Globinar on Infrastructure
This Global Chamber® event was for business leaders looking to expand opportunities in infrastructure construction in specific regions and worldwide. Our experts discussed Energy, Technology, Transportation, Communication and Sustainability Segments... and how companies can connect to future business in these areas around the world.
Verinda Fike of US Trade and Development Agency led off by discussing opportunities in Transportation, Energy and Communications segments. USTDA supports US companies, and has been able to generate US$104 of exports for every US$1 invested on programs. Their 60+ reverse trade missions per year provide SMEs the opportunity to connect with projects all over the world more easily.
The overall program was approximately 30 minutes of presentations and 30 minutes of Q&A. If you're a member and would like to connect with any of the speakers, please contact us. Our daily goal is to connect members with new growth opportunities.
Moderator: Doug Bruhnke, CEO/Founder of Global Chamber
Verinda Fike - Regional Director South & Southeast Asia for the USTDA. Verinda Fike serves as the Regional Director for South & Southeast Asia for the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA), where she is responsible for developing the agency’s strategy, infrastructure project preparation activities, and innovative public-private partnerships throughout the region. She also leads USTDA’s Global Transportation Sector Team. Ms. Fike has travelled and worked in over 50 countries and has managed projects in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. Ms. Fike began her career at USTDA in 2010, and previously served as Country Manager for Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and for East Asia. Prior to joining USTDA, Ms. Fike consulted U.S. private sector and USAID overseas missions on creating effective public-private partnerships in developing and emerging economies. She also spent three years in China managing patient relations and marketing for several women's health clinics in cooperation with Johns Hopkins Hospital. Ms. Fike holds a Master of Science in Foreign Service and a Master of Public Policy from Georgetown University, as well as a B.A. from the University of Colorado in International Affairs and Mandarin Chinese.
Topic: Highlights on the Transportation Sector
Kevin Seegmiller - Director of Program Management at Delta Environmental Services. Mr. Seegmiller is the Director of Program Management at Delta Environmental Sciences. His expertise lies in sustainability, environmental planning (NEPA), electric utility infrastructure siting and permitting, public involvement, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Over the years, he has designed and developed several innovative, web-based computer tools including web-mapping and public comment tools that improve decision-making on environmental planning and permitting projects and allow extreme efficiency and accountability with the management of NEPA, electric utility permitting, and construction inspection projects. His strengths include finding social, ecological, and technical systems that break through transition barriers towards sustainability. Mr. Seegmiller earned a B.S. in Environmental Studies and Economics, a M.S. is BioRegional Planning, both from Utah State University, and is currently working to complete a PhD in Energy Policy at Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability. His research focus is on energy transitions and conflicts in renewable energy development.
Topic: New Opportunities in the Energy Sector
Chris Price - President of the Indiana Construction Roundtable. Chris is the President of the Indiana Construction Roundtable and the Indiana Construction Roundtable Foundation, where his leadership and fun-loving attitude keep the associations thriving. Describing each day as a new adventure, Chris takes pride in helping these organizations fulfill their missions. Before joining the ICR in 2008, Chris worked in the construction and civil engineering fields. Through his work with both groups, Chris is currently involved with programs that aim to add to the diversity of our construction workforce. Outside of work and philanthropy, Chris enjoys spending time with his wife, Stefanie, and their three sons. When he can get a break, you can find him on the golf course. Any golf course will do because his golf game is terrible.
Topic: Labor Opportunities and Sustainable Construction
Kirk Galster - Global Advisor at Global Chamber Djibouti. Kirk is a life long learner who loves to read and keep up on current events. His expertise in International Affairs and Global Enterprise allow him to analyze complex political, legal, cultural, and strategic issues for any organization ranging from corporations, non profits, and government entities. This along with his background in military intelligence trained in the U.S. Army, has equipped Kirk to handle a variety of issues regarding risk management and strategic decision making. Being able to analyze complex issues utilizing all sources of information or data from geographic, economic, political, or cultural interaction allows him to be competitive in any industry. Kirk interests are in economic development using market based solutions and my research has focused on violent conflict and the relationship with economics.
