5 Things you did not know about 2019.

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While some of us are making our New Years resolutions – we have entered into the New Year. In this post I am going to tell you about 5 things you did not know about 2019.

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Photo by Ethan Robertson

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1. If you don’t take action, this year will not be any different.

You may have decided to do certain things, achieve certain results and live your dream life. This won’t be possible if you don’t take any action on those decisions. I like the Nike tag line – just do it. So let’s take some concrete actions on our desires to achieve higher results.

2. No one is going to help you more than you can help yourself.

We need people around us, no doubt about it. But if we only depend on people to help us reach our destination, we will never reach there. People have their own sh*t to deal with. So, you do all you can to achieve your goals and depend less on others doing it for you.

3. Health is wealth.

Last year I have seen too many young people dying due to health problems. There is no use of trying and getting millions, if your not there to enjoy it. This year let’s keep the balance between work and time to look after our body.

4. You don’t read, you don’t lead.

So many things are happening in our world today, that keeping a pace with what’s happening around us becomes very important. Let’s make a commitment to read more this year, because I believe reading and leading is directly associated with each other.

5. You are awesome.

I believe you are beautiful, handsome, hot, sexy, intelligent, successful and whatever you wish to be. Deep down I know you want to be that. Believe you are beautiful or handsome or successful and I am sure confidence, hardwork and belief in yourself will take you just where you want to be.

May be all of these 5 things were just a reminder to start this year with right mindset and positive attitude..

Have a wonderful year 2019.😀

-Paul Fernandes

Democratised Disruptive Innovation- What could it mean for the individual? Hirander Misra

Finance, My Blog

To learn lessons for the future we have to look at the past.

A few thousand years ago, when money never existed, a transaction happened only by exchanging agreed commodities by barter. E.g. Panchgani in Maharashtra where I recently held a TEDx talk on the subject I am writing about now is famous for strawberries – if you had strawberries and someone had cows to produce cream you could exchange a given amount of milk for a given amount of strawberries based on a discussion to determine the value of each and you both now could happily eat strawberries and cream. Life was simple and easy to understand.

A few centuries ago, with an inception of globalisation and increase in population the trade happened by exchanging commodities with rare materials like gold and silver.

Moneylenders in the past filled the gaps left by banks and still exist today. The Venetians were key players in the 1300s. For example moneylenders keep your gold and lend you money and charge you interest but if you did not pay it back they keep your gold

Around 16thcentury, the current banking system started evolving. Banks started to print paper currency. They were printed on the basis of gold reserve but from 1973 this backing by gold was removed as part of the Breton Woods Agreement as backing by gold was expensive. From then on faith in currency is based on trust. This is not different to Bitcoin, a virtual currency today, whose value is based on expectations and hence trust.

At the time of the 16th century exchanges also came into being. An exchange is a central meeting place for buyers and sellers and came because in era before computers more buying and selling could be conducted in a concentrated location. This was really the start of the evolution of an exchange and money as we understand it. In 1602 a central place for buyers and sellers to trade with each other was established in Amsterdam which became known as Amsterdam Stock Exchange albeit the Belgians claim the first exchange since 1531.

From the 1990’s stock markets become more electronic gradually in the most part replacing trading that was done on the open outcry floor of a stock exchange to computer based trading. Then the financial crisis happened in 2018 and many individuals and companies were impacted by the reckless greed of a few.

This financial system has made individuals reliant on middlemen be it a bank or a broker and even in cases, exchanges with dominant position. Financial markets have became complex to understand and expensive in many cases with a never ending era of products available to the unassuming consumer. The system the rough the centuries has become unfairly priced and complex. For example you may only receive 50% of the value of your gold as a loan and 20 percent interest may be paid for it. Is it fair?

Banks do the same with assets but one can argue in this era of technology the value of the services provided is too expensive relative to the overhead to deliver those services. Greed has led to a complex financial system that few understand with lots of vested interest. Every day people are exploited by the system and I am not saying the system is not needed but it needs to change. How can we bring fair level playing field to eradicate disparity – but also with social reform, which is impactful and sustainable? This niggling thought really hit home to me in 2008 when I was COO of an innovative electronic stock exchange called Chi-X Europe, which I had co-founded. Lehman one of our clients went bust in front of my very eyes and Fortis Bank our clearing bank nearly went the same way until the Dutch Government bailed it out. Global financial meltdown ensued. I realised that the system was flawed and there must be a better way. Yes the system had to exist with better controls but it had to reach back to grass roots level as it had become so far removed from reality.

