Posts Tagged With: business

Thanksgiving

I’m very fortunate.  Sure, Josée and I work hard but we’ve had some breaks and helping hands as well.  One of the ways we give back to our community is through Kiva.  Some of you may be familiar with this micro-finance site.  Since its inception in 2005, Kiva has helped over 800,000 small businesses access about $350 million in capital.  Most of these businesses are family run with just one or two employees and many are located in ‘non-Western’ countries.  The premise behind Kiva is very simple: you use the site to find someone who wants to borrow capital to improve life for their family, usually through a small business; along with other Kiva users you loan money (usually $25) to the person you select; they re-pay you over a certain term, usually 12-24 months; you re-loan the money to someone else.  Unlike borrowers in North America, many of whom declare bankruptcy to avoid their debt, Kiva borrowers repay their loans.  To date, the repayment rate is 98.96%.

I like Kiva because I can learn about people around the world who are starting or improving a small business.  They are just like you and I – working, supporting their families and trying to improve their lives.  Some of the success stories are phenomenal and it is gratifying to see people flourish just by getting a small helping hand in the form of access to capital.  I like Kiva because the money goes directly to the end borrower.  In addition to your loan, you can donate to help Kiva operate but it isn’t a requirement.  Operationally, Kiva is very efficient unlike some of large global charities where most donated money is used just to finance the organization.  If you want to create your own ‘bank’, lend a helping hand to families around the world and then do it all over again, I encourage you to check out Kiva.

To start your ‘bank’ with a free $25, click here; if you want some help setting up your KIVA site, just let me know.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Categories: Family & Friends, General interest | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Langford North?

I was in Victoria yesterday and stopped by to see the revitalization work done in the centre of Langford over the last number of years.  It was impressive to say the least.  From what I can see, it appears as though the city made a decision to improve the climate for business by reducing red-tape and encouraging new companies to open up shop in the area.  Development is not encouraged at all costs – projects have to meet criteria for design, materials, look and the like.  From a strong business climate comes strong and recurring tax revenue which is being used to revitalize streets, build bike lanes, create community rec centres and the like.

Langford is working on creating more density in the core of the city, multi-purposed buildings that have retail shops on the ground floor, professional offices on the second and residential apartments on the third or fourth floors.  I wonder if we could adopt some of these ideas in Comox, perhaps on the site of the Lorne or if the mall is re-developed.  One of the neat projects built in Langford is a fountain in the centre of the main roundabout; it dances, like the fountains at the Bellagio, every half an hour to different tunes!

We have a lot going for us in Comox but I think we could offer so much more.  Take a look at the City of Langford website and time yourself to see how long it takes for you to find information on how to start a business.  Now visit the Town of Comox site and do the same.

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Categories: Commentary | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

A subtle irony…

We’re a few days away from the US defaulting on debt payments for the first time.  While partisan politics keep a resolution from being announced at present, I feel that one is pending and I don’t believe there will be a default.   Neither party nor the President want to be remembered for bringing a new wave of economic suffering upon the US, spreading internationally as it can’t pay its obligations.  While there are many reasons as to why the US national debt has increased to such a point as the country faces bankruptcy of a sort, aside from waging war one of the chief issues is the reluctance to pay for ‘things’ with saved rather than borrowed money.  Governments, like people, want what they want when they want it.

This air of entitlement is not monopolized by the oligarchy in DC.  I was working outside most of today, listening to the local radio.  Two Courtenay car dealers had ads running consistently and one of the chief points of their ads was “if you have bad credit, have been bankrupt or unable to borrow money it’s not a problem; we can still find a way to loan you money to buy a new car”.  A Courtenay furniture store says “remember, we don’t want your money”.  They were prepared to find a way for people with poor credit and/or no money to borrow more.  While people have a responsibility not to borrow when they can’t afford it, business (and government) should have the same responsibility to extend credit only to those who can afford it.  Have we so quickly forgotten the lessons learned in 2008/2009 when lenders were extending mortgages to people with no savings, no jobs and no income?

