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India re-arrests fleeing Nigerian Okoro

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A Nigerian drug convict, John Okoro, who fled from police custody in India last Monday, has been re-arrested.

Okoro, 35, was re-arrested by the Anti-Narcotics Cell (ANC) of Mumbai police.

ANC sources told The Times of India that Okoro was arrested from the Navi Mumbai area, from where he was planning to flee to Mangalore by a private bus.

Police source said Okoro, who resided in Koparkhairane in Navi Mumbai, was arrested in 2014 in a drug case.

The court convicted him for a three-year jail term. Okoro was sent to Nashik central prison after conviction.

Okoro was released from jail on December 31 and was to be deported to Nigeria. He was brought to the ANC’s Azad Maidan lock up and kept on the first floor. He was due to be deported on the day he fled.

On the pretext of going to the washroom, he jumped from the first floor at 2 am on Monday and fled. He jumped from the balcony, crashing through the asbestos roof and fled on foot.

The constable guarding him also leaped from the balcony in a desperate attempt to nab him, but ended up injured. He is recovering at the Nagpada police hospital.

An alert was immediately issued for Okoro.

“Around 2 am, Okoro told the constable on guard that he wanted to visit the washroom. He was being taken there when he jumped from the balcony. He landed on the asbestos roof, which immediately gave away,” a police officer said.

“He ran in the directions of Mahapalika Marg.”

 

Source: (NAN)

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PoS payments hit N651b

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Despite the economic recession in Nigeria, the value of transactions through point of sales, PoS payments  increased significantly by 65 per cent to N651.37 billion in 11 months.

The figure which represents transactions from January to November 2016, almost doubles the N395.05 billion recorded in the corresponding period of 2015, data gathered from the Nigeria Interbank Settlement System Plc (NIBSS) revealed.

NIBSS data showed that with N81.15 billion, November 2016 recorded the highest value of transactions. In November 2015, a total of N40.25 billion transactions were recorded.

A breakdown of the value of PoS transactions in 2016 showed that in January, activities by individuals and corporates through this form of electronic payment system was N46.65 billion, whereas January 2015 was N31.8 billion.

All the months recorded significant increases over 2015.

In February 2016, the value of transactions was N46.14 billion (N30.97 billion  2015); March 2016 was N51.96 billion (N33.54 billion 2015); April 2016  N53.28 billion (N34.63 billion in 2015). In  May 2016, the value was  N55.29 billion (N35.93 billion). The N55.29 billion recorded in June 2016 was also much higher than the N34.01 billion recorded in 2015.

NIBSS data also showed an upward swing to N59.4 billion, in July. It was N35.84 billion in July 2015. Transctions in  August last year totalled N64.11 billion, as against the N35.84 billion in August 2015; N66.44 billion as at September 2016, compared with the N39.61 billion recorded in the comparable month in 2015; and N71.81 billion in October 2016, up from the N41.25 billion it was as at October 2015.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had introduced the cash-less policy with a view to significantly reduce the volume of cash-based transactions, and PoS was one of the tools to achieve this objective.

The policy was introduced for a number of key reasons, including to drive development and modernisation of the payment system in line with Nigeria’s vision 2020 goal of being amongst the top 20 economies by the year 2020.
This is because an efficient and modern payment system is positively correlated with economic development, and is a key enabler for economic growth. The policy was also expected to reduce the cost of banking services (including cost of credit) and drive financial inclusion by providing more efficient transaction options and greater reach; improve the effectiveness of monetary policy in managing inflation and driving economic growth, as well as to curb some of the negative consequences associated with the high usage of physical cash in the economy.

As part of efforts to encourage Nigerians to widely make use of electronic payment systems, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had introduced an awareness campaign for electronic payment users. The scheme known as “Electronic Payment Incentive Scheme (EPIS)” was carried out by the CBN and the NIBSS. The scheme’s primary focus was to reward users of electronic payments platforms in Nigeria and to further encourage greater usage of PoS and other e-payment channels.