We at GMEX Group have personal experience of this as a company. In 2015 we started working with the Agricultural Commodity Exchange for Africa (ACE) in Malawi after a fortuitous meeting with Kristian Shach Moller in a hotel bar at a conference in Switzerland. This exchange, which deals with grains and pulses but was struggling to reach the end smallholder farmer that it was set up to facilitate in a meaningful way as only 5% of its activity was farmers selling their crop direct to market. Middleman which at the time added no value were giving smallholder farmers 10% of what their commodity was worth and the banks despite having the commodity as security much like a money lender keeps gold still lent at 30-40% interest rates and that too to only 60% of the value. The farmer took all the risk but was left struggling to feed his or her family. By introducing prices on their mobile phones to farmers and educating them as well as making the banks compete online to lend in addition to brining in cheaper finance through mobile/ electronic banking coupled with making the exchange more accessible for them to sell their produce directly, in one year in 2016 the incomes of 47,000 smallholder farmers went up 31%. $10mn worth of finance was provided and that would have been $110mn if there had been better access to finance. This would have then benefitted nearly 500,000 smallholder farmers.

This lead us to realise that technology instead of being exclusive could become more inclusive and transparent. More income leads to social welfare, women’s empowerment, children’s nutrition as we saw in Malawi. Value add now can move from being farmers growing tomatoes to produce tomato paste (add value) and then have demand for financial services personally like mortgages and loans that are priced right. The unbanked start to become banked.

We further realised that this issue was prevalent across all other parts of Sub-Saharan Africa as well as Latin America and South East Asia. Take coffee as an example, we in a fancy coffee shop were paying £2.50 a cup yet the end farmer was lucky if he got £0.10. As such positive change in a sustainable manner where we made people reliant on commercial enterprise not charity hand outs could lead to a massive positive impact on a global scale

This led to the creation in 2017 of a dedicated initiative by us to facilitate this called FinComEco (Financial and Commodities Ecosystem). This has led to engagement in 21 African countries as well as 3 outside the continent but with lots of work to be done to fully convince governments and stakeholders in many of these to not only do this but also do it in a proper fashion involving all key areas fully linking farming to the end value chain of demand. A middleman for agriculture still has a role to play much like they do in financial services but it was those who could add value be it by making the smallholder farmer bigger and influential by grouping/ aggregating production or offering convenience such as transport to get it from the farm gate to the warehouse were the ones which would now prevail in this new world. The farmers in the case of ACE can now choose how they sell, when and how they got a fair loan to buy fertiliser and seeds when they needed it at the outset. The exchange now enabled by technology is at the heart of that to ensure that technology is used for good. This is applicable to many different sectors and we are also now starting to do the same through a separate India based initiative we announced in December 2017 for rag pickers and others who generate waste to creating an exchange for waste such as cow dung, etc to bring valuable incomes to those who need them most. Not to also mention the positive environmental impact this will have. This also supports the Indian Government’s Clean Ganga and Swach Bharat initiatives but is not just an India problem it is a global one as rich and poor countries all produce waste and most of it ends up in our oceans destroying marine life.

Malawi-image

Ultimately billions people can benefit if these types of initiatives are rolled out more widely leading to positive change by other organisations be they public or private. Corporate Social Responsibility is not just about meeting targets for CSR budget spend any which way as it has to be more than that. Equally executives at development finance institutions have to galvanise their organisation as many are acting like private equity houses and not looking at a 10 year view for sustainable socio economic reform no matter what the PR ad rhetoric lends us to believe. The number of times we have knocked on such doors and been told that we should come back when we have a track record and profitable on such ventures for funding so we can scale further and that we should be three years old as an enterprise. If that was the case why would we need them at that stage? We are not the only ones that face this predicament.

