Archive for November, 2009
By Erin Kobayashi
The U.S. Secretary of State mentioned Ethiopian shoes. The next day, in the Ethiopian village of Zenabework, an Internet search of Clinton’s talk made Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu feel elated.
“It was big news,” Tilahun Alemu, founder of sole Rebels footwear, says in a phone interview. “Our company is the first brand of footwear from Ethiopia. When (Clinton) mentioned shoes, my team and I were very happy. Even the government was happy to be recognized.”
Five years ago, Tilahun Alemu along with her husband and her brother, started sole Rebels to re-imagine the slate shoe, a traditional Ethiopian design using a recycled tire sole. Their goal was to create jobs for a devastated community that heavily relied on charitable aid, and where the people typically wore new Nike, sketchers and Pony sneakers.
“I wanted to show people who if we all worked hard we could have jobs, decent pay, get regular work and feel the pride that comes with financing ourselves and not waiting for handouts,” says Tilahun Alemu. Now a mother of two, she studied accounting at Ethiopia’s Unity University College but grew up watching family members spin cotton on the enzert, a traditional hand-operated wooden spindle with no carbon emission.
Packaging for the shoes – flip-flops and casual slip-ons for $35 and $60 (U.S.) – is made from recycled shipping cartons and pairs are shipped in reusable hand-loomed cotton bags
Currently, sole Rebels employs 40 full-time workers and 100 part-timers who hand-spin the locally grown organic cotton shoes. Growing up and working in the Addis Ababa region, Tilahun Alemu has known her employees for years – many are her neighbors and family members and elders in the community.
“I think the idea of a `green business’ or `Earth friendly’ is a bit of a faddish label that doesn’t express the value of who and what we are,” she says. “Ethiopia is one of the last authentically organic environments in which cotton is grown. Owing to the privations endured here, most small-scale cotton farmers never use anything more complex than animal dung as fertilizer.”
Sole Rebels, recognized as one of few fair-trade footwear firms by the World Fair Trade Organization, created the back2school support program for workers and an educational fund for workers’ children.
“The bottom line for me is that the better educated our work force is, the better people they will be inside and outside the company,” Tilahun Alemu says.
Ayda Assefa, president of the Ethiopian Association in Toronto, is impressed by Tilahun Alemu.
“In Ethiopia, it is very difficult for women to take initiative and make something like a shoe company work,” she says. “It is great to see Ethiopian women are taking charge of their own lives and not being seen as victims but as independent individuals who can take care of themselves and their community economically.”
Erin Kobayashi is a writer based in Toronto. firstname.lastname@example.org
U.S. Senate Confirms Daniel W. Yohannes as CEO of Millennium Challenge Corporation
Washington, D.C. – (November 20, 2009) – Today the United States Senate unanimously confirmed President Barack Obama’s nomination of Daniel W. Yohannes as the new Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. Government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). As CEO, Mr. Yohannes will undertake MCC’s mission to reduce poverty through economic growth.
MCC is an innovative and independent U.S. foreign aid agency that is helping lead the fight against global poverty. Created by the U.S. Congress in January 2004, with strong bipartisan support, MCC is changing the conversation on the delivery of U.S. foreign assistance by focusing on good policies, country ownership, and results.
During his confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Mr. Yohannes said, “I welcome the opportunity to lead MCC. I will work as a good emissary for MCC to partners around the world, to U.S. Congress, and to all stakeholders, with the input of MCC’s professionals, the Board of Directors, the development community, partner countries, and the private sector. I’m confident that MCC’s anti-poverty partnerships worldwide will generate sustainable economic growth and opportunity, and this is fundamental to enhancing our collective security and common humanity for a more prosperous, peaceful world.”
Mr. Yohannes continued, “We have a lot to accomplish in order to advance our government’s vision to reduce global poverty. It is challenging to replace patronage with partnership to deliver smart aid that matters by encouraging some policies, country-led development, and sustainable results. MCC offers some important lessons on where to start. MCC lays an innovative foundation to address the complex problem of global poverty.”
Following is Mr. Yohannes’ biography:
Daniel W. Yohannes, Chief Executive Office, Millennium Challenge Corporation
Daniel W. Yohannes, a former banker and active philanthropist from Englewood, Colorado, was nominated by President Obama as Chief Executive Officer of MCC on September 18, 2009.
