Are you “Forward” looking in your business?

The year 2016 marked a season of inflation and scarcity for various commodities; tomatoes, pepper, imported rice and not forgetting the world’s most desirable currency, the USD dollar. The free fall of the exchange rate of the Naira to the dollar has been a sore point in the political discussions and an index, in tandem with price of PMS and electricity supply, for judging performance of the current Government. The enlightened populace has been waiting for the Central Bank of Nigeria’s pronouncement on how the new Foreign Exchange (FX) regime.

This article is simple to explain how companies and business owners can hedge against FX fluctuations which affect their businesses.

Hedging as defined by the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary means to protect yourself against losing money. Therefore, I will attempt to explain how hedging can be done by business owners due to the fluctuations in FX rate.

Sometimes last year,A few days back, I stopped by the roadside sales woman on my way home to buy a bunch of plantain. While still expressing shock at how costly this small bunch was, a neighbour of mine who met me there was regaling me with stories of how expensive tomato wasis and how a piece wasis more costly than an apple – I hadve seen that on twitter, then I remembered that my dear wife had hedged against this risk by buying a basket full of tomato’s months back at Mile 12 market and we don’t have to worry about tomato prices in the medium term – Good woman.

So what are the hedging tools we might see take centre stage in the Nigeria market.

Firstly, the Fisher effect

The International Fisher effect postulated by American economist Irving Fisher shows the relationship between interest rates, inflation rate and exchange rates. Basically, one can predict the future exchange rate of a country’s currency against a reference country currency. So let’s assume that the Naira currently goes for N200 to the $ and the year-on-year inflation for Nigeria and the USA is 10% and 5% respectively. The expected exchange rate for Nigeria at the end of Year 1 would be N209.5/$ (N200 x 110/105). This simple theory also has a relationship with the Interest Rate parity theory which states that expected future movement in Interest rates can also use be used as a basis for determining the future exchange rate at a forward date (assuming variables related to the reference currency remain static). Therefore if the current N/$ exchange rate is N200/$1 and Interest Rates are expected to rise from 10% to 15% in the next year, the future forward exchange rate would be N209.09/$1 (N200 x 115/110). However, we don’t live an ideal world and exchange rate movements are not as simplistic as this.

Now, Hedging Options

It’s June 30 2016 and Mr. Alao needs $100,000 to buy a tractor by December 31 to for use on his cocoa plantation by 1st January 2017. The current dollar buy rate is N200 and therefore Chief Agbabiaka would need N20,000,000 today to buy the tractor. However, he is concerned that using N20m would not be a wise option since he could invest this amount in treasury bills at 10% and just keep it in a fixed deposit account till he actually needs to sell it in December 2016. Worse still, he might not have the N20m to trade with at this time, what can he do?

1. FX Forward Contract

This is used when you want to hedge your foreign currency risk in a simple way up to a predetermined worst-case exchange rate. This is done by exchanging a sum of money into a different currency on a particular date (or within a particular timeframe) in the future at a predetermined exchange rate.

In this case, Mr. Alao goes to the Bank and enters into a forward contract to buy $’s from the Bank on December 2016 at a certain rate. The Forward Rate is agreed at the time the contract is entered into (June 30) and we assume this is N220/$1. It’s unlikely that the Bank would enter into an agreement at the current spot rate as the impact of Interest Rates and Inflation would imply a change in rates at a future date. Mr. Alao assess that this rate is fine and signs the deal. On 31 December, he goes to the Bank collects his $100k and parts with N22m – deal closed. If the rate in the market is now N240/$1, Chief has saved a cool N2m but if it’s the converse and rates are still at N200/$1, he’s lost N2m. However, he’s sure of his cash outlay well ahead of time and therefore reduces the risk of uncertainty in future exchange rates.

2. FX Options

Moving from the first scenario in No. 1, Mr. Alao can take advantage of an appreciation in exchange rate by entering into an Option agreement with the bank. So he says “Mr. Banker, I agreed to buy dollars from you in future at N220 but if it’s N210 in the market, I lose N1m”. So Mr. Banker says he can actually enter an agreement with the bank at a lower rate at the future date but would have to pay an option fee. So he agrees to pay N200K today for the risk the Bank will take on future appreciation in exchange rates. Therefore if the Naira depreciates to N210/$1 in the future, Mr. Alao’s outlay is N21,000,000 (N210 x $100k).

However, he has paid an option fee upfront so his total outlay is actually N21,200,000 which translates to an effective exchange rate of N212/$1. If the Naira/$1 exchange rate depreciates to N240/$1, he simply doesn’t exercise this option and goes ahead to buy at N220/$1 which makes his effective cash outlay as N22,200,000 and effective exchange rate as N222/$1.

An effective cash flow management through hedging can greatly reduce the probability of a company suffering from currency issues in the future.

Please note that the above analysis is done from the perspective of the business owner.


Would you rather have people work for salary or work to contribute?