Isn’t this part of the problem?  Remember the time when we saved for things; we didn’t buy unless we had the money.  Now it is all about instant gratification and impatience.  The judicious use of credit is a useful and necessary part of our world but used irresponsibly it can cause massive problems for both people – and nations.

Categories: Commentary, General interest | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

The Revolution is coming…

I work with a business coach and over the last few weeks we’ve had presentations on the use of social media in our businesses.  As I was surfing around some site tonight, I found this really good video on how social media is fast becoming the way we communicate.  It has some really interesting stats which come from the site Socialnomics.net

I’ve got the Twitter and Facebook pages for both home and business and it will be interesting to see how they improve my business over the next few months.  I think there is also a huge opportunity for clubs, charities, churches and other similar groups to use social media to communicate and inform.

Here’s the video:

Categories: BDFP, General interest | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

H1N1 – a real scare?

Over the last few months, one of the dominant stories in the evening headlines has been about this new strain of influenza, H1N1. I don’t know much about it so I decided to spend a few minutes taking a look at some of the details. To be honest, I’ve been thinking about the scares over the last few years – remember SARS, Y2K, terrorism. How much of these are things to be truly scared of, how many are tempests in a teacup? Remember Y2K – according to pretty much every major news source and media commentator, the world as we knew it was going be changed forever. SARS was promoted as a global epidemic. Neither of these amounted to anything. It seems like we live in a state of fear with a major global ‘scare’ coming along every year or two to keep us in check.

The Centre for Disease Control in the US states that in the US, about 36,000 people die each year from flu-related complications; globally this number increases to almost 500,000. Worldwide, someone dies from tuberculosis every 15 seconds – 240 per hour. The WHO states that as of 17 Oct 09 there have been 5000 reported deaths worldwide from H1N1 in 2009 which equates to roughly 0.75 of a person per hour. The United Nations website states that about 25,000 people die each DAY from malnutrition – 1041 per hour compared to 0.75 people per hour for H1N1. Remember SARS? Again, the WHO reports that worldwide about 774 people died from SARS – the same number die from malnutrition in less than 1 hour. In the US, nearly 7000 people die per day from all causes – to date for 2009, H1N1 is responsible for 0.0107% of the total deaths in the US each day, an amount not even worth calculating. You have a better chance (0.70% of all deaths) of being murdered in the USA than dying of H1N1.

These numbers obviously beg the question why we (governments) are spending billions on fighting H1N1 while thousands of times more people are dying from a much simpler condition – they just don’t have enough to eat. Would not this money be better used to improve farming, water supply, machinery and ‘know how’ for farmers around the world? While I respect the fact that health professionals and the media are suggesting that pregnant women or young children and other “at-risk” groups make sure they have a H1N1 shot, I must admit that I am very skeptical about the motives behind the promotion of such a “pandemic” mentality regarding the condition. What I do believe, however, is the profit motive. If you’ve ever read about Monsanto or other multinationals, you know that profit is the only motive and everything else, including truth, is subservient to the ultimate goal of generating shareholder return. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are 2 approved treatments for H1N1, known by their trade names, Tamiflu and Relenza. Although under licence with a number of different companies, pharmaceutical giant Roche is the primary owner of Tamiflu while GlaxoSmithKline owns Relenza. Not only do these companies have a monopoly on supply of the H1N1 flu shot, in many cases, governments around the world (including Canada) have actually given Roche and Glaxo immunity from law suits should people receiving the shot develop one of many disturbing side effects. These companies aren’t ‘evil’ in and of themselves; they are just driven to provide a product and generate a return on investment for their shareholders. Putting an end to malnutrition doesn’t make money; providing millions of doses of a drug does.

As noted, I’m not a health care professional or scientist and I admit I am probably not seeing all sides of the H1N1 furor. It will be interesting to see how big an ‘issue’ H1N1 turns out to be – will it in turn into a true pandemic such as the Black Death of the mid 1400s or the influenza outbreak in 1918 or will it fade into the abyss like SARS?

Sources: GlaxoSmithKline, Roche Pharmaceuticals, CDC.gov, UN.org, WHO.int, CIA Factbook, National Vital Statistics USA,

Categories: Commentary, General interest | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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