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Codeweavers to grow employee headcount by 30%

Financial services software specialist Codeweavers will expand its headcount by 30% over the next year as it targets growth within a climate of online research.

Codeweavers has doubled the size of its team since 2014 and by June this year there will be 61 employees at the Staffordshire-based business following the success of new online tools which help dealers to capture customers online.

Now Codeweavers MD Roland Schaack is preparing to bolster his team and expand its current premises to accommodate the growth. Schaack said: Our approach to software development has always been the same; we lead on quality.

Now, we find ourselves recruiting to increase out headcount by around 30% over the next year and moving to new office premises to accommodate our growing team.

As well as software developers, Codeweavers operates a client support team to support their clients use of various financial solutions which enable dealers to help customers to assess vehicle affordability, establish credit-worthiness and then move through the entire proposal process.

The tools also provide valuable information on customer buying habits that assist dealers in developing their stock mix and online finance proposition.

Schaack said: We are always working on the next innovation to create imaginative yet practical tools to our customers that support our reputation for delivering tools that work lsquo;out of the box.

Now, our sustained success means we are in the great position of looking for yet more new talent to help us to craft the next generation of code and to support our growing customer base in plain English.

Its a lovely position to be in and we are grateful to all of our customers for their support that underpins our growth.

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Community Briefs

Steinreich Communications Group, an international public relations agency based in New Jersey, has acquired McNeill Communications, the sixth largest public relations agency in North Carolina. Together the two agencies will represent more than 50 top brands in the home furnishings industry.

Karen McNeill, founder and chief executive officer of McNeill Communications, will join Steinreich Communications as a senior vice president and general manager of its High Point office along with all the current members of her staff. Ellyn Small, senior vice president and general manager of Steinreich’s New Jersey office, continues to oversee the current home furnishings practice.

Credit report workshop April 27 in Greensboro

A free workshop on understanding credit reports will be offered at 6 pm April 27 at Central Library, 219 N. Church St. in Greensboro. Tom Luzon with Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Greensboro will talk about how to read a credit report and understand the report’s terminology.

Participants will learn how to read their credit report, what credit report terms mean and how it affects them. They will learn how to establish credit, dispute inaccurate reporting and understand what their rights are.

A free copy of your credit report is available at www.AnnualCreditReport.com or by calling (877) 322-8228. Participants may bring it to the workshop. Those bringing a credit report should keep it with them at all times and black-out their social security number for security purposes.

To register, call (888) 755-2227, Ext. 2221, or visit www.thedebtdoc.com.

Ruff Housing expands at two area locations

Ruff Housing is expanding with a new enrichment program, available at both its Greensboro and Winston-Salem locations.

This personalized care program caters to the personality and characteristics of each of its canine visitors by offering services such as playtime with fellow dogs, herding nose work, fur brushing, reading time, food puzzles and more.

For information, visit RuffHousing.com.

Berico Heating merges with Reidsville group

Berico Heating and Air Conditioning has entered into an agreement to merge with Reidsville-based heating, cooling and plumbing company, Willis and Willis Heating and Air.

The merger with the Reidsville company marks the next step for Berico as it has evolved, since having been founded in 1924, into a full-service provider of heating and cooling services.

Current Willis and Willis customers can contact Berico for service by calling (336) 273-8663 or emailing inforequest@berico.com.

High Point YWCA hosts Women of Achievement

The YWCA of High Point will hold a Women of Achievement Luncheon at 11:30 am April 27 at the High Point Country Club, 800 Country Club Drive in High Point.

The keynote speaker is Valda Ford.

Women who are making a difference in their community will be honored.

Tickets are $40. Proceeds will benefit the Women’s Resource Center and its programs.

For information, call (336) 882-4126 or visit www.ywcahp.com/FundAdminLunch.htm.

HandyCapable Network celebrating anniversary

HandyCapable Network will host an evening of celebration to honor the organization’s 10 year anniversary at 6:30 pm April 28 at The Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering in Greensboro. The event will pay honor to the Weaver Family and others who have contributed to the vitality and success of the organization.

The evening will include an opening reception with heavy hors d’ouevres and entertainment followed by a program presentation.

A donation of $50 per person gives access to the event. For information, contact Allison Wray at (336) 209-7360 or allison@handycapable.org.