We as the individual are the ones that have to drive this change. So it’s no surprise that we find ourselves in an era “Democratised Disruptive Innovation” (DDI as I term it) enabled by technology, where 1 month is like living 10 months in terms of opportunity and development and it is not inconceivable that in 5 years time organisations not only such as Google could be a bank and banks as we know it would be different as even we individuals could lend and borrow more and more from each other as we have seen with some tech initiatives with peer to peer lending emerging. In the last few weeks two large company CEOs have approached me that are successful as they reflected over the holiday period and said we make lots of money now but we can see that either we change or someone eats our lunch. Look at what digital cameras did to Kodak which is a shadow of its former self.

Now we can trade with each other direct by technology whereas in the past you had to be in local area and Now national and international. Anyone will be able to trade with anyone with transparent in an open manner with more consideration to just financial services. We are in an era of “Anyone to Anyone trading .“ The intermediary (middleman) is now technology and this means massive opportunities not only for companies like Google who can from nothing in 20 years to become a giant worth about $700bn USD but also for us as the individual as anything is possible. I am not saying that there is not a need for a middleman, but this match making is needed at a better price and continually needs to evolve.

We have come back full circle to the new age of barter between all of us but with online convenience to coexist with the current exchange and financial services ecosystem but technological enabled change is making it more practical, more efficient and more accessible. So we can now all embrace change and use it to empower ourselves in any manner we choose, when we choose. Whether change is the only constant (the overall theme of TEDx Panchgani) or there needs to be constant change in the way you do things is now for you to decide how best to democratise.

-Hirander Misra

CEO, GMEX

http://www.gmex-group.com/

Into the world of smoky falls tribe coffee.

My Blog

1. When did you realise your passion for entering into the world of coffee?

I realised my love for our locally grown coffee ever since I was introduced to it by my late grandmother almost 25 years ago. Seven years ago I decided to venture into the Coffee business by starting a small café using locally grown coffee, initially I started from my own farm and then from neighbouring villages. I started with traditional pan roasting and got a small commercial coffee grinder and sold it in my café. The name of the café back then was Black & White Coffee Shop.

2. What helped you to get a strong foothold in this business?

The support from my family, husband, parents are the reason I took this step. Good feedbacks and reviews from friends helped me a lot in this journey.

3. Struggles/setbacks and how your persevered in it?

There are many things that I had to do to be able to prove myself to start up this business. I was working in SBI (State Bank of India) when I started this business and had to convince my family that I wanted to pursue my dream of going full time in Coffee business.

4. Things you like most about your profession?

I get to be creative, innovative and also get to work with coffee growers(farmers) from different villages across Meghalaya.

5. Major achievement and significant moment.

My most significant moment was the day I got to launch the first Coffee product and got positive feedback and support from friends and relatives.

6. Your belief about what it takes to be successful in any field.

Honesty in this field is very important, especially in any business.

7. Any advice for young entrepreneurs?

Don’t be scared to pursue your dreams. And when you think of finance, we have the PMEGP which is a loan from KVIC, India and also there are many crowdfunding websites. Write a good project and approach them.

-Dasumarline Majaw

If you love eating, you got to read this post!

Farmers, Food, Inspiration, Motivation, My Blog


We love eating all kinds of food, we order a plate of rice or any type of delicacy and we enjoy it. With modern development, food items are even delivered to our houses. Many times we forget there are people working behind the scene to bring this food to our table. I am talking about FARMERS who work so hard and yet are given so little importance. In many places farmers are coming suicide because they are unable to pay loans taken from various sources. We need to give importance to our farming community around the world. Remember without them you will never get to eat your pizzas, burgers etc etc… No matter who we are – we won’t survive without farmers.

Share this post, if you agree that farmers deserve importance and should be provided with good facilities.
-Paul Fernandes

Imagination Breathing 

Voice of Nature. by: Raka Agitok. Shillong, India.

Inspiration, Motivation, My Blog, Uncategorized

IMG-20141122-WA0002  Raka  Agitok.

Voice  of  Nature.

