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first_imgDear Editor,We the undersigned refer to a news report in the Guyana Chronicle of October 15, 2019, captioned “PPP running Lethem Town Council like a cake shop”. Editor, as a result of many misleading statements, we therefore totally wish to refute the unsubstantiated allegations made by the APNU Councillors, former Mayor Carlton Beckles and Yolanda Moffett.Regrettably, they were not informed early by the Town Clerk of the postponement of the Council meeting focusing on preparing for Lethem Town Week. However, two factors have to be taken into consideration.Firstly, the statutory meeting of the Council was postponed due to the lack of a quorum as a result of several Councillors being assigned responsibilities that demanded urgent attention on the day of the meeting.Secondly, in spite of Mr Beckles’ claim that the Council’s majority continues to make decisions without inviting the APNU/AFC Councillors to meetings, the minutes of the statutory meeting held in April 2019 records that the three APNU Councillors, inclusive of Beckles, stated they would not participate/cooperate with the Mayor and the rest of the council in Lethem Town Week Activities for 2019. Despite letters of invitation sent to APNU Councillor Moffett, she remained a no show at all Town Week Committee meetings. It must be noted that during its deliberations for the Lethem Town Week celebrations, the Committee proposed that invitations be sent Government functionaries inclusive of Minister of Communities and Leader of the PPP/C. No decision was made regarding the Leader of the PPP/C to launch Lethem Town Week.It is true that APNU Councillor Beckles sought clarity on the finances for 2019 Town Week. We, the undersigned, support his call that a detailed financial report should be published. But this can only be done after we have concluded the Town Week activities.This PPP/C-led Council will not break the laws and financial rules; unlike what happened under the APNU/AFC-dominated Council which managed the 2017-2018 Town Week Committee and still cannot account for funds received and spent in that year respectively. This is what Mr Beckles should be calling for – the publication of the financial statements under his watch. The fact that many businesses have demanded cash from the Council upfront today is due to the history of the previous Council not honouring their bills in 2017/2018 under Mr Beckles’ watch. Even labourers are still waiting for their pay because of how badly Mr Beckles and the PNC cabal managed Lethem Town Week 2017-2018.When the PPP/C won Lethem in the November 2018 elections, we met an empty and bankrupt treasury with liabilities in excess of $5 million. Over the last 10 months, due to prudent management, the PPP/C-led Council by Mayor John Macedo has been able to wipe off some $3 million of that debt.The PPP/C Council had successfully managed to rectify the wages/salary scale for its employees to their satisfaction as compared to the employee’s underpayment by the previous Council.A question was asked by APNU Councillor Beckles regarding the theft of an inverter at the Lethem Declaration Park. While we have called in the police, the act happened under the APNU/AFC-controlled Council and thus, Mr Beckles will be in a better position to answer to the police for the theft.Clearly, the allegations in the Guyana Chronicle are meant to distract, detract, and disturb the smooth functioning of the Council and divide the township.Editor, the work of the PPP/C-controlled Council will not be hampered by these false allegations, baseless insinuations, and acts of intimidation. We have a job to do and we remain accountable to the people of Lethem; we will not allow political pallbearers like Mr Beckles to interfere with the progress being made by a democratically run and accountable Council.The Lethem Town Council will continue to serve all of its constituents.Regards,Mayor  John MacedoDeputy Mayor  DebraKingCouncillors:Jason WilsonMegan ThomasFitzgerald SinghIndira Singhlast_img read more