By ‘Lola Thompson Makinde

When you walk into one of John Lewis’ 46 stores in England, you will be served by a genuine stakeholder of the company, not just a committed employee. John Lewis has adopted a  unique business model that ensures that every employee is not just a  unit’s manager, but a  partner of the business. A partner who has a right, once he gets employed by the organization, to knowledge, power and profit sharing. This ‘Out-of-the-Box’ model, might be extreme to most Nigerian companies, but it is noteworthy that a store which is only 10 years old, has a turnover of over  a hundred million pounds and is favorably competing with brands like Marks and Spencer that have been around since 1884.

What can we learn from John Lewis’ culture about a well-disposed employee who is not only engaged but adequately empowered?

Let us look at the 3 key rights given to the John Lewis team members (partners) that make their business outstanding:

  1. The right to knowledge

Several studies have shown that, where clear-cut information has been exposed to team members about the state of a business or key reasons why decisions have been made, productivity of employees improves. In addition, there is improved quality as employees see the need to improve. Secondly, there is an increased respect for management’s decision as they are aware of the reasons behind such decisions. Thirdly, knowledge promotes a work environment filled with trust, which reduces staff turnover.

  1. The right to power

An organization with the culture of providing  autonomy to employees encourages them to take  ownership of their work, know that they are valued and also empowers them  to make an impact. This in turn positively affects productivity. You can empower your team by:

  • Encouraging feedback. Empowering your employees starts with encouraging feedback. Train your team on how to give and receive consistent positive or constructive (negative) feedback. This will foster good communication and blind spots to the management will be brought to the fore.
  • Rewarding self-improvement. When a team member passes an exam or joins a professional body, support by paying the fees and/or celebrating him/her. When a team member identifies a training program that could improve performance, provide encouragement, take the time to provide some guidance or counselling. Allow your employees to stretch out on their own and even lead others to do same. They may stumble, but they will learn a lot and cultivate the respect of their colleagues while preparing to be leaders of the organisation themselves.
  1. The right to accountability

Communicate when they are not meeting expectations. To maintain accountability you must ensure they understand the consequences of failure. You need to be consistent and ensure you use the same standards and rewards for yourself as a leader, as well as, all employees. For effective results, as the leader, you need to be seen as accountable to your employees as much as they are accountable to you.

Conclusively, in answering the question, “Would you rather have people work for salary or work to contribute? “ think of how big you want your business to grow and how important your employees are towards achieving that vision.

Employee engagement is having employees who are not just disposed to their employers, but who feel like partners in the business and are therefore willing to ‘contribute’. In the end, achieving employee engagement is never a quick fix, but it’s worth the efforts.


My views on the devaluation of the Naira

Over the months, there have been many theories propounded on the argument of what the value of the Naira is against the dollar. The loudest of these theories have most times resulted in the call for a formal devaluation of the Naira. These sounds are also echoed by the foreign and more established financial markets – and to be factual, I stood albeit without confidence in favour of devaluation. In this brief write up, my final position is quite clear and without ambiguity.

Those in support of devaluation hinge the arguments on:
• The Naira is already devalued as many imports are done using parallel (Black) market rates, so why not make it (devaluation) official…
• Devaluation will encourage exports, as inflows in FCY will be converted to Naira at high rates thereby increasing the LCY wealth of the exporters.
• From an NLC perspective, devaluation will enable the Govt. pay their new asking price for minimum wage … N56,000= I suppose ?
• Finally, our State Governors will now have more money (Naira) to pay salaries… well; this seems to be the main reason for the clamour.

However, after considering the following:
• Even in devaluation, the exchange rate will still be controlled by the CBN and pegged at a certain rate against the dollar. This defeats the theories of those that want a free slide so the Naira can discover itself as in efficient markets (depreciation).
• Devaluation means that the raw materials our small manufacturing businesses import will now be sourced at the newly devalued rate as against the current CBN rate. One may argue that the lead time to get FCY at the official market for SMEs is currently is long, but I ask – Who said it will not be long post devaluation? I think it will, because one cannot get wealthy by cutting cost. So long as the supply of USD remains the same, the waiting queue will not reduce in the long run.
• In devaluation, there will be real inflation and the already beaten pride of the Naira will take even more strokes. This has all its bad effects including the increased cost of cash handling.

My Recommendations
A big NO to Devaluation
There is no sound logic around how the eventual value will be chosen, it will erode what is left of our Naira pride, will formally increase the cost of raw materials for SMEs and finally, it will not take the FX queues away.

Get Certain and Firm:
The CBN and the Government should find a way to assure the market that the rates are fixed at least for the next 3years. This has to be done because the dearth of foreign investments/inflow is not a result of the current value of the Naira, but a result of the uncertainty and perceived market volatility.

No More Domiciliary accounts (a hard one):
The CBN should give a short period notice for owners of domiciliary accounts to withdraw their monies from the banks or it will be mandatorily bought by the CBN at official rate. Further to this, every inflow into the country must be bought by the CBN at official rate, however, the sellers of such inflows will have the right to buy back FX when they have payment needs. This move will almost eliminate the arbitrage in the black market.

