Evaluating your video conferencing needs

With businesses going global in an increasingly tech-driven world, employees are geographically dispersed and required to work on the move. Being based in different buildings, cities, countries, continents and time zones presents its own set of challenges for companies looking to maintain clear communication with their employees and resources. How meetings are conducted has radically changed: where once costly travels were a necessary expense to doing business, conference calls and e-mails helped expedite decision-making. However, without visual cues as with face-to-face interactions, information is often misinterpreted. This miscommunication gave rise to new connectivity tools with video components, restoring effective communication and trust within virtual teams. Video conferencing earned its place as a vital collaborative solution for start-ups and multinational companies across all industries. A report by Research and Markets even predicts that the global video conferencing market will grow to $6.4 billion by 2020. While Skype and Google Hangouts have long stood as the most popular solutions for virtual meetings, they have fallen short of a business’ telecommunication needs.

Challenges:

  • Global companies, by nature of their business, operate in several countries across the world. Face to face meetings and traveling is an option, but a time consuming and expensive one. Employees often waste time commuting—time that could otherwise be used being productive.
  • Audio and video quality both rely on bandwidth. Yet, some offices are located in remote or rural areas, with low bandwidth and slow Internet, leading to long set up times, frozen faces, low quality calls and therefore, failed meetings.
  • Emails and telephone calls sometimes fail to engage employees because of the lack of visual contact: pieces of information get lost in translation, lengthy emails are overlooked, and as a result, employees feel isolated and disengaged.
  • Some video conferencing solutions do not always offer support services. If a problem arises, there is no help desk to contact.
  • Skype mainly caters to large corporations that use Microsoft Office. It cannot be customized and does not have the flexibility to accommodate all businesses. Additionally, Skype’s on-premise configuration requires an organisation to invest in expensive equipment and infrastructure.

Solution:

InstaVC, a peer-to-peer video conferencing solution, serves instead as an all-in-one alternative, replacing face-to-face meetings with a far more cost-effective solution, while also keeping dispersed teams connected and helping organisations graduate to new levels of productivity.

Results:

  • ENGAGEMENT
    Increase in engagement and closer relationship between users.
  • EFFICIENCY
    Increase in efficiency and productivity of the teams involved.
  • INITIATIVES
    Observable increase in initiatives taken by these teams through workshops and business development.

Get started immediately
InstaVC is compatible with all devices and major operating system. It requires no software downloads, no plugins, no login, ensuring that users can conference directly from their browser.

Bandwidth
Co-workers can connect with each other with ease, regardless of location. While several video conferencing systems are sensitive to unstable connections, InstaVC allows even users with slow Internet connections to participate in virtual meetings, without compromising on audio or video quality. The software’s Ultra High Definition video applies even to team members located in remote areas.

Multi-party conferencing
Typically, in meetings, co-workers often find themselves in scenarios where they need to loop in a remote group of stakeholders to solve pressing issues. While some video conferencing solutions are designed for point-to-point calls, meaning two devices and two participants, InstaVC is optimized for multi-point calls. It can seamlessly connect up to sixteen participants in a single call.

Multiple devices
Users have the option of making calls to desktops, laptops, iPhones, iPads and Android phones, allowing anyone in the organization to remain involved. InstaVC even has the ability to include normal telephone calls to the meeting so nobody has to miss out.

Seamless interoperabilit
InstaCV’s integration and customization possibilities are what make the solution unique. It seamlessly connects with a wide range of business-critical applications and tools, from cloud storage to checking meeting room availabilities. InstaCV supports a company’s existing ways of working, rather than the other way around.

Collaboration tools
InstaVC’s uniqueness also lies in its collaborative functions. It supports application sharing, screen sharing, a group chat and even allows participants to talk in private if needed. Users can also use an interactive whiteboard, with the ability to draw shapes and text, which reduces the chances of information falling through the cracks.

Security:
InstaVC was designed with the awareness that security is vital when it comes to a company’s interactions with its external stakeholders. It effectively minimizes security breaches with a 128-bit AES encryption. Users are guaranteed a completely secure connection.

 

GDPR and Data Protection Act

The EU General Data Protection Regulation (‘GDPR’) took effect on 25 May 2018. The GDPR affects the rights of individuals to access the information companies hold about them, the obligations for better data management for businesses and overall increased accountability for data controllers and processors.

In Mauritius, the local data protection laws have also been brought up to speed by the coming into force in January 2018 of the Data Protection Act 2017 (‘DPA’), thereby replacing its 2004 predecessor. The new local law is aligned with GDPR requirements and is enforced by the Data Protection Office. In addition, Mauritius is expecting to receive an “adequacy status” from the European Commission in respect of its data protection laws any time soon.

Objectives

Our objectives remain:

  • the safeguard of information and personal data of our clients
  • the reinforcement of security over data portability and transfer
  • the continuous respect of data confidentiality
  • enhanced data security through streamlined processes
  • the review and upgrade of our existing systems and software accordingly
  • compliance with prevailing laws and regulations, both locally and internationally

Our Update

We wish to reiterate our promise and commitment to our clients to adhere to strict codes of confidentiality and ensure that adequate levels of security regarding data management are in place.

Moreover, our core team is working effortlessly to ensure compliance with the new requirements under the GDPR and the DPA.

To be more transparent on the use of your personal data and to comply with the requirements of the GDPR and the DPA, we are updating our Privacy Policy to make it easier for you to understand what information we collect from you, why we collect it and how we store and use it, amongst other things.

Queries

You may address your queries to us on contact@rogerscapital.mu and we look forward to continuing our business relationship with you.

Senegal and Mauritius: Building a Two-Way Street

A GDP growth rate of 6.6%, a stable political environment, an advantageous geographic position, a network of bilateral investment treaties and strong institutions are all indicative of Senegal’s tremendous progress over the last decade. In a region that has been devastated by civil wars and instability, Senegal, one of Africa’s oldest democracies, is somewhat of an outlier. This
West African nation made a notable turnaround in the mid 1990s after years of poor policy choices coupled with adverse climatic conditions. Fast forward to today, it is ranked among the top three fastest-growing economies in the continent. In the midst of this, Diamniadio Industrial Park, the first Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Project in the country, emerges as a unique opportunity to unlock the door to industrialization and position Senegal—and Mauritius—as an attractive FDI destination.

What are Special Economic Zones (SEZs)?
First, a brief introduction to SEZs, often lauded as the largest contributor to China’s resounding success. In essence, SEZs are demarcated trade areas within a country’s boundaries. These zones, designed as catalysts for regional development and industrialization, often have more liberal trade laws than those in the wider domestic economy. Typically, they include enterprise
zones, freeports, foreign trade zones and industrial parks, all aimed at increasing trade, boosting investment and creating employment, but also spurring technological advances and innovation. To encourage companies to set up their operations in the zone, they are offered a range of fiscal
and infrastructural advantages.

As part of its ambitious plan to achieve the ‘emerging market’ status, the government of Senegal has been rolling out policies to support the implementation of no less than 10 SEZs across the country. Diamniadio, whose aim is to ease congestion in Dakar, provides a holistic solution to the country’s most pressing urban issues: mobility, infrastructure, housing, sustainability… The development, with designated financial, residential and recreational areas, meets Senegal’s need for an intelligent, durable and connected district.

It is against this backdrop that in 2015, Senegal appealed to Mauritius’ know-how and expertise in co-developing an SEZ in Diamniadio, resulting in a Joint Development Agreement signed in 2017. To this end, a Senegalese-Mauritian joint venture, Société des Infrastructures d’Affaires Atlantic (SIAA), was set up in Senegal, establishing Mauritius Africa Funds as the majority
shareholder with 51% of shares. Under the deal, Mauritius has been allocated 53 hectares of land to manage in Diamniadio, an area that is strategically located in close proximity to the ports of Dakar and Sendou, as well as at the intersection of roads and railway networks into Senegal and
neighbouring countries. Of those 53 hectares, 13 will give Mauritian companies access to warehouses, office spaces and business facilities (Phase I), while the remaining 40 will serve as an extension to the industrial park (Phase II). Through this collaboration, Diamniadio is projected to become a hub for manufacturing, textile and apparel, ICT/BPO and services—sectors that Mauritius has successfully developed. This project is steadily garnering
interest from Mauritian companies, who view it as a mutually beneficial arrangement for both countries.

The Advantages for Senegal
So what does this mean for Senegal? It is no secret that Africa’s attempts at establishing SEZs have not been particularly fruitful. But it is indisputable that Mauritius, an early adopter in free zone development, stands as a shining example when it comes to leveraging SEZs to achieve far-reaching economic transformations—a success story also commonly dubbed ‘the Mauritian
experience.’ With its impressive business-friendly environment, expanding network of Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements, economic stability, bilingual workforce and preferential access to Western markets, Mauritius is the natural springboard from which the African continent can rise.

Senegal can draw on Mauritius’ know-how and technical prowess to instill in Diamniadio a business-friendly regulatory framework, one that will attract waves of significant investment, knowledge transfer and employment into the zone.

The Advantages for Mauritius
There is a general consensus that Africa is more attractive than ever before to international investors. Perceptions have shifted, becoming increasingly positive as a direct result of the socio-economic growth that has permeated the continent. Further strengthening ties with Africa is at the top of the Mauritian agenda, and the Diamniadio project reinforces just that. Mauritian businesses operating in the zone will not only benefit from fiscal and customs incentives, but they will also be able to tap into the extended regional market, namely through the Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS) covering over 300 million consumers. As Mauritius builds its presence on the continent, new prospects to penetrate the American and European markets will also emerge, given their proximity to Senegal. This new economic space
has the potential to open up huge investment avenues for Mauritius, further stimulating its financial sector and the internationalization of the Mauritian expertise.

