Category: Investment

The Philippines Asia’s next tech tiger?

The Philippines Asia’s next tech tiger?

The Philippines could be Asia’s next tech tiger.  When my dear wife & I visited the Philippines nearly two years ago, we spent most of the time with Jean’s delightful family and touring around.  I was impressed at the scale of building work.  I saw architecturally interesting, clean bright looking buildings being erected, mainly apartments & offices. I could see so much potential in the Philippines, it is a growing SE Asian economy. Their use and development of IT is as good as any developed country.

If the infamous and exposed corrupt (Napoles et al) Pork Barrel PDAF  budget systems are corrected soon, this potential would be unleashed to improve the economy to benefit the hard-working & innovative Filipino people.  The IT industry is growing in the Philippines and cyber hubs are growing. This is no surprise, as I find Filipinos are natural engineers and problem solvers. Many are electronic , hardware engineers, computer coders, programmers  who enjoy embracing technology.  However those who have the skills tend to migrate to more prosperous countries, which have better infrastructure.

The internet infrastructure in the Philippines needs drastic improvement.  Only the ‘social surfing elite’ having decent connection speeds.  This severely hampers those who need faster broadband speeds needed to develop cyber innovation and therefore generate income to the nation.

Below is an interesting BBC news item about the Philippines emergence in technology.

The Philippines may have the fastest-growing economy in South East Asia but it also has the slowest internet in the region. Despite this, some think they have spotted an opportunity that could turn the country into Asia’s next tech tiger. Aurora Almendral met some of the true believers. On paper, the Philippines has all the ingredients of an emerging tech tiger: a fast-growing middle class with money to spend; a 100-million strong, largely English-speaking, population addicted to social media; plus low labour and operating costs.

But go anywhere on the islands and you’ll notice frustrated faces on many of those with a handheld device in their palm.

Internet speeds are atrocious – a measly 3.6 megabits per second (Mbps), well below the regional average of 12.4 Mbps. Never mind the US average of 22.3 or near neighbour Singapore with 61 Mbps.

Peter Fabian

“We see the Philippines as a good testing market”

Peter FabianInternet entrepreneur

Coverage is patchy at best for mobile. Venture outside of the cities and you might as well be in the 1990s.

In the words of Peter Fabian, a recently arrived tech entrepreneur, to any seasoned Silicon Valley investor the Philippines looks like “the end of the world. For years, the Philippines lagged behind the rest of South East Asia, and entrepreneurs looking for the next tech hub overlooked the country for other nearby booming economies, like Thailand and Singapore. But, says Mr Fabian: “We see the Philippines as a good testing market.” After researching emerging markets across the globe, he decided on the Philippines for his start-up, which aims to use big data to build a credit card company aimed at the middle class who are not customers of traditional banks. Furthermore, there are a lot of unexplored opportunities and, with few experienced tech entrepreneurs around, not much competition. Mr Fabian was also attracted to the fact that, as a former US colony, the country shares many US institutions and has a similar culture, making the Philippines feel very familiar.

Group of Filipinos using mobile phones

More than 60% of Filipinos have smartphones.

“The attitude towards foreigners is very welcoming, which cannot be said of a lot of people in Asia,” says Mr Fabian. The Philippine start-up scene is small, but people are starting to trickle in. Some are adapting Western products to the local market, like fast fashion ecommerce, daily deals sites or taxi service apps. Others, like Ron Hose, a Silicon Valley-bred, Manila-based entrepreneur and investor, are looking at solutions to more local challenges.

There are a second set of problems that are unique to emerging markets that companies and entrepreneurs in developing countries are not really building products for,” he says. “An entrepreneur sitting in an office in Silicon Valley,” Mr Hose says, “is not thinking about the problems of a Filipino who is sitting in a Jeepney [local taxi] for an hour and a half a day to go to work, or whose home gets flooded 10 times a year during typhoons.” Mr Hose’s company,, provides financial services for people without bank accounts. He says that while each country is unique, there are big fundamental problems that are common across emerging markets, such as lack of access to education or the fact that people are unbanked. “If you solve one of these needs, then the market is larger than any one of these countries. If you can solve banking for people in the Philippines, you can solve it for 500 million people in South East Asia,” he says.

Richard Eldridge is another tech entrepreneur based in Manila. He co-founded Lenddo, an on-line loan company that wants to help consumers use their social media activity to develop creditworthiness, giving them access to financial services. He has been working in the Philippines since 2001, and has had a front row seat for the Philippines’ economic growth.

