The Homerun: If you’re willing, then it’s possible.

The homerun obstacle race was scheduled for late last month and I was so looking forward to it. Unfortunately, a few days prior to the race I got sick and started second guessing my participation. This run was meant to demonstrate the challenges that refugees face while fleeing their home countries, usually in small families. Some of the challenges included delays in documentation, language barrier, tiresome routes, hostile and unfamiliar cultures. Manoeuvring through barbed wire fences, climbing over walls, crawling through muddy fields were also simulated.

The day before the race, just after deciding not to participate, I got a pep-talk from a close friend who successfully convinced me to change my mind. However, there was one problem, I didn’t have a family to run with. “Hey James, am looking for a team, can I join yours?” a colleague asked me. “Hey, I don’t have one, but we could create our own.” I responded. “Cool, let’s do that.” he added. A minute or two later, four ladies walk up to us and say; “Hey guys, is it alright if you adopt us into your family?” “Yes, of course!” we were quick to respond. We then formed an adopted family named it Samuka and hit the road.

During the race, there were times when I felt like sprinting but some family members were exhausted. So, we all had to reduce our pace and run as a family. At some point, it became more of a home walk given that we resorted to walk a good portion of the distance. Then came the obstacles! Hardly could we hold our breaths, when we encountered the next obstacle. Our mental strength was challenged, our bodies were pushed to the limit, we got agitated, but we’re willing to go all the way. When we couldn’t sprint, we jogged, when we couldn’t jog, we walked, when we couldn’t walk, well, we rested a bit, the ladies took a couple of selfies then we marched on.

Just when we thought the obstacles were done, there was the mud-crawl looking right in our faces. The whole family was quite skeptical about doing the mud-crawl given that some of us didn’t have a change of clothes, and the thought of walking through town all muddy was simply unbearable. Luckily, one of us had a change of heart and decided to take one for the family. Inspite of the occasional hiccups along the way, we managed to reach the finish line because we were willing.

Obstacles and hurdles that are often times impossible to anticipate disorganize our plans and divert us from our goals. Nevertheless, we should be flexible enough to adjust our plans whenever necessary, be willing to extend a helping hand and take one for the team. Above all, we need to develop a character of resilience, an attitude of never giving up.

It’s not how many obstacles we may hit and fall that matter, but how many times we are willing to get back up when we do.

If you’re willing, then it’s possible!

Until next time…

Artificial Intelligence: Reality of a jobless future.

Econsimplified

After completing campus (University studies), the dream of every graduate is to get a job and apply the knowledge that we have amassed. We spend sleepless nights perfecting our CVs, making numerous job applications, and then dropping them off one office at a time.

Finally, when that lucky break manifests and we get a job, we celebrate and start building a career!

Meanwhile, these celebrations could be short lived with Artificial Intelligence (AI) becoming the norm in not only the developed but also the developing countries.

With the current tough financial times, every employer would wish to reduce expenses and operate at the lowest possible costs without necessarily undermining the quality of his/her product.The advance of Artificial Intelligence in the work-place is gradually making this wish come true, with prospects of not having to pay salaries and allowances.

Recent studies by Carl Benedict and Michael Osborne examined the probability of…

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Dare to live today!

Putting things off is the biggest waste of life. It snatches away each day as it comes, and denies us the present by promising the future. The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy, which hangs upon tomorrow and loses today. You are arranging what lies in fortune’s control, and abandoning what lies in yours. What are you looking at? To what goal are you straining? The whole future lies in uncertainty: live in the present!~Seneca.

Until next time folks…

The state of Economics today.

I am always fascinated by the prospect of discovering a new definition of economics and its role in shaping the dynamics of our society. Some of you are probably still caught up in a maze of figuring out what this phenomenon called “Economics” actually is.

A number of people perceive it differently and therefore have varying views on this subject. Some say economics is a way of life, others say its a science that enables society to utilise scarce resources by making decisions based on individual preferences.

When asked, a colleague of mine just narrowed it down to being some complex subject having lots of incomprehensible jargon, that is apparently only meant for the “elite economist!” Well, I beg to defer. I believe that economics is meant for everybody. From the lady vending maize along the streets to the tycoon owning a number of shopping malls in town, from the illiterate kid digging somewhere in a shamba to the rich kid anxiously waiting for the release of IPhone 8! The only difference is that all these individuals look at economics through varying lenses.

Recently, while chatting with some friends of mine, an interesting topic came up involving economics, its evolution and subsequent impact on our society over the years. We were later on joined by a fellow who was quite learned and knowledgeable in economics based on the thoughts he shared. What stood out for me was his argument that economic knowledge without political power in this day and age is hardly effective. He then posed an intriguing question; “Is economics dead?” To which we all responded almost in unison “No! Ofcourse not!” “Economics cannot die, it’s part of life!” One of us added.

Nevertheless, in my humble opinion, economics has been put in an ideological box and maliciously suffocated by the major players who use power backed by their selfish and myopic interests. As a result, key policy decisions that affect the multitudes are taken by the minority.

Ironically, most of the interest groups have no clue that this is actually happening!

Bye for now…

Poor spending habits: A major cause of the vicious cycle of borrowing.