Since retiring from his post as Vice Chairman of U.S. Bank in 2003, Mr. Yohannes has been a private investor specializing in real estate, financial institutions, and the renewable energy sector. From 1992 to 1999, Mr. Yohannes was President and CEO of Colorado National Bank (part of U.S. Bank), and before this held a number of leadership roles at Security Pacific Bank (now Bank of America).
Mr. Yohannes is active in his community and serves on various boards and civil organizations, including the Board of the National Jewish Hospital, the Denver Art Museum’s Board of Trustees, and the Board of Directors for the University of Colorado Medical School. He was a board member of Project C.U.R.E. (Commission on Urgent Relief & Equipment), which provides medical supplies for needy people around the world, and chairman of the Mayor of Denver’s Greenprint Council, a leadership group focused on improving the environment of cities and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Mr. Yohannes graduated from Claremont McKenna College with a B.A. in Economics and earned an M.B.A. from Pepperdine University. Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, he is fluent in Amharic.
Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a United States Government agency designed to work with developing countries, is based on the principle that aid is most effective when it reinforces good governance, economic freedom, and investments in people who promote economic growth and help eliminate extreme poverty. For more information about MCC, visit www.mcc.gov.
By Getachew Teklu
New and outstanding roads covering close 38,000 km were constructed and renovated over the last 12 years, Ethiopian Roads Authority said. Authority Director Zaid Wolde-gabriel said while addressing a relevant conference organized to discuss the road development program here on Thursday that about 45.3 billion Birr was spent on the construction of the roads. He further said the country has managed to achieve an encouraging result in the road sector. New and outstanding roads covering over 37,000 km are also under construction presently. The length of roads which are considered in a good condition is estimated to be 54 per cent now, according to Ezedin. He further said 90 per cent of the maintenance of roads are being undertaken by local contractor.
EU Trade: New Report From Commission Shows Protectionism Measures Adopted By Trade Partners
Source: European Commission
Published Monday, 9 November, 2009
According to a new monitoring report published today by the European Commission, the European Union’s major trade partners have taken more than 220 potentially trade restrictive measures between October 2008 and October 2009. Measures range from classical trade barriers such as import bans or tariff increases to more sophisticated measures such as “buy national” policies. Classical barriers alone potentially affect roughly 5% of EU exports. In the report, the European Commission calls for continued openness and engagement at a time of economic turmoil.
EU Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton said: “This report underlines that we need to remain vigilant, even if the worst-case scenario of a protectionist downward spiral has been avoided. The EU for its part will stick to its G20 pledge to refrain from protectionist measures. We remain committed to open and fair trade.”
This monitoring and reporting exercise is part of a wider effort to keep markets open and trade flowing, which is becoming a key factor driving global recovery. The report finds that the current world trade system has passed one of the most serious stress tests in its entire history. However, it also warns that persistent high unemployment and budget deficits could become a source of new protectionist pressures.
At the Washington Summit in November 2008, the G20 committed to a self-imposed standstill in terms of new barriers to investment or to trade in goods and services, new export restrictions or WTO inconsistent measures to stimulate exports. The London summit in April 2009 reinforced this commitment, notably by providing an explicit mandate to the WTO to monitor and to report publicly on the evolution of the situation on a quarterly basis.
The EU is firmly committed to this pledge. In order to underpin this commitment the European Commission has been monitoring potentially trade restrictive measures from among its forty main trading partners since the outbreak of the crisis. The European Commission’s reporting complements the monitoring exercise done by the WTO.
The main conclusions of the new EU report are as follows:
While global trade has started to stabilise since the summer, trade volumes in August 2009 were still 18% below their peak in April 2008. But it appears that the sharp drop in world trade was above all a reaction to the financial crisis and not driven by trade policy initiatives.
This being said, 223 potentially trade restrictive measures have been reported between October 2008 and October 2009.
The use of classical border measures such as import bans or tariffs in response to the crisis has been clearly contained because of existing WTO disciplines. This being said, classical border measures potentially still affect 5,2% of EU exports.
At the same time, other types of “behind-the-border” trade restrictions have multiplied in the areas where WTO rules are less stringent, such as government procurement.
On balance, a protectionist worst-case scenario has been avoided as the measures taken so far are rather limited in scope. This is partially the result of the firm commitment at the level of G20.
