ALL BETS ARE OFF FOR UNCERTAIN FUTURE OF SA GAMBLING

On 15 November 2015 the Department of Trade and Industry was expected to release the results of industry commentary regarding their policy document aimed at improving legislation for gambling industry regulation in South Africa, and could determine which businesses may or may not operate legally in the sector.

This discussion has come to the forefront due to the need for revised laws which accommodate for both the traditional and online betting and gambling sectors, and to put clear projections in place for the mandate of the National Gambling Board – the body responsible for ensuring effective and consistent enforcement of the National Gambling Act and its statutes.

According to Tasoulla Hadjigeorgiou, CEO of Lottostar.co.za, the renewed policies seek to address the occurrence and negative consequences of illegal or irresponsible gambling, but should also work towards creating a healthy, effectively regulated industry in which legal service providers can operate. “This can be achieved through effective and transparent laws, which are laid out after a full review of the industry,” says Hadjigeorgiou. “In order to ensure enforceable and clearly understandable parameters of the gambling and betting sector in South Africa, there is a need for all stakeholders to participate in sharing valuable insights and knowledge ahead of the negotiations of the new amendments.”

Hadjigeorgiou adds that this will assist with enabling a comprehensive and practical approach to policy making, which address both traditional gambling and betting legislation, as well as that geared towards the rapidly evolving virtual gaming landscape.

“As we rapidly move into the advanced digital age, the fast pace of new betting and gambling technologies which have become available has seen legislation having a tough time keeping up,” says Hadjigeorgiou. “As a result, many legislations have become irrelevant or contradictory to new developments and capabilities of the industry.”

Without clear control and enforcement, significant industry challenges have arisen in the sector under the current legislation. These include the proliferation of illegally operated online betting sites, as well as inconsistencies. These include contradicting policies at a national level versus provincial policies, which create limitations and hurdles for legal operators – factors which discourage industry development and investment.

“With the cooperation of industry stakeholders and governing bodies, it is possible to create a market for gambling and betting in South Africa that offers opportunities such as economic growth, job creation and profitability,” Hadjigeorgiou concludes.

[THOUGHT LEADERSHIP]: FEMALE MENTORSHIP CRUCIAL FOR WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS SUCCESS

This article first appeared on My Newsroom and on the front page of the Citizen Newspaper in October 2015 

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Tashline Jooste, CEO at the Innovator Trust.

A report on Women-Driven Entrepreneurship within the ICT sector reveals that gender relevant issues were of great concern to female entrepreneurs. While SMME and entrepreneurship within the ICT space is on the radar of government and the private sector’s developmental agenda, female-focussed mentorship and development is much needed.

Tashline Jooste, CEO at the Innovator Trust, an enterprise development organisation which focusses on accelerating black female owned ICT SMMEs, says that in order to address the concerns of women in ICT, there is a significant necessity for collaboration and alignment among women. “An ideal solution to this can be found in the incorporation of mentorship initiatives, targeted specifically at female entrepreneurs and business owners,” she explains. “With dedicated mentors involved, an SMME is more likely to succeed in the long term.”

The growth and success of many female-owned SMMEs can sometimes become stagnated due to various challenges and hurdles which may impact a business’s sustainability. Some hindrances are attributed to a lack of support and mentorship from fellow female entrepreneurs in the ICT space.

“Mentorship for female entrepreneurs is a critical piece of the puzzle for a well-functioning business,” says Jooste. “There is a serious need for female mentors in the ICT arena to offer support and guidance from a common ground perspective. Having a mentor who is empathetic and mutually understanding to female-specific scenarios in the workplace assists in creating motivated and committed female entrepreneurs who prosper and thrive in the ICT sector,” says Jooste.

Female mentorship offers various benefits to a new female entrepreneur such as compelling leadership, as well as support and encouragement with coping in a male dominated industry. Jooste says, “This requires the ongoing training and honing of skills and business processes, through constant guidance by the mentor. The process will provide the mentee with a library of methods and strategies that they will be able to draw on throughout their business career.”

