Engy KHALIFAEngy KHALIFANovember 3, 2018
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21min1560

 

Emad Henin is the founder of GamUp; an organization specialized in Gamification where they have occasional open courses in partnership with Gamification +LTD, UK. Emad is also a member in the steering committee of GamFed. Gamification refers to work situations where game thinking and game-based tools are used in strategic manner to integrate with existing business process.
Emad is also the Human Resources Business Partner for Minapharm Pharmaceutical organizations. Emad have a B.Sc. in Pharmaceutical Sciences from Ain Shams University. He is also accredited with MBA from ESLSCA Business School specializing in Global Management.

 

  1. How did the Egyptian Market respond to the concept of Gamification?

I will tell you first how we initially started as it will give you a clear idea about how the market accepted us. At the beginning I have used the game concept inside the company I am working in “Minapharm” as I am working in the Human Resource Department and mainly in “Ramadan” the holy month of Muslims; the energy of employees is weak also the working hours is fewer than the normal days especially there is no break. So, I thought of creating something that will make employees more energetic in that month.

So, I created a competition and called it Ramadan Riddles with the Ramadan Theme; I found it being approved by many. I started by sending small questions to the employees where anyone can get it from google then I realized that the questions have to be more deep so I started to customize the riddles to be tailored to “Minapharm” organization so that the employees can feel the relatedness to feel that these questions are only for them the process have changed from a year to another then it changed to be a training program where employees started to participate in a competition for a whole month and at the end they learn a lot from it.

This made me realize the power of games the idea of fun theory and that employees enjoy the working environment as here in Egypt it wasn’t taken into consideration, the concept of enjoying work as people perception about someone who is smiling or happy it means that he is not working but I have found the opposite ; as when employees are happy and satisfied in their workplace they achieve better and the communication between the departments gets better.

After some readings I realized that what I am doing is an established science called “Gamification” and by 2011 the term GAMIFICATION started to be known worldwide. A global definition was set by practitioners in addition to guidelines, procedures, and methodologies. In Egypt and the middle east, we were late to hear about it. So, I started to communicate with international Gamification practitioners and was able to get contact with “Pete Jenkins”; the founder of Gamification Plus.

He was giving courses abroad; so, I introduced to him the idea of working together and I showed to him my achieved projects then we signed a partnership. I have a partner Sandra Abadir and just the two of us do everything.

Our main challenge was to convince Mr. Jenkins to give the course under his name, however we convinced him to come to Egypt and give us the course here and he believed in us and in our work. Afterwards; he trusted us to give the course on his behalf.

Later; we started to go in the market and spread the idea of professional gamification. Our main objective was to seek differentiation as we are specialized in gamification. In Egypt; there were a confusion between the concept of gamification and the game-based learning approach; so, the market expectation was different from what we are providing so we started to face so rejection but later we found approval from the startups; corporates, and especially the new generations of entrepreneurs.

Another challenge was our fees as we are giving a course that is certified from the UK, but people started to know the importance of our product. But we see ourselves going in the right path and the Egyptian market is very promising and full of opportunities.

 

  1. Is Gamification in favor to the Employer or employees?

I see it as a win – win situation; the employer won’t do the task unless he sees that is has high ROI “Return on Investments” on the company; the employee won’t engage in the task unless he knows it’s in his favor.

So, the equation is that everyone is focused on the objective. What differentiates gamification from just games, badges, and trophies is that we do what we do for the sake of achieving business objective.

From the perspective of employers its always business objective, we always try to measure its effect on the ROI, we measure each project outcome before and after gamification. As for employee; it’s for sure when someone is enjoying his work and getting involved in the workplace; it reflects on the productivity and the revenue.

So simply it’s a win – win situation and if the equation is unbalanced so it’s an inefficient gamified project that had been implemented.

 

  1. The competition between employees can arouse some unethical behavior, how can the Gamification platform solve that issue?

Well Gamification methods are different as it creates a competition without aiming to a monetary or a promotion, but the main objective is making competition fun and effective. So, it makes employee participate in it voluntarily as they reach the state of loving it and willingness to be a part of it.

Also, there is a model which we apply, and it’s called “RAMP” which stands for “Relatedness, Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose” if the employee gets these four factors it will motivate him to participate in Gamification without doing any unethical behavior.

Relatedness means that the Gamification program is related to the employee and he perceive it as being a part of him or do social bonds with others and give him the opportunity to socialize with them.

These are the socializers; where their priority is to get in contact with others. Next is the Autonomy; which refers to the freedom of choice, the track is flexible for the employees to choose what’s suitable for them. For example; employees can choose their time and topic. So, this Autonomy makes the user interested to participate and makes him feel that he is not forced to be part of that.

Then the Mastery; in the program there is a module that the trainee can master a specific skill or can overcome a challenge; it motivates him to participate in the program and this fits more with achievers’ types who are always seeking for challenges.

The final prospective is the purpose; as there are type of people who love to do work for a purpose, they are also seeking to benefit themselves, others, or the organization they are working in. so when we provide these factors in the gamification program; it makes the competition attractive and related to the program so employees participate in it ethically, as they are not forced to it. Also, employees feel that they are in safe environment and they know that nothing harmful will happen to them.

 

  1. What are the challenges that you have faced in setting up your idea?

We faced many challenges, first challenge we faced was the start-up cost of our company including the fees of partnership with Gamification UK as mainly we started with the strategy of low- budget investment so to establish this partnership we tried to search for several alternative, the first one was to travel and attend this course but that would have cost us a lot, the other alternative was that we invite them to Egypt on our expense but we realized that this will also be expensive on us, so we came up with the idea of organising the Gamification course locally to be delivered by Pete himself . At the same time in UK they agreed on the idea, so it became a win – win situation as the course outcome covered the travel expenses

The next challenge was setting up the company, the advertising and the marketing campaign, and graphics so as working in human resources department we found out that these aspects are new to our field of expertise so we started to learn about web designing and web developing to start establishing our website and establishing ways to increase our audience; we also did everything ourselves. As my partner started to be very talented in designing so we started to save those expenses and do it ourselves. Then we started to attend events where we met startup corporations and entrepreneurs, so we started to increase our network and we communicated with them on one – to- one meetings, also we did the marketing and sales ourselves and we created the training materials customized to each customer as we are originally trainers and we deliver those trainings.