Mauritius and Senegal—and by extension, Africa—are faced with a remarkable opportunity to synergize their development strategies, and Diamniadio Industrial Park might just be the game-changer that brings West Africa to life.

Blockchain Simply Explained

Blockchain was a hot topic at the recent Economic Forum in Davos. Wall Street banks, incumbent financial services companies and venture capitalists are investing billions in research and startups developing this technology. The market hype surrounding the Bitcoin has a lot of people talking about cryptocurrencies but very few understand that Blockchain is much more than the technology driving cryptocurrencies, it is a revolution of the internet and is digitizing the global financial system like never before.
Rogers Capital has profound interest in Blockchain and wants you to learn about its disruptive effect in finance and other sectors beyond cryptocurrencies.

Building the internet of tomorrow

Web 1.0 – The internet of information

Being able to freely share copies of files and information across borders, between institutions and people lead to the internet of information. This is the first version of the Web as we know it so well.

Today, transactions and transfer of assets between unknown parties are not trusted over the internet due to the ease of copying and sharing digital information leading to frauds and counterfeited transactions. To create trust in the transfer of digital assets we pass transactions through multiple intermediaries to be validated, cleared and processed, and are stored on a single ledger maintained by a central authority, such as a bank in the case of financial transactions.
Note that central intermediaries have been necessary in forming the internet of information. However, we are all starting to be concerned about the freedom of central social media platforms that have the ability to collect tremendous amounts of personal data on their users causing worldwide security and privacy issues as seen in the recent Facebook data leaks to Cambridge Analytica.

Web 2.0 – Blockchain & the internet of value

“Blockchain, is bringing us the internet of value […] that can help us reshape the world of business and transform the old order of human affairs for the better.” – CEO of The Tapscott Group, Alex Tapscott.

In simple terms, the Blockchain enables the safe transfer of value from one party to another over the Internet without the need for a third-party. Value can be any form of ownership such as property, currencies, copyrights and any personal data — even a vote in elections.
The blockchain distributes the validation and storage of such transactions over many computers on the internet in the most secure and trusted manner. It is eliminating the need for a middleman slowing down transactions, asking for fees for their trust and gives users full control over their data.
In doing so, Blockchain’s effect on the transfer of value is comparable to what the e-mail did to the mail. It drastically reduces the cost and time of transactions and opens up real-time transfer of value across borders between people and institutions.

Blockchain builds trust to safely record and freely transfer valuable assets on the web leading to the internet of value. This revolution of the World Wide Web of trust and value is termed Web 2.0.

“Our vision is for value to be exchanged as quickly as information.” – Ripple

Potential applications are endless

Blockchain will enhance efficiency in all processes where a trusted middle-man can be replaced by the “Blockchain trust machine”, as termed by The Economist. The sectors affected range from Agriculture to Forestry & fisheries; Manufacturing & Supply Chains to Electricity, Gas & Water supply; Finance to Governance; Hotels & Restaurants to Transport, Storage & Communications.
The sectors above are just a glimpse of its potential applications, the possibilities are endless and the probability that your daily life will be affected is certain.

Captives 101: Are They Right For Your Business?

Insurance is a risk management tool which has traditionally been and is still widely used by mostbusinesses to transfer risks that they are unwilling to take on their books. Whilst most businesses understand how insurance works, many are not aware of Alternative Risk Transfer (ART). One such ART is a captive which has been around since the 1970s. Richard Li, our Head of Actuarial and Insurance Services, is passionate about captive insurance and is keen to spread the word out, which is why he is giving an elementary explanation of what they are and how they operate in this exclusive interview.

How would you define captive insurance? 

Let us first shed light on why commercial insurance companies exist. All businesses involve risks although the extent of the risks will vary for each business and industry. The business owner can decide to either retain or transfer the risks and it decides to transfer the risks, it needs to find another party that is willing to accept the risks. The principal activity of commercial insurance companies is to accept the risks of other businesses in exchange of an insurance premium and pools those risks together.

A captive is not much different from a commercial insurance company except that it is an insurance or reinsurance company owned by a non-insurance company and which insures some or all of the risks of its parents and affiliated companies.

How do they operate? 

The basic principles of a captive’s operations are relatively simple. Once the insurance programme for the business has been designed and agreed, the captive will issue an insurance policy to the parent company to cover the risks being insured. The captive will then keep part of the risks and will purchase reinsurance to protect it against large individual and/or high aggregate losses. This is very similar to what a commercial insurance company would do. The management of a captive insurance will usually be performed by a captive manager which is a company that provides specialised insurance management services.

What are the main benefits of forming a captive?

Whilst there is still much work to be done in the African continent for businesses to consider ART and adopt a captive, in North America and Europe, captives are very popular and widely used. This is particularly the case for North America where many businesses use a captive for their Workers Compensation.

There are many benefits to gain from using a captive. For me, the main benefit is to gain direct access to the reinsurance market and to know who is the ultimately risk carrier. For a business where the risk is financially important, taking an insurance policy with an insurance company which would certainly reinsure the risk – not knowing and not talking to the reinsurers or the ultimate risk carrier is really scary. I would be much more comfortable doing the negotiations directly with the reinsurance market and this is made possible through the use of a captive. Dealing directly with the reinsurance market will also reduce your insurance costs by eliminating intermediary costs.

Other reasons for using a captive are

  1. Insuring the uninsurable: A captives can provide insurance cover for risks that are either unavailable or too costly to obtain from existing conventional insurance policies.
  2. Tailored policies: There is a disparity between the wishes of the buyer and those of the insurer. Commercial insurance companies do not always grasp the idiosyncrasies of a business, resulting in an overpriced bundle of services that might not reflect the needs of a particular business. Having a captive allow a business to cover its specific risks with policies that match its financial goals and objectives.
  3. Direct access to reinsurance: Bypassing traditional insurers means you also eliminate the significant markups they charge for administrative fees or broker commissions—markup costs that could, in fact, outweigh the startup costs of a captive.
  4. Stability and continuity: The traditional market is very cyclical in premium costs, coverage and capacity which can result in fluctuation in premium costs. A captive can provide long term stable cover at steady costs without wild fluctuations.
  5. Enhanced cash flow: With a captive, a company can time its premium payments in   accordance with its cash flow situation.

Africa particularly serves as a great example. It is not a surprise to see many businesses struggle to find the right risk transfer solution because of the lack of capacity in the continent for certain specialty risks. As Africa continues to develop, investments in oil, gas, infrastructure and technology are increasing, new risks are emerging, the demand for customised policies is growing which will result in the use of captives more and more.

What types of companies are ideal candidates for captives?


Captives are not for every business. The business will require a minimum level of annual premium. Having said that, captives are not only for the largest businesses. There are other criteria which when met would also benefit medium sized businesses, in particular those that have high frequency but low severity in terms of risks.

What types of companies are ideal candidates for captives?

Captives are not for every business. The business will require a minimum level of annual premium. Having said that, captives are not only for the largest businesses. There are other criteria which when met would also benefit medium sized businesses, in particular those that have high frequency but low severity in terms of risks.

Broadly speaking, ideal candidates are:

  1. Companies that pay annual premiums in excess of USD 1 million.
  2.  Companies with a strong claim and loss history, which is often reflective of solid risk management. A positive loss ratio speaks well of a company’s track record.
  3. Businesses with multiple entities, multiple insurable assets and thus, diversified risks. A company with only one exposure in one location is an unlikely candidate.

Having said that, I would invite businesses to seek advice from experts who are experienced in advising, creating and administering captive insurance companies to carry out a feasibility study to assess and determine how a captive can work for them.

Scanning financial possibilities with QR codes

QR codes (short for “Quick Response”)—or those squiggly black-and-white mazes you know them as—have only increased in popularity lately, but they’ve been around for years. The first ones sprung up in the early 90s as an innovation meant to track car parts across Japan, much like a DHL parcel is tracked throughout its delivery. They were fleetingly hailed as the future of information-sharing, but they never really took off in the ways experts had hoped they would. Instead, they became known for their absurd uses, failed miserably and sank into oblivion. But as with all great things, QR codes found a way of coming back around. It turns out they were not so much futile as simply incompatible with their times, and have certainly come a long way since their development. Today, they’re being used for marketing, bookmarking web pages, adding friends on Snapchat, exchanging business cards or even by homeless people—many are seen dangling QR codes around their necks, by which they accept donations via mobile phones. (“Sorry, no loose change” is no longer a viable excuse to fend them off!)

QR codes versus barcodes

QR codes are readable faster and have a greater storage capacity than regular barcodes.

But what makes QR codes better than simple barcodes, and why are we only talking about them now? Industries outside the automotive one gained keen interest in them due to their fast readability and greater storage capacity than regular barcodes. While both contain machine-readable information, a QR code is two-dimensional, meaning it carries information both in vertical and horizontal directions, allowing it to hold up to some hundred times the amount of information a conventional barcode can; it can be read in 360 degrees, from any direction, and requires no other infrastructure than a smartphone.

One major trend has led this upsurge: the world is on the fast track toward a cashless society to boost financial inclusion for the unbanked (the World Bank estimates that two billion people are without a bank account)—enabled, of course, by the ubiquity of smartphones. With cash being more and more associated to money laundering, terrorism financing, obsolescence and inefficiency, there is a “war on cash” being played out today. Several countries are making a definite move towards digital payment solutions, which have proved to be particularly popular in countries with notoriously inadequate banking infrastructures. Nowhere is this trend more obvious than in China, who takes the lead when it comes to mobile payments: in 2016, the digital payment market hit over $5 trillion (50 times that of the United States’), leapfrogging credit and debit cards; and thanks to a savvy decision by Alipay to use QR codes, one-third of those $5 trillion transactions were made using QR codes.