According to Jooste, already successful female business leaders need to be encouraged to ‘pay it forward’ and get involved with supporting new female entrepreneurs. “By imparting knowledge and lessons learnt through experience to new females joining the industry, we can help ensure there are strong and innovative female entrepreneurs, adding to the foundation for a competitive economy,” concludes Jooste.

SA STUDENTS GET LOW MARKS ON BUDGETING

A recent survey by Student Village revealed that South Africa’s students may be driving themselves into debt while at university. The survey, which features insight from over 3000 students from universities across the country, found that the top purchases eating into student budgets across a range of demographics include indulgences such as alcohol, clothing, jewellery, takeaways and music.

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“Considering the alarming numbers of students who are unable to afford their living costs, resulting in situations such as the 600,000 students who were without adequate housing at the beginning of this year, it is crucial that youth education on responsible spending habits is prioritised,” says Wikus Olivier debt management expert at DebtSafe.

The report reflects that over 86% of students rely on outside sources of income, including loans from family and contacts, while encouragingly, over a third of respondents indicated that they funded themselves through full or part-time jobs. “However, the real issue is how these funds are allocated – crucial expenses such as rent, transportation and educational costs need to take a much higher priority in a student budget. Insufficient funds for these essentials could easily lead to unnecessary borrowing and over-indebtedness, which can have a range of serious, long-term consequences.”

“Many students are unaware of the importance of saving, and tend to ‘live in the moment’ – spending money on items based on instant gratification rather than actual needs,” says Olivier. “However, the steeply rising cost of living means that budgets are being stretched to the limit, and while the occasional treat can do wonders, students who care about their financial future should save rather than spend.”

Olivier offers the following advice to students:

  • Immediately put aside ample funds to cover essentials such as accommodation, student fees, food and transport on paydays. Doing this ensures that even if you do spend in other areas, it will not affect your key needs.
  • Save money on school supplies where possible. Buy or rent used textbooks and sell last semester’s books. Don’t buy books you will only need for a short period of time – check them out from the library instead.
  • Make use of facilities offered to you by your college/university. Look into a campus gym versus a gym outside. Many colleges/universities offer memberships for free or at a reduced rate for students. Don’t buy the most expensive college meal plans. Figure out what you actually consume and get the correlating package. Take advantage of what your campus has to offer in terms of activities, rather than spending money on going out. Many campuses have an array of museums, offer movie nights and other social events for cheaper or, sometimes, for free.
  • Walk, use public transportation or ride a bike instead of having a car.
  • Live with others so you can split rent and utilities.
  • Open a savings account that earns interest. Put money in here very month. It does not need to be a fixed amount, whatever you can afford at the time. You will be surprised how much you have saved up after 12 months.
  • Never take out a loan for anything that’s unrelated to your education. It’s not worth it and you will regret it in the long run. Avoid credit in any form, and rather save up and use cash to make purchases.

“Saving helps you build a financially secure future, on which you will be able to build a fruitful and positive life. By following a few basic guidelines and practicing self-discipline, students are able to safeguard themselves against financial crisis and set themselves up for a successful future,” Olivier concludes.

 

LEGISLATION ON ALTERNATIVE MEDICINES VITAL FOR CONSUMERS

download (3)New legislation being introduced to monitor and regulate the use of complementary and alternative medicines (CAMs) should be welcomed in order to ensure that consumers who opt to use such products are fully aware of the benefits, or lack thereof.

This is according to Graham Anderson, CEO and Principal Officer at Profmed, who says that while CAMs may be hailed as potential cures for a broad range of ailments, some claim that the use of CAMs can often have little to no effect, or worse, even be detrimental to one’s health.

“It is concerning that products are being sold commercially in South Africa which have not been properly regulated and tested. These products often feature strong claims within their marketing campaigns, outlining the supposed health benefits. Furthermore, some of these products, which are often thought to be herbal, contain toxic ingredients such as arsenic, lead and mercury,” says Anderson.

