Banking and too many jobs in the rural areas!

006ruralA number of jobs are going to be created in the banking sector in the coming days. This will happen as the government and Reserve Bank of India push the initiative to increase financial inclusion in India. Much of the growth of banking sector will now take place in rural areas as lack of financial inclusion is maximal in the rural parts of the country.

Therefore banks will give preference to those candidates who are willing to work in the rural parts. The rural parts of the country suffer from many infrastructural bottlenecks such as shortage of electricity.  Those who have grown up in cities often find it difficult to work in rural parts because of these infrastructural problems. On the other hand those who have grown up in rural areas are well-adjusted to living in these areas. Candidates coming from the rural parts, therefore, have a big opportunity for getting hired in the banking sector in the near future.

Recently, the Reserve Bank of India gave two new banking licenses. One of these licenses was given to Bandhan.  Bandhan, headquartered in Kolkata, is already the country’s biggest Microfinance Institution (MFI). An MFI gives small loans, usually in the range of Rs 100 to Rs 10000, to poor customers without asking for any security. In turn the MFI charges a slightly higher interest rate than banks, to cover the risk of lending to poor people, without any security.

Bandhan has been extremely successful as an MFI. Its MFI business is now worth more than Rs 10000 crore. Now as Bandhan graduates to a full bank, it has said that its focus will remain on the rural markets. Its core competency now lies in operating in the rural parts, as it understands well the challenges of these parts of the country. Bandhan will open majority of its banking branches in these rural parts.  It is in the process of hiring more people who are willing to work in its bank branches in the rural parts.

In such a scenario knowledge of banking & financial services operations is a very valuable skill. Those coming from the rural parts can increase their employability quotient by getting trained in the operations of banking & financial services.

African Safari: Entrepreneurship & Sub-Saharan Africa

success-banner-In the past one decade countries in the sub-Saharan Africa have posted strong rates of economic growth.  Actually, between 2000 and 2008, sub-Saharan Africa region posted the highest economic growth rate in the world (average annual GDP growth rate of the region was over 8%).  In 2015 the GDP growth in the region is likely to come down to 4.2%, according to estimates of World Bank.

In spite of slowing of economic growth in the region, countries in sub-Saharan Africa offer great opportunities for you if you are an entrepreneur.  Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Nigeria are among the major countries in the region that offer great opportunities for entrepreneurs, in spite of some major challenges.

The sub-Saharan region is very good for setting up manufacturing facilities for items such as clothes. The products manufactured in these facilities can be exported to Europe and United States.  United States has an African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA). This act gives duty-free access to United States to products manufactured in certain sub-Saharan countries. So if you are an Indian that has gone and set up a manufacturing facility in Ethiopia then you may be able to export the products manufactured at your facility without having to pay any customs duty in United States. Due to this the products manufactured at your facility will get a cost advantage over competitors from other countries that do not enjoy preferential access under AGOA.

A recent report by consulting firm McKinsey & Company expects that countries in sub-Saharan Africa such as Ethiopia will emerge as the next global hub for manufacturing of items such as apparel. The low rates of wage in the manufacturing sectors of these countries give manufacturers a cost advantage.

Sub-Saharan African countries pose some unique challenges too. There is power shortage in most of these countries. Law & order is a problem in countries such as Kenya and Nigeria. Parts of Nigeria are afflicted by the terrorism of Boko Haram. There is also shortage of educated and skilled human resources & managerial talent.  But these challenges can be overcome to avail of the huge growth and export opportunities that sub-Saharan countries offer.

In the sub-Saharan region, Ethiopia stands out for its recent economic performance and political & social stability.  Its power situation is relatively better than neighbouring countries. It has a number of hydro-electric plants. The wages in the country are among the lowest in the region. And the government there is supporting industrial growth.

If you are an entrepreneur or want to become one then it is advisable that you do a course in Entrepreneurship that can inform and educate you about the global opportunities out there.

8 incredible offline marketing techniques for businesses

2-online-and-offline-marketingDo you know the similarity between marketing and story writing? It is the out of the box ideas and planned execution that hits the chord among target audience in both the processes.