The scheme also permitted merchants to provide cash back services to cardholders following a purchase. This served as an incentive for merchants to earn a fee for providing a value-added service cash-out services to customers following a purchase of goods/services from their stores.

The chief executive officer of NIBSS, Ade Shonubi, had said the reward scheme was introduced to encourage people to use their cards at places other than the ATMs.

*Reported by ThisDay

The Scientific Method for Entrepreneurs: 6 Steps to Long-Term Success

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SEPTEMBER 2, 2014

Entrepreneurship is an art. It’s also a science. The reason there are so few successful entrepreneurs is because there’s no single factor for success — it takes a great idea, a network of resources and a ton of hard work and time to create a lasting, profitable business.

That being said, the scientific element of entrepreneurship is the one that can make or break the logical foundation of your company. You need to know who your customers are, what they want and how to give it to them if you want to have a shot at success.

The best way to figure that out is to use the same structured method that scientists use to explore the vast mysteries of the universe. Here’s how to use the scientific method to achieve success as an entrepreneur.

1. Ask a question. Before you start looking for answers, you need to know what your question is. For scientists, this is usually a question in response to some observable phenomenon or natural curiosity. For business owners, it’s an exploration of possibilities for product development and marketing.

If you’re trying to build a product, ask what exactly your customers need. The core aspect of your business should be solving a problem for your customers. Even if you already have an idea, you need to know exactly what problem you’re solving. Write this down. If you can’t form it in words, you might not have a problem/solution idea strong enough to fuel a successful business.

If you’re trying to market your product, ask why your customers would be interested in buying your product or engaging with your brand. You’ll have multiple questions to ask here:

  • What will make someone interested in engaging with you?
  • What elements of your brand are most important to display?
  • What media are used by your target audience?

2. Research your subject. Once you know the most important questions for your brand, you need to find as much information as you can on the subject. For scientists, this usually means gathering past research from other scientists and using it as a foundation to build on. For entrepreneurs, there are two main sources for research: potential customers and competitors.

Take your research seriously. Find a selection of people from within your target audience, and find out what makes them tick. Hold a focus-group meeting, or use existing market research to build a full perspective of your main users.

Your competitors will provide even more valuable information for you. Figure out what they’re doing, how they’re doing it, and most importantly, how you can differentiate yourself from them. You need a unique value proposition that distinguishes you from all the other companies in your space, but you also need to know what marketing and branding conventions have worked for similar companies in the past.

3. Create a hypothesis. Scientists create a hypothesis to summarize what they expect to find when experimenting, or how they think a particular system functions. For most business owners, this hypothesis is, on a broad scale, the business plan. But on a much smaller and regular level, business owners form micro-hypotheses on a daily basis.

Hypotheses are important because they formalize the assumptions you hold. If you never take the time to acknowledge that your assumptions are, in fact, assumptions, you could potentially continue along an inefficient or incorrect path and never realize your expectations are based on your own preconceived notions.

On the other hand, if you take the time to constantly test, challenge and refine your assumptions, you’ll end up with an accurate and functional model for your business.

4. Experiment to test your hypothesis. This is one of the most important steps. It’s not enough to merely establish an idea, you have to put that idea to the test, both in business and in science.

After you’ve developed a hypothesis about your business, such as “women ages 18 to 35 will prefer this product to have X feature,” you need to test that notion. You could begin with a simple survey, or depending on feasibility, develop the idea and present it to a group of beta testers.

In the world of marketing, you could run multiple campaigns simultaneously to find the best message and medium for your audience. For example, you could hypothesize that a content-marketing program will net you the highest return on investment, but invest in pay-per-click advertising and social-media marketing as complementary strategies to examine which is truly the best.

5. Review your data and form a conclusion. Your experiments won’t mean anything unless you have a way to concretely and objectively measure their results. It can be difficult to measure qualitative data, such as customer opinions on new features of your products, but if you can find a way to quantify your findings, you’ll be able to form a solid conclusion about your hypothesis.

