understand them – its incredibly inspiring and more importantly effective and these kids now have this tool to use to start a business and how to start looking at problems as opportunities and what to do when they identify them’

All 4 lessons are activity based, where kids are shown to ‘think’ like entrepreneurs, how to start a business, cashflow & mentors/networks.  With these tools, skills and real life experiences given to them from the entrepreneurial coaches that teach these lessons, shows how easy it can be to get these concepts and learnings into children behaviours while they are still young and can learn to fail and succeed from a young age, and more importantly how to maintain the right mindset (lesson 1) to be able to deal with these failures as they go through life.  A stark contrast to teachers teaching Business Studies and economics?  Isn’t this something all children in South Africa need to be learning?

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Entrepreneur Today

More South Africans Choosing EB-5 Investment Visa For US Immigration

Demand by South Africans for EB-5 Investment visa grows to 500% over past three years.

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Families from around the world have gained permanent residency in the United States through the EB-5 investor green card program.  With the South African economy entering its first recession since 2009 and the value of the Rand falling 20% in 2018, more and more South Africans are seeking alternate permanent residency in foreign countries.

Industry data reveals that South African demand for this program is the highest it has ever been, with a 486% increase in the number of EB-5 petitions filed by South Africans over the past three years.  This huge growth in demand is the highest among European, Middle East, and African countries.

“Most EB-5 investors are seeking opportunities for their families and children in the US that offer excellent education, career, and quality of life options,” said Bernard Wolfsdorf, former President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association who grew up in Durban and immigrated 40 years ago.

The EB-5 program requires an “at risk” investment of $500,000 into a project that creates 10 full-time jobs for Americans. This provides investors (and their spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21) permanent residence in the US. As a job creation program with an immigration benefit, the EB-5 program has brought in billions of FDI over the past decade and has helped created tens of thousands of jobs for US workers.

However, time may be running out for South Africans to take advantage of the EB-5 visa program at the current investment levels, as proposals to increase the minimum investment amount from $500,000 to $1,350,000 have been pending since January 2017, waiting for final implementation. These changes could occur as early as December 7, 2018, the date that the budget for the US federal government was extended to last week by President Trump.

Related: How I Run An International Business From A Remote Beach Town In The Eastern Cape

Below are 5 things to consider about the EB-5 program.

1. What are the benefits of a green card?

A green card allows one to live, work, and study in the United States permanently. In contrast to other work sponsored green cards, the EB-5 provides the maximum career flexibility immediately upon arrival in the US. Children who receive green cards with their parents are able to apply to universities on the same footing as American citizens, rather than as foreign students. They often qualify for lower in-state tuition at public universities and have an easier time finding a job after graduation. Green card holders become eligible for citizenship 5 years after becoming a permanent resident.

2. Who is my immigration attorney?

Not all US immigration attorneys specialise in preparing EB-5 green card applications.  It is important to work with an experienced attorney who can guide you through each step of the EB-5 process.  Investors should also work with an immigration attorney who only represents their interests – not the interests of the EB-5 project.  This ensures there is no conflict of interest.

3. What project should I invest in?

Most EB-5 investments are in real estate development projects, but there are many different projects on the market to choose. Investors must conduct thorough due diligence on the project and should consult their financial advisors before choosing an EB-5 investment. Investors must feel confident that the US company will be able to execute its business plan and create the jobs needed to support EB-5 petitions. Additionally, the U.S. company should have a clear exit   strategy in place to ensure that EB-5 investors are repaid their capital investment at the appropriate time.

4. What do I need to prepare?

Investors must document the lawful source of their $500,000 investment.  An immigration attorney will help strategise the required documentation. This usually includes tax returns, bank statements, employment records, and property records. Investors should consult an experienced international tax advisor to discuss how US green card status can affect tax liability, and determine the appropriate tax strategy.

Related: Opening An International Business In SA – Renny Letswalo Shares Her Story

5. When do I have to move to the US?

Based on current processing times, it takes approximately two and a half years for an EB-5 applicant to receive a green card.  Once a green card is issued, lawful permanent residents are expected to make the US their primary residence, but they retain the ability to travel freely outside of the US, and special travel documents can be obtained if longer absences are required.

As South Africa has become a reasonably-sized market for EB-5 investment, more “Regional Centres” will be marketing their EB-5 investment projects in the coming year, further increasing the number of immigrant investors from South Africa.

Attorney Robert Blanco will be in South Africa from November 13-19. If you would like to schedule a no-cost consultation to discuss the EB-5 visa option, please contact him at rblanco@wolfsdorf.com.

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Entrepreneur Today

Old Mutual Committed To Empowering South African Entrepreneurs

South African small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) looking to take their venture to the next level will get a chance to network with big business – such as the likes of Old Mutual – at Global Entrepreneurship Week, currently running from 12 – 16 November 2018 at the Enterprise Room in Rosebank, Johannesburg.

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Global Entrepreneurship Week is an annual celebration of the innovators and job creators, who launch start-ups that bring ideas to life, drive economic growth and social inclusivity.

According to the Banking Association of South Africa, SMEs have been identified as productive drivers of inclusive economic growth and development in South Africa, as well as globally. Some researchers have estimated that the local SME sector makes up 91% of formalised businesses. The sector also provides employment to an estimated 60% of the labour force and accounts for around 34% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in total economic output.

Old Mutual has been actively working to empower SMEs for more than a decade through structured programmes and vehicles designed to provide both the financial – and non-financial – support that is critical for success. This focus on creating both business and societal value means that the company continues to invest in creating opportunities for all South Africans.

The company’s innovative Enterprise and Supplier Development Fund works to create opportunities for small businesses to become integrated into Old Mutual’s supply chain, creating sustainable partnerships of mutual benefit. In addition, Old Mutual’s Masisizane Fund offers SMEs operating in the manufacturing, franchising and agricultural arenas a mix of grants, loans and technical support, to enable them to gain vital market access and create jobs.

Collectively, these two small business empowerment funds have approved over R750-million in funding to small businesses across the country, having already disbursed close to R600-million, while creating more than 8330 job opportunities in the process.

Related: 10 SA Entrepreneurs Who Built Their Businesses From Nothing

Old Mutual recognises that funding alone is not the key catalyst for growth where SME development is concerned, which is why it also offers a range of non-financial support option to SMEs both pre and post investment. This includes SME training in financial education, as well as business support in the form of technical mentorship, financial management tools and advice, as well as bespoke accounting services.

Old Mutual will be hosting a special session at Global Entrepreneurship Week on Wednesday 14 November 2018 titled “Doing Business with Old Mutual” at which SMEs looking to connect with the company can get more information on its unique empowerment and development programmes.

Entrepreneurs can get more information on Old Mutual’s small business empowerment programmes here:

Enterprise and Supplier Development Programme:

Supplierdevelopment@oldmutual.com or 011 217 1000

Masisizane Fund:

Via the Old Mutual Website at www.oldmutual.co.za/masisizane

Email: MasisizaneEnquiries@oldmutual.com or call 011 217 1000

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