With inception of digital marketing, various marketers are losing belief in offline marketing.

But if done creatively, offline marketing ideas can still create a huge impact among potential customers.

Let’s look at some awesome offline marketing strategies which work effectively for both startups and big brands:

  • Bookmarks and pens

Merchandise like bookmarks and pens with brand’s brief description can be donated to local libraries. These require small investment and benefits are long term. You can also distribute these during some local events or literary festivals.

  • Flash mobs

Marketers can organize flash mob in places like malls, popular shopping complexes, parks etc. These help in creating positive buzz for your company due to surprise factor added with it. A colorful street festival can also turn your products / services into renowned brand.

  • Participate in trade shows

Make sure the banner representing your stall in a trade show is vibrant and clearly visible. It is definitely attract potential clients and will ensure that image of your brand remains in their mind for a longer duration.

  • Turn infographics into pamphlets

Take support of creative writers and designers for creating informative and attractive infographics associated with your brand. Get them printed in bulk and distribute among the regions where your target audience is located.

  • Take help of journalists and critics

Make sure to develop a good bond with journalists and review writers of local media. These writers have a big following and words written by them in their respective channel / newspaper / magazine about your brand will develop a lasting impression among readers.

  • Attach discount with pamphlets

Adding discount coupons with pamphlets and leaflets will definitely draw more attention of customers towards your brand. It makes sure that they use your product / service at least once to redeem the coupon.

  • Offer freebies to regular customers

An important strategy to build a long term relation with loyal customers is offer them freebies like CD-ROMs, magazines and mobile covers etc. This will help in creating positive word of mouth for your brand. Giving special discounts for these special customers also improves the loyalty towards your brand.

  • Car stickers

Applying big stickers representing your brands on your car can add visibility on the move. You can also take support of auto-rickshaws and e-rickshaws for placing banner ads on the back of these vehicles.

Remember, you don’t have to implement ideas at once. You can choose a mix of these strategies and apply them as per the budget and time allotted for the brand.

7 tips to retain the best employees in the company

building_workforce_plan_millennials-100592570-primary.idgeEmployees are the most precious assets of any firm. It is therefore essential for every company to retain the workers especially those who are delivering the best to the company. Other than good remuneration, there are other strategies which also develop the loyalty of the employees towards the company.

Here are some important tips which must be followed by companies to retain the best talent.


Tip # 1: Hire the best

This is very first step to ensure that employees are there for a long term with you. Analyze the record of the candidate in previous companies and make sure that the attrition rate was less.

Tip # 2: Avoid stiff regulations

Too many rules and regulations may give result in discomfort to the employee. As a result, he / she will start looking for alternative options where regulations are relaxed. So, it is essential to purge off unnecessary rules from the company.

Tip # 3: Give flexibility in timings

A modern day worker prefers working in a flexible environment where timings can be adjusted as per the comfort. This also boosts the productivity of the employee. Also, keep open the option of work from home for at least two days a week. You will be surprised with the loyalty of the employees to the company.

Tip # 4: Share achievements and policies

Every small or big achievement by the company must be shared with every employee. This can take place in the form of a small celebration in office or outside. Following this technique helps in developing a bond with the employees. Also, every policy change must also be circulated immediately throughout the organization.

Tip # 5: Special bonus for employees working for long time

There should be a policy to offer special bonus for those employees which are working in the company for long time. This will become a strong reason for employees to stay in the company for an extended period.

Tip # 6: Give them opportunities to learn

Ambitious employees love to learn more about their domain as it is beneficial for the career. Organize training sessions on regular basis where employees can get chance to develop skills related to their responsibility. Also, sessions related to communication skills, personality development and behaviouaral training must take place in the office on regular basis.

Tip # 7: Offer small perks

There are various perks that can be provided by the company which can ease the lives of employees. Some of these include free health checkup camp, discount coupon for groceries and tickets for some concerts etc. The employees will appreciate these small gestures by the company and will love to stay with it for extensive period.

