Citi Launches Volunteer Africa 2019 - Associated Press

Citi Launches Volunteer Africa 2019 - Associated Press

Citi Launches Volunteer Africa 2019 - Associated Press

Posted: 08 Apr 2019 07:26 AM PDT

LONDON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Apr 8, 2019--Citi has today launched Volunteer Africa 2019, a program that engages junior employees to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses.

Now in the fourth year of the program, Citi volunteers are returning to Kenya where the program started in 2016. This year, 24 Junior Bankers will spend four and a half weeks working with local entrepreneurs based in Nakuru and Eldoret, using their skills and experience to help them to improve the overall business including growth, employment, and future investment opportunities.

Citi is proud to have been operating in Kenya since 1974, serving Corporate and Institutional clients. Volunteer Africa demonstrates Citi's ongoing commitment to the country, driving economic growth at the community level.

Citi joins forces with Balloon Ventures, a social enterprise that runs development programs to give micro-enterprises the training, funding and support needed to grow, create jobs and build communities. Balloon has identified 16 entrepreneurs that the Citi volunteers will work with throughout the program. The entrepreneurs run a broad range of small businesses including agriculture, small scale manufacturing, agro-processing, media, retail and education.

Manolo Falcó, Global Co-Head of BCMA at Citi, commented: "This is the fourth year of the program and we are immensely excited about what will be achieved and the long term impact for both volunteers and entrepreneurs. The past editions of the program demonstrated the transformational impact that Citi volunteers can make by supporting the entrepreneurs to grow their businesses, employ others and build local economies."

Tyler Dickson, Global Co-Head of BCMA at Citi, added: "We are particularly pleased that this year the program is becoming even more global. It will see junior employees from across BCMA and Markets & Securities Services around the world working side-by-side in Kenya, a fantastic and unique opportunity for volunteers to build networks across businesses and geographies."

Kenya is one of Sub-Saharan Africa's fastest-growing economies. It boasts a youthful population, improving infrastructure, dynamic private sector, and rich natural resources but it faces the challenges of poverty and inequality. With 75% of the working population employed in the informal sector, there is great scope for entrepreneurial SMEs to provide decent work and drive inclusive economic growth.

The Volunteer Africa program is helping achieve these objectives. Balloon Ventures has undertaken research on the cohort of entrepreneurs who participated in the previous edition in Kenya. The research shows that, on average, entrepreneurs experienced a 41% increase in income and a 53% increase in profit nine months after completing the program.

Paul is one of the entrepreneurs we supported in 2016. He makes sugar cane juice. When Citi volunteers met him, he had a locally made machine to crush raw sugar cane and one member of staff selling his juice from a small shop off the high street. Since then, he has imported two food grade machines from Asia that enabled him to increase sugar cane juice production by 1000%. He now has two outlets and a team of five agents selling his juice on the streets of Nakuru every day, and his revenue has grown eight times since his participation in the program.

Click here for more findings about Kenya and here for Uganda.

Paco Ybarra, Global Head of Markets & Securities Services, commented: "We are involved in the Volunteer Africa program for the second year, this time at a global level. We have followed the project closely andcan see the direct impact it has, not only on the entrepreneurs we work with on the ground, but also for our employees. It enables Citi's Junior Bankers to develop their skills, build their knowledge of developing economies, establish strong networks and have the opportunity to affect real change in the community."

The Citi Volunteer Africa program launched in April 2016. The pilot edition saw 12 Analysts and Associates from Citi's Corporate and Investment Bank in EMEA volunteer in Kenya. Since then the program has doubled in size and gone global, with more than 60 volunteers from Citi's BCMA and Markets & Securities Services businesses around the world participating to date, supporting more than 40 small businesses in Kenya and Uganda.

About Citi:
Citi, the leading global bank, has approximately 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions. Citi provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, transaction services, and wealth management.

Additional information may be found at | Twitter: @Citi | YouTube: | Blog: | Facebook: | LinkedIn: Hashtag: #CitiVolunteers #VolunteerAfrica

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CONTACT: Citi Media Contact:

Silvia Boschetti

+39 02 89064483

Edwina Frawley-Gangahar

+44 207 5082340




Copyright Business Wire 2019.