Ron Hose, co-founder of Coins.phRon Hose believes his on-line site will be a breakthrough service for the middle classes in emerging markets

He previously ran a large outsourcing company, and found that many of his employees – the very middle classes he seeks to serve – kept asking him for loans. “It fascinated me that they were coming to me and not going to a bank and getting loans,” Mr Eldridge says. He left the multinational in 2011 to start Lenddo with New York-based chief executive Jeff Stewart. The Philippines remains Lenddo’s home base and largest market but in the past year it has expanded to Mexico and Colombia and is looking at 30 other emerging countries.

Local problems, local solutions

While foreigners have made a mark in the Philippine start-up sector, most entrepreneurs are locals, solving local problems. Norris Jay Perez was a programmer for a small company before he struck out on his own in 2009. For four years he tried and failed at 10 different start-up ideas before coming up with Apptivate, a platform that allows smartphone users without credit cards to buy apps. He had the idea when he wanted to buy an app for his second-hand smartphone but could not because he did not have a credit card. Nearly 60% of Filipinos own a smartphone, computer or tablet, significantly higher than comparable emerging markets such as India, Vietnam or Indonesia. Mr Perez says that only 3% use Apptivate and he believes he is tapping into a large market with plenty of room to grow. However, spotty mobile coverage and slow internet speeds are hampering adoption. Mr Perez admits he spends time fielding emails from Apptivate customers, frustrated because slow and patchy mobile internet connections kept them from downloading apps they had already paid for.

Limited local talent

The situation has attracted the ire of Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, who requested a Senate investigation to find out the cause of slow internet speeds in the Philippines and how it was affecting the ease of doing business. “Lack of good internet is going to slow down economic growth in the Philippines, that I know for sure,” says Ron Hose of But he adds: “It’s not going to slow down tech entrepreneurs.” He thinks the bigger issues are an underdeveloped funding infrastructure and a lack of tech talent. “The good ones have left for Singapore or Hong Kong. It makes it hard for tech entrepreneurs to operate here,” he says. Lenddo solves its talent shortfall by outsourcing the most complex data engineering work to New York, while hiring the rest of its team locally. For now, the Philippine tech industry is for true believers, willing to build not just a business, but an industry from the ground up.

Mining Asteroids A New Venture

Asteroid Mining Asteroids A New Venture


Mining for minerals, precious stones and metals from our small planet earth has been undertaken by humans since around 4000 BC, when our stone age ancestors mined stone such as flint to make axes and tools. Since then we have plundered our planet for any mineral that could be used for fuel, manufacturing for most of what we use today including ever increasing demands electronic goods, smartphones, tablets computers  and jewellery.

Our earth has only a finite amount of these resources in terms of  minerals and metals which are  becoming scarcer and harder to mine, alternative sources are now being looked at beyond our pale blue dot of a planet!

Asteroids which orbit our sun and sometimes wander close (not too close we hope) to earth are thought to contain an abundance of the stuff we need.

With more nations and private enterprises now launching  space craft and looking to develop  fast evolving space related technology, instead of visiting these heavenly bodies to  map, take amazing  photos and get the odd sample, these new space industries want to mine asteroids. Instead of the famous Californian Gold Rush of the mid 1800s and misquote  “There’s gold in them thar hills”.   We may say there is gold and more in them space rocks.

The BBC reported that a new venture is joining the effort to extract mineral resources on asteroids.

The announcement of plans by Deep Space Industries to exploit the rare metals present in the space rocks turns asteroid mining into a two-horse race.

The other venture, Planetary Resources, went public with its proposals last year.

Advocates of asteroid mining hope it could turn into a trillion-dollar business, but some scientists are highly sceptical of the idea.

Deep Space Industries wants to send a fleet of asteroid-prospecting spacecraft out into the Solar System to hunt for resources.

These spacecraft, which the company has dubbed “Fireflies”, would use low-cost CubeSat components and benefit from discounted delivery to space by ride-sharing on the launch of larger communications satellites.

The Fireflies would have a mass of about 55 lb (25 kg) and be launched for the first time in 2015 on journeys of two to six months.

The company then wants to launch bigger spacecraft – which it calls “Dragonflies” – for round-trip visits that bring back samples.