There is a risk that certain measures will remain in place as the crisis retreats, in particular for countries that stay outside the WTO framework. Moreover the risk of a domino effect cannot be discarded.
In view of these risks, the EU will continue to contribute actively to the global monitoring exercise with a view to keeping markets open.
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt -(Dow Jones)- China’s premier pledged Saturday to deepen with Africa, further open Chinese markets to African goods and accelerate aid to areas including agriculture and education.
“Our assistance is sincere and selfless with no political strings attached,” said Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, during the opening ceremony of the Forum On China African Cooperation, or FOCAC, held at the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh.
Wen comments came amid criticism that Beijing’s no-strings-attached investments and loans undercut political and economic reform efforts by Western governments and bodies such as the World Bank.
Wen said China will “provide more interest-free, concessional loans and commercial loans and gradually expand the China-Africa development fund.”
China’s investment in Africa has grown sharply in recent years, from a low base, as Beijing catches up with Western companies already established on the African continent. Chinese investment in Africa reached $26 billion by the end of 2008, and trade between China and Africa hit $106.8 billion.
The premier also said China will increase the scale of trade and will provide greater market access to African products gradually. He added that it will extend zero-tariff treatment to the majority of African countries.
“We will continue to undertake major infrastructure projects,” said Wen. “We will issue more funds to areas related to people’s livelihood, including agriculture, education, health, poverty reduction and clean drinking water and help African countries attain the U.N. millennium development goals at an earlier date,” he added.
FOCAC, which is held every three years, was first held in Beijing in 2000. Three years later, the meeting was held in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, followed by a China-Africa Summit in 2006.
In 2006, China said it would take measures including canceling debts and lifting tariffs on some goods.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. unemployment rate unexpectedly jumped to 10.2 percent in October, breaching the politically sensitive double-digit barrier for the first time in 26-1/2 years, even though the pace of job losses slowed.
A Labor Department report showed on Friday that employers cut 190,000 jobs last month, more than the 175,000 markets had expected. Economists had looked for the jobless rate to rise to only 9.9 percent from 9.8 percent the prior month.
The government revised job losses for August and September to show 91,000 fewer jobs lost than previously reported.
U.S. stock index futures turned negative on the data, while government debt prices rose.
“The unemployment rate of 10.2 percent is problematic because it gives a sense of urgency to Washington, D.C. Washington will be looking for any increase in stimulus,” said Tom Sowanick, co-president and chief investment officer at Omnivest Group.
President Barack Obama has called job creation priority No. 1, but the scope to take further steps to lift the economy is limited by record budget deficits.
Mounting unemployment could pose problems for the Democrats who control Congress as they head into congressional elections in November 2010. This week, Republicans wrested control of two state governorships away from Democrats in races where the weak economy figured prominently.
The labor market is being watched for signs whether the economic recovery that started in the third quarter can be sustained without government support. The economy grew at a 3.5 percent annualized rate in the July-September period, probably ending the most painful U.S. recession in 70 years.
Labor market sluggishness and weak wage growth suggest inflation is unlikely to get out of hand anytime soon, giving the Federal Reserve scope to maintain supportive policies.
The U.S. central bank on Wednesday held overnight interest rates close to zero percent and said it would keep them extraordinarily low as long as excess economic slack and a lack of inflation warning signs prevailed.
“The Fed will stay on hold even longer with less likelihood of giving a concrete answer to when and how to withdraw quantitative easing,” said Joseph Trevisani, senior market analyst at FX Solution in Saddler River, New Jersey.
Payrolls have declined for 22 consecutive months now, throwing 7.3 million people out of work since December 2007, when the recession started.
However, the pace of layoffs has slowed sharply from early this year, when nearly three-quarters of a million jobs were lost in January. In October, job losses were across almost all sectors, with education and health services and professional and business services bucking the trend.
Manufacturing employment fell 61,000 last month, while construction industries payrolls dropped 62,000.
The service-providing sector cut 61,000 workers in October and goods-producing industries slashed 129,000 positions. Education and health services added 45,000 jobs, while government employment was flat.
The average workweek, which closely correlates with overall output and gives clues on when firms will start hiring, was steady at 33 hours in October. Average hourly earnings rose to $18.72 from $18.67 in September.
