Vancouver Ethiopian Blog

Ethiopian life in Vancouver, BC, Canada

A Boat Docked in a Tiny Mexican Fishing Village

I got the email below from a friend, and wanted to share with all of you out there …

In a nutshell, appreciate what you have, and be content with what you are blessed with.

A Boat Docked in a Tiny Mexican Fishing Village
A tourist complimented the local fishermen on the quality of their fish and asked how long it took them to catch the fish.

“Not very long.” they answered in unison. “Why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more?”

The fishermen explained that their small catches were sufficient to meet their needs and those of their families.

“But what do you do with the rest of your time?” “We sleep late, fish a little, play with our children, and take siestas with our wives. In the evenings, we go into the village to see our friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs. We have a full life.”

The tourist interrupted, “I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you! You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat.”

“And after that?”

“With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middle man,
you can then negotiate directly with the processing plants
and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York City!

From there you can direct your huge new enterprise.

“How long would that take?”

“Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years.” replied the tourist.

“And after that?”

“Afterwards? Well my friend, that’s when it gets really interesting”,
answered the tourist, laughing. “When your business gets really big, you can start buying and selling stocks and make millions!”

“Millions? Really? And after that?” asked the fishermen.

“After that you’ll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends.”

“With all due respect sir, but that’s exactly what we are doing now. So what’s the point wasting twenty-five years?” asked the Mexicans.

And the moral of this story is:

Know where you’re going in life…. you may already be there.

The beginning and the end of truth is truth.

======

My next blog entry will be on Thursday October 07, 2010.

Mullkam Samint!

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September 30, 2010 Posted by | Ethiopian Businesses, Ethiopian Careers, Ethiopian Citizenship, Ethiopian Culture, Ethiopian Education, Ethiopian History, Ethiopian Investments, Ethiopian Parenting, Ethiopian Proverbs, Ethiopians Back Home, Ethiopians in Vancouver | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Google Announces Transparency Report

On Tuesday September 21, 2010, Google announced their newest tool, the Transparency Report, which illustrates where and when Google sites are blocked.

Everyday Google receives requests from governments to take down certain content or hand over personal user data for an investigation.

Google believes that this new tool will show the extensive amount of government requests for censorship and data handovers worldwide.

What would Google accomplish by making this tool public? I believe that is to deter continued censorship; and in the process gain the trust of people all over the world.

Google Transparency Report will document not just government demands for Google to take down sites and hand over information, but also how often Google complies with these demands.

When a company such as Google publicly documents incidents with their service and how/when they responded, it gives them more accountability and thus more credibility.

It is re-assuring to know that Google has made its transparency report public, giving us the chance to see which country is blocking and censoring search results, and any information on the Internet.

Looking at the report, there is no a single African country listed in the interactive map reported for the period of 6 months, January 2010 to June 2010:

http://www.google.com/transparencyreport/governmentrequests/?p=2010-06

You can also see the report by country for a specific period of time in this graph:

http://www.google.com/transparencyreport/traffic/

Below is what is found in Google’s website

Transparency Report

Transparency is a core value at Google. As a company we feel it is our responsibility to ensure that we maximize transparency around the flow of information related to our tools and services. We believe that more information means more choice, more freedom and ultimately more power for the individual.

We’ve created an interactive map of Government Requests that shows the number of government inquiries for information about users and requests for Google to take down or censor content. We hope this step toward greater transparency will help in ongoing discussions about the appropriate scope and authority of government requests.

Our interactive Traffic graphs provide information about traffic to Google services around the world. Each graph shows historic traffic patterns for a given country/region and service. By illustrating outages, this tool visualizes disruptions in the free flow of information, whether it’s a government blocking information or a cable being cut. We hope this raw data will help facilitate studies about service outages and disruptions.

So, what do you think? Isn’t it great to know who has blocked that important information you were looking for? I do really appreciate this service. Thank you Google for yet another great tool!

My next blog entry will be on Thursday September 30, 2010.

Mullkam Samint!


September 23, 2010 Posted by | Ethiopian Businesses, Ethiopian Careers, Ethiopian Citizenship, Ethiopian Culture, Ethiopian Education, Ethiopian Investments, Ethiopian Media, Ethiopians & Technology, Ethiopians Back Home, Ethiopians in Vancouver | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ethiopia Devalued Its Currency (The Birr) by 17 Percent Against the US Dollar

Ethiopia has devalued her currency, the Birr.

The Birr (ETB) has been declining in its value for the past several years now. During the communist Ethiopia era (1974 to 1991), the currency was held at a constant exchange rate of $1 USD to 2.10 ETB.

The current government devalued the Birr back in 1993 to about 1 USD = 5 ETB. Since then, the Birr has been falling against the dollar. For example, about 2 years ago, in 2008, the exchange rate was $1 USD to 9.50 ETB. Then, $1 USD was trading at about 13.75 ETB for the past year or so.

Now, in its most recent adjustment on September 1, 2010, the Central Bank of Ethiopia has set the exchange rate at $1 USD to 16.35 ETB (that is about 17% devaluation).