The digitalization of “fiat” currencies and payment

Easy-to-deploy, inexpensive and secure, merchants are increasingly adopting them for payments

The global “electronification of payments” trend was accelerated (or arguably, even triggered) by India’s demonetization. In a desire to purge black money, the country eliminated 86% of all cash from the economy, paving the way for BharatQR, a nation-wide standardized QR-code payment method that combines MasterCard, American Express, Visa and National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI)—the first solution of its kind in the world. The popularity of M-Pesa also bears witness to Africa’s appetite for digital payments. Quick to realize that mobile phones are more accessible than bank branches, M-Pesa enabled 60% of the Kenyan population to access financial services with mobile money accounts, and no requirement for a bank account. As an easy-to-deploy, inexpensive and secure technology, merchants are increasingly adopting them for payments. It’s simple: customers just point and scan. Retailers are given a unique merchant code, which customers can quickly scan and make easy, direct payments. There is no need to type in convoluted numbers—therefore minimizing typos and errors—or to invest in expensive point of sale (POS) hardware.

As six billion people across the world are projected to own a smartphone by 2020, and as the likes of Bitcoin continue their meteoric rise, one thing is sure: cash is no longer king. The future of finance is upon us, set to bring millions of people into the folds of financial inclusion. And QR codes happen to be quite the fitting technology to that end.

Net Neutrality: Who is losing?

The internet is under attack. But we can still win. This assertion, in bold bright orange lettering against a black background, can be read on one of the many, many Internet freedom group sites that are speaking up against a repeal of net neutrality. Net Neutrality. “The only two words that promise more boredom in the English language are Featuring Sting,” professes John Oliver, comedian and political commentator in his skit on the topic. This skit, however, was aired in 2014, so why is it that four years later the term is back at the center of the debate? And what even is net neutrality?

What is net neutrality?
Net neutrality is the idea that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and wireless providers should treat all internet traffic equally. It prohibits Internet providers from blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization—”fast lanes” for sites that pay, and slow lanes for everyone else.

Despite being a simple idea (maybe even a given,) net neutrality has proven difficult to translate into policy. Its position at the intersection of highly technical internet architecture and equally complex administrative law makes it a contender for ongoing debate. The term “net neutrality” itself wasn’t even coined by an engineer but a legal academic, Tim Wu.

Why is it threatened?

The FCC voted to repeal 2015 net neutrality regulations, requiring ISPs to treat all web traffic equally

On December 15, 2017, the Republican-controlled Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chaired by Ajit Pai (a former Verizon lawyer) voted to repeal 2015 net neutrality regulations, dismantling the Obama-era policy that requires ISP to treat all web traffic equally, and classified broadband as a common carrier.

Can repealing net neutrality, a cornerstone of the open Internet, fundamentally change the way the Internet is experienced? Let’s have a look at the key players that command the Internet ecosystem. First, there’s the FCC, which represents the main U.S. regulatory bodies for internet usage. There’s the president, who appoints the members of the Commission and Congress. Then there are the businesses, which are awkwardly divided into “edge providers” (Google, Facebook, Netflix) and “infrastructure” providers (ISPs). Increasingly, the divide is blurring as ISPs become content creators. In between are advocacy groups with strong biases, minus the funds to lobby like the other titans.

There’s the question of whether or not the Internet should be treated as a utility, which by definition, doesn’t compete with anyone, its monopoly eliminating incentives for investment, innovation, maintenance and customer service. The rather sad state of most power, water and mass transit systems illustrates that argument. There’s the state of today’s commercial internet, its activities having evolved from static web browsing and email to streaming, shopping and socializing. ISPs (note that the top 6 providers account for 92% of broadband.) complain that this growing, unstoppable amount of data transferred by content providers to end users is clogging up their networks, and why should they pay the cost?

Why should I care?

Smaller ISPs could not compete with the larger content providers, crushing innovation and dissuading investment

Concretely, what could be a plausible scenario? Providers could practice “zero rating,” which exempts certain services from data caps. Comcast for example zero-rated its own service, Stream TV, to give itself competitive advantage over Netflix or Youtube. The provider could also demand that the content provider pay an upfront fee to join the Zero Rating club or simply benefit from a fast connection. If fees can be extracted from the likes of Netflix, then surely ISPs can lower the monthly fees charged to consumers. However, small ISPs could not compete, which sort of brings us back to square one: a monopoly that crushes innovation and dissuades investment. And even if giants like Spotify can dish out the money and buy dominance, you would be wiping out the next Google, the next Facebook, many of which were created without much seed capital and likely would have not been so successful if they’d had to face heavy upfront investment and limited access to broadband networks.

An internet driven more by deep pockets than bright ideas would take us back to an outdated form of entrepreneurship. Never before has launching a new venture been so easy (we call it the democratization of entrepreneurship.) Good ideas can emerge from anywhere and instantly achieve global reach. This is the beauty of an open Internet. An unprecedented and inexhaustible resource, a global community.

Three years ago, Netflix Inc. was a strong proponent for net neutrality. At the time, the video-streaming service provider depended wholly on ISPs AKA a good connection. Netflix, in anticipation of big guys like Disney pulling out their films streamed on Netflix, has recently become an original content creator with shows like Stranger Things, whose Season 2 premiere was watched by 15.8 million people (of which 361,000 binge-watched the all nine episodes in one day.) This year the company that just joined the 100-billion dollar club yesterday, wasn’t so outspoken. Like other tech titans, their newfound strength insulates them from ISPs themselves.

“I’m not sure that Google, Netflix and Facebook need the protection of the open internet order anymore,” Cowen & Co. analyst Paul Gallant said in an interview. “They have a lot more power than they used to.” Gallant contends that the largest content providers now have an edge over ISPs. “If Facebook or Netflix or Google or Amazon go pull their content off a particular ISP — that’s a problem for the ISP,” Gallant said.

Internet Freedom advocates can support big guys like Google in pitting themselves against ISPs, each taking turns lobbying millions of dollars to commissions like the FCC but the truth is, as Netflix CEO Reed Hastings puts it, “net neutrality principles have been and will continue to be strictly enforced not by regulations but by powerful market forces.”

Leveling the field for Mauritian SMEs

As technology allows more geographic flexibility and a hyper-connected economy, SMEs become serious contenders to well-established MNEs (MultiNational Enterprises). They can achieve today what once only giant corporations could – a global footprint. They are no longer simple lubricators to a machine controlled by big businesses – they are the final economic output generators, and they are global in their own right.

In developed countries, SMEs account for 99% of all firms, provide 70% of all jobs and generate between 50% and 60% of the national economic output while in Mauritius, they contribute only about 40% to the economy and 62% of total employment*[1]. SMEs significance across the world are beyond question; yet, the gap between these figures is blatant. What is impeding their growth in emerging countries, and particularly in Mauritius?

Mauritius is held up as an oft-used illustration for small, successful nations. With limited natural resources, a barely-educated workforce, a multicultural society and a small domestic market, the island has managed to multiply its GDP 35-fold since its independence in 1968, with no signs of abating. A lesser known fact, however, is the mid-income trap Mauritius is caught in. The supply chain is increasingly restricted to mature enterprises and the economy is polarised around vertically-integrated conglomerates. The result? An SME sector that is trailing behind. There is little denial about the vulnerabilities that SMEs face, chief among which are access to finance, organisational development, training and access to technology.

Having gained prominence in the policy debate, these issues elicited a 10-Year Master Plan, crafted by the Ministry of Business, Enterprise and Cooperatives. The government, by turning to entrepreneurs to support future growth, hopes to transform the SME sector into a powerful propeller of the economy. In response to the challenges outlined, the Master Plan devises concrete measures that might just be the ‘game-changing’ formula it aspires to be.

Access to financing
Mauritian’s most common financing options remain traditional debt instruments (family loans, bank loans, overdrafts and credit lines) and asset-based financing (leasing and factoring). Yet, when seeking these options, SMEs face stringent conditions compared to bigger companies. The Master Plan’s strategy aims to tackle the issue at the root, at the start-up or development phase:

  • Encourage alternative financing by amending the current framework to allow online platforms for equity crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending
  • Provide tax incentives to Angel Investors and, potentially, partial protection against loss. Angel Investors, beyond monetary investment, add as much value from mentoring budding entrepreneurs.

Organisational development and training
SMEs, being deeply rooted in the local ecosystem, often lack entrepreneurship acumen and formal training in matters like bookkeeping, how to secure a bank loan or even customer service. Tailored skills training is key in bolstering entrepreneurship and ensuring business viability over time. The Master Plan resolutely seeks to foster an attitude of entrepreneurship and reinforce the human capital:

  • Make entrepreneurship mainstream in secondary and tertiary education by emphasizing personal development – not as a mere add-on, but as a compelling prerequisite – and making three to nine-month internships mandatory for university students.
  • Institute the Global Entrepreneurship Week, where students and graduates connect with entrepreneurs, mentors and potential investors. Successful entrepreneurs can showcase their ventures and in, turn, encourage young people to follow suit.
  • Set up incubators, which offer start-ups a shared operation space for a more collaborative work environment with networking and funding opportunities.