For marketing strategies, the bottom line is always ROI. You need to be able to calculate exactly how much money you spent on a specific campaign, and exactly how much new business that campaign generated.

In the Definitive Guide to Google Analytics for SEO Professionals, I detail how Google Analytics is a perfect tool for measuring campaign effectiveness — but it’s still only one tool in your toolbox. You’ll need to measure everything you can and review that data objectively to form a definitive conclusion that answers your original question.

6. Publish your results and invite others to expand. Theories aren’t created overnight. When a finding is first published, it’s immediately met with public scrutiny, with peers reviewing the material and finding ways to improve upon it or disprove it entirely. As an entrepreneur, you won’t necessarily want to publish all the fruits of your labor for your competition to study, but at the same time it’s important to get feedback on what you’ve found.

For example, if you’ve just developed a new mobile app, roll it out to your core customers. Invite them to try it out and let you know what they think. Take their feedback as the “peer-review” phase of scientific progress, and use their criticism to make your product better. You will never have a perfect product or service, but you can get closer to perfection by constantly revising and refining your business.

The scientific method is valuable because it’s designed for a specific purpose: to gain objective knowledge and refine that knowledge by continually testing it in real environments. To get started with sufficient momentum, you’re going to need a solid idea. To support your execution of that idea, you’re going to need a great team. Beyond those fundamental pillars of success, the scientific method is the greatest tool you have to create and maintain a lasting business model.

Science is always changing, incorporating new information into existing models, or adding new models to a greater body of knowledge. Similarly, it’s up to you as an entrepreneur to constantly challenge your assumptions, build on what you already know, and make adjustments to stay relevant in your environment.

Source: Entrepreneur

The Facebook Experiment: The “Why” Questions

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Paul Bernal's Blog

Facebook question markA great deal has been written about the Facebook experiment – what did they actually do, how did they do it, what was the effect, was it ethical, was it legal, will it be challenged and so forth – but I think we need to step back a little and ask two further questions. Why did they do the experiment, and why did they publish it in this ‘academic’ form.

What Facebook tell us about their motivations for the experiment should be taken with a distinct pinch of salt: we need to look further. What Facebook does, it generally does for one simple reason: to benefit Facebook’s bottom line. They do things to build their business, and to make more money. That may involve getting more subscribers, or making those subscribers stay online for longer, or, most crucially and most directly, by getting more money from its advertisers. Subscribers are…

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The Year Ahead: 5 Social Media Trends Every Entrepreneur Needs to Know

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Technology is transforming how modern entrepreneurs stay connected to their business, their team and their industry. In this series, learn more about the cutting edge tools and thinking allowing innovators to stay ahead of the trends.

 

The social media landscape is evolving rapidly, and therefore, your social media marketing strategy cannot remain static. Instead, it’s important to reevaluate business goals, social media campaigns, platform results and revise your strategy at least once a year — if not quarterly.

Being aware of trends in the social sphere can help you design better strategies, apply the most effective tactics and choose where to invest your staff as well as financial resources. Here are the top five social media trends every entrepreneur needs to think about for 2014 and beyond:

 

1. Diversify. You’ve probably seen headlines about Facebook’s algorithm changes. If you currently operate a brand or business page, one study found that only six percent of followers currently see your posts. Experts suggest that that number will continue to plummet, eventually reaching one percent.

This bid by Facebook is aimed at increasing advertising dollars. But it highlights a potential weakness in many business’ social strategies: overdependence on any single platform puts you at the mercy of that platform’s whims. Whether it crashes or simply changes its rules, too much is at stake.

2. Google+ is for real. If there’s one social network businesses should pay specific attention to, it’s Google+, which is already playing a more important role in Google’s organic ranking algorithm. I expect this trend will continue.

