SA fan to break attendance record

first_imgThe Last Fan Standing, Thulani Ngcobo. Ngcobo is enjoying the world’s best football. (Images: Last Fan Standing) MEDIA CONTACTS • Maphamola Lebelo Media Liaison Officer MTN +27 83 212 9918 RELATED ARTICLES • Exciting start to World Cup • The vuvuzela: Bafana’s 12th man • Bafana frenzy grips the nation • SA buzzing with World Cup spirit • Bafana final squad announcedBongani NkosiAs the 2010 Fifa World Cup kicked off, one avid South African football fan began a record-breaking attempt to attend 38 out of 64 matches.The 29-year-old Thulani Ngcobo, from Soshanguve township, began his countrywide trip to stadiums in all nine host cities at Soweto’s Soccer City on 11 June, where hosts South Africa and Mexico faced off in the opening game.The staunch Kaizer Chiefs fan has an opportunity to watch 38 matches live, with all expenses paid, thanks to the MTN Last Fan Standing competition he won late 2009. Ngcobo, a supply chain practitioner at the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, beat other fans in a 40-question multiple choice test to scoop the prize.He’s also set to break a Guinness World Record for the most Fifa World Cup matches attended by an individual. The current record is 20 matches, and Ngcobo is confident that he’ll smash it.“Standing a chance to break a world record is a dream come true,” he said. “This is something that I will be recognised for.” Local mobile services provider MTN confirmed in 2009 that Guinness World Records has endorsed Ngcobo’s attempt.Dedicated supporterNgcobo 2010, the sobriquet he’s picked up, watches at least two matches a day, shuttling from stadium to stadium. He had already been to five matches by the morning of 14 June, and was preparing for matches in Johannesburg and Cape Town.“Running from stadium to stadium is not an easy task. It needs passion for football,” he said.A taxing journey awaits him, with 17 000km across South Africa to cover. He has tickets for 28 group and four Round of 16 matches, two quarter finals, two semi finals, the third and fourth place playoff, and the final. By the end of the tournament he would have seen about 30 teams in action.Fatigue is of little concern to him. “I may feel tired at times, but when I’m inside the stadium watching a match I’m freshened up,” said Ngcobo.‘Ghana support awesome’He’s seen scintillating football played in his home country in the first three days of the tournament. He enjoyed the opening match, where Bafana Bafana drew 1-1 with Mexico. “It was fantastic to have seen that game on African soil.”But his best moment so far is Ghana’s 1-0 defeat of Serbia. The atmosphere in Pretoria was “great”, he said.  He was also amazed by the support the Ghanaian Black Stars received from South Africans and other Africans.“The support for Ghana was awesome,” said Ngcobo. “We were so happy that Ghana, an African team, had won. We celebrated all the way.”Ngcobo should not struggle to reach his goal. An ardent football fan, he usually attends at least four local premier league games every week, and follows his favourite team Kaizer Chiefs all over the country. He attended all Bafana group stage matches, the third place game and the final, at the 2009 Fifa Confederations Cup.Before winning the Last Fan Standing competition, Ngcobo had planned to buy tickets for 10 matches, which would have seen him spend more than R2 000. “I’m thankful to MTN,” he said.last_img read more