Topic: Construction and Infrastructure Insights from Global Chamber Advisors in Africa - Part 1
Demba Ndiaye - Global Advisor at Global Chamber Dakar. Demba is Founder and Director, Strategy First LLC (www.strategyfirst.org), a Multi-line Insurance & Financial Services Consulting, in the provision of insurance & financial services, strategy and advisory services to individuals, community groups and companies in various sector. Headquartered in Washington DC and Virginia, Main accountabilities include: Consultative Marketing Services, Community Resilience and Adaptation strategies, Economic and financial literacy model design and integration, Donor strategy and funding development and Diaspora involvement through ownership advocacy and ethnic buy-in. Demba is also a Global Advisor for Global Chamber in Senegal.
GSCS Participates in Globinar with Global Chamber on Opportunities in the Middle East and North Africa
Global Chamber has weekly webinars/globinars for our members to share global business knowledge and expertise... in order for all of us to be more successful. Be global and UNSTOPPABLE!
On April 23rd 2018 we had a discussion on the business opportunities in the Middle East and Northern Africa for exporters, importers and cross-border investors looking to be more successful. It's a conversation about the latest new business opportunities and economic outlook in this region. At the event we shared an overview and then did deeper dive in Jordan and some other specific countries - click the link HERE to watch and listen.
There were 5 minute presentations by the following experts, followed by questions and answers.
Amer Nasereddin - Co-Founder, VP and Chief Marketing Officer at Primus. With over Seventeen years of experience in the local & Regional markets, Mr. Nasereddin is an expert in business development, marketing and networking. He is also highly skilled in identifying potential market expansions, and has demonstrated this by expanding Primus’ presence in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Qatar and Palestine, and training the staff at each of these locations. a regional company and market leader with a specialized focus on software solutions, consultancy and IT infrastructure services based in Amman, Jordan.His vision and foresight have contributed immensely towards Primus becoming one of the top software development companies in the Region. Mr. Nasereddin has been involved in the creation of number of companies spanning several industries and sectors. He acted as board member and co-founder of ConsultUs (2009-2012), a regional consulting firm specialized in economic growth, water, health, energy and renewable energy. He also supported the creation of one of Jordan’s top copywriting and translation houses - Write Path LLC content consultants, as an angel investor and board member (2009-2013). Furthermore, he is a board member at Consultel, a leading broadcast and telecommunications company with over thirty years of market presence. Mr. Nasereddin is a member of several organizations, the American Chamber of Commerce (AMMCHAM), the Young Entrepreneurs Association (YEA), the Jordan British Society. Today, Mr. Nasereddin acts as the President Elect 2017/2018 for the Jordan Chapter of the Entrepreneurs Organization (EO) and Chairman and Sub Committee Chapter Launches for EO Global. For the past several years, Mr. Nasereddin has also been mentoring the younger generation of entrepreneurs through his voluntary association with Endeavor Jordan. He holds a BA in Business Administration with a Marketing concentration from the University of Washington in Seattle.
Habib Amine Benabdallah - Convenience Retail Manager for Africa at Vivo Energy. Habib is an MBA graduate from thunderbird University, 2003. He has started his career as Marketing Manager at a rent-to-own chain (Rent- a-center) then worked for Shell in various roles and geographies. First in Morocco as convenience retail manager, then Customer center Manager for Europe in Rotterdam. Following that, he worked in re-imaging/re-positioning projects for Shell lubricants in middle-East and Central Asia out of Dubai. His current role is in Casablanca as Alliance manager for the 1800+ Shell-branded sites in Africa.
Kirk Galster - Global Advisory, Djibouti at Global Chamber & Director at Global Strategies Consulting Services. Kirk is a life long learner who loves to read and keep up on current events. His expertise in International Affairs and Global Enterprise allow him to analyze complex political, legal, cultural, and strategic issues for any organization ranging from corporations, non profits, and government entities. This along with his background in military intelligence trained in the U.S. Army, has equipped Kirk to handle a variety of issues regarding risk management and strategic decision making. Being able to analyze complex issues utilizing all sources of information or data from geographic, economic, political, or cultural interaction allows him to be competitive in any industry. Kirk interests are in economic development using market based solutions and my research has focused on violent conflict and the relationship with economics.
