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A whole new digital money world for Barbados

A new digital currency pilot project may just be the thing to stop the potential standoff between Bitt -a financial technology (fintech) company in Barbados and some of the commercial banks, while allowing Barbados to move further onto the world’s digital money stage.

For years tension has run deeply between the commercial banks and newer fintech company,  Bitt, where banks have faced the ongoing dilemma of whether to collaborate with this company, or to develop their own in house, money transfer systems.

As pointed out by Bitt CEO Senator Rawdon Adams, the company has had to deal with  commercial banks in Barbados being ‘obstructive and anticompetitive’ while conversely they were developing more partnerships in the rest of the Eastern Caribbean than in Barbados -the country that ‘arguably needs fintech the most’.

At this year’s Bitt  annual blockchain conference, held at the Hilton Resort, Adams, spoke about the reluctance of some of the local commercial banks to embrace Bitt’s proposal to partner with them in introducing blockchain and distributed ledger technology to facilitate secure peer-to-peer transactions in moving money between clients.

In a call for Barbados to not be “stuck” in time, Barbados’ first female Prime Minster, Mia Amor Mottley, has stepped into the fray and announced her plans to launch a mMoney pilot programme. This pilot will be between Bitt, the Central Bank of Barbados and the Financial Service Commission (FSC) that facilitates electronic and digital payments for those on the island.

Mottley spoke at the annual conference which was held under the theme Central Bank Meets Blockchain: From the Ground Up, saying there was  a need for Barbados and Barbadians to bring an end to ‘this unfortunate debate and tension between those who want to hold onto a status quo and those who want to move forward’.

“Our people want digital money and …want the ease and security of electronic payments, and as a result, what must happen is face to face discussions with urgency…such that we can launch the Barbados mMoney Pilot,” she told those who had gathered for the conference.

Mottley also soothed the concerns of the commercial bankers about the new programme, after one of the bankers referred to the mMoney wallet as a ‘potential danger to the financial system’ claiming that she would be leading the program herself and that the legitimate concerns of this new payment method from all sides would be addressed as they were not going to launch this pilot project recklessly.

Mottley explained that Barbados would not be held to their old ways of banking due to the fear of the unknown, rather they would be looking to improve development because Barbados would not be left behind as the wider world continued to evolve.

News on when the planned mobile wallet pilot project would be  officially launched has yet to be presented, however Mottley assured that Barbados would remain in agreement with anti-money laundering laws and customer fairness guidelines.

How to become a blogger, according to Rachel Esco

You can’t just snap your fingers and become an established blogger overnight — well, not unless you’re Trump or a Jenner. For us mere commoners, getting paid to do what you love is no easy venture. In turn, most bloggers will simply write for free, satisfied with the sheer notoriety of getting credit for their published work. But, the burning question on everyone’s minds is how to start raking in some green for your words? How do you start?

Many women dream of being like Miranda Priestly, dominating a business empire while wearing the hottest designer pumps. Realistically, however, being a professional blogger is not all that glamorous. Let’s put the fantasies to rest. Here’s how to become a successful entrepreneur online.  

Be annoyingly persistent

You may have heard it all before, but never underestimate the power of persistence. Before I began getting hired to blog for brands, I probably went six months looking for work with no avail. So, what did I do? I began voluntarily writing for online magazines to build my experience and portfolio. Eventually, I had collected enough impressive work to showcase for potential clients. But, you must be willing to invest this extra time and energy if you’re serious about blogging as a career.

Join popular blogging platforms

What’s better than making your own website? Joining popular blogging platforms!  With established websites like She Knows or Elite Daily, you can submit your work to gain exposure for your blogs. In the early stages, this approach gives you more credibility and authority as a blogger. These platforms also let you link to your personal blog and social media accounts, helping you drive more traffic to your awesome material.

You can even use these sites as your online portfolio if you don’t already have your own website. But if you do decide to create your own, make sure it looks modern and professional. Since it’s essentially a representation of you and your talent, you must make it count! First impressions are everything. And don’t forget to promote your portfolio on social media to further increase its visibility.

Pitch your services

Another promising route to becoming a blogger is learning how to pitch your services. Now, I’ll be honest. This process is very tricky and rarely successful. But at the very least, if you know how to sell your services well, there’s always a chance you’ll get some interested replies.

