Theodore Roosevelt wasnt lying when he said, believe you can and youre halfway there.

But, and this is true for most small businesses, the second half of the race to success is a little more difficult.

Whys that? Because every good idea takes money to become a reality. Further, even the most successful entrepreneurs must convince investors that their plans are worth lending money to.

It is imperative for todays small business owner to understand the mechanics of building and properly utilizing business credit to fully maximize their potential in the increasing market competition once the proper foundations are built a legion of doors open up for business growth says David Acosta, CEO of Business Tradelines.

What are business people to do? In order to finish the race and get an idea, product or service to the market, many entrepreneurs must turn to business trade lines and loans.

As an entrepreneur Im sure you have the believe you can part taken care of, but what about the financing? Like any important business decision, finding a line of credit should be done carefully. Look, we all get a little zealous when we have a good idea, but that doesnt mean we have to rush things and risk doing them wrong.

Keep in mind this is a cautionary list, which implies the process of finding credit for your business or startup isnt easy. In fact, many great ideas never make it to market do to funding disputes, bad deals or failed agreements.

  1. Is your business ready for the next step?
  2. Youve all heard the line, youre only as strong as your foundation. Well, it rings just as true in the business world as it does in your personal life.

    Markets are highly competitive, and its easy for a startup or small company to lose out to competitors because they tried to rush things. That being said, its important to stop and ask yourself, is my companys foundation strong enough for the next step?

    Put your pride aside and look at the books. Are you losing money? Do you have a strong marketing plan? Once you get the line of credit, will you be able to use it wisely? Odds are you wont be looking for a business loan if your company isnt in order, yet its worth taking a solid revision.

    Its best to wait for trade lines; more money wont solve your structural problems. Once youre confident in your foundation, you can start your expansion.

  3. Is the provider charging you an up front fee?
  4. As long as theres been business theres been scammers, conmen and liars. Sadly, the internet has made it much easier for these seedy people to take advantage of optimistic entrepreneurs and business owners. These scams often happen before a company even finds an investor. To explain, many sites and services work as providers for people seeking a credit line for their business, which means they play matchmaker for your startup and a potential trade line.

    Using such a service is a smart move, but that doesnt mean its without risk. According to Business Tradelines, a leading service in the business credit industry, a warning sign of a scam in the provider phase is when they ask for money before youre matched with a line of credit.

    It should be obvious to see the danger in this, since the provider has no incentive to find you a real, ongoing source of credit if theyre paid before doing their job. Yet, too many business owners fall victim to an up front fee due to the empty promise of a too good to be true credit line. Any reputable trade line provider would agree that finding credit isnt a guaranteed thing, which is why you shouldnt have to take a gamble and pay before the deal is done.

  5. Your personal credit score
  6. Let me set the scene: you manage a profitable business and have a well-thought-out plan for expansion. According to your calculations, opening a new store will turn a profit in just a few months. All thats missing is the money to make it happen. Sounds like a winning formula for a loan, right?

    Not necessarily. If your personal credit score is low, or you have a bad reputation with creditors, then odds are youll have a difficult time finding a line of credit. This is even more true for entrepreneurs seeking a first time loan, since banks are already hesitant to fund a newcomer.

    Have bad personal credit? Hope is not lost. In fact, most experienced providers know how to avoid putting poor credit scores in your report, as well as how to boost your credit score before hitting the market. Still worried? There are many options out there, so dont be discouraged if your first loan application gets rejected.

  7. Will you be able to stick to the terms of the loan?
  8. Its a shame when a great idea is put on hold due to a lack of funding, but you have to be realistic. No matter how innovative or ambitious your plans may be, if you cant stick to the terms of the loan, then its best not to do it at all.

    In other words, credit trouble is a dangerous game to play, and though there are plenty of trade lines available, its unrealistic to believe theyre available to you if you cant respect the ones you already have.

Hopefully this isnt too intimidating. After all, finding a line of credit is a normal part of starting a new business or expanding an existing one. To make things easier, Ive compiled four things to be cautious of while looking for a line of credit.

Keeping these considerations in mind while exploring trade lines will help your business or startup find a trusted source of credit; one that will allow your company to grow.

Being ambitious and confident are necessary traits for any entrepreneur, yet no business plan can go through without funding.

That being said, its crucial to keep these four cautionary thoughts in mind before going into the market for trade lines. If approached smartly, the hunt for credit can be an exciting step towards accomplishing your goals.