To the surprise of many across the SEO industry, Google’s Matt Cutts confirmed in a recent video that Facebook and Twitter have no impact on SEO rankings as a result of crawling and accessibility issues. So it stands to reason that if Google wants to use social signals for organic search rankings, it could easily mine Google+ data, where its crawler access is unhindered.

Google+ is also the best way to get access to Google Authorship, which will play a huge role in SEO by the end of the year. Google Authorship helps the search engine identify your content, attribute it to the correct author and build a portfolio for each author that may include what many are calling “Author Rank” — algorithmic scoring based on author expertise and publishing history.

In most cases, an image of the author appears next to their content in search results, which also increases visibility and click-through rates.

3. Integration of social media, SEO, and content creation. The online marketing industry is moving away from the idea that social media, SEO and content marketing happen in isolation. Social media marketing decisively impacts how content is seen and shared.

Content creation and marketing have direct implications for your SEO performance — especially in light of Google’s latest algorithm updates. It’s important that you think of the three pillars of online marketing — SEO, content and social media — as a system that works synergistically to increase visibility, build your brand and ultimately garner customers and sales.

4. Visual content will win. An estimated 63 percent of social media comprises imagery. As such, visual platforms are playing an increasing role in social media for businesses. One study found that 29 percent of Pinterest users bought an item after posting or re-pinning it on the network.

Video content is also hotter than ever, with the addition of networks like Vine and Instagram featuring microvideos. Infographics are another effective promotion tool for businesses with both a bounty of data and absorbing stories to tell.

Not every platform will be right, but spending the time to find the visual angle to your business’ story and experimenting with different content formats can help revitalize your social media marketing strategy.

5. Social media as a brand builder. Social media channels should be managed according to a brand-oriented approach. Building your brand on any platform impacts your SEO and improves sales over the long term.

Are the visuals of your social media accounts consistent with the rest of your visual branding? Is your account name or any other copy branded? Are you regularly filtering your status updates to ensure they’re on-message and consistent with the overall brand that you’re building? Focusing on building your brand through your social interactions should be a key focus this year.

If evolutions in social media have taught us anything so far this year, it’s that entrepreneurs with flexible and engaged approaches will have the highest ROI. Take the time to understand general trends and focus on core goals, but also take action to experiment with specific tactics that will grow and change as your business evolves.

What major trends are you seeing at play in social media? Let us know in the comments below.

Source: Entrepreneur.com

A One-Page Business Plan in 5 Steps

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A business plan is essential for every entrepreneur, but if it’s your first time approaching one, it can feel daunting. Business owners will argue both sides of the coin when it comes to how long a plan should be, but usually a one-page business plan can cover all your needs at the beginning and get you organized enough to get started.

Don’t worry — you can’t go wrong starting with a one-page plan and adding onto it from there. As your business grows (and if you ever need capital) you’ll certainly add to it down the road. Just remember that right now, the worst business plan is the one you never bother to write. Don’t let analysis paralysis keep you from getting started.

Here are five easy steps to a one-page business plan:

1. Start with your vision. Begin the plan by thinking of the end. You have to communicate up front where you want to go with your business to set the tone for your plan. Do you want to grow this business to sell? Do you want the business to be a legacy that will last your lifetime? What’s the big vision for the end goal? It’s important to start with the end in mind. Your vision should summarize that well.  

2. Formalize your mission statement. You know what your vision is, now you need to describe what you’re going to do to accomplish that vision in a brief, accessible way. This is the statement that you’ll want to display somewhere you (and your staff, if you have one) can see to remind yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing every day.

Related: How Do I Build a Business Plan? (Infographic)

3. List your objectives. Think of your objectives as the bullet points of deliverables you plan to achieve. For example, “dominate at least 10 percent of the market of my niche by 2016,” or HR objectives such as “hire one full-time graphic designer by year’s end.” These should be the big goals you want to achieve with a timeframe attached to them.

4. Form your strategies. Your strategies describe how you plan to achieve your objectives. What’s the marketing plan? Sales strategy? Will you devote your time to research and development? What are the overarching strategies you will follow to achieve your objectives?