The Forge to have grand reopening

The Forge will have a ribbon cutting ceremony and grand reopening at 5:30 pm April 29 at its new location, 219 W. Lewis St. in Greensboro.

The new location is 7,000 square feet, more than double the size of the old building.

There will be food, tours, and music, along with demonstrations in metalworking, woodworking, 3D printing, laser engraving and electronics.

The Forge’s mission is to provide the community with inexpensive access to a workshop area and a collaborative space, filled with equipment and high-end technology not commonly available to individuals.

For information, visit www.forgegreensboro.org.

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Oportun Named One of SF Bay Area’s Best Places to Work

REDWOOD CITY, CA–(Marketwired – Apr 20, 2016) – Oportun today announced that for the second year in a row, it was named one of the SF Bay Areas Best Places to Work by the San Francisco Business Times and Silicon Valley Business Journal. Oportun is a mission-driven financial services company that uses advanced data analytics to provide responsible, credit-building loans to Hispanics and others with little or no credit history.

The annual Best Places to Work list evaluates employers for values such as fun, collaborative culture, solid compensation and benefits offerings and other amenities as well as management practices through extensive employee surveying. The rankings were unveiled on April 19, 2016 at the awards ceremony.

We are thrilled to be recognized for the second year in a row as one of the best places to work in the San Francisco Bay Area, said Oportun CEO Raul Vazquez. As a mission-driven organization, we attract people who are equally committed to their professional growth and to having a positive impact on the lives of others. There are so many things we do to make this a great place to work, but it is that common purpose that drives and inspires us.

For more information about Oportun, please visit oportun.com.

About Oportun

Oportun, formerly known as Progreso Financiero, is a mission-driven financial services company that uses advanced data analytics and technology to provide responsible, affordable personal loans to financially underserved Hispanics and others, many of whom have little or no credit history. The companys centralized data analytics system calculates each loan applicants ability to repay, approves those loans the company believes can be paid back, and sets loan amounts and terms to fit individual budgets. Customer account information is also reported to credit bureaus to help customers establish credit history. Since its founding in 2005, Oportun has helped more than 689,000 customers by disbursing more than $2.2 billion through more than 1.3 million small dollar loans. The company delivers customer service with bilingual staff across channels and operates more than 179 locations in California, Illinois, Nevada, Texas, and Utah.

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Re-entry Business Summit at CCAC Encourages Employers to Hire Returning Citizens

PITTSBURGH -A National Institute of Justice survey revealed that between 60 and 75 percent of ex-offenders are jobless up to a year after release yet many employers can’t find qualified employees to fill their jobs.

In light of this information a cluster of community organizations formed the Allegheny County Anchored Re-Entry Consortium (ACAR), which today is hosting an educational program for employers entitled Business Leaders’ Summit: Re-entrants Work! at Community College of Allegheny County – Allegheny Campus. The Summit is designed to provide employers with valuable information they need to consider hiring formerly incarcerated individuals, also known as returning citizens or re-entrants. Specifically, the Re-entrants Work! Summit is designed to share best practices from leading employers along with a “How to Guide”; discuss the business case for hiring reentrants; and detail the cost-benefit analysis and tax credits for hiring re-entrants. Nearly 200 business leaders, elected officials and heads of nonprofits were invited to attend.

US Attorney David J. Hickton, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, CCAC President Dr. Quintin B. Bullock and Michael J. Smith, President and CEO Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania welcomed participants. Ron Painter, President of the National Association of Workforce Investment Boards, provided the keynote address. Two 30-minute panels followed: the first “Making the Business Case for Hiring Re-entrants” featured corrections and public policy officials and a second panel “Models of Best Practice” – featured employers and re-entrants. Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto and CCAC President Bullock provided closing remarks.

“We are committed to preparing those who have paid their debt to society for substantive opportunities beyond the prison gates and addressing obstacles to successful reentry that too many returning citizens encounter,” stated US Attorney Hickton. “Supporting successful reentry is an essential part of our mission to promote public safety – because by helping individuals return to productive, law-abiding lives, we can reduce crime and make our neighborhoods better places to live.”

