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ZeeMoney; from Ghana to Barbados

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#Ghana, February 9, 2022 – Financial Tech has revolutionized the way we do banking, from contactless cards to instant transfers.  The Caribbean has often been just a step behind the rest of the west but with a Ghana based financial company planning to introduce a new mobile wallet to Barbadians, the region might be catching up.

The company called Zeepay is partnering with a Barbadian financial tech company called Global Integrated Fintech solutions (GIFTS) to launch Zeemoney, a mobile wallet that will allow Barbadians to receive remittances from MoneyGram anywhere and transfer funds to other persons using Zeemoney.

“We believe with the expertise we will be able to change and diversify your market significantly and through that process build a playbook that will help us reach the entire Caribbean, starting with Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago, and then of course, the wider Caribbean,” said Andrew Takyi-Appiah CEO of the Zeepay company.

International money transfer services like PayPal and Zelle have, in the past, skipped over the Caribbean and Latin America preferring to cater to European countries despite the largely untapped remittance market in the Caribbean; so this move is a significant stride.

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Africa

Nigeria Cash Catastrophe

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By Dana Malcolm 

Staff Writer 

 

 

#Nigeria, February 24, 2023 – A recent decision to move to new banknotes has been delayed for 60 days after causing turmoil in Nigeria with people running out of money and crowding ATMs.

The 200 Naira, 500 Naira and 1000 Naira notes were all scheduled to be discontinued and replaced by January 31st. The deadline had to be pushed to Feb 10 because residents just could not get their hands on the new notes leaving them stuck with old notes that were no longer legal tender.

The country’s courts tried to step in barring the Feb 10 deadline but that ruling fell on deaf ears as the government moved forward anyway, causing extremely long lines at banks and ATMs in the country.

Finally, President Muhammadu Buhari announced in early February that the old N200 notes will remain in circulation for 60 more days along with the new notes.   But the economy is already feeling the effects of the cash shortage.  While a significant cross-section of Nigerians use digital banking and the country’s online banking section is growing rapidly, a large section of the population still relies on cash for daily transactions, especially in rural areas.

The new notes and limits on withdrawing large amounts of money instituted by the Central Bank of Nigeria were initially in an effort to take some of the cash out of circulation but the effort has backfired leaving residents angry, frustrated and cashless.

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Africa

The Incredible Story of David Avido of Kenya, 24 Year old designing for the Grass Roots to the Stars

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

 

#Africa, February 2, 2023 – One Kenyan designer began a sewing business out of the slums where he was born; now he dresses some of the Caribbean and Africa’s most famous faces.

Born the oldest son of a single mother and from Kibera Nairobi, David Avido Ochieng did not have an easy start. In Kibera, the largest urban slum in East Africa opportunities for international success are hard to come by and yet Avido can now say he has dressed the likes of former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Beyoncé, Chronixx, Romain Virgo, Tarrus Riley, Chris Martin, Ty Dolla Sign, Koffee and many more.

As explained on his website, David dropped out of school to work and support his family quite young. In just first form he was working on a construction site but he knew he wanted more from life. After quitting his job he danced and saved what he could and tried his best to complete his education.

He told Vogue magazine: “When I started dancing I used to save money in order to go back to high school, with the little that I could get from dancing and my mom’s money from doing work as a house help, we were able to raise 15,000 shillings and with that, I joined an adult school and skipped forms two, three and four.”

David picked up a sewing machine to make costumes and realized his talent.  By 2015, his brand LookslikeAvido was born. He completed a fashion & design diploma at Buruburu Institute of Fine Arts and began to sew incredible pieces right at home in Kibera.  Even as his brand is globally recognized, Kibera is where his workshop remains; David says, his homeland is his great inspiration.

“There is no barrier if you believe in your talent and take the next step. I want to encourage and create beauty, where people don’t expect.”

Talented and thoughtful Avido is well aware of the stereotypes surrounding him, his home and the black community globally.

“We know about injustice and violence, prejudice, racial and social discrimination – we experience it within Kenya and we experience it globally, as people look at us as the poor, the uneducated, the needy,” he said.

Featured in Vogue, CNN and other international publications, Avido remains connected to his origins in a tangible way and as his success grows his roots just go deeper. Twenty per cent of all sales of his jackets and other clothing items go directly back to Kibera; his website explains ​that all the tailoring, product photoshoots and collaborations ‘is all done here in Kibra.’

There is no fabric waste from his garments, instead, scraps are repurposed into masks and shopping bags for residents, all his tailors are local residents, a portion of profits are used to pay school fees and Avido and his team put in extra time to make school uniforms as well.

On his website, is a photo of him sitting around a sewing machine, his worktable resting on hard-packed earth with presumably a group of family and friends surrounding him, a source of pride. The introspective photograph could have been taken in Nairobi, Trinidad or Barbados, so nostalgic is the picture, the bench and the story of community success that it represents.

In a video posted to his YouTube, David sits at his new work desk, and beside him hangs a rack of clothes in the cramped space that serves as his kitchen as well.

“I’m the firstborn of Kibera,” He explains, “Every kid in Kibera is looking up to me— my main dream is to open up a place where I can inspire people to work.”

David has a dozen employees and is listed in Beyonce’s directory of black businesses; with an uncommon wisdom, the designer knows that his successes so far are not parking spaces but rather stepping stones as he faces his future announcing that the journey, for him, continues.

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Africa

South Africa plans Military Exercises on the Anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine; not sitting well with some

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer 

 

 

#Africa, February 2, 2023 – South Africa has announced it is planning a joint naval exercise with Russia and China during the anniversary of the Ukrainian invasion but says there is no sinister intent.

According to the South African National Defense Force, more than 350 South African soldiers will join Chinese and Russian soldiers in Exercise MOSI II.

In a statement posted to its Twitter, the South African National Defense Force has rejected any insinuation that the move is a political one, emphasizing that it was a continuation of exercises planned years prior.

“Ex MOSI II is a scheduled nine-day military marrying up exercise, one of several that the SANDF conducts with militaries around the world on a regular basis, to ensure that it can learn from and benchmark its own operating capability. The first edition of this particular exercise was held in 2019 and involved Brazil and India, as well as Russia and China. The follow-up exercise, MOSI II, was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

It further maintained that it was on neutral terms with both the US and Russia.

“South Africa is continually home to military cooperation events, not all of which are formal exercises. The USAF is currently using Cape Town as a landing base — Last year, South Africa participated in Exercise SHARED ACCORD, the US military’s annual African military exercise.”

They maintained that over the last year, they had participated in events with the French, Indians and Brazilians.

“None of this is sinister, nor suggests any agenda over and above the ongoing improvement of the SANDF’s capabilities in executing its constitutional mandate of safeguarding the territorial integrity of this country.”

Exercise MOSI II will last for nine days from February 17th to 27 and will be held in the Indian Ocean.

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