first_imgThrough Thundafund, Open Streets Cape Town received an investment of R40 720 from a crowd-funding community of 70 supporters. (Image © Lisa Burnell for Cape Town Partnership)• Patrick SchofieldCo-founder, Thundafund+27 72 3100 198skype: ipatrick.ischofieldtwitter: @PakSchofield• South Africa’s competitive advantage in the developing world• Brewing business success: SAB Miller’s Graham Mackay • Adopt a Trashcankid • Barrier breakers build new world • Buy Back South Africa, save and create jobsLorraine KearneyA huge 70% of new businesses fail in their first year, says Patrick Schofield, co-founder of new South African crowd-funding platform Thundafund. But group funding can turn this alarming statistic on its head – by testing whether there is a market for a new idea before pouring cash into it.Billed as “African rainmakers”, Thundafund is the country’s first official, online crowd-funding initiative. It is based in Cape Town and focuses on creative and innovative projects likely to bring social and economic benefits.In the six months after it went live in June 2013, Thundafund raised over R425 000 for 20 projects. It aims to raise at least R1-million in 2014. “It is growing nicely,” Schofield says. The three-year goal, based on extensive global and local research, is to have 3 400 projects funded, R173-million raised and 10 000 jobs created.On a single day at the end of November 2013, 21 projects were submitted for consideration. So far, almost 300 ideas have been pitched, 12% of which have “gone live” – are online and open to funding. In a different model from international crowd-funding sites, Thundafund does not simply let any project on to its books. All ideas submitted are carefully considered by a group of experts. Those making the grade are mentored, raising their chances of success.“The international average for successful projects is 40%. Thundafund is sitting around 80%,” says Schofield. This is both good and bad: it shows the model can work, but it suggests the platform may be too cautious in taking on new projects.Sustainable businesses“The reason it is doing very well is because we are not just a crowd-funding platform,” Schofield says. “We’re a crowd-funding business support platform, which means we won’t put campaigns up there unless we think they’ve at least got a pretty good chance of success.”The project is based on solid principles, one of which is to avoid charity. “We spent over a year researching crowd-funding and looking at what would work best in South Africa. We came to a number of decisions. One, that we did not want a charity platform, because I do not believe that charities build sustainable enterprise, which is what we need in South Africa.“We also saw that crowd-funding had been incredibly successful in the United States and Europe, but those are very developed markets, and they are working from a much higher base of business skills and IT penetration. In South Africa, there are so many people and youth coming out of school, starting up ideas, but our education system has not actually prepared us to run enterprises. Coming up with ideas we are good at. Figuring out how to make them ideas that will work we’re not so good at.”That’s where the mentorship business support comes in, which Thundafund calls micro-mentoring. It uses a “Three Steps Ahead” policy: entrepreneurs who started their own businesses three years ago, and who know exactly what it’s like to be in that starter phase, mentor and guide the new start-ups. “It’s the right advice at the right time given by the right people.”New pitches are questioned about the strength of their network and social media presence, their value proposition, and what they offer in return for funding. “That is one of the main things we do at Thundafund, and it is very much part of our ethos: we’re not about donations. There is definitely space for donations, NGOs and charities in South Africa, but it is not our space.”Schofield argues that a healthy society with a sustainable economy, able to fend for itself and compete globally, can only be built on a trade-based system. “I really do believe that right from the level of human dignity, that people respect each other a lot more when they trade rather than go the donation route.”Schofield is almost evangelical about crowd-funding’s ability to build communities and bring rewards – rewards that include recognition and access. Invest in a good cause, such as building a school, and you’re investing in the future of the children. For that, the return is recognition for what you are doing, which is social standing in society, and that has huge value.Taking the riskThundafund’s main focus is creativity and innovation. South Africa has plenty of both, but there are real barriers to mass growth potential. One is a lack of access to capital. South African investors are traditionally conservative, particularly in the technology sector.