Next, when you pitch your services, you have to have a niche. Any random schmo with a laptop can pitch themselves as a “blogger”, but if you’ve got a specific area of expertise, you’ll be more desirable to clients. For example, maybe you’re an organic food blogger; you can cater your services to organic grocery stores and related businesses. You’ll get much farther when your present yourself as a specific type of blogger.

Don’t reach out to the biggest businesses right away. Remember that at the beginning, you’re just a tiny entrepreneurial fish in a sea of blogging barracudas — sorry. So instead, reach out to mid-range businesses who are not as heavily swamped with thousands of pitch emails. You’ll have a better chance at getting noticed and hired for your services.

Use LinkedIn like crazy

Pledge your loyalty to LinkedIn and never look back. While most people go gaga for Instagram and Snapchat, focus your energy on LinkedIn as if it’s your main source of social media. Recruiters are constantly scoping LinkedIn to find fresh talent. Plus, there’s always people with startup companies looking to collaborate with bloggers they find on LinkedIn. My first big client actually found me through LinkedIn, so I genuinely can confirm it works!

 

Ready to begin to become Canada’s next top blogger? Best of luck everyone!

The Best Response to #WomenAgainstFeminism

#WomenAgainstFeminism is apparently a thing. Thousands take to social media every day to write about the reasons they don’t need feminism in their lives. Whether it’s because ”they want to be stay at home moms” or ”cook for their husbands,” its evident the hashtag is for women clearly uneducated on the concept of feminism.

Although the campaign went viral last year, feminism is rapidly becoming recognized as a positive movement supported by celebrities such as Tina Fey, Emma Watson, Beyonce and even men such as Mark Ruffalo and Will Smith. But fear not fellow feminists; we always have each others back.

Just read what blogger Libby Anne Bruce wrote in response to #womenagainstfeminism. We’d say she took the words right out of our mouths. Maybe even in a nicer more adequate way. Right on, sister!

“My response to the “I am not a feminist” internet phenomenon….

First of all, it’s clear you don’t know what feminism is. But I’m not going to explain it to you. You can google it. To quote an old friend, “I’m not the feminist babysitter.”

But here is what I think you should know.

You’re insulting every woman who was forcibly restrained in a jail cell with a feeding tube down her throat for your right to vote, less than 100 years ago.

You’re degrading every woman who has accessed a rape crisis center, which wouldn’t exist without the feminist movement.

You’re undermining every woman who fought to make marital rape a crime (it was legal until 1993).

You’re spitting on the legacy of every woman who fought for women to be allowed to own property (1848). For the abolition of slavery and the rise of the labor union. For the right to divorce. For women to be allowed to have access to birth control (Comstock laws). For middle and upper class women to be allowed to work outside the home (poor women have always worked outside the home). To make domestic violence a crime in the US (It is very much legal in many parts of the world). To make workplace sexual harassment a crime.

In short, you know not what you speak of. You reap the rewards of these women’s sacrifices every day of your life. When you grin with your cutsey sign about how you’re not a feminist, you ignorantly spit on the sacred struggle of the past 200 years. You bite the hand that has fed you freedom, safety, and a voice.

In short, kiss my ass, you ignorant little jerks.”

Written by: LIBBY ANNE BRUCE

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1. Going social – My epiphany

This article was originally published January 29, 2013.

How it was for me…

A few months ago, ‘Social Media’ was a foggy acronym for internet dialogue. I had used Facebook to reconnect with old classmates and distant family members. I even created a LinkedIn page, after being peppered with connect requests from business colleagues. I did not, however, blog, Tweet, Insta-anything, Pinterest or utilize any social media tools to promote my business interests. Not until I was given a little push.

My cousin was surprised to learn I was blog-less. “Who better to blog than a Mompreneur who is also a writer?” That push got me sliding towards my first blog.

The defining moment…

After decades of business writing, my creative writing skills needed refreshing. Three of my short stories had been published through traditional channels, but I needed a medium that offered full control over the topics and style. More importantly, I wanted the ability to collect valuable feedback quickly. Blogging seemed to make sense, but how did it differ from any other website content?