 So, make sure that include a blend of these strategies to ensure that your competent workers stay with you for long and help in achieving the company’s objectives.

Risk, Risk, Risk – Learn to manage risk

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAJ4AAAAJGFkMThhZWI4LTAzN2MtNDg2Mi1iYjY4LTRhNmQ4NTI3MTFjNAThe contemporary business environment is a highly dynamic one. Constant changes in the external environment have increased the risks that businesses face. Risk management has therefore become more important than ever.

Key risks that a business faces are operational risks and financial risks. Operational risks are those that arise from the nature of operations of a business. For instance a sudden, unexpected shortage of raw materials for your business is an operational risk. Sudden, unexpected fall in the prices of the products or services of your business is another operational risk. Occupational hazards to which workers of a business are exposed to are also an operational risk.

Operational risks can be managed by constantly monitoring the external and internal environment. Scenario analysis should be done to plan for a business’ response in the case of materialization of a possible operational risk scenario. Operational risks such as fire in plants and facilities can be managed through adequate insurance. Unfortunately, majority of businesses are under-insured. Many small businesses operate without any kind of insurance.

Financial risks before a business are of many types. A business involved in exports and imports faces foreign exchange risk. This risk means loss in the value of revenues or assets or increase in the value of liabilities due to sudden, unexpected movements in foreign exchange rate. For instance a company exporting mangoes from India to America earns its revenues in dollars, which it then converts to rupees. If the dollar depreciates against the rupee then the revenue of this company in rupee terms will go down. Such type of currency risk can be managed through the technique of hedging.

Credit risk is another type of risk that can be classified as a financial risk for a business. Credit risk means that the debtor of your business may fail in paying off its debt obligation when it becomes due. A lot of sales – especially in business-to-business (B-2-B) segment – are credit sales. Therefore credit risk is high in these cases.

Market risk means that the value of an investment will decrease because of adverse movements in market prices. Businesses keep their cash reserves invested in various investment schemes and securities and are therefore exposed to market risk.

Then there is the financial risk of insolvency. Risk of insolvency means a business or individual getting insolvent because of its inability to pay off its debt or financial obligations when they become due.

Both small and large businesses should focus on making their risk management more effective. Poor risk management by banks and many large companies was the main reason for the 2008 financial crisis.

Zara – Unconventional wisdom and unique application of technology in operations & supply chain management

ima_SCMClothing retailer Zara is no ordinary company. It has changed the way in which fashion apparel are manufactured and sold. And it has done so by leveraging technology and by defying prevailing wisdom of experts. Zara, based in Spain, is owned by Inditex. Zara has stores in more than 68 countries, including India.

Zara takes just 15 days to complete the entire value chain from designing a set of clothes to manufacturing them to sending them in the stores for final sale. Its competitors take somewhere between 3 months and 6 months for doing the same thing. This shorter lead time and cycle time gives Zara unbeatable competitive advantage over rivals. Every 15 days customers get to see new style of clothes in Zara’s stores.

Zara achieves this superfast lead time by having vertical integration. It owns most of the factories in which its clothes are manufactured. These factories are located in Spain and use state-of-the-art technology in production.

The prevailing wisdom is to outsource manufacturing to contract manufacturers in low cost locations such as Bangladesh and China. Zara doesn’t believe in this wisdom. By owning its factories, Zara tends to have tighter control over its manufacturing processes. It is able to implement Just-in-Time (JIT) manufacturing. JIT enables it to manufacture clothes fast and to carry as little inventory as possible.

The vertical integration is not limited to owning manufacturing facilities. Much of the fiber and dyes that go into manufacturing of clothes are manufactured by Zara’s subsidiaries.

Zara uses sophisticated inventory optimization software to determine inventory needs of its stores around the world.  Managers in its stores use personal digital assistants (PDAs) to regularly get feedback from customers on the style of clothes that they like and those that they don’t. They then send these feedbacks to the team of 300 designers that sit in the company’s headquarters in Spain. On the basis of this feedback, the designers turn out somewhere between 3000 and 4000 new designs of clothes every year. They use computer-aided-designing and other designing software in the process of designing clothes.

