COVID-19 has changed how we live and work in ways that will alter our behaviour long after the pandemic subsides. There is an upside, however. New technology and the novel digitally savvy mindset that has emerged has created new opportunities for wealth creation, and even opened people’s eyes to older ones that may have existed in the background for quite a while.
Nelisiwe Masango – Financial Markets Analyst, CEO of Ubuntu Invest and one of Entrepreneur Magazine’s Top 50 Black African Women Entrepreneurs to Watch – shares a ray of light during challenging economic times. Nelisiwe believes that the entrepreneurial spirit can overcome financial hardship, given a touch of resourcefulness and determination.
“There has been a significant rise in retail investors (individuals who manage their own funds) since the beginning of the pandemic. With recent technological developments, financial markets are now more accessible than ever before. In fact, the market volume of over-the-counter trades has increased from 10% in 2004 to 47% in 2020.
“Even where there is limited start-up capital, fresh self-employment and independent income generation potential exists. In forex and commodities trading, for example, (and here, I speak from very personal experience) anyone can open a trading account starting from as little as $30 or R500. This provides global access to the markets without socio-economic restrictions or limitations. Alternatively, an affiliate programme allows you to partner with a trading firm to generate income – both from trading and from referrals. This can all be done remotely and on any connected Smart device or computer.
“If you are thinking of starting out in trading and have no idea what it entails yet, start by educating yourself. Research reputable trading companies with a proven track record. Look at reviews and make sure you don’t get caught off-guard. Then, you can start by downloading an app on either the Google Play Store or iOS App Store and open an account free of charge. For compliance and regulation purposes, you’ll need to upload your FICA (financial Intelligence Centre Act) documents (ID or passport and proof of residence not older than three months). A trading specialist should then be in touch to hold your hand through the entire learning process – so you can understand what trading is, how to navigate the platforms and how to access important resources.
“Setting up an essential self-employment or business toolkit in our current circumstances is easier than it was before – and more affordable. The pandemic has forced everyone to adapt to the digital transformation that is currently taking place. Previously, what would cost well over R50 000 in initial capital fees (for example, a small office, printer, desktop, internet contract etc), now costs considerably less by virtue of the new motto, ‘I’m working remotely’. Nowadays, all you need is data, a mobile device with a browser and social media to kickstart your entrepreneurial journey.
“One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in business is not to increase overhead costs unnecessarily. It’s vital that we remember that not all business models are the same, so we should never compare our businesses to anyone else’s. There is no shame in starting small.
“Ultimately, whether you are investing in a business or starting out as a trader – although I would not dare to give direct advice – try to keep a few risk management strategies in mind. I would strongly suggest that you avoid taking unnecessary financial risk at all. The current economic climate isn’t ideal, so what could’ve worked out pre-pandemic might take much longer now. Overextending yourself will almost certainly lead to more problems down the line. Whether you’re dealing with a business or placing a trade, try to eliminate risk as by not investing money that you need to get by or don’t have at-hand. Always protect yourself.
“I will close with a thought that has always carried me, and I have found particularly relevant in these strange times: The best you can do for yourself is to eliminate procrastination and doubt, and if not now, then when? If not you, then who? No matter what your circumstances and resources are, there is opportunity somewhere. And you can access it if you just use what you have. Most of all, try not to lose hope”.