Access to technology
Daunted by diseconomies of scale and an inability to distinguish themselves from their larger competitors, SMEs can only foster innovation by appropriating technologies which, more often than not, are associated to risks and costs that many cannot bear. The Master Plan acknowledge this gap and brings forward solutions to create high-tech SMEs:

  • Optimize the Intellectual Property framework (cost, procedures and time) to enable SMEs to protect their creations and intellectual rights, which is vital in an increasingly knowledge-based economy.
  • Encourage technology transfer through a structured network including MNCs, universities and technology institutes and grant fiscal advantages (a waiver of up to 25% of taxes) to MNCs that cooperate

And while these measures only scratch the surface of what the Master Plan outlines, they represent great strides in Mauritius’ relentless pursuit of joining the league of high-income countries by 2030.

[1] Mauritius National Budget 2016: http://www.investmauritius.com/budget2016/Download/BOI_Budget_Highlights_2016.pdf

IT’S LIT: Dissecting The iGeneration Mindset

An astounding amount has been written up about Millennials (they are the most studied generation after all.) Every corporation, marketer, university and parent has been trying to solve Millennials, the entitled, brash generation that invented Facebook and changed the world exponentially. Still, millennials recall the agonizingly slow days of dial-up internet in a world full of landlines with acute clarity. They weren’t born with a smartphone as an extension of the arm, unlike the youngest generation, one that appears even more puzzling: Generation Z. As the attention shifts to the real digital natives, we embark on the process of understanding this crop of young people born after 1998.

Age

Using Pew Research’s generational delineation, the oldest Gen-Zers were born in 1998. That makes them 18 today, meaning they are entering formative years. How to tell if someone is a Gen-Zer and not just a young millennial? (They are pretty similar after all. Some even talk about “millennials on steroids”.) Well, if you don’t recall 9/11 because you were too young to remember, then you probably are Generation Z.

If millennials were internet pioneers, Gen-zers are digital natives. What millennials perceive as being milestones (gay marriage, a black president), Zers see as the norm. Millennials came of age during the economy’s golden years (and were disillusioned by the unwelcoming job market upon graduation); generation Z, who has been shaped by the recession is ready to fight and fend for themselves.

Diversity

Diversity and inclusion may be their most defining traits yet. And it is a diversity that transcends race, gender and sexual orientation. According to Christopher Wolf, a Goldman Sachs Research analyst, “the Census Bureau is actually forecasting that over half of kids in America will belong to a minority race or ethnic group by 2020, so diversity in the traditional sense of the word has actually become the norm.”

Today’s innovations and trends (think Pokémon Go, Uber, Amazon, WhatsApp, the Cloud…) aren’t just impacting our world in the traditional, linear way. We’ve tapped into an intangible, virtual world that has led to a shared connectedness evolving exponentially and at a dizzying rate. The result? An entire generation of behaviorally and culturally diverse global citizens. When diversity becomes the norm, fashion follows on the lead: Normcore (a tendency to blend in and reject brands) has emerged at a big trend among today’s youth. Retailers are focusing on messages of authenticity and transparency in hopes of convincing the less brand-conscious, thrifty generation.

Behaviour 

Today’s tweens and teens are careful spenders. They watched their parents come through, older siblings struggle after college (with a mountain of debt.) If millennials prioritize traveling, working out, and spending time with family/friends, the financial cautious younger siblings’ top priorities are getting a job, finishing college and safeguarding money. A survey by Lincoln Financial Group of 400 Zers aged 15 to 19 found that they are saving far earlier than older generations. 60% have a savings accounts and 71% are intent on saving for their future. They are laser-focused on how they spend and the value they’re going to get out of something.

They are also entrepreneurial: a recent Harvard Business Review article stated that nearly 70% of Zers were self-employed (tutoring, selling goods on eBay) versus just 12% that work traditional summer jobs like waitressing. The digitally-fluent, independent and pragmatic youth is fully aware of how to turn skills into earning power, which will undoubtedly have great impact on the workplace and economy at large.

Beyond the pragmatism, conservative spending, and wariness, Gen-Zers display considerable optimism about their futures. They did after all, see their parents overcome a financial crisis. Like Millennials, Generation Z will likely endure the dissecting, studying, and analyzing of their mindset. With the oldest Zers barely 18, the next few years should offer incredible insight into the true digital natives of this world.

Trends in the telecommunications industry

Since the advent of Internet and of the information age, telecommunications have been one of the main drivers of global development and value creation. We have asked Manish, our in-house telco expert, to bring to light the telco trends that are currently shaping the industry and the challenges that it is facing.

What is the current state of telecommunications globally and in Mauritius?

In an increasingly interconnected world, the telecommunications sector is stimulating new business models. Operators, enablers of connectivity for other sectors, are reviewing their business models to keep up with the pace and magnitude of technological breakthroughs. The rise of OTT players like WhatsApp or FaceTime is interfering with incumbent telcos, and Mauritius is no exception. Local mobile operators are seeing a decline of the total consumer spend on traditional voice service even while overall communication activity grows. Africa, an emerging and relatively untapped market, presents itself as the final frontier for telecom operators, namely in comparison to more mature markets like Europe, Asia or North America. The opportunities for growth are significant

Coming out on top of the digital revolution demanded a thorough review of our business model and investment strategy.

The rise of digital media and mobile technology has prompted telecom operators to radically review their business models and services. How has RCTS (Rogers Capital Technology Services) innovated to meet these changes?

RCTS, one of the regional market leaders, has been operating in the traditional IT sector for years, providing enterprise infrastructure and business solutions. Our management rapidly realised that telecommunications would be a motor for growth in the new digital economy – so long as emerging trends in SMAC (Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud) were forestalled. Coming out on top of the digital revolution demanded a thorough review of our business model and investment strategy. We are currently the only provider to offer end-to-end solutions. The vertical integration gives us a greater capacity to control over quality and the customer journey. We are also working on development of new capabilities in Digital Transformation and the Internet of Things, which offer big opportunities.

 

The ICT sector, characterized by dynamic growth, is poised to become the third pillar of the Mauritian economy. How is this sector benefiting the island?

With Mauritius having crossed the one million Internet subscribers milestone, and Internet becoming ubiquitous (adequate infrastructure, mobile Internet coverage and network access and user capability), Mauritians can get online and be a part of the global community. The economic benefits of connectivity and the social impact on our communities at large are substantial. Talent can be exported across borders while individuals and firms can tap into a wealth of data, conduct business and benefit irrespective of time zones.

How do our skills and infrastructure currently match up?

We have a shortage of skilled workers despite a pool of labor. The rapidly-evolving nature of this sector means the skillset needs to continuously be updated. We have witnessed a surge in the industry as emerging trends reshape the way we do business. Yet, the skillset is lacking. It is imperative that our education system review its curriculum in order to educate and train students to perform in a technology-driven economy. The number of businesses in the tech sector is increasing, and providing interesting job opportunities. At RCTS we have policies and incentives to attract and retain talent. Reaching out to people with a digital acumen is the surest way to cultivate the next generation of specialists.

A cyber-attack could cripple customers, businesses and government operations. What measures – government-led and enterprise-wide – are being taken to protect networks?

The telco sector is stimulating new business models.

It is very important to understand that it is incumbent upon all of us – not just the government or enterprises – to ensure that the security issue is being addressed. It begins with awareness. At every level, a lot is being done to implement adequate policies, directives and measures, as well as hardening of networks and systems while simultaneously developing skills in the field of information security to be able to prevent and react to a security breach.

More than half of the world’s population is still without internet access. What role can telecommunications play in integrating marginalized people?

Telecommunications merely serves as an enabler of access to Information. In parallel, a number of measures must be taken to afford marginalized populations the same freedom, liberty of expression and access to information as those who are connected to the global network. The democratization of knowledge begins with governments recognizing that all populations, including vulnerable ones, have a right to universal access. By working at grassroots levels, we can greatly improve citizens’ livelihoods and enable sustainable development within our communities.

Certain traditional financial institutions are partnering with tech startup ventures in order to instigate a more rapid and efficient digitization transformation. What sort of partnerships would benefit telecom operators?

A number of traditional telco giants have established venture capital units that invest at an early stage in startups, which tend to adapt faster (this is vital when you consider the pace and magnitude of innovation.) However, to identify and assess these opportunities, it helps to have an understanding of how the telecom ecosystem functions. So as not to fall behind, telecom providers are increasingly pursuing joint ventures, mergers, acquisitions or investing heavily in R&D, creating, in the process, digital ecosystems that involve key industry actors. This is no easy feat as companies like Google and Apple have a head start. In order to thrive, telecom operators must enter the right partnerships.

In a dynamic sector like this one, the pace of change is so fast that even looking a few years down the road is of strategic importance. What lies ahead?

As Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence gain momentum in the new digital economy, they will undeniably shape the ICT sector’s future performance and instigate ‘breakthrough’ moments. The new era of 5G – characterized by high broadband speeds and intelligent networks – will provide seamless connectivity and support over 50 billion devices by 2020. Blockchain, which until recently was mainly of interest to financial institutions, presents incredible opportunities for ICT – reducing roaming fraud, optimizing ID management with smart contracts, increasing revenues from identity-as-a-service solutions are only a few of them. We are only just beginning to unlock the potential of IoT. Fast-forward a few years, and they will be entrenched across the sector. No doubt, exciting times lie ahead…

Before joining Rogers Capital, Manish was leading the development of a regional IT/Telecom services provider. Since 2015, he has been continuously enhancing Rogers Capital’s telecommunication value proposal to help our clients communicate faster and safer wherever they operate.