Another challenge was the culture difference between UK and the middle east as we started to tailor the trainings according to the middle east in the same time it had to be with the same content of UK and we had to get approval from the mother company on what we train. One of our main challenge was how to penetrate the market as whether we will target public or private corporations. Another challenge is that we are already employees in other organizations as we are still in the beginning and we cannot sacrifice the safe income now, so we work after working hours and in the weekends and we can stay for months without one day off.

 

  1. How do you deal with competition?

When we started our business, we faced two types of competitions. They are the ethical and unethical competition. The ethical competition represents the other certified licensed Gamification providers in the market.

As for me I enjoyed this type of competition, it motivates us to do our best; as the idea of being alone in the market doesn’t give any indication of to what extent you are good or not. On the other hand, we also have a collaboration between them and we share the knowledge together.

On the contrary comes the unethical competition, as you don’t know where the attack will come from and in which way. Despite that me and my partner are always focused on our work and on our objective and our response and we tend to be very practical in improving ourselves.

 

  1. Does establishing a new business need a large capital or there are other factors more important than money?

Money is the main factor to be considered when starting a new business, but it is not the factor that you will start with. First, you must get an idea for the new business, next you will search if the idea is needed in the market, then your qualifications are more important as money can be obtained from different ways.

If you don’t own the know- how of the business, money will be useless. As from our experience, we managed to start with no budget, we also have a good reputable name in the market and we relate to worldwide names, succeeded in doing global partnership.

People started to search for us, as they wanted to enter the middle east market through us. We started to collaborate with organizations that provide integration services for gamification. Success doesn’t come from money only; however, it comes from effort, dedication, and our passion in what we do.

 

  1. Do you encourage Egyptian youth to be entrepreneurs or just being an employee is better?

I want to give them some advice that they must take care of. First, they must have an idea where they believe in it besides thinking about the implementation method. Second; it’s not shameful to be an employee.

Everyone must know his skills, qualifications, goals in life and then take the decision. As for me I was scared to take that decision, I had a fear from change but once I took it I found out that I am happier and more satisfied about myself.

As now my passion drives me to achieve more as when you do the effort that you should do you generate its outcome. If you are a risktaker, and ready for more adventures so its time to be an entrepreneur. On the other hand; if you don’t want to get out from your comfort zone so be an employee and grow in the organization you are in till you be a director or CEO.

 

  1. How do you perceive the Investment Ground in Egypt?

Well I think that in the current time and in the coming years investment in Egypt is very promising, as it is obvious that the government is willing to attract foreign direct investments, facilitate all the processes needed for new business to be established.

The spread of one shop office where it contains all the authorities in one place where all the procedures are done smoothly. Moreover, the Egyptian population are very promising for the market needs as Egypt is considered a young country as most of our population are youth where they have the concept of accepting new ideas and technology in an easy way as they are also seeking new ideas and concepts.

Also, in Egypt there are communities for startups and entrepreneurs. People are helping each other, a lot of events where you can meet entrepreneurs from different sectors and who are willing to help and coordinate with each other. As recently there is an annual event called “RiseUp” which is very successful for all the entrepreneurs as more than 5000 attendees from many countries attended 2017 version and expect more this year.

 

 

  1. How do you see the future of “GamUp”?

Since I started a dream of making GamUp very large corporation, not just a start up. Our motto was that “Think Big”. In our initial start our target was to serve the MENA region, and we have already extended our services outside Egypt; as we succeeded in conducting many successful workshops – public and corporates- inside Egypt and abroad as well. Eventually we have been shortlisted for global award in international conference GamiCon, Chicago USA, and we participated through workshop in NASAGA 2018 Conference Rochester NY, USA.

Now we are competing in a European award in next November in Amsterdam “Outstanding Gamification Rookie”; this award will go to the individual who has joined the industry during the past 12 months and managed to deliver an outstanding project or spread the word about gamification far and wide.

Our mission is to boost your business up, enhance your learning process up, and improve your personal life up. We believe in our mission. We dream that we have an impact in Egypt, not just as training courses but for Gamification to reach the macroeconomics and the national projects to be Gamified and we have a lot of ideas concerning that.

We are also seeking partnership with more than one sector. Besides the British partnership we have Hungarian partnership for another service. I am also thinking of making GamUp as integrated service for Gamification and Game- based learning in the MENA Region and have several branches and partners in the MENA Region.

 


Matthieu VITEAUAugust 1, 2018
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12min1070

The Islamic Republic of Iran has been on the European Union’s political agenda for more than a decade[1]. European businesses, however, had begun developing business relationships there before the country became a hot topic for security and political staff. Far from being monolithic, Iran is a most complex environment for anyone – including businesses – to evolve in. The agreement reached in 2015 on the Iranian nuclear program[2]  had opened doors for a progressive “normalisation” with the rest of the world. Although Iranians had probably nurtured too high hopes about the outcome of the JCPOA[3] in the first place, the latter was not given the time needed to reach its full effect before the United States withdrew unilaterally.

What however appears obvious is that European reengagement – which had been very quick at political, trade, cultural, scientific levels in the wake of the JCPOA signing – has been swift to unravel since May 2018 as once again[4], the US uses domestic legislation to achieve extraterritorial effects at the cost of the EU’s (and others’) interests.

The hamstringing of EU interests by external actors has gone unabated: the US challenging the EU GDPR[5] with the Cloud Act[6], their intention to proceed with protectionist policies targeting European goods and services, Mr. Trump obviously warming up to the Russian president as the latter’s efforts to weaken the EU go on, etc. However questionable the motives and effects are, the United States follows its own course and interests – as all political entities do –. That course of action runs contrary to the EU’s interests. German Chancellor Merkel plainly spelled the crux of the matter after the May 2018 G7 summit in Canada: Europeans must “take their destiny into their own hands”. However incongruous it may sound, Iran may be providing the EU with the opportunity to build its own resilience in a very tangible yet comprehensive way.

1. Designing an Iran policy would strengthen EU internal cohesion

By coming up with a coherent policy toward Iran, the EU will need to assess its inner contradictions. The EU institutions as well as the Member States will have to address connected topics such as European companies’ dependence on the US domestic legislation, its energy policy as it moves farther away from dependence upon Gazprom, and Europe’s economy and industrial base. Progressively solving each of these tensions using Iran as a “training ground” of sorts could help the EU mature and reach the level of independence needed to improve the resilience of its and territory and Europeans.