Yesterday, I came across a very interesting article in the Daily Monitor Newspaper regarding peoples’ spending habits. I found it related to my previous article titled “Living within our means for a better tomorrow” and was therefore prompted to share it with you this day.

The phrase, “Failing to make ends meet ” is common in Uganda and it means that a person has got into a pattern where their income does not cover the money they spend month after month. In our book, “Make Sense of Your Money” we describe this situation as having more months at the end of the money- meaning the salary gets finished several days before the next pay cheque. 

Recently, a group of people attending a personal money management course that I was facilitating shared with me their major spending mistakes;

Living above means was a major spending mistake mentioned, for instance having expenses to an amount that is twice your income. Another was relying on anticipated income i.e one of the participants said his biggest spending mistake arose out of spending money in anticipation of future income. However, the most common mistake was  the “What will people say syndrome” where several participants said their spending mistake was that they spent money out of fear of the opinion of other people and they cited several examples to illustrate this issue. By James Abola.

Astala vista…

Integrity: A virtue essential for personal and national economic development.

Yesterday, I was part of a market place convention held in Kampala, Uganda. This convention is held once every year and brings together Christians from different walks of life in the job market. For instance, some of the companies that were represented included Renault car company,Insurance Company of East Africa (ICEA), to mention but a few.

The theme for the night was Facing the Giants with the guest speaker being Mrs. Angela Kirabwire from Capital Markets Authority, Uganda. This convention is aimed at empowering christians with knowledge and skills required to prosper and leave a mark in whichever field they encounter. It also offers an opportunity for people to interact, network, and make connections in the job market.

Individuals who have been in the field of work for a long time (20 years or so) are given a platform to share their stories and experience in the job market. They also talk about the challenges encountered, how they handled them, as well as the crucial lessons learnt in the due process. This is meant to provide mentorship to the young graduates and those just starting out in their careers.

Mrs. Angela Kirabwire took the stage and put the theme of the night “Facing the Giants” into context using her story of about 20 years in the job market. She ably illustrated various scenarios in which she had been put in very compromising situations involving graft, bribery and corruption in its ultimate description. Angella then added that she stood firm by her values of Integrity inspite of the insurmountable consequences.

She later on emphasised the importance of giving our best and working diligently however small the tasks at hand seem to be. This lays a firm foundation on which we can slowly and progressively build our careers.

True economic development starts with people in the economy, and Integrity is a core value eessential for personal development.

If only every individual were to steward their resources faithfully, our economy would grow and develop exponentially!

Importance of forests with regards to food security.

My sense is that the most under-appreciated and perhaps most under-researched linkages between forests and food security are the roles that forest-based ecosystem services play in underpinning sustainable agricultural production. Forests regulate hydrological services including the quantity, quality, and timing of water available for irrigation. Forests mitigate the impact of climate change and extreme weather events at the landscape scale. Frances Seymour, Center for International Forestry Research.

Until next time…

Agriculture: Could be a gold mine for the youth in Uganda.

Agriculture is the backbone of Uganda’s economy with majority (both crops and livestock) on small farms for food and cash income, and on fairly large farms including ranches. The major livestock species include cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, rabbits, and poultry. From an economic point view, cattle are the most important livestock with significant contributions, though to a lesser extent from goats and sheep.

The major food crops in Uganda have been plaintains, millet, cassava, sweet potatoes, sorghum, corn, beans, and groundnuts. Over 80% of the population relies upon agriculture for its livelihood. This however doesnot reflect in the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). That is, most of the people in Uganda are involved in some way with agriculture , but they constitute a very small portion of the nation’s GDP.

This is evident in my neighborhood, just the other day, a friend of mine was telling me how almost every household has a small shamba(garden) in their backyard. These have vegetables, a few cassava stems, and fruits. Nonetheless, these shambas are on a very small scale which doesnot adequately satisfy the community, let alone national demand. The farming systems and practices are also fairly homogeneous and rudimentary with the locals using tools like pangas, hand-hoes, and slashers.

If only more emphasis and investment is put in the agricultural sector, it will play a huge role in curbing the ridiculous unemployment rates in Uganda (8 out of every 10 graduates are unemployed!) The sector could absorb these youths into different stages of the agricultural process i.e ploughing, planting, harvesting, marketing, etc.

In my opinion, agriculture if managed properly could be a sector flowing with milk and honey!

Until next time…

Living within our means for a better tomorrow.

Today, I was priviledged to attend a conference with the theme Power, Sex, and Money, the emphasis being on Money. Majority, if not all of the people in attendance were quite youthful, with some of them being students at university and others recently starting out in the job market.

The discussion at hand was very interesting and it involved the use of money in economic growth and development on a micro level. Very importantly though, it also encompassed how to make clean money that will last for years to come, in the process leading to progressive and sustainable macro economic development.

One of the guest speakers was Mr. Amos Wekesa, founder, Great Lakes Safaris ltd who also happens to be my mentor. He emphasised the importance of saving and living not only within, but also below our means.

He argued that this would potentially reduce the amount of debt that many people usually accumulate from unecessary liabilities like luxurious cars. These spending habits in many cases also result in the vicious cycle of borrowing. However; “When you save money, one day that money will save you.” Amos Wekesa added.

We should always endeavor to live within our means, and use the money that we have to make a positive and significant difference in our economy.

Until next time…