March 4, 2015 · Manage Debt · (No comments)

BRUSSELS/WASHINGTON Western powers are preparing what they say may be their most potent weapon against Moscows interference inUkraine amulti billion dollar aid package torebuild anear-bankrupt state andrealize theEuropean dream cherished bymany Ukrainians.

There is just one problem: Foreign governments andinternational financing institutions are not willing topour money intoa dysfunctional state. Only this week thebusinessman brought inby thenew authorities toclean up thetax service was himself suspended pending acorruption inquiry.

Donors say theformer Soviet republic, crippled bywar andcorruption, is unable or unwilling even toidentify how many roads, power plants andschools its 45 million people need, let alone meet new European standards forfarms andfactories.

Theres strong resistance because many people invarious ways benefited fromthe old, inefficient andlargely corrupt system, said Kalman Mizsei, thehead ofthe EUs advisory mission toUkraine.

Ukraine is one ofthe worlds most corrupt places, ranking as 142 out of175 inTransparency Internationals corruption perception index. Bysome estimates, theshadow economy accounts forup to60 percent ofeconomic output.

Ina telling remark as he suspended tax chief Ihor Bilous onTuesday, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk complained that while theagencys honesty improved after theMaidan protests ousted theold regime, it had gone back toworking like it always did.

Despite thezeal ofUkrainian President Petro Poroshenko andhis new, US-born finance minister, stabilizing theeconomy with thehelp ofthe International Monetary Fund is only thestart.

Beyond thefinance ministry, where not only IMF but German, Canadian andPolish experts help manage debt andthe budget, neglected government departments have few computers or staff with language skills tocommunicate with foreign advisers.

The public administration needed torun astate is simply not there, said one Western donor consultant working inKiev, who described mid-level bureaucrats responsible forimplementing projects as ineffective, demotivated andunderpaid.

Another EU consultant described how he tried inDecember tohelp aUkrainian official establish how many state-funded schools there were inthe country. They never reached ananswer.

Thesituation also risks being exacerbated bydonors such as theEuropean Union, Norway andCanada who, wary ofmoney being misspent, insist onbeing seen as investors seeking acomprehensive roadmap fromKiev before adonors conference can be held inApril.

We have toavoid abottomless pit. We want tohave aprecise plan, said European Commissioner Johannes Hahn, who is responsible forthe EUs neighborhood policy. I cant rely onannouncements that something will happen by2015, 2016.

Asked about overcoming corruption andmodernizing thebureaucracy, Ukraines Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko said Kiev needed more time: Its something that starts atthe top andhas topermeate, she said. Its alonger-term challenge.

A$65 Billion Offer?

Offers ofassistance reflect theWests determination topull Ukraine out ofRussias sphere ofinfluence andbring it intothe fold ofEuropean nations, encouraged byprotesters who toppled thepro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych ayear ago.

How much money is available is not crystal clear. Forbudget support, Ukraine has agreed a$17.5 billion program with theIMF, plus up to$7 billion fromthe European Union, theUnited States andthe World Bank. Ukraine also expects $15 billion tocome through debt restructuring.

Ukraine has received pledges ofloans andloan guarantees fromthe likes ofthe EU, Switzerland, Japan andCanada ofsome $10 billion. Adonor conference inKiev could raise another $15 billion, theEUs Hahn has estimated though it is far fromclear when donors might be ready tomade pledges.

That figure cited byHahn would give atotal of$64.5 billion inaid, making it one ofthe worlds largest international assistance programs inrecent years.

Aid efforts are also linked topreparing Ukraine fora trade agreement with theEU, adeal that lies atthe center ofthe stand-off with Russia because Moscow wanted Kiev tojoin its Eurasian customs union.

Under that agreement, Ukraine will have tolift its standards tosell its poultry, dairy andmeat products toEU consumers. The500 million euros that thedeal would save Ukraine incuts toEU import duties depend onthose reforms.

But without some kind ofbreakthrough onhow tospend themoney, officials say privately that thedonor aid is wishful thinking because development banks need projects tobe proposed tothem, as well as toattract bids fromcompanies forthe work.

Investors have so far mostly come intoUkraine ononly thesafest, private-sector projects, or municipal projects backed bya citys budget.

Ukraine needs toreform its judiciary. Companies dread going tocourt inUkraine, said anofficial ata development bank. The chances ofthem losing acase is 99 percent because thejudiciary is inthe pocket ofwhoever is inpower.