Read More →

Rural women empower themselves

first_imgZimele has empowered scores of women in Swayimane, a village in KwaZulu-Natal. The women have initiated small businesses in sectors such as craft, retail and catering. (Images: Zimele) MEDIA CONTACTS • Rosetta Stander Director Zimele +27 82 561 4729  RELATED ARTICLES • SA’s women farmers root out hunger • Itlhabolole: beauty from waste • Bright future for Rwanda’s women • Hair academy empowers womenBongani NkosiA self-empowerment project initiated five years ago is improving the lives of 600 women in Swayimane, a disadvantaged community in rural KwaZulu-Natal.It is through the Zimele Self Help and Savings programme that the women have been able to start their own small businesses, hailed as successful by the provincial department of finance.The scheme focuses on saving money for wise investments. And so encouraged, the women were able to save more than R170 000 (US$24 000) from their pockets, over the five years of the scheme’s existence.Together with loans amounting to R292 932 ($41 000), the savings fund bankrolled the women’s budding enterprises.They are now running “successful businesses” in agriculture, crafts, retail and catering. They are also a driving force behind emerging cultural guesthouses in their area.The group recently sold craft products to the value of R300 000 ($42 000) at an international trade market.Learning business, financial and social skillsZimele Self Help and Savings is an initiative of Zimele, a non-profit organisation that seeks to improve the quality of life in KwaZulu-Natal’s rural areas. Zimele aptly means “I am self-reliant” in the local isiZulu language.The participating women have empowered themselves with financial, business and social skills “that saw them get out of the cycle of poverty in a deeply impoverished village”, said the finance department.“I have learned a lot from this saving initiative. Zimele is organising people who come and buy from us, now I can take my children to school and buy food for them too,” Qaphelani Dlamula, a member of the Zimele Self Help and Savings group, said in a statement.KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Finance, Ina Cronjé, said the project’s success can be attributed to her department’s campaign that encourages responsible spending. Cronjé honoured the women at an event held at Swayimane Community Hall on 23 August.“This is visible proof of what we have been going around preaching in the province – encouraging people to save and use their savings to create a better future for themselves and their families,” said Cronjé.“Every man and woman should know how much money comes to their household, how much goes out and how much is saved,” she added. “It is important for families to sit together, especially with their children, so that they will not make unnecessary demands.”Caring for the communityZimele Self Help and Savings has also started two early education centres in the poverty-stricken area, where they offer “quality education and day care” to at least 45 children.“Parallel to their businesses, these women have become involved in initiatives to help orphaned and vulnerable children in their community,” said Rosetta Stander, Zimele’s founder and director. “They are feeding the children using their own resources, rebuilding the dilapidated mud houses where the children live, and providing them with emotional support and encouragement,” Stander added.Enrolling for ABETFinancial illiteracy – which, according to the department, was worsened by very low levels of education – compounds socio-economic challenges in the area.Zimele encouraged the women to enrol for their nearest adult basic education and training (ABET) programme in a bid to eradicate illiteracy.Zimele’s Sebenzani Meyiwa has been described as a “shining example” of how uneducated elders can empower themselves through ABET.“If I want to run a successful business, I have to be able to read and write,” she said.last_img read more

