MIKE

On this very beautiful morning that the Lord has made, I am happy. I am happy not because anything has changed much but because I choose to take pride in my situation as really there is nothing to be ashamed of or to be extremely sad about. Whew! It feels nice. God always makes a way where there seems to be none and we feel like death is upon us. I’m just saying. This is the part you say amen! Hallelujah!

Ok so. I slept for three hours last night. The rest of the night I was turning around and doing laundry and I was so sad. Until it struck me, there is very little control I have over what happens and doesn’t happen in my life but I have all the control about how I feel about any situation.

I remembered Mike. Mike was my best imaginary friend, in fact sometimes I feel like he was more of an alter ego of mine. To Mike, I was always beautiful, strong, courageous, ambitious and he just couldn’t get enough of me and neither could I of him. He took me through very many trying times and he always knew what to say. We would go on road trips together, plan our trip to Zanzibar and have fun. With Michael I could be myself, he never judged me and I could say anything. I guess it is true that we do outgrow imaginary friend but I think Mike made me better. With Mike I was never lonely; I was complete with me and I always confident. I knew people did not like me but I didn’t care, Mike loved me and he made sure I was safe.

I now know who Mike was. Mike was me looking in on myself. There was nothing wrong with me; I could be happy all on my own. I guess Mike also got tired. I wore him out with all my negative self talk and constant pity parties over nothing, yesterday I imagined he got married but now I just think I killed Mike first very slowly and then fast. I miss Mike but it is my fault he is gone. I may never get Mike back but I can make amends to the people I have now if I can.

#IStandUp

This is not my own work, but it is powerful and in today’s very vane and shallow society some people need to be told this,

This is a problem. One that needs to be addressed. I have an unshakeable memory of a moment in my life. A moment when my ObGyn suggested I see a therapist because she thought I might be depr…

Source: #IStandUp

FUTURES MARKET IN KENYA

So a few years ago I was doing my bachelors degree and I got obsessed with derivatives, mostly futures so I wrote a little something, thought about it today and decided to share, take it as something from a momentarily obsessed fan.

Introduction

Futures’ trading is used in several parts of the world to hedge against interest rate and foreign exchange risks. In Kenya however, it is simply an emerging concept and this study seeks to explore the reasons why it has taken Kenya such a long time to come up with this great idea and its benefits to various sectors of the economy should it become operational in the near future.

Application

The futures market in Kenya is one of the most disused risk management methods especially with regard to managing foreign exchange risk. In 2007-2008 Kenya experienced political unrest that lead to economic instability in many aspects such as increase in interest rates, and constant fluctuations in the currency exchange rates. Kenya being a net importer, the effect was adverse since imports became very expensive leading to high inflation rates and low standards of living. In developed countries futures markets are used to hedge against losses due to unpredictable currency fluctuations. Since the 2007-2008 instability several other factors including the weakening of the dollar, which is the main international trading currency. There has been a need to find ways that will enable stability of imports as well as exports.

In the early 2000’s the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE), by then called the Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE), and the market regulator, the Capital Markets Authority (CMA), wanted to reform the market. As part of the market reform agenda, the authority initiated market reforms in 2001 which led to the reorganization of the NSE into four distinct segments: The Main Investments Market Segment (MIMS), Alternative Investments Market Segment (AIMS), Fixed Income Securities Market Segment (FISMS), and the Futures and Options Market Segments (FOMS). Currently, all these departments but the FOMS are operational. This would have been the department that would have housed and operated Kenya’s futures market.

Each and every day, the world is becoming more and more of a global village. The need to transact with other countries, in the region, the continent and the rest of the world has a whole has increased substantially. We need to import commodities, technology, specialized labour, diversify our investment portfolios, and we also need to export our own produce, labour and sell our own companies out there. For these reasons, now more than ever, we need to maintain our currency’s strength to ensure that we always get the better part of the deal when transacting with other countries and regions. This, however, is only actionable in theory where factors can be held constant to create favorable conditions. In practice, however, it is very difficult, in fact, it is impossible to hold conditions constant. We therefore need to implement measures to curb the occurrence of losses due to the volatility of changes in foreign exchange rates.

Trading in futures is one such way as it enables the parties to hold one of the most important factors in transactions constant, the price. Trading in futures, especially currency futures might be one of the most effective ways of helping Kenya maintain its economic stability and still import and export as usual.

To demonstrate how we came up with the idea of finding out how best the futures market can work to help in dealing with our foreign exchange problem, we will give a very common Kenyan problem with an imported good, oil. Kenya imports oil mainly from the United States of America (USA). The price of oil per barrel averages $96 as of the third of November 2013. Let’s say that Kenya plans to import say, 100,000 barrels of oil and intends to pay for it February of 2014. This will cost Kenya $9,600,000 worth of oil in 2014. The amount paid is not readily available and Kenya will have to purchase the dollar. The current value of the shilling to the dollar is sh.85.50.

Therefore as of today we owe USA ($9,600,000 *85.50) = Ksh. 820,800,000. However, there are risks associated with the future. The exchange rate may or may not remain constant. If the exchange rate is expected to increase, it would be prudent for Kenya to enter into a futures contract if it is possible to reduce its future losses.