“In the county, we spend a great deal of time, effort and money providing those who are in the criminal justice system with the tools and resources they need to turn their lives around, but that effort is for naught if there are not organizations willing to look past their records to the individual they are and the skills and talents that they bring to the table,” said County Executive Fitzgerald. “We are trying to lead by example, which is why the county enacted a ‘Ban the Box’ policy last year. When permissible, we look at job applicants on a case by case basis with any criminal record just one piece of the overall process. This is an important conversation to have, and we’re proud to be part of it with our corporate partners.”

“CCAC is pleased to support the efforts of the Allegheny County Anchored Re-Entry Consortium and to host the ACAR Business Leaders’ Summit. With our shared commitment to providing innovative programming designed to transform lives, we look forward to our continued collaboration and to the positive outcomes that are sure to result for the individuals who are being reintegrated into their communities, as well as for the employers and for the region as a whole,” said CCAC President Bullock.

Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel added, “Every American benefits when an individual who was incarcerated re-enters society and becomes a good citizen. Meaningful employment is a critical component in achieving that objective.”

Mayor Peduto said, “Ex-offenders are our returning Americans that deserve a second chance like anyone else. We are missing out on a huge potential source of our workforce if we aren’t considering them in our hiring decisions.”

The ACAR began as an initiative led by CCAC to establish credit and non-credit programs for re-entrants. The ACAR has since evolved into a consortium of members from local government, community service agencies, faith-based organizations, corrections, the justice system, training and education institutions partnering to reduce recidivism through training, educational and employment opportunities.

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SEND-CUA disburses credit to 9000 farmers to improve productivity

Miss Clara Nyarkoah Anim, Project Coordinator of the Ghana Cooperative Credit Unions Association (CUA) has disclosed that a credit facility totaling GH?1,594,398.00, has been disbursed to 9,000 farmers and petty traders to expand their economic livelihoods.

She said the beneficiaries were part of the Food Security through Cooperatives in Northern Ghana (FOSTERING) project, intended to enhance food security, nutritional status and economic empowerment of the beneficiaries.

Ms Anim who was speaking to the Ghana News Agency on Friday at Salaga on the sidelines of a two-day summit on Gender Model Family project said the credit facility had boosted small business activities of men and women in eight districts.

The summit was organized by SEND-Ghana as part of the Gender Model Family project that the Civil Society Organisation (CSO) was promoting as a component of the FOSTERING project.

FOSTERING project is being funded by Global Affairs of Canada and the Canadian Co-operative Association and implemented by SEND-Ghana and the Ghana Credit Union Association (CUA) with the aim of improving agricultural productivity and livelihoods for smallholder farmers.

Ms Anim said CUA has been collaborating with SEND-Ghana over the past 10 years to establish credit unions in the Eastern corridor of the Northern Region to bring financial services to the poor adding, “We help them to mobilise their resources together for economic advantage”.

She indicated that through such collaborations, 12 community credit unions had been formed and were performing well with over 100,000 members who comprised individuals and groups.

Ms Anim noted that the minimum amount given to each farmer was GH?450.00 stressing that some farmers and petty traders were able to take more than the minimum amount, which increased their production.

Mr Siapha Kamara, Chief Executive Officer of SEND-Ghana, said the project had also registered additional advantage where couples had been equipped with knowledge and skills to live together equitably and ensured that their children – boys and girls had the same opportunities to develop their potentials.

He urged men and other family members to share family roles without showing bias towards one particular gender explaining that the burden on women is reduced when roles are evenly distributed to enable them contribute meaningfully to societal and community affairs for positive development.

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Tips to Help Control Your Small Business Finances

There’s no way to get around some of the challenges that come with being a small business owner. But the proper tools and support can help you navigate the world of debits and credits more smoothly.  Here are a few financial challenges you may face and some small business finance tips for managing them.

Small Business Finance Tips
Cash Management

Many small business owners can become overwhelmed by trying to manage their cash flow. Of course, you know you need accurate and timely data to line up the resources to handle crucial transactions – such as payroll – when needed. And the longer you wait to sort out your cash flow, the greater the risk for a mistake or oversight that can potentially damage your financial reputation.

Accurate and timely financial statements are a must because they help you make important decisions and manage your fiscal obligations. They’re also a critical component to getting extra capital through a loan if needed. Unorganized financial records can be a red flag to lenders and may convey the wrong impression about the company’s fiscal health.

Accounting

Having a modern, often cloud-based, accounting system is a staple of many well-run small businesses. In fact, helpful accounting apps have become quite popular because they integrate into a lot of other services for easier and more efficient use.