Overcoming the challenges of the digital economy

We are in the midst of a revolution, one that is only just beginning – sometimes called the “Digital” Revolution. It has enabled transformative improvements in business processes. It has spurred innovation across all sectors of the economy. It is ceaselessly adapting technologies to make them more accessible, productive and powerful. It bears little resemblance to any other disruption the world has known – and its magnitude is seismic.

The new norm for today’s customers is to access new products, manage their finances and conduct transactions online. Technology has breached the walls of all sectors: in

The digital economy is characterised by a heavy reliance on intangibles.

logistics, freight companies are able to track vehicles and cargos across continents; manufacturers remotely monitor production processes and use robots, who now harness human capabilities like dexterity, memory and sensing; knowledge is easily imparted through online classes; doctors may diagnose and monitor patients from a distance; and data processing allows retailers and service providers to deliver a more seamless customer experience.

The phenomenon of digitisation is the biggest driver of innovation across businesses; one that is pervasive and knows no physical or territorial borders; one that has bolstered dramatic changes in all disciplines and sectors. Today, virtually all commerce is digital: e-commerce, cloud computing, online payment services, high-speed trading, app stores, online advertising, participative networked platforms… The importance of physical presence in the customer’s market is decreasing, and that of intangibles is growing. It is safe to say that the digital economy is the economy itself, and that it cannot be isolated as a separate sector with its own set of rules.

Against this backdrop is an outdated international tax system fraught with fragilities and deficiencies, leading to abuses. International tax rules, many of which date back to a century ago, are still rooted in boundaries designed for bricks-and-mortar businesses. A good or service was taxed in the country it was produced and sold in. Simple. But where should VAT be paid in the digital age? In the country of purchase? The one where the order was received? Or the one where the product was delivered? That age-old tax regulations are antiquated is apparent.
In parallel to this, new ways of doing business could also result in an unintended relocation of core business functions to a different distribution of taxing rights, ultimately leading to low taxation.

Today, virtually all commerce is digital.

G20 finance ministers and the OECD have joined forces to redefine how tax rules can play catch-up with the needs of new business models, particularly with the BEPS (“Base Erosion and Profit Shifting”) Project’s first action: “Addressing the Tax Challenges of the Digital Economy”. This initiative resulted in a 290- page report published in 2015, after years of studies and discourse. Despite the painstaking effort spent addressing the issue, this report only roughly provides general principles – conclusions may evolve alongside the exponential development of the digital economy. Besides, the outcomes of these measures will be reviewed in yet another report due for release in 2020. Such is the scale of this challenge.

The digital economy is characterised by a heavy reliance on intangibles, the widespread use of data, the adoption of multi-sided business models capturing value from externalities generated by free products. The outcome? A struggle to correctly identify the jurisdiction in which value creation occurs. The definition of “substance”, which is naturally associated to a company with headquarters, employees and tangible assets, has to be restored.

How do enterprises add value and generate profit in the digital economy? And how do we now define the concepts of “country of source” or “country of residence” in this shifting context?

The World Economic Forum characterises this new wave as one in which “the speed of current breakthroughs has no historical precedent.” It builds on the digital disruption set in motion by the Third Revolution, but with added speed, scope and scale, fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds. Tax regulations have never been as high on the international agenda as they are today. It isn’t a question of whether tax will be disrupted – it is a matter of when and how.

As the whirlwind of change sweeps the globe, what is perfectly legal today may not be tomorrow; an organisation that has a monopoly today might go the way of the dodo tomorrow. The tax industry is fair game for experiential change, and there is no end in sight. The answer to adeptly advising and anticipating the future lies in our ability to grasp how companies of the digital economy are adding value and how they are deriving profit.

Nadia is a Business Development Manager at Rogers Capital and the French Desk leader. Before joining Rogers Capital, she worked over ten years in Paris at EY Société d’Avocats and at Allianz Group. Her experience encompasses French and International tax issues, tax planning and restructuring and regulatory compliance.

Big data is a big deal

If you try to keep tabs on all the ways you use data in a single day – text messages, to-do-lists, calendar meetings, uploaded photos, e-mails, calorie-tracking… – you might have trouble keeping track. Google’s ex-CEO Eric Schmidt claims that “From the dawn of civilization until 2003, humankind generated five exabytes of data. Now we produce five exabytes every two days.” In case you’re wondering, one exabyte is a billion gigabytes. Let that sink in.

The only logical response to this flood of data is to create more ways to store it. That’s where Big Data comes in. As a catch-all term, it can spur a fair amount of confusion – which is why Gary Allagapen, our Head of Innovation, shares the important (and jargon-free) takeaways on Big Data.

What is it?

Don’t do Big Data for the sake of it, it will not magically translate into value.

Let me first tell you what it is not. Big Data does not mean “a lot of data.” It isn’t about the size. In fact, having swaths of unfettered data is almost dangerous. Some businesses accumulate as much data as possible in the hope that they will unearth business secrets from it – “data rich, insight poor” coins this attitude rightly.

What Big Data is, is a combination of the 3 Vs – volume, variety and velocity. It’s too big for conventional databases to process (forget about spreadsheets), moves too fast and presents itself in an unstructured, disorderly way. While this definition isn’t restricted by any means, the 3 Vs are a good place to start.
Why, you may ask, is it important to process this data? Because within it lie invaluable patterns, trends and relationships. And with this comes a massive demand for data analytics, which businesses can use to know more about their customers and, in a way, predict the future.

‘Data is the new Gold in the modern economy.’

Where does Big Data come from?
Every aspect of your customer’s journey leaves a trail. Big data – structured or unstructured – can be extracted from consumer data (invoices, payments, delivery records, complaints), ERP, Financial System, Excel, social data (Facebook Likes, tweets, browsing history, personal interests) but also security cameras, fingerprints, financial markets data, meteorological statistics, damage forecasts, media outlets… And if you think not having a Facebook account means you aren’t leaving a trail, consider this: Facebook owns Instagram AND WhatsApp.

Is Big Data only for Big Businesses?
If you are still thinking that Big Data “isn’t for you” and is only relevant to giants like Google and Amazon, here’s why you should tap into it:

What Big Data is, is a combination of the 3 Vs – volume, variety and velocity.
  • If you are customer-focused – which is unavoidable in the digital age – then Big Data is most certainly for you.
  • As a small retailer, your biggest concern might be the uncertainty of future events. But what if you were able to analyze Facebook users’ buying trends? And what if you were able to capitalize on these sales opportunities? Exploiting data can show you what your customers want, how much money they are willing to spend to get it, why they leave without buying – and how you can reduce the likelihood of them leaving.
  • The good news is that today, small businesses – even a garage startup – can easily exploit Big Data without having to break the bank. You can rent server space, open-source software systems or processing power from third-party cloud service providers. There is no need to spend huge amounts on hardware or technical staff.

How do I go about it?

  1. Don’t do Big Data for the sake of it, it will not magically translate into value. First, be certain that there’s a need for it.
  2. The second step involves a roundtable discussion with key stakeholders: what is your shared vision for success? Define your problems clearly, and make sure they are solvable
  3. Now, you must identify the potential sources of data – external or internal – and dig into them. Often, Big Data is trapped in silos across disparate departments, impeding exploitation. Combining all information into a single warehouse gives you a more holistic view of individual customers.
  4. The combined data will likely come to you in an unstructured way. To make sense of this, businesses need to use cutting-edge analytics programs. The messy, disparate data goes into these tools, and outcome “actionable insights.”
  5. Don’t forget – there is no silver bullet. You may have to use several big data technologies to solve your problems.
  6. As with all markets, the data-processing market evolves at an astounding pace. Keep up with new trends and changes.

Often, businesses tend to skip the initial steps, which are, in fact, the most decisive. If you think intelligently about how to use data to achieve your specific goals, you are on the way to building a solid road map and fast-tracking your business decisions. In this case, what we’re dealing with is Smart Data.

A guide to taxes in Mauritius

Intent on understanding everything there is about the complex world of taxation, Cathie Hannelas spent a decade with PwC Mauritius, and more than a year (in progress) spearheading Rogers Capital’s Tax Services department. The spotlight today is on Mauritius’ fiscal advantages and its erroneous label as a “tax haven”. Amid hazy notions of what comprises today’s tax system and an outcry of criticism post Panama leaks, Cathie provides clear answers to your most pressing tax-related queries and puts some common misconceptions to bed.

How has Mauritius managed to position itself as an affluent international financial centre?

The surge in foreign investment on our island is largely due to our ideal geographical position, which has favored us ever since the spice trade. Today, financial services represent 12.1% of the GDP and employ more than 7,000 people (direct employment). Combine this with a favourable and harmonised tax environment, dozens of double

It is undeniable that Mauritius offers more than attractive fiscal incentives.

taxation avoidance agreements (DTAAs), a bilingual and skilled workforce, political stability, economic diversity, deal time zone and compliance with international standards – and you have a winning combination for the emergence of a world-class international financial centre.

What incentives are offered to foreign companies looking to put down their roots in Mauritius?
The Global Business sector, regulated and monitored by the Financial Services Commission (FSC), is the cornerstone of our financial industry that aided Mauritius in weathering the global financial crisis. A foreign company can fall in either one of two categories: GBC1 or GBC2.

In broad lines, a GBC1 licensee, as a Mauritian resident, is taxed at a normal corporate rate of 15% – but its eligibility to claim 80% in foreign tax credit reduces that effective rate to a maximum of 3%. No capital gains tax, no withholding taxes on royalties and dividends, no estate duty or inheritance tax. They also avail of the island’s extensive network of tax treaties.

A GBC2, on the other hand, is not liable to taxes but is denied the benefits of DTAAs.

The Global Business sector, regulated and monitored by the Financial Services Commission (FSC), is the cornerstone of our financial industry.