Birr to other currencies converter is found here. You can also find other currency converters here:

Yes, when the Birr is devalued, it is good for those of us living abroad as our money goes further. However, for the vast majority of Ethiopians who are living in the country (now over 80 Million), life will get expensive as Ethiopia is a net importer of goods; from gasoline to machinery, to consumer goods.

I hope that the Central Bank of Ethiopia (http://www.nbe.gov.et and http://nbebank.com) will find the best equilibrium for the exchange rate as a sharply fluctuating rate is not good for any nation.

Below is an article by Bloomberg news regarding the devaluation:

Source: Bloomberg

Ethiopia devalued its currency, the birr, by 17 percent against the dollar, the third such move in the past 14 months, according to the National Bank of Ethiopia.

The exchange rate was quoted at 16.351 per dollar today compared with 13.628 yesterday, according to the website of the Addis Ababa-based central bank. It was trading at 11.381 on July 10 last year.

The devaluation will crimp imports and make it easier to boost foreign currency reserves. Ethiopia needs to raise its reserves to 3 months of import cover from 2.3 months to cushion its economy from external shocks, a June report from the International Monetary Fund said.

There is a “need for a 10 percentage point real exchange rate depreciation” in order to achieve that goal, the IMF said in the report.

Ethiopia’s trade deficit was expected to grow to $7 billion in the fiscal year to July 7 from $6.3 billion the year before, according to IMF figures.

Where is the ETB exchange rate heading? As I mentioned in my previous post, the Birr exchange rate to the dollar is estimated at 22. It is being artificially kept at a higher level.

The above Bloomberg article also suggests that, the the Central Bank of Ethiopia might need to devalue the currency to about 18 ETB to the dollar in the near future. So, those of you residing abroad, wait a while before purchasing a big ticket item in Ethiopia; and those planning to sell in Ethiopia and bring your proceeds abroad might want to sell now before the ETB is devalued again.

Ethiopian Professor Seid Hassan Murray State University Department of Economics and Finance

Photo: Professor Seid Hassan

An Ethiopian professor of Economics, Seid Hassan, has written a detailed analysis of the exchange rate adjustment. You can read the article by clicking here.

My next blog entry will be on Thursday September 23, 2010.

Mullkam Samint!

September 16, 2010 Posted by | Ethiopian Businesses, Ethiopian Calendar, Ethiopian Careers, Ethiopian Citizenship, Ethiopian Culture, Ethiopian Education, Ethiopian History, Ethiopian Holidays, Ethiopian Investments, Ethiopian Media, Ethiopian Parenting, Ethiopian Patriotism, Ethiopian Politics, Ethiopian Professors, Ethiopians & Technology, Ethiopians Back Home, Ethiopians in Vancouver | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Do Billionaires Spend Their Money?

I have come across some people, including some Ethiopians, who want to live beyond their means. Some actually keep dreaming to become millionaires. That is a great dream. But, if one plans to become a millionaire, saving and working starts at an early age.

The common trend among all millionaires and billionaires is that they tend to be very frugal with their money – after all that is why they have a lot of it because they save it and invest it.

According to the article below, there are 1,011 Billionaires in the world. One of them is an Ethiopian born Mohammed Al Amoudi.

Al Amoudi has chosen to invest a lot of money in Ethiopia (now over 2 Billion dollars). He is the second employer, after the government, in Ethiopia. Politics aside, I have seen first hand how the investment by Al Amoudi has paid off for so many. Some people have stated businesses by either getting grants from his office or working for one of his companies.

Unofficial website about Al Amoudi is found here.

Check out the following 2 links (videos) to see how the generosity of Al Amoudi has helped a lot of people in Ethiopia:

For those who are foolishly spending their hard earned money with out any financial plan, the following article by Investopedia’s Jean Folger is a must read.

7 Spending Tips From Frugal Billionaires

By Jean Folger, Investopedia
Thursday, September 2, 2010

Carlos Slim Helu (Carlos Slim), a telecom tycoon and billionaire with well-known frugal tendencies, has a net worth of U.S.$60.6 billion according to Forbes. Assuming no changes in his net worth, he could spend $1,150 a minute for the next 100 years before he ran out of money. To put this in perspective, he could spend in 13 minutes what a minimum-wage earner brings home after an entire year of the daily grind.

Granted, the world’s billionaires (all 1,011 of them) are in the debatably enviable position of having, quite literally, more money than they can possibly spend, yet some are still living well below their means, and save money in surprising places. Even non-billionaires (currently 6,864,605,142 of us) can partake in these seven spending tips from frugal billionaires.

Keep your home simple

Billionaires can afford to live in the most exclusive mansions imaginable – and many do, including Bill Gates’ sprawling 66,000-square-foot, $147.5 million mansion in Medina, Wash. – yet frugal billionaires like Warren Buffet choose to keep it simple. Buffet still lives in the five-bedroom house in Omaha that he purchased in 1957 for $31,500. Likewise, Carlos Slim has lived in the same house for more than 40 years.