This is how it works, a futures contract by definition is a contract entered into by two parties, a buyer and a seller for the purchase of a commodity or a financial instrument, at a predetermined price and date in the future. This gives the buyer (seller) the right and obligation to buy (sell) an asset at a predetermined price. In our case, Kenya will be the buyer in person of say, the Energy Ministry. We will assume the Energy Ministry will purchase currency from the Central Bank of Kenya. The ministry will therefore approach the central bank to enter into a futures contract for the purchase of US$ 9,600,000 in February 2014 at a price of 85.50. In case the rates go up to say 1$ exchanges for Ksh. 90, the ministry will still purchase the dollars at 85.5 and will therefore incur Ksh. 820,800,000. If, however, there had been no futures contract, the ministry would have had to pay Ksh. ($9,600,000*90) = 864,000,000. This would have been a loss of Ksh. 43,200,000. This would have trickled down to the ordinary Kenyan’s budget. The price of everything goes up because; most of our manufactures use electricity whose production is dependent on oil. The fuel levy in electricity will go up, the manufacturers’ costs  of production will increase, the manufacturers will transfer costs to consumers by increasing prices which will increase the cost of living and consequently the unions will be on the streets demanding increase in pay for workers, which then goes back to increasing labour costs.

All this will stem out of a budget deficit of Ksh. 43,200,000 which wouldn’t  have been a necessary expense had there been a futures trading system in place. These losses occur every day in our country in many sectors and cause harm that we may not even be aware of. This is why I am are exploring the importance of futures market in Kenya, why it failed and the past and how it can be improved so that it can last.

Futures’ trading has many dynamics but in a nutshell, that is basically how it works.

 

Where are we now?

The futures market in Kenya is highly underdeveloped due to the low level of investor sophistication and awareness, lack of commodities in large scale, high frictional costs in the market structure, inadequate risk management and inadequate liquidity among other factors. In the early 2000’s the futures and Options Market Segment (FOMS) was formed but to date remains inactive. This study has been brought about by the Kenyan government’s policy pronouncement in 2010 by the then minister of finance in his budget speech, in which he announced that steps would be made towards developing institutional and legal framework to introduce a commodity and futures exchange in Kenya. I seek to find out how best this can be done.

Terms

Futures– Is a financial contract obligating the buyer to purchase an asset (or the seller to sell an asset), such as a physical commodity or a financial instrument at a predetermined future date and price.

Derivatives­- Are financial products having a value derived from an underlying variable.

Options– they give the buyer (or seller) an option but not an obligation to buy (or sell) an underlying asset at a future date at a predetermined price.

The little lights

There is an adage in Swahili that says, “mtoto akililia wembe mpe,” We all, if you went to 844 system schools, had to at some point write an ‘insha’ explaining one of those methalis. I did not like those ones because, believe it or not, for the best part of primary school I wrote the same story in my inshas with different variations of the same story. This story was told to us by one of our house-helps who we had when I was very young. She would tell us restorers to cam us down when our parents were not around or when the lights were out and we were scared. The thing about methali inshas is that they threw me off my game because the story had to have a teaching and well you can’t use the story about a girl kidnapped by ogres who ate her up and when someone played certain beats on the drum her bones would rise and she would come back to life, she was a very good story teller that house help.

I remembered that story one night I was in bed and I couldn’t sleep and a thought on mistakes came to me and I remembered the crying child and the razor. Obviously, this saying wasn’t meant to give parents leeway to give children razors, it was for the older people to me, the child reminds me of innocence and a tinge of vulnerability and a sense of trust in people. The razor is the result of stubbornness of risk taking.

The razor though I will not use again because of blood, I am not a fan. I thought of another story though; so one day, I go to the cobbler with lots of shoes and a woman comes with a child’s shoe which she needed repaired. Turns out one of the modifications on the  shoe involved removing a light that came on when baby walked because well, she cried when it came on, it also turns out she was very afraid of fire and hence the crying. The light reminded her of fire. That little incident reminded me of life in the grown up world and a little something called risk taking. Other small children were bragging about the little lights on their shoes and having fun running around because they loved the little lights on their shoes.

My little friend however, was extremely terrified of the light and never got to enjoy some pretty awesome shoes. See there are two things here, it is not just the shoes, it is also experience, the fear comes from somewhere. She might have been severely burnt at some point or maybe she just had been severely warned. Don’t beat yourself up too much if you are risk averse give yourself time to soul search and find out why then start there.

Sometimes in life we hit a snag and we just sit there because well, we have gone through things that make us risk shy, it might does not even have to be in the extremes of bungee jumping, it could just be the fear of wearing red or white or anything bright, it might be the fear of socializing, I have this by the way because I think very differently from people I have come to call, ‘normal’, but that is a story for another day.