In light of this, the Minister of Health released amendments to the Medicines and Related Substances Act at the end of 2013 which stated that all CAMs will now have to be regulated by the Medicines Control Council (MCC).

According to the Chairman of the Health Products Association, Norman Fels, a number of deaths have even been attributed to the use of untested alternative drugs. “Due to this worrying trend, government has been forced to establish a legal framework to regulate the CAM industry and its associated products,” explains Anderson. “These new regulations state that all alternative medicines need to be registered with the MCC and all producers will now need to provide proof of safety and efficacy.”

According to the amendments, manufacturers and wholesalers of these products need to be licensed, and are required to comply with new labelling requirements which inform consumers that the product is ‘not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease’ because it has not been clinically tested.

The Pretoria High court is set to give a response to the Health Products Association of South Africa (HPASA) on their petitions, which were submitted to the court last year to dispute the amendments made by government. The HPASA has strongly rebutted the new amendments made by government, citing that it is unfair to treat CAMs in the same way as conventional pharmaceuticals. However, the fact remains that most homeopathic medicines have not undergone clinical studies which can prove cause and effect, although many continue to claim to offer similar benefits to their regulated conventional counterparts.

At the same time, the Medicines Control Council in South Africa states that there are in fact a significant number of complementary and alternative medicines which have ‘well-established medicinal use with recognised efficacy and an acceptable level of safety’.

“There is currently a high level of uncertainty around the effectiveness and safety of CAM products, and until their claims can be proven and clarified, few medical schemes will cover consultations and prescriptions for such treatment,” says Anderson.

“We would strongly recommend individuals ensure that they understand all the facts about any medication before consuming it, as not only could you be wasting both your time and money on ineffective remedies – it could actually result in doing more harm than good to your body.”

Exercise the way you feel comfortable

This article first appeared on Grazia Daily on 10 September, 2015

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Image: Instagram.com/lovelypepa

‘Gymtimidation’ has become a real worry for people looking to lose weight and be healthy. It’s something which affects a large percentage of our population because the perception attached to regular workouts in the gym often intimidates new or potential members.

The image of skinny girls in crop tops and booty shorts is what comes to mind when we think about gym and this has made people, mainly women who are trying to get into shape, feel ashamed of attending a gym. They become self-conscious of what people will say/think of them and therefore don’t go.

Gareth Powell, sports science and nutritional expert at USN, suggests ways in which you can conquer gymtimidation:

·         Don’t compare yourself to anybody. Your only competition is yourself. You don’t know the other person’s story, what drives them and how long they have been training. Research shows that the main reason why people refrain from attending a gym is because of psychological reasons. They are either afraid of being laughed at, fear of the environment or are uncomfortable in their own skin because ‘fit and beautiful’ surrounds them.

·         If you’re worried about entering a gym and not knowing what to do, where to start and how to use the machines, ask one of the knowledgeable and friendly floor staff. You can even log on to YouTube and search for different video tutorials that show you how to work every muscle and even learn fun routines to practice at home so you know what to do at the gym. Also explore the possibility of getting a personal trainer to show you the reigns and get you into a workout routine to ease your fear. This will help you train with the correct form and will avoid you injuring yourself as a result.

·         Find a gym or fitness alternative which suits you best. There are many alternatives to a commercial gym available to you.  If it’s not your thing, try new workouts lie outdoor planned fitness classes, running clubs or CrossFit – which is hardcore High intensity Interval Training exercises performed under restricted time constraints. There are also gyms for unique needs such as Roark and Curves; entering these gyms if you are uncomfortable with your weight are not as intimidating.

·         Dress in a way that makes you comfortable and not the way you feel you should dress. This doesn’t mean that you should get the most expensive and trendy clothes for the gym, it’s about having the right underwear, pants, shoes and socks. This is important for you to feel comfortable, confident and to avoid injuries.