According toa new study byinsurer Willis Group Holdings andconsultancy Oxford Analytica, firms are likely tolose more money inUkraine over a10-year period than inVenezuela. It is only aslightly safer bet than North Korea.

March 4, 2015 · Financial Partners · (No comments)

The only thing thats the same is the number: 5000.

Its been 15 long years since the Nasdaq composite index hit its Internet-stock-fueled 5000 zenith. Its been a slow climb back – one charged mostly by companies that most investors wouldnt have given even a second thought when they were chasing the trendiest dot-coms. Many of the big winners that pushed the Nasdaq back to 5000 werent even stocks in March 2000.

Getting back to even – even with the radical change in leadership among the dominant technology companies – gives long-suffering investors a tangible reason to think the dot-com bust is finally a thing of the past.

Its very psychological with most retail investors, says Jeffrey Carbone, of Cornerstone Financial Partners. It should continue to increase confidence.

PHOENIX, Feb. 23, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Samuel Adams in partnership with Accion Arizona announced they are hosting their signature small business Speed Coaching event in Phoenix for the first time on Monday, February 23. Designed to provide expert, customized business advice, the event is part of Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream, a micro-lending and coaching program for small business owners working in the food, beverage and craft brewing industries.

During the Speed Coaching, which will be held from 7:00 pm 9:30 pm MST at Co+Hoots (1027 East Washington Street #107), food and beverage entrepreneurs have the opportunity to participate in up to six 20-minute, one-on-one, high-impact sessions. Coaches will include experts from Samuel Adams and Accion Arizona, along with local area business professionals. Topics covered will include sales and distribution, packaging, finance, e-commerce, and marketing – to name a few. While the event is free, small business owners should register online at http://btadphoenix.eventbrite.com.

Participants are also encouraged to bring samples of product, packaging, and other items that they want feedback on, and should come prepared with questions regarding specific challenges their businesses are facing. For example, a small business owner may want to ask a finance professional for advice on how to competitively price his/her product.

Theres no question that Phoenix is one of the best places in the country to start a small business, but if young companies are going to grow its extremely importantthey have the right support early on, said Jim Koch, founder and brewer of Samuel Adams. One of the reasons were excited to bring our Brewing the American Dream Speed Coaching to the area is because weve seen the impact coaching events like this have had in other cities, and are looking forward to working with Phoenixs passionate entrepreneurs.

Microloans for Small Business

While Speed Coaching is making its Phoenix debut, Brewing the American Dream has been providing microloans to small businesses throughout the region since 2012 in partnership with nonprofit micro-and small business lender Accion. Typically ranging from $500-$25,000, the funding often helps local small business owners whove been turned down by traditional lenders due to lack of credit, the small size of the loan request, or the volatile nature of the food and beverage industry.

We are pleased to partner with Samuel Adams in bringing the Brewing the American Dream program to entrepreneurs in Phoenix this year, said Anne Haines Yatskowitz, President and CEO of Accion Arizona. The program advances local small businesses by providing access to essential resources: Mentorship, training and financing, three key ingredients to promote growth and success. The unique combination of funding and coaching helps grow businesses that drive our local economy and create needed jobs.

Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream: Inspiration and Impact

Samuel Adams is celebrating 31 years of brewing, and despite the craft brewerys success, Jim Koch hasnt forgotten how hard it is to start and run a successful small business. Thats why he created Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream, a unique program that provides the two things he wishes he had when starting Samuel Adams: financing and real-world business advice.

Launched in 2008 in partnership with Accion, the nations leading nonprofit provider of small business capital and coaching, Brewing the American Dream has coached more than 4,000 small business owners, provided over $3.5 million in microloans to nearly 400 small businesses, and helped create or retain more than 2,000 jobs. The program has also seen an unprecedented loan repayment rate of 98.1 percent well above the national average for small business loans. To learn more about the program, please visit: http://btad.samueladams.com.

Samuel Adams, Sam Adams, Samuel Adams Boston Lager, and Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream are registered trademarks of The Boston Beer Company.