I am yet to find a completely workable solution except maybe just daring, daring to dream, daring to try, and daring to face whatever fears there are to be faced but, it is not easy because I am still afraid, of being judged, of it backfiring very badly on me or falling flat but as someone once told me, it is just a matter of deciding. Deciding that fear will not hold me back again, deciding to just dare as long as I am not doing unnecessarily risky things, who knows what I might find there. Don’t get me wrong, fear is not a bad thing but like everything else, too much of it will paralyse you so much you will not be able to even do those little things that shouldn’t use much effort.

I will definitely get back to you once I have bungee jumped but for now, I will dream impossible dreams and imagine unimaginable things as I make them possible and imaginable, I will let the child I me play with the lights on my shoes as I explore what else there is out there. If you are also not sure, you could try and the most important lesson that we learn from the simple things in life, one front of the other, the one in front has no pride and the one behind has no shame because each knows the situation will soon change.

Just take it one day at a time and believe you have a purpose because you do. Most importantly, talk to God in every situation good or bad. Believe if anyone can understand how crappy you feel, it is him. Believing in the supernatural can take you very far and don’t let anybody kid you, that still small voice you hear that is soothing and not forceful is always right.

 

So let’s explore!

It is okay….

For along time in my life, I lived on the approval of people. I wanted people to tell me I was beautiful, I was brilliant, I had it in me, I could do it. I was a hard and dark phase because like it or not there is a yin to every yang. Many people could encourage you but many still will discourage you, some because they genuinely feel so and others just out of spite.

As I walked through this path I discovered my strengths and with time, I came to realize that not everybody appreciates them and I only need the opinion of two people, God and myself, as long as God is okay with it I just don’t care who else is not.

To be honest, it has not been an easy journey, I had help from a very good friend of mine who would for now, I am sure, like to remain anonymous and who should start his own blog. I found myself slowly, I still am, I haven’t come to that place of complete belief but I am getting there.

Actually, this story was not to be about me, it is for those of us who don’t have their own personal go to guy, for those who have lost hope. For those who are thinking it is over,there is no tomorrow, my friend always says, nobody ever died and came back so let us enjoy this life like tomorrow is not guaranteed because really, it is not.

As you get older challenges increase, we have work pressure or the lack of it, marriage pressures, or the lack of it, social pressures or the lack of, family issues or lack of. People judge us for having or not having, you get married young,”oh she/he just threw him/herself at marriage what does he/she know?”, you stay single, “oh, when will he/she get serious, marriage is important?” Truth be told, if we want things to become important they will be if they are nonsense. You can never please everyone just do what is right by you and your conscience and you will be fine.

Comparison

The title of this piece is its okay, I have to apologize for my style it is not conventional but it is me.

See what I did there, we should stop apologizing for not living other people’s lives, for not having made it when they did, for not having married when they did, for not being doctors like they are. Some people are past this but I know people who are developing ulcers and losing their heads over this. STOP!

It is okay to be just you. To make it when it is your time, and what the hell is making it anyway?

Success

Someone once told me that the voice of the people is the voice of God, in some cases I do agree but in some like success. i do not.

To me success is a relative term. You shouldn’t let anybody dictate success to you. So stop beating yourself up because you do not conform. Do things at your pace, even better, dare to do different. Do it your own way, after all, you came from the womb, alone even if you are a twin and apart from some few bizarre cases, you will die on your own and be buried on your own so why live any different.

I do not have a medical degree

Before you ask, no I am not a licensed doctor so i will stop but even I know, Your life should be your choice, so choose to love, eat well, dress well and always wear your most priced outfit, your SMILE, because, IT IS OKAY TO BE JUST YOU AND TO BE WHERE YOU ARE, unless you are being cheeky and very bad, that you should stop.

Please for your own sake, if you are stop being miserable, if you are doing it on your own terms, you go!

 

HOPE

Today was one of those days, those days when I think, why wouldn’t Adam and Eve just behave? Or what the hell was a snake doing in the garden. We would now be sitting under beautiful trees eating fruits and drinking water from springs with cute little animals. I wouldn’t have to worry about giving birth because it would probably not be a big thing. It might have been like sneezing or even eating but here we are.

I did not want to get out of bed. Sleep felt so good, as did my bed and the blankets just felt like they were meant to be my eternal friends and nothing, oh nothing, could put as asunder. Until the alarm rang and I kept snoozing it and dreaming of all the berries and watermelons, and apples and passion fruits and the other fruits except the one in the middle of the garden.

Why couldn’t they just stick to the edges of the garden? Then I thought, I criminalize these people but they had it worse than us. They actually lived a life of sheer luxury before being driven out of the garden. We are born into this troublesome world and yet we hope for more. We hope there will be a time we will rest yet as my good friend keeps saying, nobody has ever died and come back to tell us what is out there but we hope. Hope is such a beautiful thing.

Hope brings us peace in times of struggles. We are only able to go on sometimes because we hope tomorrow will definitely be better. Hope is powerful, hope gives us peace. Hope makes us believe in people. It makes us imagine people even the worst of human beings can change. We wake up every morning because we hope. We don’t think about it seriously but every waking minute in our lives is dangerous. We could die, we could get mauled by buffaloes, okay that is pushing it a little, but you get the drift, but we don’t and we move on.

Cheers to hope.