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Softline Acquires New Business

Softline bolsters business intelligence offering with Alchemex acquisition.

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Softline, a member of The Sage Group plc and leading provider of business management software to SMEs, has announced the acquisition of Alchemex, a business intelligence technology company.

In 2007 Softline engaged in a strategic partnership with Alchemex, whereby its product was integrated with Softline accounting and payroll applications including Pastel, Accpac and VIP Payroll.

“Alchemex and Sage already have a proven solution in South Africa and North America.  The acquisition recognises the success achieved to date and the exciting opportunities we have to further roll-out Alchemex for the benefit of our customers,” comments Rob Wilkie, chief financial officer for Softline and Sage AAMEA.

Flexible BI software

Alchemex, which was established in 2001, provides affordable and flexible excel-based business intelligence software for small to medium enterprises. “It bridges the gap between Excel spreadsheets and the data that lives in the business application, by providing flexible, customer centric reporting. Businesses require timeous and quality information delivered in an easily understood and usable format. Alchemex fulfils this need. Furthermore, it can be deployed on either the desktop or the internet allowing real-time access to data from anywhere in the world,” says Rob Wilkie.

The synergies between the businesses of Softline and Alchemex are readily apparent; the Alchemex business intelligence solution is a natural extension of Softline’s business applications; it serves the same market as Softline, being predominantly SMEs; and it affords existing and future users of Softline applications a greater breadth of service offering, under a single banner.

Growing market share

Ivan Epstein, chief executive officer of Softline and Sage AAMEA comments, “In a competitive market value-added offerings such as business intelligence are necessary to grow market share. Companies have a real need for an affordable tool such as Alchemex in order achieve a higher level of clarity in their business, to make better decisions and to become more profitable.”

“Our strategy has been to align our product with the major accounting vendors so as to leverage their customer base,” says Charles Teversham, managing director of Alchemex South Africa. “Being a market leader, Softline has therefore played a crucial role in our growth and was a natural home for Alchemex. We are very excited to be part of Softline and the wider Sage Group and look forward to working together to help SMEs get even more value and insight from their business software.”

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New Application Round For Growth Fund: SA SMEs Can Apply For Grant Funding By 29 June 2018

A new application round has opened for the R12.8million Growth Fund to boost SME growth and job creation.

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The Growth Fund is a grant fund specifically for growing South African small businesses who need a cash injection to scale up further and create jobs.

The Growth Fund is managed by CDI Capital, which was incorporated as a CDI subsidiary in 2016 to catalyse funding for SMEs. The funding has been enabled through contributions by the National Treasury’s Jobs Fund, the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), and the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDAT).

The Growth Fund is open to South African-owned businesses who operate within South Africa, who are at least one year old with turnover or assets above R1m.

Each applicant must demonstrate their year on year growth and/or the potential for sufficient growth and must be tax compliant. Applicants also need to match 20% of the contribution of the Fund through a cash contribution to achieve agreed objectives. Importantly, the business must be able to create new jobs.

Related: 3 Start-up Funding Tips To Help Launch Your Company

SMEs that meet the criteria for funding, can apply online, and are taken through a diligent process of selection and support, whereby successful applicants contract for a three-year intervention and disbursement plan, performance managed by quarterly reporting, oversight and inspection, bespoke mentorship, and business development support.

Respected as one of most successful and longest-standing SME development organisations in SA, CDI provides support to over 4 300 SMEs who in turn create over 11 100 jobs or income-generating opportunities. In its first funding round (2012 – 2015), the CDI exceeded targets, creating 464 jobs in 45 businesses. Participating SMEs grew their combined annual revenue by 73% over the three years.

Funding is limited to the first 60 approved applicants. The application deadline is 29 June 2018.
For more information and to apply, visit www.cdicapital.co.za/GrowthFund

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The 10 Best Cities For Freelancers In 2018

According to extensive research done by Hoofdkraan.nl Prague is the best place to live as a freelancer in 2018 and 7 out of 10 of the best cities for freelancers are located in Europe.

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Most European freelancers already knew, but there is absolutely no need to go all the way to Thailand or Indonesia to flourish as a digital nomad. According to extensive research done by Hoofdkraan.nl Prague is the best place to live as a freelancer in 2018 and 7 out of 10 of the best cities for freelancers are located in Europe.

Prague at the top of the freelance list

prague

Prague: Home to the best beer in the world and a destination with many hidden gems. You have to be around for a little while to discover them all, so why not stay? Work a little, wander a little, experience the friendliness, whatever gender you are or prefer, and pick one of the many flexible work spaces or cafes the city has to offer.

There’s more than a few reasons Prague is at the top of our list and our research was thorough. We included 117 cities and looked at 23 factors that are generally important for freelancers. Prague ranks highest when it comes to value for money, beer prizes, fast internet and nightlife. Life and work doesn’t get much better.

Related: 10 Businesses You Can Start Part-Time

sevillaHard to beat the Mediterranean

When we look at our top 10 – Spain and Portugal stand out. With Sevilla, Las Palmas, Porto and Lisbon amongst the best cities for freelancers there’s no other conclusion possible: We like some warm weather with our freelance freedom.

It also doesn’t hurt beer is cheap (except for the steep island prices in Las Palmas) and quality of life is valued high. Besides that, Portugal and Spain are safe countries with good resources and facilities. The only stress we can imagine comes from deadlines (yes we were still talking about the best places to work).