Dealing politically with Iran involves each of the 27 EU Member States as it clearly falls under the Common Foreign and Security Policy. The High Representative/Vice President of the Commission coordinates the common positions as Chair of the Foreign Affairs Council. As chief of the European External Action Service (EEAS), she’s got the tool to genuinely develop and coordinate a common policy toward Iran.

As the US sanctions show, EU-Iran relations can be impacted by 3rd party legislation as well as by the overwhelming influence exerted by a country on the structure of international trade[7]. International trade negotiations are the sole remit of the European Commission as is competition regulation. The Commission also plays a significant role in research and development, innovation, regional development thanks to the programs it funds although it shares that set of competence with the Member States[8]. Those impacted by sanctions, however, are not the Commission or any institutions or States: companies are. These companies have legitimate interests in pursuing trade and business with their Iranian counterparts notwithstanding US interests.

I have written on small and medium size European businesses that have developed business relations with Iran by remaining away from any US levers of influence. This is likely the way to go in the short term pending more refined solutions allowing major European companies to resume doing business with Iran without suffering from US retaliation.

2. Accessing Iran, diversifying strategic options, developing resilience

Iranian and Russian relations are complex and dynamic. Each follows its own path and interests and co-operation can happen when these meet. They do not systematically coincide, though, and Iranians remain wary of any “great power” game, a historical legacy at time when Iran was being assailed by European powers including Russia. Iranians expect tangible acts from partners, whether eastern of western. Iran probably realizes that promises such as the one reportedly made by Russia during the Supreme Leader’s foreign affairs advisor during his trip to Moscow are not tenable.

European Union and Russian interests do not coincide. The EU maintains a train of restrictive measures against specific Russian assets and individuals. Although some Europeans seem to display a more lenient view on Russian influence and activities, these measures have consistently been renewed every six months by the Council of the EU. As unanimity in the Council is needed for these renewals, even the member States who feel better disposed toward Russian influence consider the latter to be ambiguous enough to maintain the sanctions regime. The Union’s territory and European citizens are under continuous disinformation campaign by Russia.

Developing sustained trade and technical co-operation with Iran is one way to bring all Europeans together however diverging their views may be on other subjects. Elaborating a consistent policy for political, trade, technical, cultural relations is a starting point for the design of a common, multi-layered policy[9] that would align words and diplomacy with practical considerations and interests. Not only would such a policy open the doors to Iranian markets, it would also further strengthen the EU’s resilience by diversifying its strategic options. By reconnecting with Iran, the EU may elevate itself both inward and outward.

 

[1] The EU began its formal involvement in the curbing of the Iranian nuclear program in 2004.

[2] The agreement was named “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action”. It was signed on July 14, 2015, by Iran, the five members of the United Nations Security Council (United States, the People’s Republic of China, France, the United Kingdom, the Federation of Russia – the P5), Germany and the European Union. On May 8, 2018, the President of the United States decided not only to withdraw from the JCPOA but also ordered the Treasury to reinstate economic sanctions against Iran.

[3] Especially when it came to the timescale of its effects. People in the streets and businesses had seemingly expected the tangible effects of the lifting of the nuclear-related sanctions to materialize almost immediately.

[4] The US began designing economic sanctions with the specific aim of extraterritorial effects in the 1990s.

[5] General Data Protection Regulation

[6] The Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data (CLOUD) Act became law on March 23, 2018. It extends the jurisdiction of US law over the internet as it allows federal law enforcement agencies to compel U.S.-based technology companies via warrant or subpoena to provide requested data stored on servers regardless of whether the data are stored in the U.S. or on foreign soil.

[7] One example is the status of the US dollar. As it is the default currency for oil trade, Iran is severely limited in its dealing to trade its crude oil and therefore to generate revenue both for the state and the local hydrocarbon industry.

[8] See articles 3, 4 and 6 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union for, respectively, the exclusive, shared and complementary competence of the EU.

[9] For a list of possible co-operation fields between the EU and Iran, see : http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-16-1368_en.htm


Florent BOUILLYFlorent BOUILLYJuly 28, 2018
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11min1660

Lean managements technics are very efficient tools used to increase productivity and processes in several sectors such as automotive. Indeed, automotive companies are using lean management technics for several years and a well-known pioneer of these technics is Toyota. The founder of lean approach was, Taiichi Ohno, an executive member of Toyota during the 50’s. He wanted to focus on production processes, wastes, value streams and the Kaizen to improve Toyota’s efficiency and be more competitive on the automotive market.

This is the reason why, today, Lean manufacturing is often called “Toyota Production System” and this model is analysed by many companies in order to improve their activities.

In 50 years, Toyota became leader of a highly competitive market being in average 4 times more productive and 2 times more profitable than other competitors. These results are mainly due to Lean management and the way Toyota is organized, consequently we will look at how can we implement this model in financial services in order to reduce wastes and produce a more profitable and qualitative service.

Indeed, financial services are following very strict procedures mainly because of legal requirements and these procedures can be improve using lean management technics. As we discussed in the introduction, effects of lean has been demonstrated in the automotive sector which is organised by a succession of stages aiming to produce a final product.

The way Financial services are operating today, using sets of procedures explaining steps by steps what to do to accomplish a specific task, lead us to the conclusion that lean management technics used in manufacturing industry can be adapted to financial activities.

Knowing that lean management can be adapted to financial company, the most difficult point is now to look at how can these technics be implemented.

5 steps to Implement a lean strategy:

A first step that company usually follow is to choose one or several pilot sites where they will test and generate their news technics and ideas on current practices. This step should last 1 or 2 years in order to analyse effects of this new organisation on company’s activities and observe points that need to be improved.

Step 1: Define a target:

Define several objectives corresponding to key deadlines which could be represented in term of value, time, customer satisfaction or any kind of measurable data.

Step 2: Map

This step is important because we will define every action needed to create value in the activity such as the different step of a car production. We will create a map or a timeline going form the current state to the future state. This timeline or map is commonly called “value stream”. Then we will identify and categorize waste in the Current State, and eliminate them. This step will end up with a process where only “useful” steps are present.