Zara also has a unique distribution model. It owns just two large distribution centers. Both these distribution centers are located in Spain. From the manufacturing and sewing facilities the finished clothes are shipped to these two distribution centers. From the distribution centers they are then shipped to stores around the world. In order to minimize transportation time, Zara uses trucks for short distance transportation and chartered cargo flights for long distance transportation.

7 major trends related to big data and analytics

Big Data The Three - Volume, Velocity And Variety

Tremendous growth in industries across the nation has increased the use of big data for multiple purposes. It is being utilized by both private and public sector. Some major industries where it is used include technology, media, healthcare, retail banking and real estate to name a few.

Big data is generally defined as enormous amount of unstructured, structured and semi-structured data which can be analyzed for generating useful insights.

Let’s go through some major trends associated with big data and its analytics which are gaining popularity:

  • Security of big data

With multiple cases of security breaches related to big data, various companies are now dedicated to secure the data more efficiently. Technologies like attribute related encryption are gaining popularity for securing vital data in an organization. Also, training of staff on regular intervals to ensure data protection is also part of the trend.

  • Deep learning

Relations between the data can be established effectively using deep learning. It is a type of machine learning that works on a set of algorithms. It helps in abstraction of big data and involves neural networking. The use of deep learning for big data analysis is quite promising.

  • Monetization of data

Various companies are focusing on strategies to monetize the data. Companies can earn profit by getting revenues from their own data. Combining data from multiple resources can also no become an important strategy to monetize the data.

  • Data agility

Various companies are now getting more attracted towards data agility. It is the property of extracting the information quickly from big heaps of data. Also, implementing this extracted data for improving the processes also comes under this technique.

  • NoSQL databases

NoSQL databases are also gaining popularity for analysis of big data. Various features like cost effectiveness and ability to manage large scale data makes it more beneficial than relational databases. Also, they do not require predefined schema for inserting the data.

    • Cloud technology
  • There is exponential growth in the use of cloud computing to process and store data. Some major cloud service providers include Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform and Amazon Web Services to name a few. A company must choose the type of cloud which includes public cloud, hybrid cloud or private cloud while going for a cloud computing for big data.

    • Accuracy of data

    In present scenario, various firms are realizing the importance of data accuracy. More accurate data helps in detailed segmentation at the consumer level which ultimately helps in making more wise decisions.

    The dimension of big data is constantly expanding and various technologies related to it will keep on increasing to help the organizations generate maximum benefit out of it.

    Payments Banks – An intelligent idea indeed!

    BFThe Reserve Bank of India recently gave licenses to eleven entities to start payments banks. These entities include Aditya Birla Nuvo, Reliance Industries, Tech Mahindra, Vodafone M-Pesa etc. A payments bank is a very unique concept that has originated in India.

     A payments bank means a bank that can accept deposits from public but it cannot lend to public. A usual bank both accepts deposits and lends too. A payments bank can also accept remittances. Remittances are money that you transfer to the bank account of your friend, family members or others. So a labourer working in a city can transfer money to the bank account of his wife, living in village, through the payments bank.

    The purpose of creating payments bank is to increase financial inclusion in India. Financial inclusion is measured by the percentage of population that has access to bank accounts and banking services. The financial inclusion in India is dismally low. According to a recent World Bank study, financial inclusion in India stands at just 35%. This means that only 35% of Indian population right now has bank accounts and access to banking services.

    The central government and RBI have made increasing financial inclusion their top priority.  Much of lack of financial inclusion is in rural areas.  Payments banks will have to maintain at least 25% of their branches in rural areas. This will give people living in these areas access to bank accounts. They can deposit their cash in these bank accounts and earn some interest on it.

    How will payment banks earn their income if they are not allowed to lend? Traditional banks mainly earn their income from the difference of the interest that they charge on loans and the interest that they pay on their deposits. Payments banks will invest their deposits in government securities. They will earn interest on these securities. Part of these interests they will pay to the depositors, while the remaining they will retain as their income. They may also charge some amount for remittance transfers. Their business model is low margin- high volume one. This means that they will earn low income per customer but overall income will be high because of high volume of customers.