Top 10:

  1. Prague, Czech Republic – Cheap, best beer, friendly to visitors
  2. Sevilla, Spain – Great weather, fast internet, good quality of life
  3. Lisbon, Portugal – Great weather, safe, close to the beach
  4. Miami, USA – Great beach life, excellent weather and good WiFi
  5. Bratislava, Slovakia – Cheap, fast internet, low tax
  6. Berlin, Germany – Cheap and plenty of beer, big variety of work spots
  7. Vancouver, Canada – Close to nature, peaceful, freedom of speech
  8. Porto, Portugal – Great quality of life, nice weather, close to the beach
  9. Las Palmas, Spain – Island life, lots of nature, warm weather
  10. New Orleans, USA – Great nightlife, fast internet, good quality of life.

infographic-best-cities-for-freelancers-2018

These 10 cities have in common that they are all in (relatively) safe countries, there is peace and freedom of speech. Next to that they have stable electricity and fast (above 10 MB) and reliable internet. The life quality is for all above 8, except for Bratislava that has been given a life quality of 7,6.

Related: How To Make (A Lot Of) Money On Airbnb

Asian cities fall outside top 10

Only three cities in our top 10 are outside Europe. With Vancouver, New Orleans and Miami located in North America, there’s a big continent missing from the top of our rankings: Asia. Well-respected digital nomad destinations like Bangkok (20), Chiang Mai (53) and Bali (Ubud, 68) rank lower in our research because of low scores on cleanliness, safety, freedom of speech and quality of coffee.

Cities to avoid as a freelancer

You might want to steer off the beaten path a little bit, but there are a few places you should most definitely avoid at all times. Lagos, Nigeria for example ranks lowest on our list. You were perhaps not thinking of Nigeria in the first place because of pirates, Boko Haram or the other violence you read about in the newspapers, but there are no facilities for freelancers altogether.

The majority of the bottom 10 cities, including Dhaka (Bangladesh), La Paz (Bolivia), Manila (Philippines), Saint Petersburg (Russia), Jakarta (Indonesia), Beijing (China), Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), Nairobi (Kenya) and Kathmandu (Nepal) are cheap to live, but unsafe and dirty, the internet is slow and the electricity unreliable. Freedom of speech and an open mind towards females or gays are problematic as well.

city top 17

Have a look at the complete list: https://www.hoofdkraan.nl/blog/the-10-best-cities-for-freelancers-in-2018/136

Fun facts on Columbia and Thailand

Medellin, the second largest city in Colombia is still dangling down the bottom of our list this year (103), but could possibly be a lot higher next year. The city was recently named ‘World’s most innovative city’ and internet speed and work spaces are improving rapidly.  They also do have good coffee in Thailand. With € 425 per pound The Black Ivory Coffee Company is just a little expensive. They give Arabia Beans to elephants and the elephant dung is then roasted and processed into coffee.

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Entrepreneurship In The Green Economy – Calling All Innovators

The water crisis in South Africa has been creeping up on us for years…but it can provide opportunities for entrepreneurial zeal.

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Cape Town’s dire water crisis, after a three-year long drought fortunately averted by the recent rains, serves as a warning for the rest of South Africa. Johannesburg could face a similar crisis in the future, should its rainfall decrease for a few successive years. Tree-huggers have been warning us of this for years and have proposed solutions, but they can’t do it alone; business sector resources are needed to help solve these issues.

What most of us do is watch apprehensively as the water levels in dams drop, take shorter showers, set up grey water systems, grow water-wise gardens, wash our cars with buckets of water and imagine how we might survive a day zero. There are tangible things we can do to head off disaster – like finding innovative business solutions to environmental challenges.

For the past decade Avocado Vision’s Enterprise Development has supported the setup and operation of micro enterprises across South Africa with its Supplier and Enterprise development programmes which focus on equipping small, low-turnover businesses with business insights and acumen which enables them to become more sustainable and creating consistent and recurring incomes.

With Avocado Vision’s new business segment, the Green Business Value Chain unit, we aim to unlock the potential of developing micro and small business, with a focus on finding solutions to enhance employment, small business development, and job security in the environmental sector, particularly where efforts to influence water security and reduce alien invasive species are key outcomes.

Related: Become A Green Power Expert With Ellies Electronics

Alien invasive species, typically from other countries, with no local natural enemies, growing unchecked in their millions, consume between 3% and 6% of South Africa’s useable water. They’re a very real threat to river and dam water levels – what we need to do is build a commercial demand for alien invasive plant biomass which will reduce the spread of alien plants, inject more money into sustaining the invasive-clearing activities and get businesses of all sizes involved.

Big business becomes the catalyst by creating the demand – the middle-sized entrepreneurs arrange new solutions to meet the demand, and small businesses link into the supply chains with invasive-clearing activities and meet the demand for the biomass material.

Right now we’re drowning in single-use plastic products – plastic straws, cutlery, lids (for the millions of cups of takeaway coffee) and polystyrene packaging for food, being a few. Currently no-one in South Africa is manufacturing bio-degradable alternatives – here is a perfect opportunity for entrepreneurial innovation to switch to using invasive biomass as raw material. Entrepreneurs are often the ones who hit on social problems and invent business solutions to solve them; the plethora of wild biomass can support decades of production, and it provides a solution to water security in our country.

Calling all innovative entrepreneurs – if you feel inspired to create something brilliant, check in with the Green Business Value Chain team at Avocado Vision, we’ll connect you to the support you need to make magic happen.

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