Öykü Korkmaz Ataçoğlu - Business Strategy and Public Relations Executive. Born and raised in Istanbul. Öykü completed her undergraduate and graduate study in Istanbul University, Department of Economics. In 1999, she went to Exeter University, UK for academic research and received her master’s degree in 2000, with her thesis titled as “International Capital Flows and Foreign Capital in Turkey”. Öykü then worked at the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce for 13 years as Chief of Economic and Social Research Department Coordinator of Transnational Relations Department and President Advisor. She was responsible of organizing meetings and seminars; hosting trade delegations, organizing Buyers-Sellers Meetings, preparing research and reports specifically on the issues of Economic Structure of the World and Turkey; preparing Economic Report; working in preparation and publishing process of books on various sectoral and other researches; preparing speeches and briefings for the Members of the Board and for the President. Afterwards, Öykü worked as Secretary General of Turkey White Goods Industry Association (TURKBESD). She was representative of the Association at the official and private institutions in the presence of third parties. She was member of; Durable Consumer Goods Committee in TOBB (The Union Of Chambers And Commodity Exchanges of Turkey); Electricity and Electronics Industry Technical Committee in Ministry of Science Industry and Trade European Committee of Domestic Equipment Manufacturers. (CECED). She is a fluent speaker of English and German.
1) Could you talk more about infrastructure projects we should know about in the region?
Kirk (Djibouti): Djibouti has a few infrastructure projects happening. The biggest is possibly the rail way from the port to Ethiopia, it is a passenger train I think, but I also think there are cargo trains that will be utilized for trade. For a more updated list of all the current projects related to port activity please see this list here: http://www.portdedjibouti.com/mega-projects/
Habib (Morocco): There are hundreds of infrastructure projects happening in Morocco I cannot list all of them, from ports, to highways, to new cities, to fast train, to renewable energy… Please be specific on industry/sector and I will be happy to help.
Oyku (Turkey): These 3 link will give some detailed information about infrastructure projects in Turkey.
2) Is your country/region involved in the China Belt and Road initiative and how?
Kirk (Djibouti): Not exactly sure if projects are related to that specific initiative, but China did build a rail way and it seems that China is very involved in rail, paved road, and other key infrastructure development in Djibouti including ports.
Habib (Morocco): Yes we are. The silk road/china belt is indeed going through Morocco as a cheaper hub to serve Europe. Morocco has agreed with the Chinese to build a brand new industrial city (1 billion USD in infrastructure of city alone) close to the biggest port in the Mediterranean sea called Tanger Med. from this hub, intention is to incentivize Chinese companies to set up manufacturing there and export to Europe and Africa from there. Of course plenty of incentives are offered to attract them.
Oyku (Turkey): AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST.
3) How do you approach language and multicultural barriers?
Kirk (Djibouti): Learn French/ or bring a French interpreter. Understand Somali people are very aggressive. You sort of have to be aggressive back a little bit in dealing with them. Don't do anything offensive according to Islam. (shake/eat with left hand, show the bottom of your feet, anything with pork or forbidden food etc)
Habib (Morocco): In this day and age, challenges with language and cultures are becoming less relevant as you will find English speakers anywhere you go and through social media, people understand different cultures much better. Of course, there are still many differences on how business is conducted. Nonetheless, people no longer would take offense on cultural differences. I have traveled to 50 countries, done business in over half of my trips and I can tell you that I am amazed how global the world has become. There still be books, professors and consultants telling you about the business etiquette in each part of the world but if you keep an open and curious mind, you will be fine everywhere!
Oyku (Turkey): Turkey occupies a unique geographic position, lying partly in Asia and partly in Europe. Throughout its history it has acted as both a barrier and a bridge between the two continents. In addition; there is no state religion in Turkey. The Constitution of the Republic of Turkey states very clearly that the affairs of the nation are operated without the interference of religion, hence Turkey’s secular rule. Therefore, there isn’t got a huge multicultural barriers to obstruct the business. Turkish people are hospitable, polite and extremely professional. Turks like to get acquainted with the people they will work and do business with. They will most likely do business with those they are able to trust and those that can provide a long term relationship. And most of the white collar workers could speak English well.
Djibouti is a small nation in the Horn of Africa along the Red Sea with some great
potential. Formerly a French colony, Djibouti now has its independent position as a major trade path with inroads to Africa, as well as export opportunities out of Africa. Along with Djibouti’s beautiful landscapes that are hidden treasures in its dry desert climate, the business opportunities should not be over looked as potential diamonds in the rough.