Bureau De Change Services: This should be run by banks and their subsidiaries alone (In the short run) as they can be properly monitored by CBN.

Pray Hard: We still need the oil prices up. We need a prudent Government to leverage off high prices to build infrastructure. Without infrastructure, our SMEs cannot be globally competitive in local manufacturing/production.

The impact of all these recommendations should take out the inefficiencies that are currently making the effect of the fallen oil prices worse. Also, when uncertainty goes away, foreign investments come in, the capital market would likely become bullish and stability will follow. As for telegraphic transfers, the banks will debit client’s Naira accounts, convert and send the FCY to recipients, but this will only be for properly documented transactions.

By Obinna Ukachukwu

Source: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/devaluation-naira-my-views-obinna-ukachukwu


SOFT LEGAL GUIDE ON STARTING A BUSINESS (legal components) by IJEOMA UJU at Business Seminar

Questions to ask
QUESTION 1: Do I really need to start this business? Is it the right time? (Cause it might simply be a hobby).
For a business it might not be your idea, you can key into a business or simply buy into a franchise, example Mr. Biggs.

QUESTION 2: Do I have a sufficient capital? Do a capital investment calculation.(Do the maths)
QUESTION 3: Will I be able to pay myself a salary?
QUESTION 4: Do I want to manage my business on my own, hire workers or a temporary staff?
QUESTION 5: What Business structure do I want to use?

Once a business is established the law has given it a ‘legal status’ it is different from you
• It can sue and be sued
• Can own land and enter into contracts
• There’s limited liability

Benefits depending on the business structure
i) Attracts investors
ii) You can transfer ownership
iii) Continuity of management
iv) You can have stakeholders (plan your estate)
v) Gives you control
Note that for a business begin with an end in mind

Not all structure is appropriate for the type of business you want to have
1, Sole Proprietorship – you are the business and the business is you
2, Partnerships with other people MAX of 20 except law firms and accountancy firms
3, Limited Liability Company (either public or private)
– Public companies are regulated- make returns to the securities and exchange commission
– Private are not so regulated but there’s a cap on the total number of members you can have
They must have at least 2 for both private and public and as many as 50 for private limited liability company
4, unlimited liability company – liability is limited only to your unpaid shares
5, non-governmental organisations,
6, cooperated trustees

Most common structures in Nigeria for businesses going for profit making ventures are
– Business Names (sole and partnerships)
– Limited Liability Companies
Business name is easy and straightforward but there’s unlimited personal liability as the business is you and you are the business; the tax is less as you are simply paying tax for yourself. Also, you have complete control though there maybe issues of raising substantial capital limiting investors and succession isn’t guaranteed partnerships as an edge as the partners share the load

Limited Liability Company has a separate legal entity, has succession, attractive to third parties as the there are regulations and the structure

For a business name ten thousand naira is enough for registration of your business which can be done through a lawyer or on your own, for a Limited Liability Company it depends on the share capital if the share capital is 1 million the fee is 10,000naira every extra million incurs an extra fee of 5,000 naira there are also stamp duties on them.
Unlimited Liability Company with a share of 1million for registering is 10,500

1, get the licences and know the regulators
2, for non-Nigerians there are other requirements to consider and it’s not open for business names.
Firstly, registration with the Nigerian investment promotion commission which simply monitors the foreign investment coming into the country and a business permit. If the foreign workers are coming to come and worker will have to obtain an expatriate quota or they are bringing in new technologies there is a need to register with National Office for technology acquisition and promotion
Through the (CCI) certificate of capital importation it enables you to access the related market and exchange at CBN rates

Once you’ve started your business you register for tax register with the federal internal revenue service and also the revenue service in the state. Income tax could be either 20% or 30%, 20% is for companies that are into manufacturing, agriculture or fully involved in exporting or turnover must be 1 million or less and only be done for the first 5 years and there is education tax 2% and also personal income tax from employee’s salary with can be up to 24% for pay as you earn scheme
value added tax on goods and services there are some exempted like dairy products basic food items academic books (5%), withholding tax which like an advanced payment on income tax it can be 5%-10%. then are taxes from local governments.
NOTE: verify all taxes with a lawyer
There are certain mandatory contributions that you’d be required to make, there’s the Contributory pension fund which only applies with total employees exceed 15 (18%-20%), industrial training fund (1%) of annual payroll, employees compensation fund (1%) of monthly payroll, 2.5% to the national housing fund that is 2.5% of the basic salary of your employees and non-payment incurs penalties
Pioneer status given to persons in industries that are considered valuable to the economy, it is a tax holiday for 5 years.
Export incentives like GTdrawback, like importation of raw materials and export of finished goods with the government refunding the import duties.
Public infrastructure and employment relief basically is when you generate and maintain employees and when you provide an infrastructure of a public nature
HOW TO PROTECT YOUR BRAND = You go to a trademark registry and have it registered.
All companies are to file annual returns to the CAC which is basically your financial statement. There’s also tax statement, there may be more filing depending on the industry you are going into.

This is simply a checklist to go through.