The voting phase of World Challenge 09 is almost over! To make sure your favourite project has a chance of winning, visit the World Challenge 09 website before midnight 13 November and vote.
The competition has been really close and your contribution can still make a difference!
The winners will be announced in the final programme on 5 December, on the World Challenge 09 website and in the issue of Newsweek magazine on sale December 7th.
And don’t miss our ’5 years on’ episode of World Challenge on BBC World News, where you will have a chance to see how projects from previous years are doing. The programme airs on 14 November. You can also check our website or pick the edition of Newsweek magazine on sale November 16th.
For more information about World Challenge 09 visit www.theworldchallenge.co.uk
Source: BBC World news
Women in Business Challenge A new sector competition developed by Bid Network and powered by ING and ICCO, this challenge focuses on women entrepreneurs in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Women in Business Challenge A new sector competition developed by Bid Network and powered by ING and ICCO, this challenge focuses on women entrepreneurs in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Why a Women in Business Challenge? The “Women in Business” Challenge aims to support women entrepreneurs providing them with the assistance, templates, contacts and financiers to get their business started. Creating a level playing field for men and women entrepreneurs. Currently 23% of Bid Network’s business proposals come from women entrepreneurs. It’s our aim to increase this. Target audience Women anywhere in the world who want to start or grow an existing small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) in a developing country. They seek finance in the range of US$ 10,000 and US$ 1 million in finance. They either already have a full business plan or need help in developing their business plan. They have the ambition to grow the business in sales and numbers of employees. Plans will be accepted in English, Spanish and in French. Prizes This Challenge brings two prizes. Cash prizes up to € 15,000 and the “ING Retail Award “of € 10,000 for the best retail business plan. All participants will receive feedback to improve their plan and may require for a coach to assist them in the writing of their business plan. Whether or not a participant becomes a finalist, all high quality business plans are eligible for the Bid Network Investor Matchmaking Services. Deadline: January 15, 2010 Participants should submit their complete business plan not later than January 15, 2010.
More information about the Women in Business Challenge http://www.bidnetwork.org
Ethiopia – Sossina Haile The Power Behind Cooler, Greener Energy
Sossina Haile created a new type of fuel cell by default. In the late ’90s, the Caltech scientist had an idea that she thought might dramatically improve fuel cells, the clean technology that converts chemical energy to electricity to power cars, buses and power plants. Haile’s idea was to employ an entirely new type of “superprotonic” compound that might help supply power at dramatically lower cost. But when fuel-cell makers balked at revamping their entire systems to try her solution, Haile decided to fabricate the world’s first solid-acid fuel cell in her lab. Early in 2008 a Pasadena, Calif., start-up called Superprotonic—founded by two of her former grad students—will ship the first commercial prototypes to energy-systems makers. The output is barely enough to power a 100-watt bulb, but hopes are high that the small start will someday produce powerful fuel cells for commercial use. “This is potentially a breakthrough technology,” says former senator Bill Bradley, who sits on the Superprotonic board. She’s hardly alone in seeing the promise of fuel cells, which produce energy through chemical reactions; their chief emission is pure water. (To prove that point, Haile once drank the tailpipe emission of a fuel-cell car on camera.) Not only do we need to find carbon-neutral fuel sources to slow global warming, but the world’s energy needs will continue to grow—by an estimated 50 percent by 2050. Today, small fuel cells power a few cars and buses (Honda will begin leasing a fuel-cell FCX Clarity next summer), while large ones produce electricity at some factories and universities. They are expensive, but Haile’s fuel cells may be cheaper and more durable. Haile, a mother of two, has never followed a conventional path. Her family fled Ethiopia during the coup in the mid-’70s, after soldiers arrested and nearly killed her historian father, then settled in rural Minnesota before Haile, now 41, went to MIT and grad school. Superprotonic launched in 2003, with Haile as science adviser. Haile’s discovery may someday fill a need for a fuel cell that generates power at midrange temperatures. Low-temperature cells (20 degrees to 100 degrees Celsius) require costly platinum catalysts to speed the reactions; superhot “solid oxide” fuel cells react easily, but require expensive ceramic materials that can withstand operating temperatures of 600 degrees to 1,000 degrees Celsius. Finding a material that operates well in a midrange “is quite important,” says Jack Brouwer, associate director of the National Fuel Cell Research Center at the University of California, Irvine, though he adds that it’s too early to say if Haile’s cell will be commercially viable. Haile is confident it will, but she’s also busy “tweaking” high-temperature systems to increase power output and lower costs. For her, the race to find new energy sources is fascinating. She says, “There’s nothing better than being able to combine an intellectually exciting topic with the knowledge that it will be beneficial. To me, that’s just glory.”