These expeditions would take two to four years, depending on the target, and would return 60 to 150 lbs of material from target asteroids.

Arkyd Planetary Resources was the first firm to announce asteroid mining proposals

“Using resources harvested in space is the only way to afford permanent space development,” said the company’s chief executive David Gump.

“More than 900 new asteroids that pass near Earth are discovered every year. They can be like the Iron Range of Minnesota was for the Detroit car industry last century – a key resource located near where it was needed. In this case, metals and fuel from asteroids can expand the in-space industries of this century.”

Asteroids could yield precious minerals such as gold, platinum and rare-Earth metals. But some are also thought to harbour water ice, which could be used as a raw material for the manufacture of rocket propellant or even breathable air.

The other firm in the mining race, Planetary Resources, has backing from several billionaire investors, including Google’s Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, software executive Charles Simonyi and film maker James Cameron.

That company wants to start by launching orbiting telescopes that would identify suitable asteroid targets for mineral exploitation.

However, some scientists struggle to see how cost-effective asteroid mining could be, even with the high value of gold and platinum.

Also what percentage of asteroids would contain material worth mining?

They point out that an upcoming Nasa mission to return just 60g (two ounces) of material from an asteroid will cost about $1bn.

The Ruffle

Dead-DonkeyJean Paul, a Cajun, moved to Texas and bought a donkey from an old farmer for $100.  The farmer agreed to deliver the donkey the next day.

The next day the farmer drove up and said, “Sorry, but I’ve got some bad news.  The donkey is dead.”

“Well, just give me my money back.”

“Can’t do that.  I went and spent it already.”

“Ok then, just unload the donkey.”

“What you gonna do with him?”

“I’m gonna ruffle him off.”

“You can’t ruffle off a dead donkey?!”

“Sure, I can.  Watch me.  I just won’t tell everyone he is dead.”


A month later the farmer met the Cajun and asked, “What happened with the dead donkey?”

“I ruffled him off and sold 500 tickets for $2 each and made a profit of $898.”

“Didn’t anyone complain?”

“Just the guy who won and I gave his $2 back.”



This makes you think, doesn’t it?  There is something not quite right about it but that is capitalism for you! LOL

£10bn Boost to the Economy

Wow £10bn boost to the economy, more money that I can ever count!!! LOL

Sad thing is that I am not feeling this boost to the economy, if there was indeed a boost it certainly did not trickle to our everyday life. Not one cent!!!

I can only conclude that UK is filled with black holes, which voraciously gobble up pounds after pounds sterling and we hardworking taxpayers are left with almost next to nothing but the odd pennies here and there now and again.


2012 Olympics Have Given UK A £10bn Boost

Sky NewsBy Paul Kelso, Sports Correspondent | Sky News – 5 minutes ago

2012 Olympics Have Given UK A £10bn Boost

2012 Olympics Have Given UK A £10bn Boost

The UK economy has received a £10bn trade and investment boost from the London Olympic and Paralympic Games, according to a new report.

The boost comes from businesses securing contract wins, additional sales and new foreign investment in the last year, the report said.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “This £9.9bn boost to the UK economy is a reminder to the world that, if you want the best, if you want professionalism, if you want jobs done on time and on budget then you should think British.

“With companies across the country we are harnessing the Olympic momentum and delivering the lasting business legacy of the Games that will help make Britain a winner in the global race.

“But that’s not where the good news ends. The Games are also delivering a strong social legacy.

“Last summer, Games Makers changed the way Britain views volunteering. Since then, thousands of people have been inspired to get involved with their local sports clubs.”

Research carried out for the Government suggests that over the long term the total benefit could reach up to £41bn by 2020.

But a poll conducted exclusively for Sky News suggests a lasting legacy for sport and volunteering is proving harder to achieve.

The poll found that while more than half of respondents believe the Games delivered on their promise to “inspire a generation”, the vast majority were unmoved to take up a new sport or commit to volunteering.

Asked if London 2012 had inspired them to take up a new sport or recreation activity, 88% said it had not.

Among existing participants there was also very little impact, with 80% of those asked saying the Olympics had not prompted them to do more sport.

Among volunteers there was a similar picture, with 89% of respondents saying they had not increased the amount of time they gave as a result of the Olympic example.

Just 6% said they had done more and 3% said they had done less.

While the results challenge the notion that the Olympics could transform behaviour, they do offer some comfort to organisers of what was otherwise a hugely successful Olympics.