About Samuel Adams and The Boston Beer Company

The Boston Beer Company began in 1984 with a generations-old family recipe that Founder and Brewer Jim Koch uncovered in his fathers attic. Inspired and unafraid to challenge conventional thinking about beer, Jim brought the recipe to life in his kitchen. Pleased with the results of his work, Jim decided to sample his beer with bars in Boston in the hopes that drinkers would appreciate the complex, full-flavored beer he brewed fresh in America. That beer was aptly named Samuel Adams Boston Lager, in recognition of one of our nations great founding fathers, a man of independent mind and spirit. Little did Jim know at the time, Samuel Adams Boston Lager soon became a catalyst of the American craft beer revolution.

Today, The Boston Beer Company brews more than 60 styles of beer. It relentlessly pursues the development of new styles and the perfection of classic beers by searching the world for the finest ingredients. Using the traditional four vessel brewing process, the Company often takes extra steps like dry-hopping, barrel-aging and a secondary fermentation known as krausening. The Company has also pioneered another revolution, the extreme beer movement, where it seeks to challenge drinkers perceptions of what beer can be. The Boston Beer Company has been committed to elevating the image of American craft beer by entering festivals and competitions around the globe, and is one of the worlds most awarded breweries at international beer competitions. As an independent company, brewing quality beer remains its single focus. Although Samuel Adams beer is Americas largest-selling craft beer, it accounts for only one percent of the US beer market. The Boston Beer Company will continue its independently-minded quest to brew great beer and to advocate for the growth of craft beer across America. For more information, please visit www.samueladams.com.

About Accion in the US
In seeking a partner for Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream the company turned to Accion to facilitate lending to hardworking business owners seeking to grow. As the largest nationwide nonprofit micro-and small business lending network in the United States, Accion connects small business owners with the accessible financing and advice it takes to create or grow healthy businesses. In Arizona, Accion has offices in Phoenix and Tucson, and serves entrepreneurs across the state with business loans up to $750,000, along with training, networking and other support services. Since 1991, members of the Accion US Network have collectively made over 53,000 loans, totaling over $436 million. Additionally, over 500,000 business owners across the nation have turned to Accion for financial and business advice via workshops, online tools, and one-on-one consultations. Globally, Accion (www.accion.org) is a pioneer in microfinance, reaching millions of individuals through its international network of partners. For more information on Accion small business loans in the United States, please visit us.accion.org.

SOURCE Samuel Adams Boston Beer

RELATED LINKS
http://www.samueladams.com

March 4, 2015 · Manage Debt · (No comments)

When the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire at the end of this year, the world will have made significant progress on poverty reduction, the provision of safe drinking water and sanitation, and other important objectives. In order to ensure that the next development agenda, underpinned by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), produces even greater progress, world leaders must refine and optimize the MDG framework particularly when it comes tofinancing.

The MDGs brought together governments, multilateral organizations, and NGOs to support the implementation of key programs and policies, with global partnerships advocating for resources. In order to maximize efficiency, the MDGs were pursued and funded individually, rather than as a unit, with new initiatives being implemented when targets were not being met. But this approach created some imbalances, with global health and education initiatives attracting far more financing than otherefforts.

This sectoral model must be reevaluated ahead of the next development agendas launch to ensure that such imbalances do not persist. Doing so is particularly important, given that the proposed SDGs attempt to incorporate the social, economic, and environmental dimensions of sustainable development, making them more comprehensive and interdependent than theMDGs.

World leaders will have three critical opportunities to develop an integrated approach. In July, the United Nations will hold a conference on financing for development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In September, the UN General Assembly will convene to launch the SDGs. And in December, world leaders will attend the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, where they are expected to adopt a binding global agreement on the long-term reduction of greenhouse-gasemissions.

Given the vital importance of finance in supporting development initiatives, it should be among the first issues to be addressed. World leaders must avoid making the same mistake they made with the MDGs the implementation of which was delayed for two years, until financing was agreed at the 2002 Monterrey Consensus by developing an effective and traceable financing program at their earliest opportunity: the conference in AddisAbaba.

The urgency consists partly in the scope of financing that the SDGs will require an amount that will far exceed the resources needed to implement the MDGs. Beyond funding for initiatives aimed at eradicating poverty and hunger, improving health and education, strengthening governance, and promoting gender equality, investments must be made in infrastructure, energy, and agriculture. The SDGs will also call for financing global public goods, including environmental protection and efforts to combat climate change and mitigate itsimpact.

The urgency consists partly in the scope of financing that the SDGs will require an amount that will far exceed the resources needed to implement the MDGs. Beyond funding for initiatives aimed at eradicating poverty and hunger, improving health and education, strengthening governance, and promoting gender equality, investments must be made in infrastructure, energy, andagriculture.