Read More →

Sponsor Post: 10 Killer Tools for Small-Business Success

first_imgTags:#Sponsors#web Related Posts Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market ReadWrite Sponsorscenter_img Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Editor’s note: we offer our long-term sponsors the opportunity to write ‘Sponsor Posts’ and tell their story. These posts are clearly marked as written by sponsors, but we also want them to be useful and interesting to our readers. We hope you like the posts and we encourage you to support our sponsors by trying out their products.If you have discussed social media with small-business owners, you almost always get two questions:How do I manage all these social networks without going nuts?Are any tools out there that can help me be more productive and save time?The first answer that any good social media thinker would offer a small-business owner would be to pick two or three networks where you can reach the majority of your customers or potential customers and concentrate on those, thus eliminating some of your stress. Fortunately, the second answer is “Yes”: tools are out there to help you manage your time and workflow if you plan to spend some time and energy on the social Web.I polled a few folks who know a thing or two about social media, especially for small businesses, and collected a list of 10 tools, technologies and platforms that can help your small business succeed in social media and Internet marketing. These experts in the field include John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing, Becky McCray of Small Biz Survival, Mack Coller of The Viral Garden, Drew McLellan of Drew’s Marketing Minute and Kyle Lacy, author of the upcoming book “Twitter Marketing for Dummies.”Based on their favorites (and some of my own), here are 10 killer tools for small-business success.1. JottHave you ever called yourself and left a voice mail so that you wouldn’t forget something? Jott takes that idea a step further, transcribing the voice mail and sending it to your inbox. Instead of sending a quick memo to yourself to remember to email your vendor, you can dictate the email and save time. Upgrade to Jott Assistant and you can dictate to-do lists, automatic Web postings to your social networks, calendar items and more. Jott is a subscription-based service, and it starts at only $3.95 per month for a small Assistant account. For small-business owners on the go, it can be a life-saver.2. GrasshopperGrasshopper not only gives your business its very own toll-free 800 number, but it allows your customers to reach you even when you’re on the go. Voice mails are delivered to your inbox, as are faxes (in PDF), so you can stay connected everywhere. You can have multiple extensions and extend the service to your employees as well. The service starts at $9.95 per month (plus a $25 activation fee) for 100 minutes. Other plans are $49 and $199 per month.3. MonitterIf your small business is on Twitter, keeping an eye on the conversations related to your product or service there makes sense. But if you’re geographically focused like most small businesses, you probably hate having to weed through similarly named companies and mentions of your industry from folks 1,000 miles away. Monitter lets you search Twitter for keywords, but filters them by specified distances from a zip code. You get tweets about your category, industry and company from within your home territory, where it matters. Monitter is free to use.4. HootSuiteFor anyone who runs a Twitter account for business, a tool like HootSuite can be a productivity boon. Not only can you manage multiple people contributing to the same Twitter account (so that one person isn’t solely responsible for tweeting), but you can manage multiple accounts with ease. The software has a bookmarklet for quick link-sharing and offers some cursory stats on your Twitter account as well. It’s free to use.5. Survey MonkeyPerhaps the one luxury that many small businesses can’t afford is market research. Survey Monkey enables you to conduct your own online surveys to gain insight into your customer base for free. The tool is easy to use, looks professional and produces a bevy of charts and graphs to help you understand your results. If you have trouble with online tools, Survey Monkey has several video tutorials that make it a snap to tap into customer insights.6. Simple Online Accounting SolutionsMcCray told me about a number of good online tools for bookkeeping and accounting, two really stand out for her. She recommends Outright.com for single-person businesses and WorkingPoint.com for more complex companies. The reason? Simplicity. Speaking as a business owner who is math-averse myself, I’ll just say, “Amen!” The simpler, the better. Both of these are outstanding in that category. Outright is free to use. WorkingPoint is free for one user, $10 per month for two and only $80 per month for 10 users.7. ReQallNever before has a smart phone app been so incredibly useful! ReQall is a memory aide that enables you to record voice memos via a smartphone or regular phone, have those messages transcribed and then sent to you via email (a la Jott). But wait! There’s more. The software uses natural-language processing and some additional analysis to determine whether you’re dictating a calendar item or to-do list entry. It then adds those items to your calendar or to-do list. If you say, “Pick up milk at Circle K on Belmont Avenue by 4 pm,” you’ll get a calendar entry, probably with a Google map link, and a reminder beforehand. For the small-business owner on the go, this app is a must-have.8. Milog (iPhone App)While I hate to recommend an application that is limited to iPhone users, this one is worth mentioning. Milog, from SymplySoft, allows you to track your mileage simply, then email yourself neatly organized reports to print or send to your accountant for tax papers. When my CPA told me, “No one tracks their mileage well,” I decided to prove her wrong. Milog helps me do that in literally a few seconds per day. The app stores locations for easy trip entry and allows you to add fields for parking, tolls and more. The full version is just $2.99 at the iPhone app store.9. MingglThis tool is new (the beta was released two weeks ago) but is very promising. A browser sidebar plugin, Minggl allows you to post status updates across six major social networks (Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, Digg and Delicious) but, unlike other broadcast services, also allows you to check your inboxes, notifications and public updates from friends on those networks. Add a Google Sidewiki-style annotation service and you’ve got a pretty useful tool that you won’t have to change your habits much to use.10. BackupifyWhether you’re dabbling in social media for your business, conducting full-scale sales calls via Twitter or Facebook or running everything you do through project management software like Google Docs, Zoho or Basecamp, you’d probably get mighty frustrated if one of those services went down and lost your data. Backupify.com serves as a daily or weekly (you decide) backup service for a variety of social media and Web 2.0 services that many small businesses depend on. The service is available at a low cost (accounts start at $4.95 per month) and backs up your important company data (Gmail, Google Docs, Basecamp, Zoho), plus your entire database for services like Flickr, Twitter and even WordPress. (Disclosure: Backupify is a ReadWriteWeb sponsor and a client of mine.)These applications, programs and platforms only skim the surface. I’m sure you have favorites of your own. Please share them in the comments for your fellow readers and help make this post a one-stop shop for killer small-business tools.Jason Falls is a social-media consultant based in Louisville, Kentucky. He blogs regularly at SocialMediaExplorer.com. He is also chief evangelist for Backupify.com, a ReadWriteWeb sponsor. A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai…last_img read more