PUB: 04/08/2019 10:00 AM/DISC: 04/08/2019 10:00 AM

Consider The 'House Of Brands' Model To Scale And Compete In E-Commerce - Forbes

Posted: 08 Apr 2019 06:00 AM PDT

Everyone knows there is extensive work involved in running a small business. What happens when you've put in the effort to build your brand and you've seen success, but you're hitting a profit ceiling?

Growing a small business in an e-commerce world, where it's a struggle to compete on the same scale with the big players, requires innovative thinking. The biggest trend I'm seeing with small businesses at all stages of the lifecycle is a new way of aligning themselves.

What Is A 'House Of Brands'?

Almost every brand leader I speak to these days is either a) actively going out and trying to buy other brands to drop into their existing infrastructure, or b) actively preparing their brand to be acquired by a company that's doing the former. This "house of brands" strategy establishes one parent company that contains a number of brands under its umbrella.

Corporations have been doing this forever, but this is not corporate acquisition. These are small- to medium-sized businesses buying other small- to medium-sized businesses. Fifteen years ago, this likely would have been impossible. You simply can't attain that sort of reach without a digital presence. But thanks to e-commerce, I'm seeing more small brands scaling up to sell or acquire.

Many brand owners are realizing that once they get to a certain point, their brand needs to be a part of something bigger in order to compete with the Amazons of the world. It's leveling the playing field in a way that's immediately effective. There are four considerations when looking at this model.

1. Economies Of Scale

There are many fixed costs in a business. To be successful, many companies bring on an accountant, a marketing team of some sort, some level of customer support, etc. When small businesses combine their efforts, these costs get divided.

When considering an acquisition, first look for brands that are complementary, but not directly competitive, to yours. After all, if you have 10 brands under your umbrella and they're all talking to a similar customer segment, you'll get far more fixed-cost leverage than if you have 10 different brands talking to 10 different customers.

Joining forces allows you to scale quickly, and everything gets cheaper. In fulfillment operations, things like pick price and carrier discounts are all based on volume. It doesn't matter if that volume is generated by one brand or 10; it's all about the number of units shipped. And as soon as you can scale these necessary business elements, you'll gain more bottom line per product touched.

2. Cross-Selling Opportunities

When joining up with other small brands, there is a natural overlap that happens within the customer bases. I have found that someone who has chosen to do business with a brand in the past and had a good experience is going to be far more likely to engage with a new product or brand in that same house, even if it's in a different market.

Before considering an acquisition, research what type of reputation that brand has with its customers. It goes without saying that the more positive the customer sentiment, the more positive the potential impact to your overall bottom line. If you find that your core values don't align, move on and keep looking for the right fit.

3. Brand Visibility

If you're running a house of brands, or are a part of one, and the parent brand has developed a good retailer relationship, all of the products under the umbrella may see increased visibility. If your brand is young or lacks traction, this can serve as an accelerator to your share of the market.

That door swings both ways though, so brand owners should do their diligence if considering joining a house of brands. Choosing the wrong partners can boost your signal in all the wrong ways. For example, the family that operates a large German investment company was recently found to have ties to the Nazi regime, and it's now uncertain what the impact will be on some of its notable brands like Krispy Kreme, Panera Bread and Einstein Bros Bagels.

4. Seasonal Equilibrium

Depending on what type of products you sell, you may find yourself pigeonholed into a seasonal profit roller coaster. With a house of brands, there is the potential for a welcome consistency. If you keep in mind the different seasonal cycles of your brands, you may find large opportunities to optimize fixed costs across the peaks and valleys of your business.

Sharing the load also means consistency for your team and optimization during your busiest times. You're paying your customer service and warehouse team all year long; keeping them active and busy throughout the year without overloading them during peak season is the most effective strategy to maximize those resources.

A lot of small businesses experience initial market excitement or benefit from viral launch campaigns. Then things get real. Maybe sales slip, or they just don't have the uphill traction they did at first. They have to start looking for ways to add value, and joining forces with other small businesses may be the answer.