“There are several reasons for that prudence, or inability to take risk by the venture capitalists,” says Schofield. “Most importantly is that they can’t get their money back. If you loan someone money, below R500 000, because of the legal processes it takes to get the cash back, you might as well give the damn stuff away. If they don’t give it back, to get it back through the legal routes is very expensive and almost not worth it. So it makes it very difficult for anyone to loan cash, which in turn makes it very difficult for people to borrow cash to start businesses.”Another option is government funding, which is often grant funding – and grant funding is generally spent inefficiently. The government by necessity has to be extremely risk-averse because of the potential for accusations of corruption – and in fact, when there are large wads of cash there is a large scope for corruption. “On the other hand, governments are in a position to be, and are often remarkable risk takers – because they push money into a lot of things that are unproven.”South Africa has a history of communities supporting people to start new ideas, such as the incredibly popular stokvels, which function as savings clubs, and investment clubs. “Crowd-funding is just the next level up. It works on the idea that if you come together, you can make something happen. Whether it’s through a theatre performance or a book or writing an iPhone app, you begin to see how people will invest in those as they see it working.”Creativity is much more accessible than innovation in South Africa at present. A large number of people are creating the most beautiful artisanal products, from plates to jewellery to clothing. Technology is still relatively new. “A lot of what’s on Thundafund at the moment is much more in the creativity space, but we are actively engaging to ensure that innovation grows rapidly.”The platform is building a relationship with the Cape Peninsular University of Technology, for example, and from this year it will be compulsory for industrial design students to do a crowd-funding campaign on Thundafund.RewardIt’s a good practical training ground for the students. Crowd-funding acts like a sort of retail mall for ideas. As an investor, you buy ideas that haven’t been realised yet, but which you love. “In essence, you are pre-buying the product, for example a bicycle gadget or a theatre performance: if you love it, pre-buy your tickets; if you love it, buy a dinner with the director, come to dress rehearsal, or get invited to the after-party.”There is always that reward. Firstly, it is for backers to recognise that they are not donating, and secondly, it allows the creators of the project to think in terms of a trade. For investing in Oranjezicht City Farm, for example, backers can Pimp Your Patch – they can name their row of vegetables, and even spend time at the city farm learning about gardening.It’s a pretty contemporary idea: a return on investment being something less tangible than cash in your bank or a dividend paid out. “People pay huge amounts for recognition and standing within society, and for access, such as being a beta tester of a new app or tickets to the opening night of a new performance… That’s a value that is being recognised – and it’s a trade.”Market researchThe return is the crux, but so is the ability of crowd-funding to test an idea. “It’s not just about creating something that is an ego trip; it’s about saying that this product that we create actually has a market in the world. That’s where crowd-funding can be very exciting. You’re guiding people; you’ve got to show that there is a market for a product and that people want it.”It’s an idea reiterated by Paul Dalton from Daddy’s Dragons, an incubator that works to increase the success rate of entrepreneurs. “Funding is a hot topic,” he said at the Thundafund landed launch on 28 November 2013, held in the stylish Cape Quarter in De Waterkant. “But you don’t need funding to start a business. More important is to go into the market place and get validation for your idea.”Schofield adds that you have to let go of your ego and accept that either the market likes your product or it doesn’t – and he’s learned this lesson by making his own mistakes along the way.The partnersThe Thundafund partners include Schofield; Jamie Walker; Eban Welby-Solomon, who heads up Social Alpha, which invests in impact investment; and Lunda Wright, a “tech dude” from Ghana. In building the platform, they partnered with Buzzbnk in the United Kingdom, which provided the initial backend. It was an efficient way of doing business: rather than rebuilding the combustion engine, Thundafund built on top of existing technology, reforming it for local needs.This route cut costs: “When we first thought of building Thundafund, we needed R6-million to get out the door. By the time we went live, we had used under a million. We used the principles of crowd-funding, and tested the idea on the market, before building on it.”Thundafund is the only local crowd-funding entity in the creativity and innovation space. It is a small enterprise: there are four staff members in South Africa, and six in the British backing company. There are more people in Bulgaria, where the site build was done and the technical backend remains. In time, the technical development will be brought to South Africa.Given