Read More →

The Ultimate Streaming Music Service: Just Merge Rdio And Spotify

first_img12 Unique Gifts for the Hard-to-Shop-for People… The unofficial leaders of the streaming-music market, Rdio and Spotify, are both awfully good services. But neither is close to perfect, which led me to wonder just how you’d create the ultimate online music service.The answer isn’t hard: Just merge Spotify and Rdio. Alternatively, the two sites should just copiously steal features from one another. Or someone could found a new service that blends the best of both. Whatever. I want the best of both, and I want it now.Allow me to explain. Almost two years ago, when Spotify finally launched in the U.S., I signed up. Within 48 hours, I had canceled my Rdio subscription and agreed to pay Spotify $10 per month to access its service on my phone, ad-free. (See Also: How To Choose The Right Music Subscription Service)But for the last few weeks, I’ve had the luxury of using a premium Rdio demo account, and I’ve gotta say: It’s sometimes tempting to switch back. As impressive as Spotify is, Rdio is much, much better designed. On the other hand, Spotify has a few excellent features Rdio lacks. (Both sites offer approximately the same amount of music, which is often available via high-quality 320 kbps streams.)Frankly, I’m torn. But I’d rather not have to choose at all. I suspect many other music fans — whether they know it or not — feel the same way.What Rdio Gets Right: Design and Music ManagementWhen it comes to design, Rdio wins, hands down. Spotify’s apps aren’t terrible, but Rdio sports what feels like a cleaner, more minimalist design. The blue and white color scheme is more refreshing and it feels like the company put some thought into typography. More importantly, Rdio organizes your music much, much better than Spotify does. It has long blown my mind that Spotify refuses to display your music library in a way that’s at all analogous to how you’d organize music in real life. There’s no collection. There is no “Albums” tab.  It’s just playlists, starred tracks and search. If I find a new album I want to routinely listen to, I have to star the whole thing or add it as a playlist. It’s bizarre.  4 Keys to a Kid-Safe App Related Posts 5 Outdoor Activities for Beating Office Burnout john paul titlow Tags:#mobile apps#music#rdio#spotify#streaming music 9 Books That Make Perfect Gifts for Industry Ex… By contrast, Rdio lets me easily add albums to what is intuitively labeled my “Collection,” which is organized by artist. To anybody who’s ever used an iPod, scrolling through a list of artists is an familiar, almost expected interface. Spotify users, for whatever reason, don’t have this simple luxury. Rdio’s built-in music discovery is also superior. The “Heavy Rotation” tab recommends music to me based on what I listen to and who I follow on Rdio. Depending on those two details (especially who one chooses to follow), the suggestions can actually be pretty spot-on. I don’t know what powers the “Recommended Albums” carousel in Spotify’s “What’s New” tab, but the fact that it thinks I’d enjoy Kelly Clarkson’s new album suggests it’s not paying very much attention.What Spotify Gets Right: Add-On Apps & Infinite MusicWhat Spotify lacks in native recommendation features it makes up for via third party add-ons available through its built-in app platform. Spotify might not be aware of what I actually like, but Last.fm is — and its Spotify app is a mere click away. If I want music to match my mood, there’s MoodAgent, which builds playlists based on things like tempo and the emotional qualities of a given song. For less robotic, more human-curated recommendations, there are apps like Hype Machine and Shuffler.fm, both of which corral the best new stuff from influential music blogs, broken down by genre. Then there are good, old-fashioned hand-picked recommendations from individual critics via the Rolling Stone, Guardian, Pitchfork or NME apps. Spotify’s third party app platform is by far its most promising feature, aside from the music itself. Realizing that it can’t build the end-all, be-all music service for every listener, Spotify has smartly opened up its platform to developers, who can use HTML5 and related Web technologies to build applications that plug into Spotify’s vast music library.These add-ons have yet to find their way into Spotify’s mobile apps, but they continue to push the desktop experience forward in a way that makes it hard to break the Spotify habit. And Another Spotify Win: ImportsThe other chief advantage Spotify offers — and that Rdio and others should just steal outright — is the ability to import your own MP3 collection into the service. This is a huge perk.No