It is undeniable that Mauritius offers more than attractive fiscal incentives. As mentioned earlier, Mauritius has distinctive features making it the ideal investment platform. In addition, the reliable regulatory system, ease of doing business and other products offerings such as Protected Cell Companies, Limited Partnerships, Trusts and Foundations, Regional Headquarters or Family Offices can only contribute to provide the foreign companies with the optimised benefits that they are looking for. No doubt that the foreign companies are scrambling to put down their roots on the island.

So what exactly is a tax haven?
The term “offshore” tends to incorrectly trigger tax haven alarm bells. Most people simply imagine a tax haven to be a country with lenient tax laws, and more often than not, they conjure up images of a tropical island fringed with palm trees. Viewed this way, Mauritius fits right in. But this image is a far cry from reality. The OECD has identified some basic criteria to identify a real tax haven. These include:

  • No tax or low tax regimes on the relevant income.
  • Lack of effective exchange of information with authorities abroad.
  • Lack of transparency

Which begs the question, how does Mauritius fare with regards to these criteria? Let’s clear that right up. Mauritius applies a 15% tax rate – which is certainly not negligible and this rate is applied across board (income, corporate and VAT); we have ratified Tax Information Exchange Agreements with several countries, disclosing information upon request. DTAAs, by definition, also require the exchange of information with partner countries when necessary. Mauritius’ new Corporate Governance, combined with its presence on the OECD’s white list, represents great strides towards greater transparency. The island has permanently ditched its erroneous notoriety as a tax haven.

What further measures are being taken to break away from the tax haven label?

Mauritius is fully engaged in the international fight against tax evasion and has shown its commitment to combatting tax evasion by signing (on 5th July 2017) the Multilateral Convention to implement the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) measures to prevent Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS “Multilateral Instrument” or “MLI”).

In addition to the signature of the MLI, Mauritius has also been recently rated as Compliant by the OECD as regards compliance with international standards for the exchange of information on request between tax authorities. With the view to enhance its transparency and collaboration framework, Mauritius is equally committed to the Common Reporting Standard (CRS) on the automatic exchange of financial account information, developed by the OECD.

Adding concrete actions to this commitment of global crackdown on tax abuse, Mauritius continues to reinforce its regulatory framework. In that respect, the FSC has played a detrimental role in ensuring that there is more economic substance in Mauritius. By “substance”, I mean they must have a real presence and genuine business activities in the incorporated country – the absence of which could suggest that the firm’s intents are purely tax-driven. In this case, Mauritius would be viewed as a destination for “treaty shopping.” Rather than simply functioning from the island, the companies must now prove that they are truly integrated. For instances, GBC1 companies are compelled to have at least two qualified local directors, a local auditor, local employees, a principal bank account, board meetings in Mauritius, office space and reasonable business expenditure, amongst others.

As companies shift to Mauritius for more than its tax rates, the value-creation story in the financial sector is only just beginning. This gives a clear signal that Mauritius is deepening its commitment to fight international tax avoidance whilst it continues to develop as a reliable and secure International Financial Centre.

Keeping up with digital transformation

Most executives will agree that while there is no formula for success, digital empowerment is the only way forward to stay relevant, even more so at a time when technology and customers’ expectations are advancing like shifting sand beneath our feet. Evyn Valayen, our Innovation Manager, certainly seems to think so.

What exactly is Digital Transformation?

Digital Transformation (“DT”) is the buzz phrase of the moment, thrown around loosely to mean innovation. You must be wondering: if companies have been digitizing for decades, why is it only now that the term is descending upon us like a rolling storm? The impression we get is that transformation is the end goal of a business, when in reality it is otherwise.

Many companies still fear that handing over important data to cloud service providers will jeopardize their security.

It is important that we correctly define DT. Simply put, it is the ability to understand how technology can deliver value to customers. It isn’t purely about the tools themselves, but how to leverage the capabilities of these tools to take advantage of new opportunities.

How important is it for companies to keep up with the curve?

DT is an ongoing process, a journey. One that never ends. Stop that journey, and you’re in trouble. Technologically speaking, if your business is standing still, you are actually lagging behind.

What are the biggest IT trends shaping businesses these days?

Personally, I am amazed at the speed at which technology is advancing. Blink, and you could miss it.

The trends to watch out for in 2017 are not radically different than those in 2016. This year, businesses are just getting more acclimated to them. My list is by no means exhaustive, but the ones that spring to mind are the Internet of Everything (the connectedness between People, Processes, Data and Things), Blockchain (a game changer that will provide transparent access to all information in the chain), Artificial Intelligence (machines carrying out tasks that usually require human intelligence), chatbots, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality…

 Businesses and employees are becoming empowered with technology, paving the way for what we call an Intelligent Enterprise – which is mainly enabled by Artificial Intelligence. Picture this: each day, companies are flooded with large volumes of data – structured and unstructured, – from various sources, in different formats… This data has a limited “shelf life”, meaning it loses value over time if you leave it sitting for too long. Artificial Intelligence automates the analysis of this data and translates it into actionable insights, and automated key processes enable companies to function more efficiently. It will be particularly beneficial for industries that have huge back offices, like insurance companies or banks.

Digital Transformation is an ongoing process, a journey. One that never ends.

Is DT synonymous to moving to the cloud?

Yes and no. The cloud isn’t the only enabler to DT – a company can digitally transform itself without necessarily moving to the cloud. That being said, in my opinion, moving to the cloud is the first step to unlocking DT. But many companies still face a roadblock and fear that handing over important data to cloud service providers will jeopardize their security – and back they go to on-premises data storage.

Ironically, having a cloud IT infrastructure does just the opposite – it keeps your data more secure. Here’s why:

  • It is no secret that traditional hardware is extremely high-maintenance, with hours on end going into supporting systems. Adopting the cloud replaces all those labour-intensive tasks with full automation; more energy can be focused toward other critical aspects of the organization, such as Innovation.
  • It offers the unprecedented opportunity to ensure business continuity. Natural disasters or power failures strike with little to no warning, hitting a business where it hurts: data loss and downtime. For large companies, an hour of downtime can cost up to $1.1 million. Having your data backed up in the cloud ensures that you minimise downtime and that you access your data quickly. You can continue business as usual in no time.
  • High levels of security are the top priority for cloud technologies. This includes security tools and controls like advanced encryption, automatic backup, identity and access management controls. Beyond the usual security audits, cloud businesses also face tougher standards; they must adhere to strict Higher International Organization for Standardization standards

Speaking of security, where does Mauritius stand on the cybersecurity front?

I am pleased at the level of commitment that Mauritius is showing to Cybersecurity. Our rankings are pretty impressive: we are placed 6th globally on the Global Cybersecurity Index, and we have secured the top spot in Africa. There have already been over 180 awareness sessions for 2,000 in several state departments. Continuing to improve our regulatory framework and train our people can only have a positive impact on our bottom line.

Integrated reporting: the new rulebook Redefining the bottom line

“Too time-consuming,” “too costly,” “my investors only care about profits.” The reasons some executives come up with when asked about their thoughts on the integrated report are endless. If I had a rupee for every time I heard one of those…

Let’s be real: public sentiment towards business practices has become distrusting to say the least. Nothing eludes today’s savvy, more-connected-than-ever consumers. Their political opinion, innermost feelings or a photo of their dinner are bared online, for all to see. Withholding information or “alternative facts” are no longer viable options in a time where cynicism is the default setting through which many view the world.

Integrated Reporting’s goal is simple: to provide meaningful and transparent information to investors.

Corporate reporting is no different. The business world is at a crossroads where information is the crux of markets, yet it lacks clarity. A study on Intangible Asset Market Value found that in 1975, S&P 500 companies assessed 83% of their total value to derive from their material assets; today, that number is as low as 16%. What do the remaining 84% represent? Intangible factors. Trust, brand equity, innovation, customer loyalty and governance are the sustainable value drivers and hallmark of today’s economy. Consider this: Facebook bought WhatsApp for $19 billion, of which $15.3 billion was earmarked for – wait for it – goodwill. In other words, an intangible asset that represents WhatsApp’s potential future value.

In 1975, the annual report as we know it was, indeed, the perfect document to capture companies’ major concerns: financial and manufactured capital. Today, if you combine increasing concerns about climate change, political instability, social inequality, and the importance of human capital – you realize that the annual report loses sight of what matters to today’s investors. The current framework communicates information in silos, with no link between different elements of the value creation story. For instance, a company could have to make certain short-term sacrifices to gain profit in the long-term – these trade-offs are not reflected in financial statements. It fails to link business strategy and risk. Above all, it is overly complex and long. It just doesn’t cut it. The answer isn’t to abolish the annual report; let’s call it a reboot.

Integrated Reporting (IR) puts to rest the clamour of voices about corporate reporting opacity. Its goal is simple: to provide meaningful and transparent information to investors. Not more, just better.

The business world is at a crossroads where information is the crux of markets, yet it lacks clarity.

Developed by the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC), IR explains the dependencies and connectedness between the six capitals: financial, manufactured, human, intellectual, social and natural. Presenting financial alongside non-financial information allows shareholders, customers and employees to understand how these factors impact long-term and sustainable value. What stakeholders see is the unravelling of a holistic story: the effect of the company’s decisions on the community it operates in, its impact on the environment, how many jobs it created. These are what make a company resilient. And these are what inspire greater trust and eventually, create value.

IR has certainly gained momentum globally and is reshaping corporate reporting. Over 1,500 global businesses have adopted its principles. In Mauritius, only about a dozen listed companies have made the switch. So why aren’t they all using it, since it is the obvious step to take?