‘Blogging’ has a number of official definitions. The name ‘blog’ comes from the term ‘web log’, suggesting a journal of topical content on the internet. Over time, blogging has morphed into a form of business content marketing, enabling low cost promotion of a company’s products and/or services.

I began writing the blog to explore my voice as a writer, and gauge if blogging could become a new stream of revenue. In the planning process, I asked myself some key questions:

1. What do I have to say?

2. Who cares?

3. How do I reach them?

From researching other blogs, it became clear that I needed social media skills to pull readers to my content. ‘Going social’ would not only be critical in order to create a solid blog following, but an absolute requirement to return to my corporate marketing roots. I was surprised to learn about management positions called “CSO=chief social officer” and “SMM=social media manager”. These titles did not exist a decade ago when I was director of sales and marketing for a software company.

How it will be…

I began a strategy to create a social media presence. It is scary to dive into the unknown, especially on the internet, where words live forever in a cloud of privacy settings that can be particular and confusing. I’m focused on the knowledge that taking a risk can also be exhilarating and rich in rewards. Throughout my career I followed the mantra “better to make a mistake and learn than do nothing at all”. There can be no result without action.

It’s time for me to dive it and ‘get social’. My decades of sales and marketing knowhow are extremely valuable, but knowledge is stagnant without action. I take a deep breath and

…. I-go-social.

 

Next column: Adventures in Blogging

My hysterectomy story — Part 4 in a 4 part blog series

I spent one week in a fog of depression. If anyone else has been through it, you’ll know that being alone after surgery can be defeating.

I had been venting to my ex, who had patiently listened to me whine about feeling alone and wondering why my friends didn’t dote on me as I had expected. There were no cards, no offerings of soup and not even cheap flowers from the corner store. Weren’t people supposed to bring you something when you are sick, I asked.

His answer was simple. “You’re not doing yourself any favours by thinking this. Just be glad that they visited.”

At first I was a little annoyed. Visiting was routine. We went out for lunch on a regular day. How could that make me feel special?

But as the words absorbed in my mind, their strength resonated.  Was I building up disappointment in my own mind?

I had truly expected to be pampered while I was sick. I was looking for acknowledgement that yes, I had lost a part of my body that is the key to all life. Wasn’t I supposed to expect attention?

But then I realized something – I don’t need attention. I never have.

I was losing sight of who I was – the strong, independent woman who relies on no one, but who is strong enough to lend a hand when others need support. And now I had allowed myself to become weak. A victim of a simple procedure that rendered me healthier and yet I was crying about a host of unmet expectations, built by myself. I was drifting through unhappiness created by me.

Suddenly, the fog lifted and I could see myself again. Was I still disappointed? Yes, I will always feel a little twang of sadness when I look back on this situation. A sappy card would have given me that little bit of bliss that I needed.

So now I know better. When someone is ill, or in a state of recovery,  I will show up with a token of thought on my way to visit. Because I have always chosen to live by these words: always treat others the way you want to be treated, even if they don’t.

I’m better now. Still strong and still independent. But wiser.

 

My hysterectomy story

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

My hysterectomy story — Part 3 in a 4 part blog series

I’m a fast healer. Two days after having a laparoscopic partial hysterectomy, I was driving. Walking was possible but I tired easily and I could only walk very slowly.

I had no pain to speak of. I took a prescribed anti-inflammatory but no pain killers. I had some cramping in my stomach and the tiny cuts were a little sore, but I was not in pain.

Four days after the procedure, I went shopping. I bought shoes and two belts that went around my slim waist and hips wonderfully. I felt great.

But I cried a lot. I was lonely. I had lots of well wishes before the surgery. Lots of emails and calls and offers to help if I needed help. And really, these emails and offers got me through the actual procedure so they were not in vain.

After the surgery, I waited. But truthfully, people are busy. Their lives go on and although the offers are given with sincerity, the actions don’t always follow suit.

I longed for a gaggle of girlfriends to come over on their own accord, make me tea and talk about the loss of my uterus. I wanted chat about what I was feeling and have some much needed girl bonding time.  But I suppose having a group of girlfriends show up with Entenmann’s lemon strudel  is simply just part of a script from an old Sex and The City episode and not reality.

I received text messages, and a couple of phone calls with more offers. But I wasn’t sure how I could really call someone and say, “Can you visit me today?”