matter how many licensing deals these companies strike, their music libraries are never going to include everything. There will always be big-name holdouts like The Beatles and Led Zeppelin, not to mention a score of smaller, independent artists who either haven’t done the leg work to get their music onto streaming services or simply don’t want to. Allowing users to effectively merge their personal music collections with Spotify’s music library makes for an experience that feels more comprehensive and focused. As more of our music consumption moves online, the listening experience inevitably becomes fractured across sites and apps. We might not be able to avoid this entirely, but Spotify’s integrated approach makes it easier to at least minimize the problem.  There are, as always, technical limitations to implementing this feature. Since Spotify primarily exists as a desktop app, it can easily scan your hard drive for music tracks and index them, iTunes-style. The alternative would be to allow users to upload their tracks directly to the service, a la Google Music and the Amazon Cloud Player.Waiting for thousands of songs to upload doesn’t present the most compelling user experience, but it is one possible technical solution. For the most part, Spotify’s local indexing approach works pretty well. Rdio has desktop apps, but they’re more or less a clone of its Web interface without much extra functionality tacked on. If Rdio were to include the ability to import and manage music, I’d be that much closer to ditching Spotify. The desktop app is also a crucial component to syncing local MP3s to users’ phones and tablets, another feature unique to Spotify in the U.S. (Deezer does this, too). Toward The Ultimate Streaming ServiceMusic is a pretty personal thing. If these companies want us to shift our listening habits into their respective clouds, they need to be particularly sensitive to what works for users. I’ve presented one framework here. Perhaps you have your own ideas, which I encourage you to leave in the comments. A flawlessly-designed, super-comprehensive, extensible and flexible music subscription service would be well worth the money. It’s a little frustrating, because Spotify and Rdio collectively have most of the pieces required to build the ultimate streaming service. It’s almost as if the two could merge and we’d be set. It’d be unlikely, but if this new hybrid music dream service could steal a page from Tomahawk’s playbook and integrate additional music sources like SoundCloud and YouTube, it’d be even better. Whether or not Rdio, Spotify or any of its current direct competitors deliver this mythical dream service, somebody will. The music subscription space is going to heat up substantially this year, as Google and Amazon are both rumored to be entering this market. Meanwhile, MOG will be reborn as Daisy and Deezer is expected to launch in the U.S. We already have a few very awesome, yet imperfect music subscription services. As the space gets more crowded, there exists a real opportunity to launch something truly, thoroughly compelling. Who will it be? Lead photo by Alexandre Normandlast_img read more

Read More →

Attractive pay, strong club culture way forward: Bhutia

first_imgHyderabad, Dec 26 (PTI) Former Indian football captain Bhaichung Bhutia feels strengthening club culture and providing attractive pay will encourage more people to take sports as a profession in the country.Cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar had last week raised the issue of financial security of athletes, saying it is often a challenge when any person decides to focus on sports alone as their career.Bhutia agreeing to the batting maestro said financial security is definitely a factor while choosing a career but also pointed out that things have improved with the advent of professional leagues in different sports disciplines.This trend, along with the long standing football culture, has provided sportspersons with more opportunities to earn a decent living.”I guess the club structure in any sport has to be strong. Incentive for sportspersons when they do well at state and national levels has to be good. And corporates have to come up (in a bigger way) and sponsor”, Bhutia told PTI.He said that more than health insurance, it is good pay that will attract people to take up sports as a career.Bhutia also emphasised on the importance of having health insurance for national-level athletes.It is really good if sportspersons are covered under health insurance. But more importantly, one should have good club structure, which offers attractive professional contracts to players, the 41-year-old said. PTI RS NRB APA APAlast_img read more

Read More →