Among 16 to 18-year-olds, responses were more positive, with 20% saying they had tried a new sport, 31% saying they had done more sport and 21% saying they had spent more time volunteering.

The poll also revealed mixed attitudes to the Games one year on.

Asked if the Olympics were value for the near £9bn spent on staging them, 41% of people said they were good or very good value for money, while 30% felt they were not worth the investment.

As to whether Britain should stage the Games again the poll revealed a split, with 40% in favour and the same percentage opposed to repeating the 2012 experiment.

Despite these findings, key figures in the Olympic project insist that the Games are delivering on the legacy promises.

Lord Sebastian Coe, chairman of the organising committee and now the Prime Minister’s legacy ambassador, told Sky News: “I think in large part we have inspired.

“Look at waiting lists in sports clubs, they are both optimistic and challenging, but I think there are more people playing sport, and a good chunk of them are young people.”

Lord Coe said his experience was that the appetite was particularly keen in schools.

“I’ve spent a lot of time in the last year, particularly with my legacy work in schools, in primary schools, secondary schools and even in colleges.

“And there’s no doubt at all that PE teachers – and certainly teachers – that did not get sport up until the Games recognise that there is a very powerful momentum and that young people want more sport and so do their parents.”

Sports minister Hugh Robertson said participation was growing, citing Sport England figures that show 1.4 million more people doing sport at least once a week than before London successfully bid for the Games.

“The legacy is undoubtedly genuine,” said Mr Robertson.

“More people are playing sport now than when we started on the Olympic journey, but this was never ever going to be one smooth uphill journey.

“I am delighted to say that for the first time, with stability of funding and the same policies in place year after year after year, we are beginning to see the participation dividend that we all looked for at the time of the bid.”

To Buy or To Let, that is the Question!!!

 Apparently, these days are a buyer’s market.  In some cases, it is cheaper to buy rather than renting.  That is well and good for those who are employed and trying to climb the ladder of property ownership.
But how easy is it to buy a property, let alone get a mortgage?
Who qualifies for a mortgage?
Who is left holding the baby/mortgage payment, when everything goes wrong?

Is buying a home cheaper than renting? – 20 hours ago


A combination of plummeting mortgage costs and soaring monthly rents has meant that buying a home is now on average £120 cheaper than renting across the UK – and the gap has widened in the last year

According to Halifax, the monthly costs associated with buying a three-bedroom house are now 16% lower than renting one, and this has risen from 14% in 2011.

Average mortgage costs are £621 a month, compared to typical monthly rent of £741, says the bank. Over a year this amounts to a healthy saving of £1,140 for homeowners.

Of course, UK averages belie a wide disparity in both house prices and rents across the country. In Yorkshire and the Humber for example, average monthly buying costs are just £1 lower than average monthly rental costs (£482 against £483).

At the other end of the scale, in London, buying is far more affordable than renting, at £1,101 compared to £1,294, a monthly difference of £193.

On the face of it, buying looks like a smart option for the financially savvy, but is that really the case?

What about the deposit?

What the figures don’t include is the deposit needed to get onto the housing ladder in the first place. In fact, on checking the small print I discovered that the study works out the cost of paying a mortgage based on an average 73% loan-to-value (LTV) – in other words they assume that the borrower has a 27% deposit to put down.

If you are a first-time buyer in rented accommodation, that’s quite an assumption! Based on Halifax’s most recent house price index, the average UK property price is just shy of £163,000, and 27% of this is a whopping £44,000.

Those with less to put down will naturally have a larger mortgage, which will be more expensive to repay. And remember that lenders charge higher rates of interest to borrowers with small deposits, so you could find that buying doesn’t end up as cheap as you first thought compared to renting.

Of course, the Halifax figures are averages, and are designed to give a snapshot of the market, not to reflect the reality in every postcode of the UK.

What is clear from the report is that mortgage costs have been falling as a result of lower mortgage rates, which is good news for those who can get onto the ladder in the first place. But you need a deposit for that!

However, you also need to work out what’s best for you – taking the plunge into the property market or continuing to rent?

Reasons to rent

Renting has a lot going for it. First and foremost, it gives you a level of freedom that is simply not possible when you are a homeowner. So if you are offered a job at the other end of the country, no problem. You can simply move, after giving notice, which is usually a month or two if you have been in the property a while.