                 My nightmares are not filled with monsters from horror movies, but with reality that we’ll soon face if we do not put an end to this global environmental mess we are in. The consequences will be unfathomable. Do not ponder much on the natural disasters that are devastating certain parts of our planet or on the anthropogenic activities that are preparing Nature’s funeral. Unless we take a step, our thoughts will rot in our mind. Let the ethics of solidarity blossom in the conscience of every individual and let us conduct our everyday life in an Eco-friendly manner.

Let us not leave carbon footprints wherever we go. To err is human. But let our benevolent qualities be seen in the decisions we make. Let us be the voice of Mother Nature. Let us not be among the silent spectators and let us not tolerate those who are muffling the voice of Mother Nature. Let us act before it’s too late. I hope we are not too late already. Nature is calling for a hero.  She is at the limits of her carrying capacity. Her calls are directed towards everyone and not against anyone. Nature is kind and compassionate but her force can trigger the extinction of human race. So let us unite and be the voice of Nature before she unleashes her wrath on this incorrigible world.

Thank You.

Raka Agitok

 

Only nature finds a way to bring life where there’s none. By: Nathaniel Wahlang.

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nathaniel Nathaniel Wahlang.

Only nature finds a way to bring life where there’s none.    

NATHANIEL WAHLANG- only nature finds a way to bring life where there's none

The boss of flowers in all its glory afloat in green and pink harmony. by:Priyanka Chettri(Shillong, India)

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 The boss of flowers in all its glory afloat in green and pink harmony.  

 

 

   by:Priyanka Chettri(Shillong, India) 

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Camouflage expert – Mother Nature. by: Regina faith Khardarilang. (Shillong, India)

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Camouflage expert – Mother Nature. 

by: Regina faith Khardarilang.

Regina SM - camaflauge expert level over 9000 points- Mother Nature

Beauty of “Sun rise” and “Sun set”. Location: Goa (Photography) by:Paul Fernandes.

My Blog, Uncategorized

“The first act of awe,when man was struck with the beauty or wonder of Nature,was the first spiritual experience”. . Henryk Skolimowsk.

1157616_520506321352749_115567021_n (1) Paul Fernandes.

 

Earth,Air,Fire,Water -blending together. (Sun rise)

WP_20140106_003 (Location :Goa, India.  Device used: Nokia Lumia.)

 

“Beauty in Serenity”(sun set)

WP_20140428_048 (Location: Goa,India.Device used: Nokia Lumia)

Thank you:

Love:

Paul Fernandes.

Founder.

Imagination Breathing (Inspiring Lives)

Change, Change, Change. by: Carmin (Pune, India)

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Image

(By :Carmin,mcj.  Pune,India)

Change change change….  

We all want change; we wait for change we long change

Why do we want, wait, long for change?

Every second there is a display of changes.

The sky changes every second from one shade of colour to another of its blue, mauve, purple, grey orange and silver

Every morning an orchestra of birds break the silence of the night in different tunes from one minute to the next to welcome the new dawn

In Nature there is a constant metaphosis

Every flower that opens goes through a change

Every seed that sprouts  changes into  a plant, a shrub or a tree.

All life is a cycle of changes only if I had time to take note (become conscious of the present moment) of it all.

To Nature, WE OWE OUR THANKSGIVING. by. Laiarisa Pakyntein. Shillong,India

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Image Laiarisa Pakyntein.(St.Edmunds College,Shillong.NSS unit).

To Nature, We owe our Thanksgiving

 

Creation , Creation ,Creation ,

Oh! Majestically woven and made

Ripples of water resound with joy;

The leaves dance to the music played,

Sound of day fade away, stars begin to climb,

Melodies fill the breeze sweeter all the time.

 

An incomparable, wonderfully designed being,

Oh! How he made you delicately.

A soul so loved remains in his caring;

Humans, the lordship over creation,

Conferred freely.

 

The scepter of power over creations fallen in destruction

The value of animals we don’t understand

The sadness of Nature, how it is being treated by man.

From the tiniest ant to the big blue whale

From the fastest cheetah to the slowest snail.

 

We are doomed to the darkness of self righteousness,

Overshadowed by the pangs of modernisation

We maroon the living,

Slaughter them worthless.

 

Hear me oh nations, open your eyes

Repent and initiate

What the creator has made.

          

My Love for the natural world. By. Karen Lyndem.(St.Edmund’s college.NSS Unit)

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ImageKaren Lyndem,(St.Edmunds College.NSS Unit).