5. Create an action plan. You have the objective, you’ve decided on a strategy, now what actionable steps will you take to make sure your business maintains the momentum to achieve your objectives and reach the manifestation of your big vision? These should be short-term actions and daily tasks — things that you can start doing now to work toward the end goal.

Tackling a business plan can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Simplify the process and start today by following these five easy steps to a one-page business plan.

Source: Entrepreneur.com

Richard Branson on Learning by Doing

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Richard Branson on Learning by Doing

Q: Virgin works in a variety of industries — you jumped from magazines to records to air travel, and from there to soft drinks, space flights and so on. Do you need to have prior knowledge of the industry you want to start a business in? How have you started up one business after another and succeeded again and again? — Hernan Gaytan

Successful entrepreneurs tend to be insatiably curious about almost everything, and often they are good at learning by doing. Their open-minded, can-do attitude is among their best assets. Hernan, if this describes you and you’re thinking about starting up a business, you’re already on your way!

Please don’t get hung up on this question of whether you need to have experience in an industry before you launch your startup. Instead, think about changes you’d like to see as acustomer — even if you’ve just noticed little details that need tweaking. An amalgam of those changes may add up to a big idea that leads to a new and truly disruptive product or service.

This is essentially how we at Virgin launched our first successful businesses. We were very sensible when we started out, setting up connected enterprises like most other companies do. We went from running a small record shop to starting up a record label with recording studios and then added our large music megastores to our portfolio.

Though we were music fans, we knew little or nothing about any of those businesses, but we learned that this wasn’t necessarily a drawback. We were young and stubborn, and we liked to do things our own way; paradoxically, our enterprises thrived as a result. It turned out that our customers welcomed the changes that we were making, like inviting music lovers to spend hours in our record shops, hanging out and talking about music, rather than pushing them to make their purchases and get out.

The big leap came when I decided that it was time to start a new trans-Atlantic airline. I took the same approach: I knew nothing about air travel, but as I’d flown back and forth from Britain to the United States on business for Virgin Records, I’d become convinced that there had to be a better way. The prices were high and the service was dreadful.

When I showed my partners in the record company the proposal for a new airline, they thought I’d gone mad. So did our bankers, who dumped us. As we went ahead with the launch, the experts and our rivals said it was the wrong idea at the wrong time, and that Virgin Atlantic Airways was doomed to failure.

We proved them all wrong. We succeeded because we didn’t just create another “me too” airline, but took the same creative, customer-focused approach we had with our music businesses. We added all kinds of little service extras, the greatest of which was hiring cabin crew members who were actually nice to passengers — a detail that our competitors had overlooked! Thirty years later that company is still setting the standard in terms of the value and service excellence we offer.

By the time we started up businesses like Virgin Mobile in Britain, that approach was in our company’s DNA. We believed that we could improve the service and the value offered to mobile customers in Britain, so we did. One change we made was to let our customers buy a SIM card without a phone; this was very different from other companies, many of which required that their customers buy expensive phones.

Since we created the Virgin brand in 1970, we’ve launched something like 400 businesses. Though not all of them did well, we learned a lot from our failures. The common thread to our successes is our desire to do something better: Our teams of engaged, passionate people always have highly collaborative fun together as we upset our competitors’ ideas of what customers want.

These days, when we sail into uncharted waters, we try to hire CEOs and management team members who have worked in the industry and who know what to avoid. Such people frequently join us from a dominant player in the sector, where their ideas and ambitions were stifled by practices that are hierarchical, blinkered and focused on the bottom line. We look for people who want to bring radical change to an industry, give them the freedom to get creative and the backing of our brand, and then we step back and watch them fly.

People often remark to me that it’s great how Virgin thinks outside the box. They are genuinely surprised when I tell them, “Actually we don’t! We just never let the box get built in the first place.” It’s a great approach, and no matter where your business is based or which industry you’re tackling, it’s likely to work for you too.

Source: Entretreneur.com