Step 3: Flow

We will organise the value stream as a flow of step that we perform one after another. Then we will turn the flow to a product or service-focussed organization in order to put the service’s quality and performance as main point in the company. This will directly impact the production’s duration or services performance.

Step 4: Pull

This steps is mainly use for production of finished good as we will let the customer pull products as needed and so eliminate the need for sales forecast. In a services industry, such as finance, we will highlight which steps are needed by customers and focus on these ones. Consequently, it will remain only useful task and services in the company’s process as both customers and organisations will express what do they expect from each other.

Step 5: Perfection

This steps is not the end of lean implementation process because we can always improve a service or a production. We will restart at step 1 and go through every step again and again in order to keep only essential parts of the value stream.

What impact can we expect on Financial activities?

We can often hear people saying that lean management is only efficient in manufacturing activities because they are producing the same kind of product several times over long periods and that we can easily standardize this flow of production.

When we talk about implementing lean in industry of services, main part of people say that lean management is not applicable because tasks are too complicated.

When we step back and reflect about it, we observe that services are composed of long processes which could be sometimes more complex than those of manufacturing industries because they need to be specific to each client. The important thing to notice is that as long as we have processes to improve, lean management will be useful for the company. Hence, having processes in the financial industry makes the lean management implementable.

A difficult point will be now to convince people to get involve in a such organisation as lean strategy usually takes place on the long term and result are difficult to see on the sort term.

Many people will ask you the following questions: “Does this strategy will positively impact the financial turnover of the company? Will we see a real improvement on a financial point of view?”

A simple answer to this question is to make a quick exercise.

Find two teams having similar missions such as entering consumer transaction. We will give to each member post-it and ask them to detail how they process step by step to accomplish the task. This will create a map of the employee activity and way of working. At the end, we will put on a wall every map coming from each employee and will see which step are the most listed. This will give us the most important part to keep in the process and we will be able to look at the remaining others and see if it is possible to remove them.

After this exercise, we can now prove that on a middle to long term strategy, after some change in team’s organizations, the company will be able to perform a quicker and more qualitative service to its customer. The financial result of this strategy will be the reduction of costs, (less time to perform a task) and also an increase of the company’s turnover because employees will be able to perform more tasks in a same period of time compare than before thanks to this new organisation.

Lean is about standardizing processes to make problems visible and developing your employees’ critical thinking ability so that they can solve those problems and improve work processes. In these conditions, financial industry can take advantage of these methods and it’s sure that some of them have already started to use them in their daily activities.

Florent BOUILLY

References:

http://leleanmanufacturing.com/histoire-du-lean/

https://www.institut-lean-france.fr/lean-management-resultats-incomparables/

https://www.lean.org/WhoWeAre/LEINewsStory.cfm?NewsArticleId=17

http://www.industryweek.com/blog/lean-even-more-important-services-manufacturing


Ilias KACHMARIlias KACHMARJuly 25, 2018
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17min1340

The carbon market… What is it?

Roughly speaking, it is a market similar to the equity market where we find buyers, sellers and brokers, but instead of trading shares, we negotiate rights or credits for CO2 emissions. Companies are first subject to emission quotas that they must reach, and then during each year, a CO2 emission quota is allocated to each facility (1 quota = 1 ton of CO2). In the European Union, if a company emits more carbon than the imposed limit by the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS), the company must buy a “right to pollute” from a company that consumed less than its quota.

Effectively, companies that fail to ensure their quotas must purchase “rights” to emit more CO2. On the other hand, a company that has managed to emit lower quotas than what was imposed, will obtain credits of which can be sold on the market, all through different types of contracts. The aim of this system is to reward the “good performers” who invest in clean technologies by allowing them to earn money by selling their credits and penalizing those who exceed their quotas by forcing them to buy “rights” to pollute more.

There are two types of carbon markets: A “regulated” and a “voluntary” carbon market. The regulated carbon market concerns the countries that are part of the Kyoto Protocol. It is binding, and concerns the five sectors considered as the most polluting sectors: electricity production, steel, paper, refining, and glass. On the other hand, the voluntary market is open to everyone: anyone can offer CO2 credits, but for this to work you need at least a label.

In the regulated market by the Kyoto Protocol, there are different types of mechanisms for green project financing. For example, the “joint implementation mechanism” gives companies the opportunity to invest in “clean projects” outside of their national territory and subsequently generates greenhouse gas emission credits that can be used by these investors. There is also the “clean development mechanism”, which allows developed countries to achieve their greenhouse gas emission reduction targets by investing in projects that reduce these emissions in developing countries. In return, they obtain emission credits that can be used for their own greenhouse gas reduction targets.

Several types of gas are involved in this market:

Carbon dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4), Nitrous oxide (N2O), Sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), Hydrofluorocarbons (HFC), Perfluorocarbons (PFC) or per fluorinated hydrocarbons.

Some key data…

The carbon market is also a public policy tool to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (mainly CO2) in the atmosphere, of which are responsible for global warming. As a result, companies are driven to invest in green and less polluting technologies, whether in the energy, transportation, housing or agriculture sectors.

Nowadays, 60% of global GDP is covered by a carbon price, and to reach it, 46 countries and 26 provinces/cities have introduced carbon pricing, whether through tax or emissions trading schemes.

Nonetheless, this level still seems too low to support the transition to a low-carbon economy in both public and private sectors, according to the I4CE, Institute for Climate Economics:

Indeed, more and more countries have introduced taxes or markets since the Paris Agreement to give CO2 a price, each country has its own carbon price and the differences vary by less than 1 Euro, as in Poland and Ukraine, up to 139 € in Sweden. There is no common global carbon price and prices vary considerably from one country to another!

As a result, it is difficult to assess the economic consequences of climate change. However, US researchers have calculated the effects on the world economy if we line up on a trajectory of 1.5 ° C by the end of the century. The result is a gain estimated at $ 20 trillion.

We can also note that 75% of emissions are covered by prices not exceeding $10 per tonne of CO2. The objective of limiting the global temperature to 2 ° C by the end of the century as set by the Paris Agreement cannot be achieved given these large price differences. According to economists and presidents of the High Level Commission on Carbon Prices, Stern and Stiglitz, prices should vary between $ 40 and $ 80 per tonne by 2020, then between $ 50 and $ 100 by 2050 to achieve this goal.