Because such a novel concept requires time to delve into the complexity of the framework, the participation of all internal resources, a move away from figures, and wide-ranging change. The report is only a milestone in the continuous journey known as “Integrated Thinking.” You cannot articulate the value story without questioning and reassessing how you work across departments. Integrated thinking breaks down functional silos and brings together people from all departments to understand how all aspects of the business – internal and external – are connected. Embedding this shared understanding makes the connectivity of information flow naturally into decision-making and the communication with stakeholders more effective.

This shift is taking place alongside the adoption of the New Code of Corporate Governance in Mauritius, mandatory as from 2018. Its goal? To enhance the quality of information provided by listed companies to investors – which also happens to be IR’s ethos. Rather than the rigid tick-the-box “Comply or Explain” methodology, companies must now “Apply and Explain”, an approach which requires astuteness, the ability to step back, gather internal resources and offer a clear explanation of how a company has applied each principle of the New Code. This combination goes beyond compliance, beyond the letter of the law, beyond reporting.

To choose the Integrated Report is to choose a business model that enables a change in behaviour. It is the product of a company that has taken the time to bridge the gaps between strategy, governance and performance. It shows commitment. Now, it’s time for everyone to follow.

Augmented business connecting data to insights to action

Think back to Blockbuster, MySpace and Kodak. What do these businesses have in common? At first glance, nothing: they all operate in different industries. What connects them, though, is their tumble in the abyss of irrelevance.

Why do good companies dissolve? One plausible explanation is that management, upon facing new, disruptive situations in their environment, falls back on methods that were successful in the past. Call it short-sightedness, incompetence or complacency; either way, clinging to old formulas can be a glaring mistake.

Rather than providing frontline managers with complex models and Byzantine algorithms, simple and intuitive interfaces should make information available quickly and easily

Companies like Amazon have created a generation of utterly spoilt customers: all they have to do is click on a button. Two days later, their product at their doorstep, shipped for free. No wonder Amazon’s logo doubles as a smile. How do they do it? By digging into their goldmine – data – and using it to drive their strategy and build relationships with customers.

The volume of data available in the world is exploding and changing the nature of competition: companies with more access to data have a bird’s eye view of activities in their market and are less likely to be blindsided by a start-up in a garage. The secret lies in mapping three distinct landscapes: industry, competition and consumers.

Watching out for shifting business conditions, new opportunities and competitive threats lays the foundation for a predictive analysis, but scanning internal sources of unstructured data – e-mail enquiries, customer complaints, social media – is equally important. In today’s world, a combination of social media and a disgruntled customer means that your reputation is only a tweet away from taking a hit. How you manage your relationship with clients is the underlying hallmark of success, no matter your industry, focus, product or service.

Amassing vast quantities of consumer intelligence is the surest way of earning loyalty in the face of competition. Streamlining every interaction you have with a customer can generate useful information like their likelihood of using your product or service again.

That being said, building a competitive advantage does not originate with data; it begins with identifying a business opportunity. “Why” needs to come before “how.” Aimless data mining means that you corral huge amounts of data in an endless search of what it really means and how it can boost your performance. Rather, the right approach is a targeted strategy that begins with analysing all the factors that affect your performance, before asking the question “What bottom-line-enhancing decisions can I make if I have all the information I need?”

The volume of data available in the world is exploding and changing the nature of competition

The modus operandi lies not in embellishing old-world thinking with the latest available technology; instead, new processes and systems need to be built around the technology that is available. Businesses are tasked with carefully selecting the ecosystems that are most compatible with their goals. Business Intelligence (BI) tools were developed with this in mind: they interpret large volumes of data about market trends and competitor performance. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools, being consumer-centric, also provide opportunities to analyse buying behaviours and patterns. With their help, executives uncover trends, deliver insights and are able to forecast growth.

The modus operandi lies not in embellishing old-world thinking with the latest available technology; instead, new processes and systems need to be built around the technology that is available. Businesses are tasked with carefully selecting the ecosystems that are most compatible with their goals. Business Intelligence (BI) tools were developed with this in mind: they interpret large volumes of data about market trends and competitor performance. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools, being consumer-centric, also provide opportunities to analyse buying behaviours and patterns. With their help, executives uncover trends, deliver insights and are able to forecast growth.

Data-driven insights need to be designed for those who are on the actual frontlines, not for analysts or IT programmers.  Rather than providing frontline managers with complex models and Byzantine algorithms, simple and intuitive interfaces should make information available quickly and easily. Analytics, when embedded into simple tools like a collaborative work application, workflow management software or even the cloud, allow for information to be more accessible, pervasive and transparent. This is when your data goes from being powerful to truly transformational.

Any new measure, strategy or tool invariably demands a new mindset. Executives have the responsibility of upgrading all employees’ skills and capabilities – failing to do so would be a disservice to their company. Continuous training and coaching will bridge the literacy gap within the organization. Ultimately, the objective is that change be woven into the fabric of the company.

What they want from their employer

They’re lazy, entitled, disloyal and narcissistic. Oh, and they can’t interact face to face. Millennials are tired of the derogatory stereotyping. And no, they don’t want a trophy just for showing up.

“They will be the most high-maintenance workforce in the history of the world, but they may also be the most high-performing,” says Bruce Tulgan, author of It’s Okay to Manage Your Boss, who also believes the negative stereotypes can be turned into positive attributes and be leveraged – if understood well.

Google has been named the No. 1 place to work for the eighth time in 11 years on Fortune’s list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For. Twelve other companies have made the cut every year. These powerhouses stand out because they engage this Y-generation.

Here’s how they do it.

  1. Growth Opportunities: Millennials embrace a strong entrepreneurial mindset and are constantly on the lookout for opportunities to grow. While it is true that the average tenure of millennial employees is a fleeting two years period (in comparison to five years for Gen X and seven for Baby Boomers), roadblock to career and personal growth is a decisive factor in a Millennial’s decision to change As digital natives, they grew up in a fast-paced environment where vast amounts of information are accessed in a swipe, and they aren’t about to slow down. Employers should challenge their Gen Y workforce and provide positive reinforcement to keep them going. The generation that was coddled by their parents also wants to see their bosses invested in their personal growth.
    “They will be the most high maintenance workforce in the history of the world”
  2. Coaches not bosses! They want to work with you, not for you. While their cynical grand-parents lament the fact that smartphones are simply extensions of their arms, Millennials are, in fact, predisposed to networking and socializing with an eclectic mix of diverse people. They are the most inclusive and collaborative generation to date. Companies should capitalize on their affinity for networking by encouraging team-work. Contrary to previous generations, millennials firmly believe groups accomplish more. Their Can-do attitude feeds off frequent, constructive feedback.  Managers should view themselves as coaches who can provide guidance and a framework within which millennials
  3. Balance and Fairness: Millennials are disrupting the status quo: the shift toward a democratic participatory economy and consumer equality is spilling into the workplace, impacting office life, work culture and company morale. Millennials seek jobs that offer the best perks and benefits (which they value more than money by the way). A flexible work schedule (meaning less commute time, and the ability to work from a beach in Positano, provided there’s Wi-Fi) is not about Millennials’ so-called laziness. On the contrary, they measure their performance on output rather than time spent. Sitting around the office until 5, “pretending” simply does not cut it. These multitaskers enjoy balancing work, friends, exercise (they are big on that) and travel, to which they are committed.

Once employers recognize and understand where Millennials are coming from and their perceptions of office life, bosses-turned-coaches can leverage their huge potential to change the way their companies work.

Recruiting the Can-Do generation

The first digital natives, those who grew up with the first handheld devices, the eery sounds of Dial-Up Internet, who used Limewire to illegally download Limewire Pro, were raised during the relative peace of the 1990s. The Sept. 11 attacks and two economic crashes in 2000 and 2008 darkened their world. Internet these days is packed with memes, articles, GIFs, academic papers and TED talks about the Archetypal Millennial.

Born between 1980 and the year 2000, millennials have come of age during a time of globalization, technological advancement and economic disruption. Their spending habits, behaviours and tastes have large implications for the future shape of the economy. Their reluctance to buy items such as cars, music, homes and luxury goods has led the world into a new economic age – that of the gig and sharing economy.

Millennials have come of age during a time of globalization, technological advancement and economic disruption

Millennials tend to get a bad rep for job-hopping and their refusal to commit. Yet a somewhat turbulent 2016 (terror attacks in Europe, Brexit, Trump’s election) shook up the confidence of this generation. Young professionals are now less likely to leave the security of their jobs. According to The Deloitte Millennial Survey 2017, “Millennials in emerging markets generally expect to be both financially (71 percent) and emotionally (62 percent) better off than their parents. This is in stark contrast to mature markets, where only 36 percent of millennials predict they will be financially better off than their parents and 31 percent say they’ll be happier.”

Thinking about Gen Y’s attitudes toward work provides employers with all the necessary cues to recruit the generation that by 2025 will dominate the workforce. Eighty-six percent of working people in their first decade of employment use social media to hunt for jobs and google employers. Social media is a great way to reach out to the technology-savvy talent pool if used the right way.

Here’s how.