Few visits eventually came, some sadly with a feeling of obligation in the air….and I played the good hostess. The cancellations were difficult. It made me realize that sometimes it’s better not to tell anyone in advance, so when they don’t make an effort, it’s because they didn’t know. And there are no let-downs.

Ironically, my ex came through for me.  It was a surprise since we hadn’t talked in a while, but he remembered the surgery. He offered the help and he visited, helped me, and fed me.

Tylenol 3 can help with the physical pain. Naproxen, which I actually took, helped with the physical inflammation. A smile from someone who makes you a cup of tea and sits with you while you are at your most vulnerable is the medicine that strengthens your heart…and once the main part of your body is strong, the rest can heal.

My theory is that my body heals itself quickly out of necessity. It knows that I’m an independent person who must rely on herself, so it supports me in that way.  Fast tracks my recovery so I can get up and start living again. And in many ways, this is good.

My ex, well, that was a bonus. Who knew? Why he’s my ex, you ask. Well that’s a story for another day.

 

My hysterectomy story

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

My hysterectomy story — Part 2 in a 4 part blog series

Surgery was a success. Dr. Grace Liu performed a laparoscopic partial hysterectomy at Sunnybrook last Tuesday.

I remember being in the operating room and Dr. Liu chatting with me as she held something over my mouth and nose. Then I vaguely remember waking up and asking, “Did she do it laparoscopically?” and touching my belly. The answer given from who I suspect was a nurse, was “Yes.”

The next memory was of being in bed with a nurse asking me a ton of questions and I finally got annoyed and gave up answering. I remember thinking, Why is she asking me so many questions? I can’t even speak…

Five residents came to visit me and asked me the same question asked by the nurses who looked after me for the 30 hours I was in the hospital. “How is your pain?” I was confused. “I have no pain,” I kept answering.

Truthfully, there was no pain. Discomfort in my stomach area when I moved and some cramping, but nothing I would call pain. Perhaps the years of dealing with extreme cramps that would be considered pain to the average person without my condition had made me immune.

When Dr. Liu came to see me the day after surgery, she looked stunned. “Look at you!” she said. “You have colour in your face!”

I thanked her and she shrugged it off. And I thought to myself – such a skilled surgeon who took out an enormous growth of fibroids from my uterus without having to cut me open. It was a procedure I was told was impossible from other medical sources. Her modesty and wonderful bedside manner made the entire experience almost welcoming – as much as surgery can be.

My recovery was not about physical pain but emotional pain. That’s my next blog.

 

My hysterectomy story

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

 

My hysterectomy story — Part 1 in a 4 part blog series

It’s been a while since I posted. I spent a year and a half working on myself and my career and then I was in a place where I could make a long awaited decision. I have decided to have a partial hysterectomy.

I’m blogging about it because it’s a women’s issue and I wanted to share my experiences with other women who may be in a similar situation.

Fifteen years ago, irregular periods, hot flashes (yes, at 30!) and unbearable cramps led me to a specialist where it was determined that I had fibroids. They’re common, I was told. Just leave them alone and if they grow too large, then I’d eventually have to remove the uterus.

I was young and decided I could live with the symptoms because I wanted to keep the chance of having a child.

But the years passed, and the fibroids grew. I dreaded the week every month. The cramps lessened but the flow increased and for three of the days, I was incoherent. I was exhausted and even the simplest tasks took longer than usual. Last year, I knew it was time to make the decision.

Although I don’t have children and after next week, the option to give birth will be gone forever, I haven’t given up the privilege of becoming a mother.

All of my lives I have believed that being a mother to a child doesn’t necessarily mean giving birth. It means loving and caring and mentoring, helping one to grow. There are many children without a home in this world, and if I’m meant to be a mother, I will adopt.

So next week, I will be in the hands of a skilled surgeon who specializes in non-evasive operations. She will go into my uterus through three tiny incisions in my abdomen where a morcellator will dice up the fibroids so they can be removed through the incisions. There is a 30% chance that this procedure may not work, and only then will she opt for a bikini cut.

Am I scared? Yes.

In about nine days I may be able to blog again and let you know how it goes.

Keep reading….

 

 

My hysterectomy story

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4