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I had a chat with a friend a few weeks ago and somehow the discussion veered into personal finance a la money saving apps and investments etc.

Now I’m the first to raise my hands and say I suck at saving/investing. I feel like I save too little and too irregularly. But I’m deciding to do something about it like learning tricks to save money on things like electricity.

Back to the story I asked, out of curiousity, whether she has somewhere she puts away money. She mentioned a certain bank/insurance saving product that pays, wait for it! 5% per annum. I was surprised and then upset. Then I realised there was likely a lot of people like her – putting money into savings or investment plans that paid too little and below the inflation rate. Save N1 million that way and after one year the N1 million plus the interest will be worth less than it is today.

So what are the ways you can save/invest your money to yield the highest possible annual interest while being sure your money is relatively save? Note that an investment/savings product should have a high level of security and return decent interest.

Let’s look at a few we dug up from research;

Money Saving Apps: Over the past few years several fin-tech companies with focus on helping people save and earn decent interest on their saved money have become even more popular. It is easy to see why. Before now you could leave N1 million in your bank savings account without withdrawing/touching it and you will be lucky to get a paltry 1 or 2% interest annually on it.

Enter Savings app that encourage people to save their money and earn anywhere between 10 – 15% interest on it. So basically in one way they promise much higher interest if you save your money with them than with a traditional bank. And for some of them is the beauty of monitoring your accumulating interests via the digital app. 

The more popular ones include; 

  • Piggyvest: Piggyvest started as Piggybank in 2016 as a savings only platform. It offers customers/users between 10 – 15% interest on saved amount per annum. Users can transfer money they intend to save or fund their savings account with a credit/debit card. The app lets you save in Naira and also in US dollar with the dollar savings paying 6% interest annually. There is also the Safelock feature which allows you lock away money you don’t want to be tempted to touch in return for up to 15% interest.
  • Cowrywise: Cowrywise is yet another savings app launched in 2017. It offers users the opportunity to save their money and earn interest. The app allows you choose different savings options to meet your goals. On Cowrywise you can earn up to 15% annual interest on the amount you save.
  • ALAT (by Wema Bank): ALAT is a digital only bank set up by Wema Bank. Launched in 2017 ALAT lets you set savings goals. You receive a physical debit card which lets you withdraw money from anywhere. You can earn up to 10% annual interest when you save money on ALAT.

NOTE: This article does not constitute financial advice. Nairabrains will not be responsible for any decisions taken as a result of reading this article. Kindly consult your financial advisor or seek professional financial advice.

Are you a public speaker? Do you wish to become a great public speaker? Do you desire to speak to people and deliver your passionate message to your audience? As a public speaker just like many others you are always faced with problem of communicating with your audience.

To be a successful public speaker you have to pick your audience i.e. the class of people you desire to speak to and the people that will benefit from your message. You should focus your attention on marketing yourself to the particular audience or class of people.

A public speaker has to specify a niche. This is a mistake that many public speakers make; they try to reach out to everyone. Generally real wealth and lasting success in public speaking begins with you focusing on a niche. If you are a public speaker and you focus on marketing to everyone now is the time to change that perception. Here are tips to help you develop yourself on a niche.

Focus more in a specific topic or niche. You have to get practical here. If you are good in speaking to college students, motivating and inspiring them to their own benefit, it will only make more sense if you would market your public speaking on this topic and to this group of people instead of generalising your efforts. So your attention and energy should be focused in getting your message out to college coordinators who book public speakers at college and universities. It’s simple; what messages do you have to offer, who wants to hear your message and what market will benefit most from your message.

Design some good promotional materials. All of your marketing materials should be designed to relate to the public speaking niche you are targeting i.e. college students. You should make sure that the information contained in your speaking brochure is focused on helping students succeed. You should also make sure that your marketing materials are designed for your targeted niche. You should design your marketing materials in such a way that they target the niche that you have chosen.

Get involved with the market movers. The most effective way to get booked for public speaking engagement is to find the decision makers for your niche. You should not go to a college and give your brochure to just anybody may be a professor, instead relate with the college coordinator. The college coordinator is in charge of booking public speakers. There are also local organisations which you can join and whose membership include thousand of college coordinators who pay public speakers to speak at colleges. You need to know, who are the decision takers/makers for the public speaking topic/niche you am targeting to go into.

Write articles for publications. A good number of public speakers run various ads to market their services. People would perceive that if you have written an article then you are an expert on your public speaking topic. You should always write articles for qualification about your niche and then you won’t find the need to run ads. You should read articles written by speakers and write numerous articles for publications that are read by decision-makers in your niche, the college and university market. Use these steps to market yourself.
1. There is need to determine which publications, bulletin or articles are read by the decision makers and movers in your public speaking niche/topic.
2. Write a few short articles that are appropriate for their publications and make sure that your contact information is listed at the end of the article.
3. Send your articles to editors.