Seven reasons to Invest in Djibouti:
1. Port to Africa Djibouti maintains a deep-sea port with access to the red sea along major trade routes and conducts over 80% of Ethiopia’s trade as Ethiopia is now land locked. This creates a great opportunity for importing into Africa as well as manufacturing in other African states or in Djibouti itself and exporting globally.
2. Currency is Pegged to the US dollar
3. Government Land Can Purchased at a Discount For Your Project
4. No Taxes for 5-10 Years
Contact us to day to get involved in the new Global Chamber chapter Djibouti and get started in discovering new opportunities for your business!
Crypto Currency and What you need to know about Global Exchange Risk Management
With all the craze surrounding cryptocurrencies it becomes imperative to understand what they are, and how they can be utilized in today’s modern economy. What are their capabilities, and where are their weaknesses?
Although this post does not attempt to be comprehensive it does intend to provide a quick overview and some basic information regarding the new economy and industry of online currencies in the context of international business and draws mostly from two articles that the author found to be most helpful in understanding the cryptocurrency economy. Therefore, apology ahead of time for long quotes, but the articles explain it all well. So the following discuses quickly what a crypto currency is, what the benefits and uses are, and then some quick risks and red flags.
What is Cryptocurrency?
Some general characteristics of cryptocurrencies include: block chain technology for verification and record keeping, algorithmic scarcity creating value, online ease of trade, storage, and commerce, and storage on offline systems such as hard drives (online and offline storage mechanisms are known as “wallets”).
According to an article regarding the new currencies with a specific look at bitcoin,
Governments may create financial and credit troubles thereby causing major problems for their currencies, global investors are looking for something more firm than the promise of a central bank. Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss—Bitcoin entrepreneurs—touted the digital currency as a solution to the world's troubled currency markets. "It's Gold 2.0," Tyler Winklevoss said.
“Like gold or other precious metals used as specie, Bitcoins are scarce. But their scarcity is algorithmic, as opposed to natural or accidental.
New Bitcoins are added only by being "mined," in the high-tech equivalent of a land rush. Computers on the Bitcoin network race to solve increasingly complicated mathematical problems. The first to do so has its solution verified by the other nodes on the network. Once verified, the Bitcoin can be traded using Bitcoin's wallet software.
Bitcoin mining guarantees a fixed rate of inflation (relative to itself). It roots the value of Bitcoins in the work needed to solve the puzzle. And the decentralized proof-of-work consensus protocol guards against fraud and counterfeit” (Carmody, 2013).
Therefore, Bitcoin "commoditized the process of securing the network." All the work done by financial centers and payment systems to detect fraud or counterfeit for traditional currency and credit markets is done all along the network according to the peer-to-peer protocols for Bitcoin. And the costs of that work are likewise distributed throughout the system, paid for through Bitcoin mining. This is what lets Bitcoins be traded and exchanged without huge fees (Carmody, 2013).
Cryptocurrencies therefore, are an innovative way to exchange goods and value, while maintaining scarcity and value for themselves all while being held, verified, and constructed in the web.
The most prevalent is Bitcoin, and most goins that are not Bitcoin are an alternate form of Bitcoin and are known as Alt-coin.
So, now that we have a general working idea or definition of cryptocurrencies, let’s now look at some usages and risks.
According to Carmody, the area with the greatest potential for Bitcoin worldwide is probably international remittances: money sent home by workers living abroad. Although obviously the international business community can utilize these currencies in the same manner. Currently, this money has to be handled by several intermediaries: banks, wire services, and currency exchanges all take their cut. A report by Businessweek noted that the average fee for remittances was 9 percent of the money transferred, with conversion to cash often costing an extra 5 percent. Western Union's profit margins are enormous for an intermediary, nearly 16 percent, and most of its costs are devoted to the technologies moving money from one place to another, guaranteeing the legitimacy of the transfer. In short, Western Union spends and earns billions to do what Bitcoin does for free (Carmody, 2013).