Carbon revenues are an increasingly important source of financing for the environment and the economy” stated by the I4CE.

Indeed, this carbon pricing generates 32 billion dollars of revenues in 2017, against 22 billion dollars in 2016. These revenues are used for the general public budget, for projects dedicated to low carbon transition, to finance tax exemptions and a small part is transferred to companies and households.

China creates the world’s largest carbon market

Heavyweights like China and Canada; respectively because of coal-fired power plants and tar sands industry, are among the largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Thus, between 2016 and 2018, the percentage of global emissions covered by carbon pricing has almost doubled from 13% to 25%, mainly through the entry into force of the Chinese trading system in 2017. For the coming years, more than 25 pricing instruments are announced.

As of 19th December 2017, China has created the largest carbon market in the world, and largely surpasses the European emissions trading market. The more companies pay to pollute, the more motivated they will be to invest in the clean energy sector, where China is already a world leader in term of investment. Surprising, no?

With the launch of this carbon market, China not only sees a market opportunity, but also intends to be at the forefront of the global warming fight, just when the United States decided not to more honor their commitments. At the Paris agreement, China promised to reduce its carbon emissions by 60% to 65% per unit of GDP by 2030, compared to 2005 levels.

When it comes to reducing carbon emissions, it’s not just about what governments can do, but about what the population itself can do. The United Nations reported that the entire process of producing, harvesting, transporting, and packing food waste generates more than 3 billion tons of CO2. If this food waste quantity was a country, it would be the third largest greenhouse gases emitter behind the United States and China.

Other regions are pulling out of the system, and see it as a disadvantage: Ontario

Ontario, however, sees things differently. Ontario’s new Prime Minister Doug Ford since the 29th June 2018, rather conservative, is fulfilling his election promise to take the province out of the common carbon market with Quebec and California.

Why?

According to him:

Cap and trade systems for greenhouse gas emissions are nothing more than tax levies that do not represent any gain for the environment and deprive taxpayers of their money – they primarily serve to fund large government programs.

The Earth biodiversity will undergo important changes if humans do not react in time!

International trades are primarily derived from fauna and flora, and global warming will impact them seriously.

This would result the extinction of several hundred thousand plant species. CO2 causes an increase in the growth rate of plants, but the increase in temperature will have repercussions on their lives. Global warming will also increase the severity of disease in the ocean and cause a deterioration on the marine ecosystem health (fish, algae, corals, etc.), and the entire food chain will be impacted.

Reducing these inequities and inefficiencies would save a lot of money. Does the human race realize that if plants disappear because of the increase of CO2 present in the atmosphere and the decrease of the oxygen, many forests would disappear, there would be less food for human consumption and many species would become extinct? Life in general would suffer unthinkable consequences. As a result, the Earth’s biodiversity will undergo significant changes if humans do not react in time.

Nowadays, there is a lack of projects that allows or targets waste transformation into energy, and that in some countries landfills are burned, partly responsible for greenhouse gas emissions instead of being used for example in transportation or local energy.

Therefore, the carbon market seems to be a good tool to encourage a real energy transition and to unite all countries efforts.

For that to occur, all countries would need to abide by these rules through energy production, agricultural transformation and waste management. Countries would need to take advantage of these financial resources to be able to invest differently and durably!

The Earth biodiversity will undergo significant changes if humans do not react in time.”

Sources:

http://edgar.jrc.ec.europa.eu/overview.php?v=CO2andGHG1970-2016&sort=des8

https://www.contrepoints.org/2018/06/22/318712-lenergie-par-le-marche-plutot-que-par-letat

https://www.novethic.fr/actualite/environnement/climat/isr-rse/le-bon-prix-pour-le-carbone-50-a-100-la-tonne-en-2030-144475.html

https://www.ecologique-solidaire.gouv.fr/marches-du-carbone

 


Ilias KACHMARIlias KACHMARJuly 23, 2018
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6min960

The French SME lending company has made the decision to increase its loan capacity by 200 million euros. A decision that should reassure private investors.

Lendix decides to think bigger. With the creation of a new fund of 200 million euros, the leader of “crowdfunding” hopes to guarantee to SMEs access to loans. This fund “ensures private customers and offers insurance to borrowers to receive their funds very quickly,” said Thomas de Bourayne, president of Credit.fr. The European Investment Bank (EIB) is one of the investors.

« Increase its strategic strength »

The French platform, which has already lent 150 million euros to SMEs, aims to extend its scope.

“This new commitment of leading institutional investors will increase Lendix’s strength by supporting more than 600 VSEs & SMEs in their development,” said Olivier Goy, founder and president of Lendix. This initiative will undoubtedly help boost the investment of European SMEs, and consolidate its leading position in its category in France: A decision that seems responsible considering how Lendix remains below its target risk budget of 2% of outstandings. Nevertheless, the gap remains wide with the UK world leader Funding Circle, which reported having lent more than $ 5 billion.

However, it should be noted that to lend money to a SME, Lendix proceeds firstly with an eligibility test. It is necessary that:
• The head office has to be in Metropolitan France,
• The company must have a commercial activity,
• The turnover must be greater than 250 000 €,
• Operating incomes must be positive.

An in-depth study is then carried out on the career of the CEO where they verify whether he has created other companies or not, and whether they are doing well or not.

Once these verifications have been made, and to ensure their viability and profitability, the analyst examines – through financial documents – the company’s profitability and repayment capacity, its solvency through EBITDA and equities.

No SME is immune to bankruptcy!

According to a study carried out by the Banque de France from March 2017 to March 2018, the number of SME defaults is decreasing. Defaults are falling for all SMEs (-7.1%) and are increasing for medium-sized companies and large companies (+17 failures over one year), as shown in the table below:

 

Source : Banque de France, Direction des Entreprises, Données disponibles fin mai 2018

The higher the rating, the lower the loan rate!

Even if the number of SME bankruptcies in France decreases, Lendix must ensure that the company to which it will lend funds will be able to repay.
To do such, the Lendix credit team guarantees – as soon as the offer is issued – a fixed interest rate for the entire duration of the contract, based on a rating assigned to the project. This rating, ranging from A+ to C, allows lenders to easily understand the repayment capacity of the company and the risk level of the project to finance.