Have a long-term plan: Starting a new business isn’t that easy; people get so excited about the business and think it will quickly take off immediately. But really, starting a business always takes longer than we anticipated. When you decide to go into public speaking, you can start it as a part time career and make a plan for it to make a transition into full time speaking. This will allow you to make your mistakes on a lower level and correct them early enough and build your confidence as a public speaker.
By following this process, you will see that your public speaking ability will improve and tremendously increase in your public speaking bookings and you will be recognised as an expert.

To some people it is natural to interact with people or strike up conversation with strangers, however, to many other persons it is a big challenge. For a shy person, social interaction can be a stomach-churning, anxiety-filled experience. But with some work, you will be able to get it under control and become comfortable with talking to people.

Before, I find it difficult talking to strangers especially when I come into a new environment. Most times, it’s not because I don’t want to, but because I fear about how they will react; how they might judge or reject me.

You have to challenge shyness and kick it out of your life. You might be introverted at heart, but that doesn’t mean you have to be shy. Shyness is a habit that can be broken, knowing this is a big first step in understanding that you can develop social skills.

Know Why You’re Shy
Researchers at Indiana University Southeast also suggest learning why you’re shy. People might be shy for different reasons, they say:

For example, do you become shy when meeting new people, interacting at a social gathering, or speaking to someone to whom you find yourself attracted? Try to understand if your shyness manifests itself cognitively (e.g., excessive self-consciousness or self-deprecating statements), affectively (e.g., overriding feelings of anxiety), or behaviorally (e.g., failure to speak to others at social gatherings).

When you have a better understanding of your shyness, you can figure out the best route to overcome it.

It’s Not All About You
Shy people often overthink their behavior and responses. You’d end up obsessively mulling over everything you said or did, wondering what others think of you. Did I say something stupid? Did I say something that might seem offensive? When you hang out with new friends, do you often think about every tiny thing you said after the interaction? Do often fear you said something slightly embarrassing, or something that could be taken the wrong way?

Not all about me

You have to stop over thinking about what to say, how people will react to it. We all say stupid things occasionally, and most people realize that. You should definitely think before opening your mouth, but overthinking after the fact can drive you nuts.

Overall, You have to know this: you might be awkward, but no one is thinking about your awkwardness as much as you are. Obsessing over it only makes that feeling worse.

Accept it, Set up a task for yourself
A problem identified is half solved. When you recognize your shyness, you normally feel it coming. You have to focus your attention and tackle it head on. First, set up small tasks you must do daily. For example if you work in an office, you can decide to greet everyone every morning you come to the office, or ask everyone you meet during break time how their work is going on. The task has to be something you can easily do diligently.

There are many other small actions. Force yourself to ask for directions. Give someone a compliment. Ask for help. Offer to help someone. At first these actions will be awkward and daunting to you, but before you know it, it will seem like part of you.

Take a Public Speaking Class
This is not for everyone, but public speaking classes can be very helpful. You will learn how to be comfortable with your voice. You will have the chance to speak while others are forced to listen. Most importantly, it builds your confidence in speaking.
public-speaking-class

If you don’t have time to take a class, you can read the Art of Public Speaking by Stephen Lucas. It is a solid starting point for those looking to grasp public speaking. Although this book it all about learning how to public speaking, it clearly gives you practical steps to do this. If you learn how to be very good at public speaking, by extension you have overcome some of your shyness. He advises:

Concentrate on gaining control of the ideas; don’t try to learn the speech word for word.

When you want to communicate with others, don’t spending your time thinking of what to say word for word, as this will increase your fear. Just gain control of the idea as Stephen suggested, the words will flow.

Learn the Art of Small Talk
Small talk is an essential part of social interaction. For shy people, it can also be really helpful for getting used to that interaction – like practice for the real thing. Debra Fine in made very useful suggestions in The Fine Art of Small Talk. At gatherings, her Occasion-Location Rule comes very handy. If you’re at an event, and you don’t know how to initiate or maintain a conversation with a stranger, the occasion and location can help you come up with an opener. Fine writes:

The location and occasion of an event offer a wide variety of free information. At a wedding: I was the bride’s college roommate. How do you know the couple? At a seminar or convention, simply asking What brought you to this event? is an easy and unobtrusive way to start a conversation.

It may seem obvious, but when you’re intimidated at a party, remembering this rule can be grounding. She also suggests asking open-ended questions to get a conversation going. For example, if I really wanted to talk to a coworker in the break room, instead of saying “How’s it going?“, which is more of a pleasantry than anything, I could say, “What’d you do this weekend?