Intellectual property - how to protect yours as a start up or scale up -

Posted: 08 Apr 2019 09:02 AM PDT

Intellectual Property (IP) is an area that many startups and SMEs fail to consider at an early stage in business growth, despite it being one of its most valuable assets.

Aside from setting a business aside from its competitors, IP creates brand recognition and, most importantly, gives the company its true value.

Over the last 12 months alone, SMEs making legal claims to protect their IP has risen by a massive 68%, with initial IP registrations increasing greatly, demonstrating that more and more Business Owners are waking up to the importance of protecting their IP for the long-term.

But where exactly do you start if you're a new business owner and a novice to the world of IP? Moreover, what is the actual process for registering IP and how does it add value to your business?

Assess your intellectual property

Firstly, it is wise to critically analyse your unique selling point and review what products or services you are creating and how you are positioning them in the market. This gives you the opportunity to assess what areas you wish to protect and identify where to develop the business in the future, ranging from logos, taglines and branding through to physical inventions, such as unique software platforms.

Remember, ideas themselves cannot be protected. However, if you are concerned about someone sharing or using a particular idea, the best option is to create a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA), which can be applied to any relevant scenario – ranging from the protection of sensitive business information to pitching a new product to a group of potential investors.

Register a Trade mark or Patent

Once you have critically analysed your IP, think about what you can Trade Mark or Patent.

A trade mark is any sign, be it a word or logo or even numbers, that represents your brand and distinguishes it from others.

An easy way to apply for a Trade Mark is by submitting an application directly to the Intellectual Property Office, which can be found via the website. The process is simple and self-explanatory but requires thought around what exactly you want to be trademarked and what 'class' it sits under. Once the Trade Mark has been listed, members of the public have a short time period in which to contest it and if no responses are received, the trade mark will be yours.

Once you register a trade mark, you will be able to take legal action against anyone who uses your brand without your permission. Once the Trade mark is issued, make sure that you take the time to put the registered symbol next to your brand, slogan or its tagline to show that its yours and you can take legal action should someone attempt to use or replicate it.

Patents, on the other hand, are more complex and are designed to protect your invention and are only granted to inventions that no-one has ever thought of or built before. It is important to be diligent in what you are trying to register, so that it does not infringe on upon anyone else's IP.

Consider a copyright

Copyright will be one of two types, intellectual property rights or industrial property rights and covers anything that an individual or company creates. It can incorporate words (e.g. text for websites), images, photographs and training manuals. For the tech industry, Copyright can also extend to code.

Using this example, when code is written by an individual, independent developer, copyright automatically lies with that person unless it is sold or assigned to a client company. However, this would need to be agreed within a commercial contract.

Unlike Trade Marks or Patents, Copyright is limited in that it only places protection on the original expression of the idea, content or imagery, not the underlying ideas themselves.

All Copyrights should be registered with the Copyright Office, and like the example of Trade Marks is a simple and self-explanatory process that can be completed online via the following website:

Review your position

The one mistake Entrepreneurs or Business Owners face when trying to protect their IP is complacency.

Have you developed a new product or service? Reviewed your branding recently? Or changed your tagline? When improving and growing your business, you need to review and grow your IP too, ensuring you have the correct Trade Mark, Copyright registration or Patent in place with each change and development.

Not taking the time to review your IP requirements on a consistent basis increases the risk of competitors being able to take and market key elements or USPs of your business and brand, which could be detrimental to both the growth of your business and its ongoing longevity.

Seek guidance from experts

If you are looking for further guidance or advice, there is a wide selection of information and support available. For example, the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) provides free training and also offers an online IP health check, together with guidance on how to register your IP and where.

However many business owners and entrepreneurs find it useful to actually speak to an expert, particularly for more complex cases, such as the Patent process.

Zain Ali is chief executive officer of CEO, Centuro Global

Further reading: The dangers of intellectual property infringement for small businesses

This article first appeared on Small Business' sister site Growth Business


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