Use self-powered or public transportation

Thrifty billionaires including John Caudwell, David Cheriton and Chuck Feeney prefer to walk, bike or use public transportation when getting around town. Certainly these wealthy individuals could afford to take a helicopter to their lunch meetings, or ride in chauffeur-driven Bentleys, but they choose to get a little exercise and take advantage of public transportation instead. Good for the bank account and great for the environment.

Buy your clothes off the rack

While some people, regardless of their net value, place a huge emphasis on wearing designer clothes and shoes, some frugal billionaires decide it’s simply not worth the effort, or expense. You can find David Cheriton, the Stanford professor who matched Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page to the venture capitalists at Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers (resulting in a large reward of Google stock), wearing jeans and a t-shirt.

Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of the furniture company Ikea, avoids wearing suits, and John Caudwell, mobile phone mogul, buys his clothes off the rack instead of spending his wealth on designer clothes.

Keep your scissors sharp

The average haircut costs about $45, but people can and do spend up to $800 per cut and style. Multiply that by 8.6 (to account for a cut every six weeks) and it adds up to $7,200 per year, not including tips. These billionaires can certainly afford the most stylish haircuts, buy many cannot be bothered by the time it takes or the high price tag for the posh salons. Billionaires like John Caudwell and David Cheriton opt for cutting their own hair at home.

Drive a regular car

While billionaires like Larry Ellison (co-founder and CEO of Oracle Corporation) enjoy spending millions on cars, boats and planes, others remain low key with their vehicles of choice. Jim Walton (of the Wal-Mart clan) drives a 15-year-old pickup truck. Azim Premji, an Indian business tycoon, reportedly drives a Toyota Corolla. And Ingvar Kamprad of Ikea drives a 10-year-old Volvo. The idea is to buy a dependable car, and drive it into the ground. No need for a different car each day of the week for these frugal billionaires.

Skip luxury items

It may surprise some of us, but the world’s wealthiest person, Carlos Slim (the one who could spend more than a thousand dollars a minute and not run out of money for one hundred years) does not own a yacht or a plane.
Many other billionaires have chosen to skip these luxury items. Warren Buffet also avoids these lavish material items, stating “Most toys are just a pain in the neck.”

What we can learn

Some of the world’s billionaires have frugal tendencies. Perhaps this thrifty nature even helped them make some of their money. Regardless, they have chosen to avoid some unnecessary spending (at least on their scale) and the 6,864,605,142 non-billionaires out there can follow suit, eliminating excessive, keep-up-with-the-Jones style spending.  No matter what a person’s income bracket is, most can usually find a way to cut back on frivolous spending, just like a few frugal billionaires.

So, what do you think? Do you spend your money foolishly or do you have a financial plan?

My next blog entry will be on Thursday September 16, 2010.

Mullkam Samint!

September 9, 2010 Posted by | Ethiopian Businesses, Ethiopian Careers, Ethiopian Citizenship, Ethiopian Culture, Ethiopian Education, Ethiopian History, Ethiopian Holidays, Ethiopian Investments, Ethiopian Media, Ethiopian Parenting, Ethiopian Patriotism, Ethiopian Politics, Ethiopian Restaurants, Ethiopians & Technology, Ethiopians Back Home, Ethiopians in Vancouver | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Owely: Instant Screenshot Capture & Sharing

I am sure that people need to capture screens of computers from time to time. Whether for report writing, or the need to backup of information, screenshots are great way to capture the moment.

There are many services for capturing screens – just to mention a couple – MS Paint, and Photoshop. One of my favoured ways to capture screens is by using a program called Owely (http://www.owely.com).

Owely is a hassle free and instant screenshot capturing service tool. It allows you to take a screenshot of the whole desktop or part of the screen, mark some comments on them, and then share them with your friends by sending links from within your Owely account. The process takes only a few seconds.

Here are the steps you need to follow to create screenshots:

1/ Go to http://www.owely.com

2/ Download and install the desktop client

3/ Log into your account

Note: Owely sits on your system tray where you can easily use it to capture a screenshot

4/ Create the desired screenshot

Note: Once you create a screenshot, you will be sent to the screenshot edit mode where you can draw on it, write a text, or crop the image

5/ Add a title and a description for your completed screenshot before uploading them directly to Owely

instant screenshot

You can use Owely for the purpose of taking notes, and webdesign collaborations.

Similar tools:

  • Screenpresso
  • Talon
  • SnapCasa
  • SuperScreenshots

So, what tool do you use for screen capture? Please share with us.

My next blog entry will be on Thursday September 09, 2010.

Mullkam Samint!

September 2, 2010 Posted by | Ethiopian Businesses, Ethiopian Careers, Ethiopian Citizenship, Ethiopian Education, Ethiopian Socials, Ethiopian Sports, Ethiopians & Technology, Ethiopians Back Home, Ethiopians in Vancouver | , , , | Leave a comment