Here are the loan rates defined for each rating:

 

Source: https://lendix.com

In order to evaluate the loan rate amount, several criteria are taken into account:
– The performance of the company
– The Business environment
– The quality of the management team

The higher the Fixed Charge Coverage Ratio (FCCR), the greater the margin of safety!

Above all is calculated the Fixed Charge Coverage Ratio (FCCR) through the following formula:


• If the FCCR is < 1, there is not enough profitability to cover the debt repayment charges,
• If the FCCR is = 1, the profitability is just enough to cover the debt repayment expenses,
• If the FCCR is > 1, the profitability is sufficient to cover the expenses of repayment of debts.

Thus, in order to ensure its financial independence, any SME must diversify its sources of financing so as to ensure a positive growth, manage its risks and ensure its financial balance.

This decision taken by Lendix is somewhat correlated with the decrease in the number of SME bankruptcies and the growing number of created companies that will perhaps be tomorrow’s large groups.

Sources:
https://www.banque-france.fr/statistiques/chiffres-cles-france-et-etranger/defaillances-dentreprises
https://lendix.com/les-etapes-de-selection-dune-entreprise-chez-lendix/
https://fitsmallbusiness.com/what-is-fixed-charge-coverage-ratio-fccr/


Edouard CHANSAVANGEdouard CHANSAVANGJuly 22, 2018
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14min1030

More information can be found on ZeroHedge or more “traditional” media, but the quick bottom line is that real estate in China seems to be relatively positively correlated with its stock market (pictures 2 and 3).  Chinese equity seemed to have led slightly ahead the timing of the beginning of the bullish (bubblish) trend towards the end of 2014 as Chinese real estate in every cities from all 4 Tiers became buoyant soon after during the beginning of 2015. It must be stressed that most Chinese households hold nearly 75% of their wealth stacked in real estate, while American people have their wealth mostly invested in financial products (picture 1).

Source: ZeroHedge

Source: ZeroHedge

Shanghai Composite (Weekly): Compare the Chinese real estate and equity markets (March 11, 2018)

There are plenty of news related to Chinese real estate special situations and it is well known that the Chinese government attempted several times to curb down price. However, in January 2018, price tags started to decrease for the first time since May 2015 – which corresponds to the peak of the Chinese stock market bubble that became more apparent after the introduction of, you guess what, the European Quantitative Easing.

Source: ZeroHedge

Interestingly enough, soon after the Chinese president Xi Jin Ping  modified the constitution to become a potential “eternal” president, the drafting of a bill for property taxes in China was made public almost concomitantly. This coincidence appears to be too good and well-timed to be true. Are we finally sitting on the top of the cycles (fundamentally and technically speaking) as many “specialists” have already foreseen?

Xi Jin Ping’s focus on corruption crack-downs could have been extremely strategic so that opposing political powers and elites would be forced to step down. This could have given free reins to the man and its companions to keep the power and, ultimately, control market cycles in a global way.

It is also very noteworthy to mention that the Chinese Central Bank’s head Zhou Xiaochuan was replaced for the first time in 15 years on March 19, 2018 by Yi Gang, an US-educated Chinese man who also taught at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis. Other institutional shifts and changes happened to appear almost concomitantly in China, such as the merger of bank and insurance regulators that would grant nearly all the power to its central bank.

Now, check the last update of the chart of Chinese equities after I wrote the first line on March 11, 2018:

S

Shanghai Composite (Weekly) as of July 9, 2018: More than -20% since its peak in January

The Chinese stock market has tumbled and lost more than 20% of its nominal value so far since its last peak of the year on January.

This market could become very bearish as already expected previously. Let’s see how everything will end.

—————————————————————————————————————


Another crunchy piece of news concerns the acceptance of the US president Donald Trump to meet the North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. This setup was naturally not “random”, otherwise everything in life would be too simplistic and easy.

A fashion trend about Korea hype has been continuously building up for many years. Korean students are known to be working and studying really hard, despite some negative impacts that it brought up under the will of the Korean conglomerates (Chaebol) to control its people. This also helped the Korean to improve the country’s economy albeit all the sacrifices that have been made. The well-being of the country’s people is generally improving, and their Purchasing Power Parity will soon (in 2020?) be above those of the French and the Italian, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Moreover, that increase in focus on Korea was further spurred by the 130th Anniversary of the French – Korean diplomatic relationship in 2016. Korean people are travelling around the world, especially in Europe, more than ever. That is the “new” Asia-Pacific trend.

Among too many other things, this naturally leads to the discussion on North Korea and the claim by many experts of the potential that it could create should it reunite with its old sister, South Korea.

Source: abcnews.go.com

One key word besides the meeting of the American and North Korean leaders is cycle timing. We do not know what will happen. Not yet. But there is in fact another extremely important point that has not been widely discuss so far: rare earth minerals are abundant in North Korea and China, especially one: Neodymium. Without delving into further details, it is said that Toyota has discovered a new way to create magnets for its hybrid cars that would be much cheaper and less dependable on this “rare-earth metal” which is also used in the construction of wind turbines, semi-conductors and so on. This “geopolitical” move is indeed clearly more economic than ever. The Olympic Games that were held in February 2018 in Pyeongchang, South Korea, are probably another good excuse.


https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-toyota-magnet/new-toyota-magnet-cuts-dependence-on-key-rare-earth-metal-for-ev-motors-idUKKCN1G4132


Engy AlyJuly 20, 2018
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12min1360

Introduction

Egyptian Women always played vital roles in their society, they played great parts in peace and in wars , Egyptian women were pioneers in all fields of life such as Science, Politics, Art, Education and many other fields, to the extent that the first university built in Egypt was funded by the jewelry donated by Princess Fatma Ismail in 1908. There are very Prominent names like Om Kalthoum the great singer, Samira Mousa the Nuclear Physicist, and the list goes on. The Role played by Egyptian women is not a recent one. By Ancient times, women had the same basic human rights as men. Hatshepsut was the first female leader in history to rule a great empire for about 20 years, she has always been known to be a peaceful ruler that ensured economic prosperity and building but also kept the whole empire under control. So, when we talk about the empowerment of Egyptian woman, we are talking about regaining her position in society.

What is women Empowerment?