Gain, which is based in Stellenbosch, is in the donation space. It is linked to an international organisation based in Switzerland, and provides non-profit organisations with secure online tools including online donation payment processing, CRM database, website, communication tools and fundraising tools.The projectsThundafunded projects include:Evolve Ybike, a 3-in-1 combination tricycle and balance bike, in which 65 supporters helped exceed the target of R30 000 to raise R49 070 – 165% crowd-funded projectT2T Africa Expedition Team, in which 82 supporters raise R61 150, exceeding the target of R13 500 by 453%Mooibos Vertical Gardens, which achieved R18 773 raised off a R10 000 target, equalling 188% crowd-funded with 37 supportersBenguela, which raised R10 770 on a R9 000 target to finalise recording costs for their fifth album –120% crowd-funded by 44 supportersOranjezicht City Farm, which raised R30 950, 310% more than its R10 000 target, to help realise the farm’s aim of a “veggielution”Open Streets Cape Town, which got investment of R40 720 from a crowd-funding community of 70 supporterslast_img read more

first_imgLearn how to create a dazzling high-res hologram in this exclusive Star Wars-inspired tutorial. Includes free project file and assets!There are few motion graphic sequences as iconic as the holograms from the Star Wars saga. From “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi.” to “It’s true. All of it.“, holograms are an essential part of the Star Wars storytelling process. So naturally the team at PremiumBeat thought it would be a great idea to put together a tutorial on creating a Star Wars-inspired hologram.Here’s the look:The tutorial covers:Simulating LightingSimulating Depth of Field Using 3D CamerasCompositing ElementsWhile this tutorial covers a Star Wars-inspired hologram, the same technique can be applied to create other styles of HUDs, such as military or superhero.Download the Free Star Wars-Inspired Hologram Project FileThis tutorial comes fully equipped with a free project file and video assets. If you would like to follow along using the same clips, you are highly encouraged to download the project file below.DOWNLOAD FREE HOLOGRAM PROJECT FILE + ASSETSIf you want to learn more about creating Star Wars effects in After Effects, here are a few more great tutorials from around the web:Star Wars Lightspeed in After EffectsCreate the Star Wars Titles in After EffectsStar Wars Tutorial RoundupHave any helpful tips for making holograms in After Effects? Share them in the comments below!last_img read more

first_imgDon’t miss out on the latest news and information. Pagasa: Storm intensifies as it nears PAR Cayetano dares Lacson, Drilon to take lie-detector test: Wala akong kinita sa SEA Games Every 18 seconds someone is diagnosed with HIV Underdog Cavs insist they have plenty of bite for Finals View comments In this March 29, 2017, file photo, Venus Williams tries to return a shot against Angelique Kerber during a quarterfinal match at the Miami Open tennis tournament, in Key Biscayne, Fla. Venus Williams will be competing in the French Open. APSerena Williams may be missing from this year’s French Open, but big sister Venus is still going strong and marks her Roland Garros 20th anniversary on Sunday.Three weeks shy of her 37th birthday, the American star, who made her debut in the French capital in 1997, kicks off her latest campaign against China’s Wang Qiang.ADVERTISEMENT The German left-hander has endured a miserable clay-court season, losing early in Stuttgart and crashing out in her Rome opener, while retiring from her last-16 clash in Madrid with a lower back injury.“Everybody knows clay is not my favorite surface, but I try my best,” said Kerber. “Last year was not the best for me.”Makarova, also left-handed, is a former top tenner who has made at least the quarter-finals of all the majors, except the French Open.Action on Philippe Chatrier center court starts with two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova making her comeback after six months away from the sport spent recovering from potentially career-ending injuries sustained in fighting off a knife-wielding burglar in December.Kvitova, a semi-finalist in 2012 and seeded 15 this year, faces America’s Julia Boserup, the world number 86 who is making her French Open debut.The standout match in the men’s singles sees Austrian sixth seed Dominic Thiem, a semi-finalist in 2016, take on unpredictable Bernard Tomic of Australia.Thiem is regarded as a potential champion should world number one Andy Murray, defending champion Novak Djokovic or nine-time champion Rafael Nadal slip up.