With governments and international donors unable to foot the bill alone, they must develop programs and policies that can channel a larger share of global savings, which now amount to roughly $22 trillion annually, toward the SDGs. Specifically, national and local governments and international financial institutions should leverage their resources by deploying tailored financing measures, including public-private partnerships, performance-based instruments, and a variety of credit and political risk guarantees. This range of financing measures, adjusted to each countrys needs and strengths, can help mitigate risks and improvecollaboration.

This will be especially pertinent for emerging middle-income economies. As these countries strengthen their creditworthiness and improve their capacity to manage debt and equity instruments, they will have at their disposal a larger toolkit of financing instruments with which to attract private-sectorresources.

By tapping private resources, emerging economies can free up much-needed official development assistance (ODA), which can then be channeled toward poverty-reduction efforts and to countries that international private financial flows largely bypass (and that thus have a lower capacity to raise resources domestically). Viable financing solutions should be considered on a case-by-case basis across countries andsectors.

To ensure that the Addis Ababa conference produces the needed action, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and several regional multilateral development banks (MDBs) are working on a joint approach that will leverage billions of dollars in grant and ODA funds into the trillions needed to finance the post-2015agenda.

MDBs already help, individually and collectively, to leverage scarce official assistance to attract enough capital to finance development projects. In fact, their financial leverage is built into their structure: they are fundamentally financial institutions, funded efficiently by small amounts of paid-in capital, which is backed by callable capital fromshareholders.

The MDBs also have significant operational leverage, stemming from their capacity to establish through innovation, intermediation, and market creation conditions that are attractive to the private sector, thereby producing sustainable solutions and investment opportunities. And they provide integrated, cross-sectoral inputs, by investing in the systems, institutions, and capacities that are needed to achieve developmentgoals.

To support this joint approach, the World Bank is providing an analysis, based on 11 case studies, of how countries in diverse circumstances can use a combination of public, private, domestic, and international sources of financing most effectively to fund the implementation of the SDGs. The analysis will also recommend a pragmatic approach to assessing the SDGs financing needs at the countrylevel.

The MDBs will discuss their common approach at Aprils IMF-World Bank Group Spring Meetings. Their ability to identify tangible financing solutions will be crucial to set the stage for the Addis Ababa conference in July and, indeed, for the successful implementation of the SDGs and the post-2015 developmentagenda.

Mahmoud Mohieldin is Corporate Secretary and the Presidents Special Envoy at the World Bank Group. Marco Scuriatti is Special Assistant at the Office of the Presidents Envoy on the Post-2015 Agenda at the World Bank Group.

Copyright: Project Syndicate, 2015.
www.project-syndicate.org

March 4, 2015 · Manage Debt · Comments Off

Building a financial plan is a lot like building a house: Both need a strong foundation to support your needs and last you a lifetime. Whether you?re just starting out or revisiting your finances after a family or lifestyle change, these four steps can help you lay the cornerstones of a solid financial plan:

1. Understand Your Cash Flow. If you get to the end of the month and wonder, ?Where did all the money go?? you?re not alone. It can be helpful to write down what you spend your money on for a couple of months, then compare how you?re doing to the following rule of thumb: 20-60-20. Your monthly expenses should fall into these percentages:

  • 20% on saving and investing. Saving and investing includes setting aside money for emergencies, investing money for your retirement, as well as saving and investing for larger expenses that fall in between.
  • 60% on essential expenses. Housing, transportation, food, health care and the cost of raising your kids are all considered essential. It can be difficult to quickly change essential expenses, but if your essential expenses are more than 60 percent, you might consider things like buying or renting a less expensive home or buying a more fuel-efficient car.
  • 20% on discretionary expenses. Household and personal expenses, such as entertainment, clothing, dining out and personal care, should add up to 20 percent of your monthly take-home pay. Many of these expenses are ?wants? rather than ?needs,? so this is where you might cut first if you are spending more than you make.