Empowerment in general, is the process of increasing the capacity of individuals or groups to make choices and to transform those choices into desired actions and outcomes. Through the process, an individual becomes an agent of change. More simply put, it’s the “can do” factor, going from “I can’t” to “I can.” According to UNwomen, Empowering women in Particular to participate fully in economic life across all sectors is essential to build stronger economies, achieve internationally agreed goals for development and sustainability, and improve the quality of life for women, men, families and communities. The Women’s Empowerment Principles offer practical guidance to business and the private sector on how to empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community.

Importance of Women Empowerment

Today women struggle all over the world to be treated as fair as men, their way to success is always more difficult than men. In a lot of parts of the world, women are facing cruelty and overburden workload with lack of power and influence. Despite all that, women who are seeking empowerment are not just seeking equality or work, they are seeking sharing the responsibility economically and socially. That is why empowerment of women is an important goal in itself. Gender equality, better political, social, economic and health status will have great impact on the community. It is also essential for sustainable development.

Summing Up the outcomes of Empowering Women, first reduction of population growth rate in developing countries that suffer from overcrowdings as the cost of having a new baby will be high as it can be a long homestay, less income, lower probability in promotion or any other reason that will affect the family’s income. Also, Women Empowerment will cause less crimes in the community as the perception about the power a woman or a girl has will change, leading to mutual respect between society members and reduction of cruelty against women and girls such as killing unwanted baby girls, honor killing and other forms of such crimes. Another thing is that females represent 49.6% of the world population. That is half the population, providing work and education so that women contribute to the economy, that is good allocation of resources, for women to be source of income instead of using resources only without any contribution.

Empowerment of Women in Egypt

Egypt is Classified to be among the countries ‘very high’ in gender discrimination, according to The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Social Institutions and Gender Index 2014, which measures legislation, practices, and attitudes that restrict women’s rights and opportunities. Another measurement is the 2015 Global Gender Gap Index, which measures disparities between men and women across countries, ranks Egypt at 136 out of 145 countries worldwide. Women have significantly lower participation in the labor force than men (26% vs 79%)and declining, also lower literacy (65% literacy for women vs 82% of males). All of this besides the harsh economic conditions in Egypt and lower quality of education causing a lot of social problems leading to less and less opportunities for women to rise up. According to IMF, empowering women in Egypt will increase GDP by approximately 34%. That in itself is a great driver for the government to focus on Women concerning the economic situation in Egypt Today.

There are two main players in the field of empowering women in Egypt. The first is USAID programs and organizations that focus on women. the other player is the NGOs either the Egyptian or Arab ones. USAID is one of the strongest partners with the Egyptian government. USAID works at many levels engaging women at different levels of living standards and education. USAID programs focus on many aspects like Health, improving skills to be able to compete for job opportunities, developing technological and managerial skills to be able to start a new business and many other fields. They are also focusing on the global initiative of women empower women and promoting collaboration among women to stand up for themselves. Some of the activities that has been done recently are UNICEF financially supporting community schools and UNGEI advocating for a higher female attendance, also implementing the Strengthening Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development (SEED) project, which aids women with business strategies and guides them toward opening their own businesses.

The other main player is the Egyptian and Arab NGOs, they mainly fight for women anti- discrimination rights by working to improve the legal and political situation of women in Egypt. Some of the vital Issues they work on: Divorce law, Antiharassment movements, women’s right to choose and control their lives, Marriage age, Education, Healthcare, Child Labor and many other aspects that are part of Egyptian women daily struggle. There are many NGOs that focus on women, some of the most prominent ones are The National Council for Women, Regional Network on Arab Women and The Egyptian Center for Women Rights.

What can be done to make women situation better? 

To make the situation better there are two key issues. First women should stand up for themselves and form alliances to support each other, only women can empower women. The other thing is the role of the government, it should invest in education and encourage learning for both males and females to improve the quality of the social life in the country. Also, the laws that affect women like divorce and harassment, not only to be revised but also to put them into action. The government should study the reasons that is really behind declining number of working women and encourage women to come out of the shadows of the parallel economy and work under the umbrella of the government. The government should encourage entities that hire women and setup standards for women safe work environment and the entities that have higher rankings according to these measurements should be encouraged and get incentives.

References

country meters . (2018, 2 21). Retrieved from country meters : http://countrymeters.info/en/World

GENDER EQUALITY AND WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT. (2018, 2 27). Retrieved from USAID: https://www.usaid.gov/egypt/gender-equality-and-womens-empowerment

Hatshepsut Biography. (2018, 2 21). Retrieved from Biography: https://www.biography.com/people/hatshepsut-9331094

Nazier, H., & Ramadan, R. (2016). WOMEN’S PARTICIPATION IN LABOR MARKET IN EGYPT: CONSTRAINTS AND OPPORTUNITIES. Working Paper Series 999 (p. 31). Cairo, Egypt : Economic Research Forum .

Princess Fatma Ismail. (2018, 2 21). Retrieved from Wikipedia : 

Promoting Women’s Empowerment in Egypt. (2018, March 14). Retrieved from The Borgen Project: https://borgenproject.org/womens-empowerment-in-egypt/

the seven most prominent women organizations in egypt . (2018, 2 27). Retrieved from domasr:

what is meant by women empowermet. (2018, 2 21). Retrieved from quora.com: https://www.quora.com/What-is-meant-by-women-empowerment-why-is-it-needed

What is Women’s Empowerment? (2018, 2 21). Retrieved from Huffingtonpost: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/jin-in/what-is-womens-empowerment_b_9399668.html

Women Empowerment. (2018, 2 21). Retrieved from United Nations Population Fund : https://www.unfpa.org/resources/issue-7-women-empowerment

Women of Ancient Egypt. (2018, February 21). Retrieved from Ancient Civilizations : http://www.ushistory.org/civ/3f.asp

Women’s Empowerment Principles: Equality Means Business. (2018, 2 21). Retrieved from UNwomen: http://www.unwomen.org/en/digital-library/publications/2011/10/women-s-empowerment-principles-equality-means-business


Rihab HAFIDHIRihab HAFIDHIJuly 17, 2018
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7min950

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”

The New Colossus, engraved on the Statue of Liberty

Homo Sapiens have been relocating around the planet since the beginning of time. Estimates vary, but modern humans started to spread out from Africa around 80,000 to 60,000 years ago, and since then they have been moving all over the globe.