·         Popping in earphones and working out to a playlist of music you love will also ease anxiety by blocking out the people and gear around you. It’ll make you feel less self-conscious and more in your own world.

·         Join a group class. This will help you blend into your surroundings, help you socialise and make friends to gym with while increasing your fitness level in a fun way.

“Gym should not be a place which is feared but rather a place which improves people’s health and wellness. Don’t let your mind get the better of you. By following the above tips – you will not be a victim of gymtimidation,”says Powell. “Take it a day at a time and always remain positive and have a goal in mind. Remember your mind the most powerful tool you have at your disposal.”

Uber taxi service poses new liability challenges

This article first appeared on Bizcommunity.com on 13 July, 2015
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Questions around passenger liability have been raised when making use of Uber, the real-time cab sharing application and taxi service.
According to Lizette Erasmus, head of insurance expertise at IntegriSure, the rise of services like Uber can be credited to more individuals seeing this as a safer transport alternative, especially in high-risk situations such as after consuming alcohol, or at odd hours of the evening.

“The liability challenges lie in that when an accident does occur, it becomes difficult to determine where accountability lies. Insurance companies need to carefully reassess policies provided in this instance. In the same way, policy holders – whether they are passengers or drivers – need to ensure that they have the appropriate cover in situations such as these.”

Own insurance
According to Uber, each driver contracted by the organisation is responsible for getting their own passenger liability insurance, as they are independent contractors.

“This type of insurance protects the passenger, should the driver be deemed liable for the cause of an accident,” Erasmus explains.

“It is important that every Uber driver has this type of policy in place for business purposes, as opposed to personal purposes. This is to ensure full passenger protection, as well as their personal financial protection.” There have been incidents in certain countries where insurance providers denied the claims of drivers due to them only being in possession of personal cover and not business liability insurance, which means the drivers in question were forced to cover the costs of damages directly out of their own pockets.

In a break-through USA case, however, a Californian court found that Uber drivers are not contractors, but can be defined as employees. As a result, this case found that the Uber organisation itself, rather than the drivers, may be liable for insurance payments.

Legislative changes
“Rulings like this could change the responsibility matrix in terms of who the passenger can hold liable for any damage that may occur, and indicate potential legislative changes which could take place locally in the future,” says Erasmus.

“With the spotlight on Uber in South Africa at the moment, the conversation around liability is indeed a crucial one for both drivers and passengers, while clarity on how both drivers and users of the Uber service can ensure they are fully protected is set to be a key point of focus,” she concludes.

Taking cybercrime serioulsy

This article first appeared on IT-Online on 22 June, 2015

According to a cybercrime report compiled by global Internet security firm, Norton, South Africa lost R3,7-billion in 2012 as a result of cybercrime.
This number is sure continue to rise in parallel to the continued rapid expansion of the Internet – the technological phenomenon which, although becoming available for commercial use just two decades ago, now plays an integral part in both our personal and professional lives.

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The South African government’s State Security Agency (SSA) has expressed growing concerns around Internet usage and the extent to which both private individuals and businesses have begun to rely on it. “With Wi-Fi being implemented almost anywhere, being online is as important as running water and electricity nowadays,” says Entelect’s GM of Business Development, Mark Beets, “More and more businesses have become fundamentally reliant on the Internet and connectivity in order to operate. The importance of maintaining the integrity of these systems, not only for their customers but also for business continuity, has become one of the biggest challenges.”

While increasing mobility is celebrated for rapidly enhancing our daily lives and business processes, it is also creating more complex security threats. ‘While many cybercriminals still practise the more ‘small-time’ crime of hacking individual computers or devices, the masses of information now stored and run through cloud-based and connected servers have also seen a marked increase in cybercriminals attacking organisation infrastructure through online touch-points,” Beets explains. “This poses a substantial threat to any individual with personal or sensitive information stored digitally, across any number of devices, as well as to large businesses that have based their systems on digital platforms and infrastructure.’ The primary goals of cybercrime include theft, extortion and fraud, which all have potentially devastating consequences for victims.