Secondly, house prices aren’t exactly booming in many parts of the UK, so you aren’t missing out by not buying right now. The longer you can save, the more you will have to put down on a home and this will reduce your mortgage costs.

Thirdly, renting may be pricey but at least you don’t have to consider all the other costs of homebuying, like Stamp Duty, mortgage fees, legal fees and the survey on your new home, which can add up to thousands. In addition, when you own a home you are responsible for maintenance which can be extremely costly. Renters just pick up the phone and get their landlord to fix the problem.

Despite these obvious perks of renting we are still a nation of homeowners, and aspiring homeowners. And for good reason – there are plenty of benefits to owning your own property.

Better off buying?

Firstly, there is security of tenure with owning your own home. Nobody can give you notice to leave (providing you have met all your mortgage repayments).

Secondly, you can do what you want with your own property (within limits) – paint the walls, refit the kitchen, convert the loft. You own it and can adapt it to your own taste. Many tenants are afraid to even put up paintings for fear of their landlord deducting money from their deposit for pin holes in the walls.

Thirdly, you are slowly chipping away at your debt and buying an asset, probably the biggest one of your life. Many people believe that renting is throwing money down the drain, and buying represents a better use of your money because part of your monthly repayments is going towards paying off your debt. At the same time you could benefit from a rise in property prices over the long term, which would increase your equity stake (of course, prices may also fall!).

If you are thinking of taking that first step onto the property ladder below are some of the best mortgages around right now:

Mortgages for people with a small deposit

LenderType of mortgage
RateFeeMax LTV
Chelsea BS2-year fix3.69%£1,69590%
Post Office2-year fix3.75%£1,49590%
Yorkshire BS**2-year fix3.79%£99590%
The Co-op Bank5-year fix3.79%£99985%
Hanley Economic BS3-year discount4.19%£55090%
Loughborough BS5-year fix4.24%£59990%
Norwich & Peterborough Building Society5-year fix4.79%£29590%
Loughborough BS5-year fix4.99%£9995%

Mortgages for those with a larger deposit

LenderType of mortgage
RateFeeMax LTV
Chelsea BS2-year fix1.89%£1,69560%
HSBC*2-year fix1.98%£1,99960%
Yorkshire BS**2-year fix1.99%£99560%
Nationwide BS2-year tracker2.34%£99960%
Yorkshire BS**2-year tracker2.44%£99575%
Yorkshire BS**2-year fix2.49%£99575%
Nationwide BS3-year fix2.69%£995 (£499 for FTBS)70%
First Direct5-year fix2.69%£1,99965%
Loughborough BS2-year fix2.79%£59980%
Post Office5-year fix2.74%£99560%
Chelsea BS5-year fix2.89%£1,69575%

* HSBC offer only available direct from provider – Call 0808 256 1384 to find out more.

** Yorkshire Building Society offer only available direct from provider – Call 0808 149 5918  to find out more.

Research all the best deals yourself using our online mortgage service, or speak directly to a whole-of-market, fee-free broker. Call 0800 073 1939.

This article aims to give information, not advice. Always do your own research and/or seek out advice from an FSA-regulated broker.

Finally, we tend to only give the initial rate of a deal in our articles, but any deal which lasts for a shorter period than your mortgage term may revert to the lender’s standard variable rate or a tracker rate when the deal ends. Before you take out a deal, you should always try to find out from your lender what its standard variable rate is and how it will be determined in the future. Make sure you take all this information into account when comparing different deals.

Your home or property may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.

Designer Pudsey Bears 2012

Shown below are some of the most stylish and beautiful on auction for the  BBC Children in Need charity appeal for 2012. Various top designers around have produced custom made teddy bears based  on the iconic Children in Need mascot Pudsey Bear. To those who bid at the auction and won – congratulations to you! You have not only helped provide funds to help children needing special support, but you have also made a very wise investment for yourselves.




Gucci Pudsey Bear

Pucci Pudsey Bear


Henry Holland Pudsey Bear


Tom Ford Pudsey Bear

Prada Pudsey Bear

Paul Smith Pudsey Bear

Mulberry Pudsey Bear

Louis Vuitton Pudsey Bear


Vivienne Westwood Pudsey Bear

Victoria-Beckham Pudsey Bear

Versace Pudsey Bear


Vogue Pudsey BearPrada Pudsey Bear