  1. Manage your presence online: Every tweet, picture you share, content you publish, status, and like creates a mental image of your company and work culture. It is your job to make sure it appeals to millennials.
  2. What they think of you matters as much as what you think of them: Remember, Google is a verb for these guys, and they care a lot more about transparency and doing the right thing than their baby-boomer counterparts. Millennials will tend to be attracted to brands they admire as consumers and distance and even boycott those they feel are morally questionable. Google alerts allows you to receive notifications when your brand is mentioned online – this is a great tool for monitoring the web and keeping track of what people think of you as a brand.
  3. Be yourself: Don’t overdo the hip, millennial thing (a Millennial pink website with catchy phrases won’t necessarily cut it if it’s not representative of you). Bear in mind that a generation, by definition, is a broad swath of tens of millions of people with varying tastes, interests and habits. Be authentic and you will attract the most fitting talent (You do you, as they would say).
  4. Be active on the platforms used by millennials: Don’t limit yourself to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Millennials basically have a smartphone instead of a hand, and are always downloading new apps and finding new platforms on which they can express their views. Start being active on these platforms to reach your audience.
  5. Don’t wait until they start job hunting: Get to know potential recruits and build relationships early on. On-campus fairs and LinkedIn are great ways to network with people in your industry. Make it so they look you up immediately once they begin to shop around for jobs that best align their #lifegoals.

We have a pretty good idea of the impact of millennials in the workplace. The next wave of employees – Generation Z or Gen Z (some have called them, “centennials) – is  already attracting attention. Deloitte conducted a survey to get millennials’ views of those about to join them in the workplace.

“Millennials tend to have a broadly positive opinion of GenZ (those currently aged 18 or younger). Maybe because of perceptions that they have strong information technology skills and the ability to think creatively, six in 10 (61 percent) millennials believe GenZ will have a positive impact as their presence in the workplace expands. This increases to 67 percent among millennials in senior positions and is higher in emerging markets (70 percent) than in mature markets (52 percent). However, while millennials see great potential within GenZ, they also believe these younger employees will need a lot of support when they enter the workforce.”

Only time will tell.

The new hub for Africa’s wealthiest sees a sharp increase in number of millionaires

In a world where billionaires have ousted multi-millionaires off rich-lists, where the rich have made way for the super-rich, and where High Net Worth Individuals (HNWI) pale in comparison to Ultra High Net Worth Individuals (UHNWI), to say that the rich are proliferating in number and in the quantum of their wealth is no overstatement.

Which begs the question: where do these ultra wealthy people park their money?

Well, as it turns out, Mauritius could be on the map as the new frontier for wealth management.

Africa, a new haven for the affluent

Previously, anytime somebody talked about the next hot spot to invest in, Mauritius was seldom (if even at all) mentioned. Instead, all talks of wealth management mainly channelled towards the West. Today, that mind-set has been revisited. We are witnessing a paradigm shift in the global financial landscape: in no time, Singapore is slated to outperform Switzerland as the world’s largest offshore wealth centre[1], partly as a result of tightened regulations in Europe. According to the latest report by Boston Consulting Group, “Global Wealth 2016: Navigating the New Client Landscape,” Singapore’s offshore assets will rise at a compound annual rate of 8% over the next four years, in contrast to Switzerland’s modest 3%. Now, the pendulum is swinging towards Africa.

The African continent has enjoyed a surge in its number of millionaires in the last decade. While the “AfrAsia Bank Africa 2017 Wealth Report” predicts a 36% rise in the number of HNWI in Africa over the next 10 years, it has also recorded a 2% drop in the number of millionaires compared to 2015. In stark contrast, tiny Mauritius – an island-nation with a population of just over 1.2 million – bucked the trend pervading the continent: that same report places Mauritius as the wealthiest country in Africa (an average wealth per capita of $25,700), with a staggering 230% growth in the number of millionaires between 2006 and 2016.

As it navigates the shifting terrain of European wealth management, Mauritius is asserting itself as a serious contender, and others are listening.

An enabling context for investors

The nation-island is poised to position itself as a service hub for the affluent in Africa

It comes to no surprise that Mauritius’ white-sand beaches and year-round good weather make it a hotspot for tourists. The idyllic setting, coupled with its low tax rates, has particularly appealed to retirees: residents not only enjoy an alluring 15% income and business tax, but they also gain automatic permanent residency if they purchase a property worth $500,000. This has turned the island into a honey pot for deep-pocketed South Africans, – who have amassed far more than the $1 million mark – 280 of whom have set up home in Mauritius since 2006. Equally impressive are the 90% literacy rate and skilled, bilingual workforce that put it in a commanding position to serve both English and French speaking countries. Historically, the island was a strategic vital stop on the Spice Trade route that criss-crossed between Europe and the East. The various waves of immigrants have led to an unusually eclectic mix of people, fostering a culture of integration and community.

Securing a footing in wealth management

A growing number of HNWI invariably rouses a demand for sophisticated financial solutions. In response to the influx of HNWI into the territory, Mauritius has diligently crafted the prerequisites to be a politically and economically stable nation. As the easiest country in Africa to do business with a low regulation that fosters a competent functioning of businesses, the island has pulled its weight as a worthy platform for banking and financial services. It has also made great strides in strengthening its regulatory framework by adhering to good governance global standards and ethical norms. It is no wonder that Mauritius is on par with nations like the United States, Singapore and Hong Kong in its compliance with global requirements.

In demonstrating a high commitment in its collaboration with the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), the island has joined the movement towards greater transparency, divesting itself of the unsettling notoriety of being a “tax haven”. Deservedly, it has made it to the OECD’s “white list”, a feat attained only by nations whose tax laws allow information-sharing. Mauritius has also signed a whopping 19 Memorandums of Understanding with different regulators in its quest for more transparency, and ratified 38 Double Taxation Agreements (DTAA) that ensure lower taxation on dividends, interest and royalties. This has spurred the inception of international banks, audit firms and law firms in Mauritius, earning it its fitting reputation as a trustworthy international financial services centre.

A positive GDP growth and a favourable Asset under Management (AuM) indicator are a good start to defining a thriving asset management sector. While Mauritius’ GDP loiters around 3.3% per year, it is predicted to soar to 4% by 2020, an impressive figure when weighed against the average global GDP growth of 3.8%. This triumph, when coupled with the fact that AuM is projected to reach MUR 18.4 billion by 2020, almost twice its actual figure, brings Mauritius one-step ahead.

The nation-island is poised to position itself as a service hub for the affluent in Africa – and across the globe – propelling the ultra-rich to look beyond tried and tested destinations like Singapore and Hong Kong.

What are the forces behind the global impulse for more transparent, ethical business?

Post-Recession feels

With a decade’s hindsight, it is clear the 2008 crisis that almost brought down the world’s financial system emerged after “The Great Moderation,” a long period of economic and price stability that fostered complacency and risk-taking. While economists debate as to who is to blame or what triggered the chain reaction leading to the financial collapse, it seems as though the fault lies in lax financial regulations, a lack of oversight, a hunt for riskier assets by banks, hedge funds and investors, and irresponsibility toward risk.

Fast-forward a decade, the terms “Risk Management,” “Transparency,” and “Integrity” are preponderant, conscientiously woven into the codes of corporate governance of most nations, forming the very basis of company morale.

An Open-Source Culture

Ending corporate secrecy and corruption is on the agenda of most nations

Nine years ago, GitHub, an open software collaboration plat-form was founded, an embodiment of our open source culture. Tech enterprises are in the habit of empowering individuals to collaborate, create and produce. The relationship between producers, contributors and consumers is blurred. The collective pursuit has created an ecosystem, where contribution and community-driven work drives the economy. “Open source” is synonymous with transparency where an individual’s ability to openly collaborate with others is leveraged.

Elon Musk, the Silicon Valley’s rebel, demonstrated the power of transparency, when in 2016, he published his now legendary post, “The Secret Tesla Motors Master Plan (just between you and me)” – a basic roadmap that lays out his vision. Elon Musk’s secret-sauce is in plain sight, for everyone to see. (This seems counter-intuitive when we consider the extent to which individuals and corporations will go to great lengths to keep something a secret.) Musk, by offering total transparency, encourages a trusting public to buy into his ventures as they feel he has nothing to hide.

“Wait, I’ll Google It”

The Internet-Era is entrenched in the Information Age, an age where Google is a verb, and Mark Zuckerberg’s motto, “The more we connect, the better it gets.” His mission would make it possible for any individual to access and share information, redistributing global power. It is this access and sharing that is a) Pushing companies to take on a highly inclusive approach and b) Holding companies and public or-ganisms accountable. The Sharing Economy, Social Media, and user ratings are a foundation for an increasing number of businesses of the likes of Uber or Airbnb

Whistle-blowers, Leakers, Hackers, NGOs and  Investigative Journalists

From Edward Snowden to Chelsea Manning, whistle-blowers are global countercultural heroes, cultural icons of this era, willing to pay the steep price of denouncing wrongdoing. More recently, Michael Moore launched TrumpiLeaks, an online platform, on which users can anonymously share information about the White House.

Ending corporate secrecy and corruption is on the agenda of most nations, an endeavour that is incited by fierce investigative journalism (recall the exposure of the Panama Papers by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.) NGOs in the transparency sphere, acting as external entities, are increasingly sophisticated, and capable of pushing for openness by pressuring multinationals and governments.

Governments and Corporate Governance

Governments are demanding greater corporate accountability in the wake of the 2008 global crisis, which exposed the fragilities of our financial system. Borders may present an obstruction to the compliance to standards and laws, which is complicated by companies’ presence in various countries. However, governments are pushing for global standards and compliance to these standards.

Company Morale

Successful start-ups and companies founded on transparency, supportive manage-ment, fair work ethics and ‘cool’ corporate culture have won over the people. Elon Musk’s gamble on transparency paid off big-time. There is nothing we love more than consistency, transparency and a healthy dose of ludicrousness.
With transparency gaining traction and companies forced to reveal more about themselves, we wonder: where should the limits of transparency lie?