Further increasing the risk to personal information is the continued growth of the Internet of things (IoT). ‘With information constantly being sent and received by a massive number of sources, ranging from your office equipment and personal devices to your refrigerator at home and even your clothes, means that the amount of data being stored in the cloud by any individual is increasing exponentially. As a result, the risk of data breaches is increasing in parallel,’ explains Beets. ‘Soon the use of Internet will be extremely difficult to avoid because the IoT is becoming the modus operandi of many companies and individuals for their day to day processes, and as such, education on data security is becoming more and more crucial.’ Vodacom’s Chief Technology Security Officer, Vernon Fryer, has been quoted as saying that South Africa is the fourteenth most popular target for cybercriminals, with South Africans underestimating how at risk they are when sharing information and using the Internet.

Among a variety of troublesome trends, which were flagged in the CISCO 2014 Annual Security Report, Android mobile devices bore the brunt of 99 per cent of all mobile malware (malicious software). Furthermore, the report indicated a shortage of more than one million security professionals across the globe in 2014. ‘Most organisations at the moment do not have the required systems or skills to be able to monitor networks and detect infiltrations, and then apply protections in a timely and effective manner,’ Beets continues.
According to Beets, software organisations can play an important role because they have the ability to empower their clients and educate them regarding the potential risks to their businesses. ‘A proper understanding creates the opportunity to proactively take the necessary precautions to protect themselves from cybercrime, which is vital to the survival of most modern businesses and the protection of their sensitive or personal information.’

Based on the most notorious cybercrimes, Beets offers the following advice to companies and individuals:

Beware of unrecognisable links: do not click on these links when they are sent to you. This is a tactic used by hackers called phishing. Phishing is the fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to get individuals to reveal personal information online. These emails could be spam and expose you to fraudulent activity. Your systems can also be infiltrated by hackers when you download content from unknown sites, which can be triggered automatically by clicking on these suspicious links.

Update your passwords regularly: up to three times per month. This is crucial to ensure your online information is secured at all times. Do not use birth dates, graduation years, or your mother’s maiden name as security answers to access your online accounts – this makes a hacker’s job even easier. By generating strong passwords you can make it much harder for hackers to break into your computer via the back-end code of the system.

Understand that identity theft is real: identity theft has become increasingly common and is something everyone needs to worry about. Identity theft is when a criminal accesses data about a person’s bank accounts and bank cards, social security and other sensitive information, to siphon money, engage in contracts or to make purchases in the victim’s name. Always logout of your accounts properly – this is a good policy to protect yourself against identity theft and cyberfraud, which is the distribution of rogue security software to conduct fraudulent transactions.

Protect against malware: malware is Internet-based software or programs that are used to disrupt a network and steal sensitive data, often causing damage to software present in the system. Malware can be installed in a variety of forms, from Trojan horses and spyware to viruses and worms. Investing in reputable security, firewall and anti-virus systems is crucial, and even with these in place, it is advised that you make use of public wireless internet providers sparingly. These Wi-Fi networks that are available in airports, coffee shops and hotels often do not require encryption of data traveling between laptops and the Internet. This means that all your information is unsecured to hackers.

Avoid sharing devices with others: if you must and want your personal information to be undetectable by the person with whom you are sharing, you can browse incognito through the use of Google Chrome. By using Chrome, your browsing history and cookies will not show up in the history stored on device programmes. However, incognito mode does not hide your IP address, which means that your location, browser, operating system, as well as your own address, are not hidden by using this mode.

Scramble your information: one way to do this is to make use of a Virtual Private Network (VPN). VPNs allow users to make sure that all information that passes between your device and the network is subjected to extreme encryption, making data safer.
‘While we are aware of a certain number of cybercrimes, hackers develop new techniques constantly to trick you into unwittingly sharing your personal information,’ warns Beets, ‘Knowing how to protect yourself can significantly add value and safety to your life online. Be cautious!’ he concludes.