For example, if a sale is recorded in one department, a well-integrated accounting app can almost serve as a virtual employee and immediately make the necessary income or balance sheet adjustments to manage the transaction accordingly.

Small businesses should consider utilizing financial/accounting apps offered through their business bank or business credit card to help them keep their finances in check.

A Company Credit Card

Is a company credit card the right choice for your small business?

Naturally, there are pros and cons.

For example, a business credit card such as Ink from Chase helps keep personal and business expenses separate. The card also rewards spending. And those reward points are capital that can be easily re-invested into the business.

Burgeoning businesses can benefit from a business credit card too; this is a great way to establish credit and build financial stability.

Meeting the Challenge

Even the smallest of companies today have access to financial and accounting tools and resources that can rival those of a business twice their size. These technological advances are narrowing the accounting and financing gap for small businesses.

“Small businesses are strapped for time,” said Laura Miller, president of Ink from Chase. “The more we can bring together useful tools, the more we can help them be successful.”

In the absence of a fully-staffed financial department or even a single dedicated person a small business owner can rely on the numerous services offered by their financial institute or business cards to help navigate any financial management challenges they may have.

Do you have additional small business finance tips to share?

Money Image via Shutterstock

5 Comments

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LOUISE FAIRSAVE: Credit ratings

Carrying such a range of debt will only affect your credit rating negatively if you demonstrate negative credit behaviour on any of those loans or credit lines like late payments or non-payment.

Your credit rating is therefore one of your most valuable assets in your personal financial plan. This is because banks and other lending institutions, employers, insurance companies, retailers and any business who may consider extending you credit, may have access to your credit rating. Before they may have even met you in person, they will have a wealth of information about your repayment behaviour; your propensity to tender cheques that will bounce or to skip out on a landlord or other creditor without settling outstanding debts; as well as the details of any registered debt which you hold.

To know that so much information about you is available to others may shock you into taking an important step if you have never done so before: that is, seeking to see what is your credit rating and correcting any obvious errors. You will only have a credit rating, though, if you have already established credit at some time in the past. You establish credit by, for example, taking a loan, using a line of credit or using a credit card.

Once you have established credit, credit bureaus operating in the area will keep track of your creditworthiness. The Caribbean Credit Bureau Ltd operates in Barbados as Credi-Check from Christ Church offices. To access your personal credit rating, you can visit its office with suitable identification documents and seek to know your credit information according to its files.

Mark in your mind indelibly that a good credit rating is very valuable. A good credit rating can likely mean lower interest on your mortgage or car loan, receiving credit card offers better job offers, and lower insurance premium rates, for example. A good score lowers your cost.

bull; Louise Fairsave is a personal financial management adviser, providing practical advice on money and estate matters. Her advice is general in nature; readers should seek advice about their specific circumstances. This column is sponsored by the Barbados Workers Union Co-op Credit Union Ltd.

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Codeweavers to increase headcount by around 30%

Financial services software developers, Codeweavers, have announcing plans to recruit more developers and take on additional office space to accommodate planned expansion over the next 12 months.

Codeweavers MD Roland Schaack commented: We find ourselves recruiting to increase out headcount by around 30% over the next year and moving to new office premises to accommodate our growing team.

By June 2016, there will be 61 employees working at Codeweavers. The company has doubled in size since 2014. The companys online finance tools enables dealers to help customers to assess vehicle affordability, establish credit-worthiness and then move through the entire proposal process.

Schaack concludes: We are always working on the next innovation to create imaginative yet practical tools to our customers that support our reputation for delivering tools that work lsquo;out of the box. Now, our sustained success means we are in the great position of looking for yet more new talent to help us to craft the next generation of code and to support our growing customer base in plain English. Its a lovely position to be in and we are grateful to all of our customers for their support that underpins our growth,

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Credit Scores & Indians: Recent Evidence on the Prevalence of Low Scores & Borrowing

Low-income individuals are less likely than their wealthier counterparts to invest in long-term assets and educational attainment. To some extent this might simply reflect the preferences of this population. On the other hand, it may be indicative of significant obstacles that prevent poorer individuals and households from creating wealth for themselves and ultimately their communities. Borrowing and access to capital is an important means by which most individuals and households are able to buy homes, automobiles and send their children (and themselves) to school. While it is quite well documented that American Indians residing on reservations tend to be poorer than the average American citizen, we know very little about the use of credit and creditworthiness of this population.