About Professor Sossina Haile
Sossina Haile received her B.S and Ph.D (1992) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and M.S. from the University of California, Berkeley. Before joining the Caltech faculty in 1996, Haile spent three years as an assistant professor at the University of Washington, Seattle. Haile has received the NSF National Young Investigator Award (1994-99), Humboldt Fellowship (1992-93), Fulbright Fellowship (1991-92), and AT&T Cooperative Research Fellowship (1986-92). The Humboldt and Fulbright fellowships supported her research at the Max Planck Institut für Festkörperforschung [Institute for Solid State Research], Stuttgart, Germany (1991-1993). She is the recipient of the 2001 J.B. Wagner Award of the High Temperature Materials Division of the Electrochemical Society, the 2000 Coble Award from the American Ceramics Society and the 1997 TMS Robert Lansing Hardy Award.
By Marie-Claire Ross
Breaking into the international marketplace can catapult a company into increased profitability and growth more rapidly than when selling to a domestic market.
But how do you market your company successfully to overseas buyers? What can you do to provide the right information to prospective clients that are informative and engaging? How can you stand out from the crowd?
The most common promotional approach is to provide brochures. While brochures do play an important role, they can be uninspiring and ill-equipped to convey a real feeling for what an organization does and how they operate. Furthermore, when brochures are translated into other languages it is commonly agreed that even the best translations are cumbersome and not reflective of how that particular language is used. This often means that international prospects feel less inclined to read brochures in-depth.
So how do you show prospective clients how your product is made? What can you do to highlight your product range and its associated benefits? A proven promotional method is corporate video production. The combination of moving vision with sound, allows complex messages to be communicated in a far superior way to that of any written information.
Research has found that video can be up to four times more effective than a printed brochure. Given that 80% of the information we recall is visual, it is understandable why audiovisual materials are so successful in getting messages across to viewers. The best investment companies can make is by providing prospective clients with their corporate video on a VHS tape or a menu driven DVD disk or CDROM disk (which is like the menu option on a movie DVD).
CDROMs are particularly flexible as they can include video, brochures, documents and website links. They can even be produced as CD business cards which are perfect for travelers who wish to reduce the amount of marketing materials they need to carry. Corporate videos can be downloaded from websites, which not only saves money in distribution costs, but provides 24 hour worldwide access.
A further advantage of corporate video is that it allows for voiceovers to be translated into a variety of languages. As visual cues are used in conjunction with the voiceover, the language sounds natural and appealing. The winner of the 2002 Regional Exporter of the Year Awards, the Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory, strongly agrees with the use of corporate video production to boost export sales.
John Williams, Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory’s marketing manager, says “We are very proud of our Factory and our picturesque location. It makes a lot of sense to show our best attributes to their advantage and the way to do that is through a corporate video.”
“We’ve found corporate video to be extremely flexible. I can travel overseas and show a DVD quality video to potential clients on my notebook computer”. “We had a short promotional video created that was slotted into our PowerPoint presentation which we presented to a large Japanese dairy importer. It really gave us the competitive edge and helped us win a large multi-million dollar contract”.
Justin Howden, an International Marketing specialist from Marketing and Investment Partners, also advocates using corporate videos when marketing overseas. “For companies that are undertaking trade marketing, corporate video is critical. It is vital to get trade onside when marketing overseas and corporate video is irreplaceable when trying to get distributors involved,” he says.
“A successful corporate video is created by finding out what are the most important pieces of information that your target market wants to know. You need to unearth what 20% of information will give you an 80% kick in marketing terms. Once you’ve done this, you then need to focus on these important points in the promotional video”. Corporate video production is a powerful, convenient and cost-effective way for overseas buyers to see what you have to offer. It is an innovative method that can encompass video, brochures, documents and website/email links into one small CD business card.
By using a combination of the right promotional tools and a creative approach, the time-consuming and often difficult road to breaking into the global marketplace, can be made much easier.
(c) Marie-Claire Ross 2003. All rights reserved