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next BSP survey: PH banks see bright horizon amid dark global recession clouds MOST READcenter_img Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students PLAY LIST 01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes BREAKING: Cop killed, 11 hurt in Misamis Oriental grenade blast BREAKING: Cop killed, 11 hurt in Misamis Oriental grenade blast Williams, seeded 10, has played every year since 1997 with the exception of 2011 and despite her senior citizen status, she is still a contender at the Slams as her run to the Australian Open final in January proved.Her staggering longevity is illustrated by the fact that her potential second round opponent is compatriot Amanda Anisimova who, at just 15, is the youngest main draw competitor since 2005.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingWhen Venus was losing the 2002 Roland Garros final to Serena, Anisimova was just nine months old.“I’m here as I still have a lot to give. That just wraps it up,” said Venus who has never got beyond the quarter-finals in Paris since her runners-up spot 15 years ago. LATEST STORIES Palace: Duterte to hear out security execs on alleged China control of NGCP Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ Anisimova, the Florida-based daughter of Russian parents, made the tournament courtesy of winning the US wild card play-off.She faces Japan’s world number 94 Kurumi Nara on Sunday.“This will be my first main draw match at a major, I’m very excited and I can’t wait to play already,” she said.Elsewhere on what’s expected to be a sweltering opening day in Paris, world number one Angelique Kerber starts against experienced Russian player Ekaterina Makarova.Kerber was defeated in the first round by unseeded Kiki Bertens 12 months ago and has yet to get past the quarter-finals.ADVERTISEMENTlast_img read more

first_imgBangkok: The successive losses to Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi have been disappointing but Indian ace P V Sindhu will have to put it all behind when she renews her chase for a maiden title this year in the Thailand Open badminton tournament, starting here on Tuesday. The last two weeks have been an emotional roller-coaster ride for Sindhu as after finishing second-best at the Indonesia Open, she was shown the door in the quarterfinals of the Japan Open last week. Also Read – Puducherry on top after 8-wkt win over ChandigarhOn both occasions, familiar foe Yamaguchi turned out to be Sindhu’s nemesis. The Indian would be desperate to break her seven-month long title jinx. Seeded fourth, Sindhu will open her women’s singles campaign against unseeded Chinese Han Yue, whom she easily overcame in the first round of Japan Open. If all goes well, Sindhu might face her first real test in the quarterfinals with a possible clash against sixth seed Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand. Also Read – Vijender’s next fight on Nov 22, opponent to be announced laterThe other Indian in fray, Saina Nehwal has been seeded seventh here, but she has been hampered by several injuries of late. Saina was forced to withdraw from both the Indonesia and Japan Open on medical grounds as she is focussing on getting into shape for next month’s World Championships. She has been pitted against a qualifier in the opening round. In men’s singles, Shubhankar Dey has got a tough opening round against top seed Kento Momota of Japan, while B Sai Pranneeth, who lost in the semifinals last week, is up against Thailand’s Kantaphon Wangcharoen. If both the Indians manage to get past the first hurdle, they will face each other next. Fifth seed Kidambi Srikanth will take on a qualifier, while H S Prannoy will be up against Wong Wing Ki Vincent of Hong Kong in the opening round. Sameer Verma, seeded eighth, will face Lee Zii Jia of Malaysia while Parupalli Kashyap will take on France’s Brice Leverdez. Sourabh Verma and Ajay Jayaram will have to go through the qualifiers. While Sourabh will play top seed Shesar Hiren Rhustavito of Indonesia in the first qualifying round, Jayaram will face Chinese Zhou Ze Qi. In men’s doubles, two Indian pairs feature but only one among them will progress to the next round. The combinations of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty and Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy will face each other in the opening round. The lone Indian pair in women’s doubles — Ashwini Ponappa and N Sikki Reddy — will be up against the Chinese duo of Li Wen Mei and Zheng Yu in the opening round. In mixed doubles, Pranaav Jerry Chopra and N Sikki Reddy are drawn against the Japanese combination of Kohei Gondo and Ayane Kurihara while the pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Ponnappa have a tough task at hand as they are pitted against fifth seed Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying of Malaysia.last_img read more