Recent research by Dimitrova-Grajzl et al (2015) provides a useful examination of credit scores and the types of borrowing that occurs for residents of American Indian reservations. Their research uses confidential-use Equifax data that indicates both credit scores and types of outstanding loans at the US Census Block level. In the figure below, they show that the average Equifax Risk Score (“credit score”) for individuals living completely within the borders of an American Indian reservation is about 30 points lower than individuals living in adjacent, nearby or regions that straddle the reservation areas. Importantly, they note that the average credit scores is almost always below 660 over the years in this dataset.  That threshold indicates that an individual is a sub-prime borrower and often faces significant obstacles when applying for loans of any type.

Source: Dimitrova-Grajzl  et al (2015)

In other analysis, the authors control for the characteristics of the Census blocks using data from the US Census and the American Community Surveys. The authors include measures of average education level, employment level, income level. They find that these measures do not always have a strong effect on credit scores. Additionally, when they control for the percent of the Census block that is American Indian, they find that this variable has a statistically significant and negative effect on average credit scores. This is some suggestive evidence that there may be other things at work in determining credit scores for individuals residing on reservations other than pure economic measures. While the authors are not able to establish discrimination as the reason for the observed results, it remains a possibility.

From a policy perspective, the research indicates the importance of existing Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFI) which tend to work within American Indian and other Indigenous peoples’ communities. These organizations are often operated by American Indian organizations; the CDFIs fill a role that is often unmet by commercial banks or lending institutions. These organizations provide a means for those residing on reservations that face several economic and financial obstacles to borrowing to gain credit and borrowing experience. In the US today there are over 68 CDFIs serving Native American communities that have average loan sizes below $30,000 suggesting that these institutions are serving the lowest end of borrowers. Additionally, there are over 18 Native-owned banks in the US. If discrimination persists in borrowing and lending, these institutions may play an important role in remedying this problem for Native Americans seeking credit.

Tribal governments have already undertaken direct lending and loan guarantee programs themselves that serve their tribal citizens. These programs are important in helping reservation residents establish credit as well as providing access to credit. Coupled with training programs in financial literacy (as those offered by Oweesta Corporation) these opportunities should improve the credit history and credit scores of those residing on reservations. Tribal leaders and policy makers interested in expanding opportunities for Native American asset creation would do well to increase their support for Native CDFIs and training opportunities.

Dimitrova-Grajzl, Valentina, Peter Grajzl, A. Joseph Guse, Richard M. Todd. 2015. “Consumer credit on American Indian reservations.”Economic Systems, 39, pp. 518-540.

Randall Akee (Native Hawaiian) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Policy and American Indian Studies at UCLA. Dr. Akee completed his doctorate at Harvard University. He also spent several years working for the State of Hawaii Office of Hawaiian Affairs Economic Development Division. He has conducted research on several American Indian reservations, Canadian First Nations, and Pacific Island nations in addition to working in various Native Hawaiian communities. Follow me on twitter at: #indigenalysis

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Evanston provides a year of free protection services, monitoring to employees after mishandling tax information

Evanston will provide free, year-long identity theft insurance and credit monitoring to employees whose tax information was accidentally revealed in the mail.

Marty Lyons, Evanston’s chief financial officer, told members of City Council’s Administration and Public Works Committee on Monday that in addition to the employees’ social security numbers being displayed through the envelopes’ windows, the envelopes themselves were not properly sealed and were even unsealed in some cases. Lyons said he received one of these unsealed envelopes.

Employees who were impacted will have the chance to sign up to receive free credit monitoring and insurance to make sure nobody is accessing their information, Lyons said. Employees can sign up until  April 7, 2017.

“We hope (employees) take advantage of the offer to employ the security services,” Lyons said.

David Ellis, a retired Evanston firefighter and paramedic, told council members at the meeting that as a result of the exposed information on the tax forms, there were attempts to hijack information from some active firefighters and establish credit under their names. Ellis urged city officials to find a backup protection service to safeguard employees’ information for future instances.

Retired Evanston police officer Timothy Schoolmaster also received an envelope displaying his social security number, and he expressed his “dismay” toward the city’s handling of the forms at the council meeting later Monday night.

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