My Love for the natural world.  

  The environment is a wonderful thing. Take a look around you, the people and the scenery. And you will find that the scenery is an extension of human feelings. When you feel lonely, the environment will act as your looking glass, to reflect what you feel. When you are content, the sun shines for you to enjoy, the rain pores down for you so that you can dance with it. A friend once told me that no matter how much joy and radiance a sunset seems to emit, there is always a tinge of the gloominess as it reflects, according to her, at this point of time which seems to hang from an abyss, a sense of regret. It is like probably sounding out some sense of the eleventh hour and the necessary yet unheeded need to save the ill-stricken planet.  On that context, I often wonder what the ecological eminent channels such as Discovery Channel, Nat Geo, Animal Planet and others would broadcast after say fifty years. Will it be,’ Saying good bye to the green world and many of their life forms?’ , Is it enough for us to pick up ONE please of plastic and throw it in the dustbin? I have often cursed such insidiously harmful an invention as the plastic, but I myself do it whilst wearing a plastic badge, plastic rimmed spectacles and holding other plastic paraphernalia that may not have occurred upon my conscience. But in order to change the system, we need to change ourselves first.

         I love to listen to my uncles’ jungle lores about their heydays with rivaled interest and a longing for the old times in which they grew up in. They tell me about the different species of animals they have encountered in their fishing trips or bird shootings. They also tell me about the expanse of forest during their time, how the water was so clean then that in one of the villages, once when Grandfather washed his hands, fishes thronged at the surface, thinking the movements were caused by their fallen preys. It’s a beautiful thing to go fishing. For those who have not been to any fishing trips, I recommend it. The sense of bonding with nature and serenity one gets out of it is one that I believe cannot be encompassed by any other activities at home. One forgets about all one’s worries and anxiety whilst fishing. Golf links once upon a time had streamlets gushing forth with water in the rainy seasons and my uncles also used to go fishing at the filled up ponds. Wahumkhrah used to be a famous river, known for its scenic beauty. Once a major pride of Shillong, it is now a major problem for the city’s cleanliness and sanitation. I was once sneered at for watering my gardens when there was a dry spell during the onset of spring. But somehow, watering the plants makes me feel like I am giving back to the earth a fraction of what it gives us. My aunt once told me that her elderly folks foretold them that one day, people would have to buy water. They found it unbelievable, almost hilarious. “Why would anyone buy water, it’s everywhere!” they exclaimed. And when she told me that one day, sunlight would have to be bought too, I knew better than to laugh. I just pray for that time not to come. It especially tugs my heart when my elders used to say, “We have such fond memories of this place, we would catch fish, there used to be a lot of trees, the water used to be so clean, but look at it now, it’s a dumping ground  …”. I love reading Jim Corbett’s stories. The crux of my passion for it lies in the fact that it talks of the simple life, when man and the natural world were one. And in this simple living, the goodness of human nature reigns.

             Why is it that human beings, when age takes it’s toll on them, crave for a quiet place, with space and fresh air? If it’s because their physical needs get bigger, then we can also say that their psychological needs grow in proportion too .And what if our generation did not have that sense of ‘homeliness’ to go to when we grow old? Would we die in desperation and regret? And what if our children do not get the chance to know what it feels like to play outside? I entreat all of us to walk down memory lane. Imagine the kid you, playing outside at the great outdoors, scratching your knees, riding your bike, sleeping on the mud, playing with insects, digging holes, pulling out grasses. How would we feel if our children do not get to grow up as every child should? If thinking about it is tough, imagine yourself actually perceiving it with your own eyes.

                             

The Nature bleeds. by Debarshi Raj Barman.(St. Edmund’s college,Nss Unit)

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ImageDebarshi Raj Barman (St. Edmund’s College.Shillong.NSS Unit)

The Nature bleeds:

Oh, the nature bleeds

due to our greed’s

sorrow lies in desert

hills stand as protest.

But sea is the pride

And forest is the shyness of nature.

 

The nature weeps

With her wounded soul

And spreads curse and curse

To root out the evil

 

Nature is eternal mother

So we are all brothers