Here, we will try to look into international migration, and focus on voluntary economic migration in particular. In 1889, Georg Ravenstein wrote in his Laws of Migration : “Bad or oppressive laws, heavy taxation, an unattractive climate, uncongenial social surroundings, and even compulsion… all have produced and are still producing currents of migration, but none of these currents can compare in volume with that which arises from the desire inherent in most men to ‘better’ themselves in material respects.” Ravenstein wrote this during the Great Atlantic Migration, which began in the 1840s as large numbers of Europeans relocated to the Americas.

Immigration is, in many ways, a result of technological advances. Improved transportation like steamships reduced the cost and difficulty of travel, and the rapidly growing industries of the west needed foreign labor to keep producing.

Today, immigration is a major component of the economy and is one of the most contentious issues of almost every election. Most studies agree that immigration is beneficial for national economies and associate it to increases in GDP and in productivity. Its opponents, however, point to the costs that usually come along with immigration and that it might result into short term drops in wages and contribute to inequality by shifting money from labor to capital.

Harvard economist George Borjas wrote about a category of economic models he called the Immigration Surplus. Population growth through immigration increases the demand for goods, which can, in the long term, lead to more employment and higher wages. This can come at the cost of people who are already in the job market, as cheap immigrant labor can drive down wages. But the majority of economists point to this as a short-term effect, and that the overall growth in the economy driven by population growth will eventually push wages up.

Furthermore, the immigration of high-skilled workers has many advantages. Studies indicate that high-skilled immigrants are more inclined to innovation. Actually, foreign-born entrepreneurs register about 25% of new patents in the United States. The 1998 doubling of the quota for H1-B visas, which enable employers to hire high-skilled foreign workers, led to an average 15% of revenue increase for the American companies in question.

And that’s not just pie in the sky liberal thinking. Many non-partisan thinkers and economists believe that immigration reform granting easier access to a legal status would bring undocumented workers into the tax base, and thus leading to more growth in revenue and creating additional jobs.

If the debate over immigration were only about economics, there wouldn’t be much of a debate. But the world is a very complex place. Like any form of economic change, immigration causes anxiety and disruption to many communities. But in general, nations thrive on dynamic transformations that produce winners as well as losers. Such transformations stimulate growth. Certain societies with a dominating nationalist culture have opted for more controls and regulations on immigration and labor markets. They certainly have more stability, but less growth and fewer jobs. Economists have highlighted these issues, but they still cannot decide them. The resolution depends on a question that David Card once asked but our politicians have not yet come to answer: “What is it that immigration policy is supposed to achieve?”


Rihab HAFIDHIRihab HAFIDHIJuly 17, 2018
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10min710

The main spur to trade or rather to industry and ingenuity, Is the exorbitant appetite of men, which they will take pain to gratify.

John Cary, 1695

Capitalism is an economic and cultural system that is characterized by innovation, risk taking and private investment to increase wealth.

Let’s say it’s the 13th Century and you’re a fabric merchant. Just like merchants today, you sometimes need to borrow money or credit to buy the fabrics you want to resell at a profit, in order to pay them back with interest once you’ve resold the merchandise. This is called mercantile capitalism, which was a global phenomenon from the Chinese, to the Indian overseas trade network, to Muslim merchants who would sponsor trade convoys across the Arabian Desert. By the 17th century, British and Dutch merchants had expanded upon this idea to create joint stock companies in order to finance bigger trade missions and spread the risk of international trade. These were the beginnings. However, industrial capitalism is completely different, both in scale and in practice. According to Joyce Appleby’s definition, it is: “An economic system that relies on investment of capital in machines and technology that are used to increase production of marketable goods”.

Industrial capitalism developed first in Britain, which was the dominant power on the seas and was making wealth off its trades with its colonies, in the 19th century. The growth of capitalism was supported by the half-century of civil unrest resulting from the 17th century English civil war. The economic regulations imposed by the British crown before the war couldn’t be maintained during the turmoil, which led to freer markets. Another factor was the remarkable increase in agricultural productivity by the end of the 16th century. As food prices started to climb, it became profitable for farmers, both large and small, to invest in agricultural technologies that improve crop yields. The higher prices for grain resulted from population growth, which in turn was boosted by increased production of food crops. This increased productivity, eventually brought down prices, thus encouraging more innovation in order to increase yield. Lower food prices had an added benefit: since food cost less and wages remained the same, workers had more disposable income, which means more consumption. This incentivized people to make consumer goods more efficiently.

This rapidly increasing productivity also meant that fewer laborers had to work in agriculture to feed the population. To put this in perspective, 80% of the English population in 1520 worked the land. By 1800, only 36% of adult male workers were in agriculture and in 1850 that percentage dropped to 25.

One of the ways the British achieved this agricultural productivity was through the process of enclosure, through which landlords could reclaim and privatize fields that for centuries had been held in common by multiple tenant farmers.

Now capitalism is also a cultural system, and it is rooted in the need of private investors to make profit. Thus, people had to develop the capitalist values of taking risks and investing in innovation. The main reason why these values developed in Britain was that they were very well publicized. Writers like Thomas Mun, who worked for the English East India Company, exposed people to the idea that it was human nature for individuals to participate in markets as rational actors. Even the English language changed; the word “individual” wasn’t introduced until the 17th century and up until the 18th century a “career” referred only to the racing life of a horse.

Today we’re in the 21st century and it is evident that industrial capitalism has overcome. But it isn’t without its critics or shortcomings. One way that workers responded to these shortcomings was by forming labor unions. Another response was socialism. Capitalism advocates like to point out that it’s more inclined to human nature which means that if left to our own devices, humans would still construct capitalist economic relationships. Socialism in the other hand, at least in its modern versions, makes fewer pretenses towards being an expression of human nature; but rather the result of human choice and human planning.

We can confidently say that today industrial capitalism has won out, at least for now, and in terms of material well-being and access to goods and services, it is rather a good thing. But how and to what extent can we use socialist values to regulate free markets remains an open question. Is capitalist competition natural and good or should there be systems in place to regulate it for the sake of our collective well-being? Should we provide free health care for the sick and pensions for the old? Should governments run businesses and if so, which ones? Those are the challenges where industrial capitalism and socialism are still competing and in that sense the struggle continues.



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