Make Friends with very Social persons
Whether we like it or not friends influences us in one way or the other. You should make a few friends who are very good in interacting with people, who are very social, overtime it will rub off on you. Try and observe how they do it and copy them. Go out with them time to time and try to imitate their pattern of striking up conversation, don’t be afraid to ask them to teach you.

With practice, you can overcome your shyness over time. Sometimes, you will still find yourself a little shy or recoiling back into your old self. However, bear in mind it is a gradual process, just like most habits, it doesn’t go away overnight.

Do you have other thoughts or experience on overcoming shyness, or have you tried any of the above techniques? Share your thoughts below.

If not for one thing, I will boldly say that everybody eats rice. Rice is like a necessity in Nigeria today, you can hardly see any family that doesn’t cook rice few times every week, it is the defacto official food in Nigeria. There are people who eat rice. No I will rather say many people eat rice, but few grow rice. Have you ever thought of being Dangote of Nigerian rice market? Don’t even roll your eyes or start dreaming, it is quite possible following the current trends in the country.
I am going to tell you why you should seriously consider going into rice farming. It is enough to say it is very profitable, it goes beyond being just profitable, just read on and see for yourself.

1. High Demand/Most Popular Food in Nigeria
In August 2014, the then Minister of Agriculture Akinwunmi Adesina stated during an Interview with Channels TV “If you are looking to invest in Nigeria, the largest Economy in Africa, you should consider rice farming which is the most profitable in the Agriculture“. Rice is the most consumed food in Nigeria and the population is rising fast.

Nigeria consumes over five million metric tons of rice annually. Currently the local production is below the demands, hence huge annual import expenses of about N356 billion.

According to Adesina “If you invested 14 million dollars in an integrated rice mill in Nigeria today, the internal rate of return on the investment is 42 to 50 per cent and the time it takes you to pay back the investment is exactly two years. It is the most profitable thing that anyone can be doing in Nigeria today.

It is projected that by 2050, if Nigeria keeps importing rice from India and Thailand, we will spend 35 billion dollars importing rice from them.

2. New Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Policy
According to reports on Punch Newspapers, the volume of rice being imported into the country has dropped by 53 percent in the last one month while the price of the commodity has increased by over 20 per cent in the market. This is as a result of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s decision to place rice among 41 items not valid for foreign exchange.

The CBN had last month warned banks and bureau de change operators against making available foreign exchange to importers of rice and 40 other items in a bid to conserve the hard earned forex and boost the production of those products.
The Food and Agricultural Organisation had predicted that Nigeria’s rice purchases would drop by 3.3 per cent from three million metric tonnes in 2014 to 2.9 million metric tonnes in 2015. However, with the new CBN policy, we expect further drop.
What does this mean for local rice producers/farmers? More sales, more profits.

3. High and Rapid Yield
Rice farming take less that four months between planting and harvesting. Rice is a very high yield crop, one Acre of rice farm is capable of producing over 100 bags of rice.
The farm yields of farmers also varies widely, but a farmer planting the high yielding variety and following recommended practice can easily produce 4 – 5 tons per hectare.

4. High Return on Investment
Rice is a very fast selling commodity because of high demand, you don’t have to wait for months or years before you could sell. It sells so fast that everything could be disposed right at the farm except you want to process or stock it.

In a study by Kadiri, F. A., Eze, C. C., Orebiyi, J. S. and Henri Ukoha A. which examined economic analysis of paddy rice production in Niger Delta Region of Nigeria, The production cost of a hectare of rice is about ₦334,916.60 which yields about 4713.25kg of paddy rice, with a revenue of ₦653, 963.44K. The net farm income of rice farmers in the study area was ₦300,071.84 which indicated that rice production is profitable. Rice farmers on the average made a net return of ₦264,063.22 per hectare that resulted in a return of ₦0.80k for every one naira invested.

In another study by Raufu, M.O on Cost And Return Analysis Of Rice Production In Kwara State, Nigeria Under Sawah Technology it showed that Rice production under Sawah system is profitable going by the cost and return analysis. The expense structure ratio is 0.924, while the gross ratio is 0.149 indicating that for every N0.149 expended there is a return of N1.00.

In yet another study by Nwike M. C. and Ugwumba C. O. A. on Profitability of Rice Production in Aguata Agricultural Zone of Anambra State Nigeria: A Profit Function Approach, it showed that gross margin of N4,278,961, net farm income of N3,858,516, mean net farm income of N42,872,40 and net return on investment of 0.37 proved the enterprise profitable. Maximum variable profit was statistically and significantly influenced by per unit price of output, per unit price of labour and farm size at 5% level.

Therefore, whatever amount you invested in rice, you are sure of your return within the next four months all things being equal. It is safe to say that rice is the most profitable agric business in Nigeria.

If you are having doubt about rice farming before, industry statistics and data states otherwise. Would you go into rice farming? Have you been into it before or do you currently own a rice farm? Drop your comments below.