"The vast majority of people on the planet don't even own a bank account," Bitcoin evangelist Jonathan Mohan tells PBS Newshour. "And it's my contention that—and a lot of people think this—that, just as in Africa, they didn't go to phones. They went directly to cell phones, that, in the same sort of adoption curve, in these developing nations, you're not going to see them start getting bank accounts. You're going to see them just going straight to Bitcoins, because if you own a Bitcoin address, you have a bank account on your phone that you can interact on the global stage with (Carmody, 2013)"
"Money has become data," Ben Milne, founder of Dwolla, a real-time payments company, said at emTech. "There needs to be an infrastructure that allows people to exchange whatever they have for whatever they want, that confirms who they are, and confirms that the transaction is legitimate (Carmody, 2013)"
Therefore, there is great potential for utilizing crypto currencies for reaching lower level markets that may use cryptocurrencies instead of their own currencies to buy international goods. As developing markets may not have the financial infrastructure to use credit cards and other such financial instruments, cryptocurrencies may become readily available and provide a very quick and cheap alternative.
However, it must be stated that cryptocurrency has a primary use of speculation, it is estimated in a 2016 joint report from Coinbase and ARK Invest that 54% of bitcoin users utilize bitcoin strictly as an investment (Hileman & Rauchs, 2017).
Other uses include payment. “Estimates of the use of cryptocurrency for payments has varied significantly across different sources. For example, a 2016 report from the Boston Federal Reserve has estimated that 75% of US consumers who own cryptocurrencies have used them for payments within a 12 month period, while the Coinbase/ARK Invest report indicates that 46% of Coinbase users use bitcoin as a ‘transactional medium’ (defined as making at least one payment per year)” (Hileman & Rauchs, 2017). “The use of payment in cryptocurrency and merchants who will accept it is increasing worldwide as a payment method, however, cryptocurrencies are not being used as primary payment method on a daily exchange or for everyday expenses. This is mostly due to cryptocurrency not being a “closed loop” system or economy in which businesses or individuals would be compensated in the same form of payment while also utilizing cryptocurrencies as a form of making payments” (Hileman & Rauchs, 2017). (in other words, payments are usually a one-time transaction from one institution or individual to another and the economy does not necessarily blend with other currencies)
There may be some clear advantages to corporations utilizing cryptocurrencies for cross border payments, as “a considerable number of companies have emerged that
use cryptocurrency networks primarily as a ‘payment rail’ to make fast and cheap cross-border payments. However, following the recent surge in bitcoin transaction fees, some are reconsidering this strategy and shifting transactions towards private blockchain-based solutions” (Hileman & Rauchs, 2017).
So now that we have a better understanding of some of the benefits of Cryptocurrencies, now we can take a look at some downfalls.
One potential major downfall is that cryptocurrencies tend to be very volatile. This can cause major issues for the payment or transferring funds through cryptocurrencies into other more stable currencies. For example, the manager who intends to move several hundred thousand dollars in Bitcoin to Europe to be exchanged for Euros will suffer great exchange risk if Bitcoin drops within seconds of making the transfer. In this sense, most major operations using cryptocurrencies are not actually used as currencies, but instead are used more in the speculation market to attempt to grow assets and wealth. As cryptocurrencies become more stable in the future this may change, but for now it causes an extreme risk for mangers to face.
Other risks include the future of regulation and government interventions, the potential for cryptocurrencies to not being widely adopted, and cyber-attacks in the form of theft.
Nevertheless, with Cryptocurrencies being a multibillion dollar industry, they cannot be ignored, and must be explored in management as possible utilities for the expansion of global growth of Multinational firms.
Resources: Carmody, T. (2013, Oct 15). Money 3.0: How Bitcoins May Change the Global Economy. Retrieved from National Geographic: https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/10/131014-bitcoins-silk-road-virtual-currencies-internet-money/
Hileman, G., & Rauchs, M. (2017). Global Cryptocurrency Benchmarking Study. University of Cambridge, Judge Business School. Center for Alternative Finance.
A recent White House executive order remove the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and there is a promise from that same administration to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, One perspective is that the U.S. is on an isolationist trade policy path with an “America First” campaign. The White House has also signaled placing tariffs on other countries such as Canada and China, further confirming this move toward slowing down imports with the intent of favoring and rebuilding the U.S. industry and manufacturing sectors, all while running the risk of sparking trade wars and losing ground to China in the Pacific, Middle East, and Africa.....Read More.
Kirk Galster, M.S. is an international business services professional. With his extensive experience and background in International Studies, Law, International Business, and Economics he is a great asset to any international management team.