    A large number of jobs are going to be created in the banking sector in the next five years. This will happen because more branches of both traditional banks and payments banks will be opened to increase financial inclusion.

    Asia, Africa and much of developing world – the unique challenges that they pose for project management


    A large number of big projects are coming up in developing and least developed countries. These big projects are usually infrastructure projects. Developing countries of Asia and least developed ones of Africa face a lot on infrastructural bottlenecks.  As these countries post higher economic growth, they need more infrastructure – such as roads, bridges and power plants – to support this growth.

    Many private companies are working on these large infrastructure projects. Some of these projects are solely with them while others are in partnership with respective governments (public-private partnership model).

    Managing a large infrastructural project in a developing country has many unique challenges.  There is often the problem of delay in decision making because of too much bureaucracy. The red-tape in developing countries is much more than in developed ones. Private companies that are used to working in developed ones often find it difficult to navigate through this sea of red-tape when they take projects in developing countries.

    Another problem is that of political and bureaucratic corruption. Corruption in many developing nations of Asia and Africa is very high. This corruption adds on to the final cost of the project and often ends up spoiling the initial cost estimates of project managers.

    There is also shortage of skilled human resources. So many companies doing large-scale projects in developing countries also have to invest in training and education of the human resources that they employ.

    Delay in acquisition of land for large scale projects has been a big problem in India in recent years. Political protest by vested interests and litigations by non-government organizations (NGOs) against these projects have cost private companies doing the projects much.

    In spite of these unique challenges of project management in developing and least developed countries, it is wise for many large companies to take up infrastructure projects in these countries. These countries are the markets of present and future. Much of economic growth that the world is seeing today is happening here in these nations. So any company that skips these countries because of the challenges and obstacles that they present, will lose out in the near future. Successful project management requires understanding of the unique challenges that these countries present and how to deal with these challenges in a constructive manner.

    What is the secret of hiring top performers?

    Outsourcing-Human-ResourcesIT arena is going through a paradigm shift as business leaders, stakeholders and IT organisations are redefining the use of technology. With increasing demands of today’s businesses, IT which was once entirely populated by highly technical professionals, is now morphing into a more flexible force of business savvy, client facing, commercially equipped IT Professionals.

    Despite the on-going economic turmoil, the process of hiring high-performance IT professionals and managers becomes even more crucial. To manage projects, respond to market pressures and grow in today’s business world, companies are required to offer a comprehensive suite of system and software solutions that can help their clients scale their business and increase productivity. As a result expectations on applications have moved beyond data driven guidance, analytics, mobility and seamless integration across devices.”
    Basically anything that makes the end user experience easy and visually appealing is what companies are seeking and to do that they need right talent.

    The perception among prospective candidates seems to be that the sky has more shades of grey and that they shouldn’t even consider making a move. However, there is a demand for positions that require a mix of technological sophistication and commercial business acumen.”

    Sixty per cent of executives in UK rely on short-term hiring strategies. They start looking for candidates only as openings arise. At this stage, the company or the recruiter increasingly approach candidates, mostly in frenzy. But hiring in this form often results in dip in productivity or performance. Often, this results in position being open again. There is a tendency for repetitive process which yields marginal results to begin with.HR Cult promotes talent warehousing and sees it becoming a very prominent part of every recruitment campaign.

    Far too many companies are still not using the internship programs. A well-structured and closely monitored internship program can help build talent funnel for companies. Today young people are tech savvy and can write codes even before they finish school. If properly groomed, given right training, they can prove to be the right talent for the companies.
    There is further a need for retaining the baby boomers in some form as consultants or project specialists or contractors. This sect of people come with plethora of knowledge, experience and have a lot to offer in a mentor- mentee relationship.

    In these uncertain times, companies need strong managers who can lead others and enhance productivity.  Right talent fitment comes when the recruiter matches job role with the core competencies of the candidate profile – not by CV matching but by using their understanding of the requirement, client expectations and candidate profiles.