2. Develop a Plan to Save and Invest. The key to achieving your financial goals is having a plan for both saving (setting aside money for short-term needs in a safe account in which there is no risk of losing your money) and investing (putting your money in something like a mutual fund or stocks, which carry the risk that you could lose value with the potential for a greater gain over time). You?ll need a mix of both savings and investment accounts, starting with these two:

  • Emergency fund. In the event of a financial setback, illness or unexpected expense, you?ll want an emergency fund?enough to cover three to six months of expenses?in a savings account or other safe account that?s easily accessed within three to five days without penalty.
  • 401(k) or other retirement plan. If you have a retirement plan at work that features an employer match, take advantage of that extra money by contributing at least up to the point where the match ends. If you don?t have access to a plan at work, open your own IRA with automatic deposits from your paycheck.

Once you have those two accounts in place, you?ll be ready to save and invest for other goals, including short- and mid-term needs, college funding for your children and additional money for retirement.

3. Manage Debt Strategically. Not all debt is created equal. Some debt, like a home mortgage, offers tax advantages and helps you pay for an essential expense, a place to live. ?Bad? debt is any debt that carries a high interest rate, doesn?t offer tax advantages and goes toward a nonessential purpose or purchase. Of course, you have to make the required payments on all of your debt, but strategic management means that you make extra payments to pay off bad debt before paying off good debt. Make payments in this order:

  • High interest rate credit cards. If you make just the minimum payment on your credit card bill, it could take years to pay it off and cost you as much as twice the original purchase price for an item. Pay off this debt as quickly as possible.
  • Nondeductible debt. Once you?re able to pay off your credit card balance each month, concentrate on nondeductible debt, such as car payments or personal loans. Interest on these items is not tax deductible, and you may save interest costs if you pay them off early.
  • Deductible debt. The last type of debt to pay off is deductible debt, such as a mortgage, home equity loan or qualified student loan, that may offer tax advantages (within certain income and mortgage limits). Check with your tax or financial advisor first?there may be situations where you can invest that extra cash each month and earn a better return than the interest rate you are paying on the loan.

4. Protect your assets and income. Your earning potential is your most important asset. When you?re young, disability and death may be the last thing on your mind?but actually, that?s when it?s most important to protect your family against the risk of losing your lifetime earnings. Make sure you are covered by these policies:

  • Disability insurance. You?re nearly twice as likely to be injured or disabled by illness than to die during your working years.1 Disability insurance can help ensure you?re able to maintain your standard of living if you have an accident or become too sick to work.
  • Life insurance. Life insurance protects your survivors in the event you die prematurely. In addition to the death benefit, permanent life insurance policies accumulate cash value. That?s money that you could eventually access for emergencies or opportunities like an unexpected house repair or college. If you no longer need the full death benefit, you could also eventually use the cash value to supplement your retirement.
  • Property/casualty insurance. Also called liability insurance, property/casualty protects you in the event you are legally liable for injuries to another person or damage to their property in an accident. It also protects you if you are injured by someone with inadequate or no insurance.
March 3, 2015 · Manage Debt · Comments Off

Illustration: Lu Ting/GT

When the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire at the end of this year, the world will have made significant progress on poverty reduction, the provision of safe drinking water and sanitation and other important objectives. In order to ensure that the next development agenda, underpinned by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), produces even greater progress, world leaders must refine and optimize the MDG framework – particularly when it comes to financing.

The MDGs brought together governments, multilateral organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to support the implementation of key programs and policies, with global partnerships advocating for resources. In order to maximize efficiency, the MDGs were pursued and funded individually, rather than as a unit, with new initiatives being implemented when targets were not being met. But this approach created some imbalances, with global health and education initiatives attracting far more financing than other efforts.

This sectoral model must be reevaluated ahead of the next development agendas launch to ensure that such imbalances do not persist. Doing so is particularly important, given that the proposed SDGs attempt to incorporate the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainable development, making them more comprehensive and interdependent than the MDGs.

World leaders will have three critical opportunities to develop an integrated approach. In July, the United Nations (UN) will hold a conference on financing for development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In September, the UN General Assembly will convene to launch the SDGs. And in December, world leaders will attend the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, where they are expected to adopt a binding global agreement on the long-term reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions.

Given the vital importance of finance in supporting development initiatives, it should be among the first issues to be addressed. World leaders must avoid making the same mistake they made with the MDGs – the implementation of which was delayed for two years, until financing was agreed at the 2002 Monterrey Consensus – by developing an effective and traceable financing program at their earliest opportunity: the conference in Addis Ababa.

The urgency consists partly in the scope of financing that the SDGs will require – an amount that will far exceed the resources needed to implement the MDGs. Beyond funding for initiatives aimed at eradicating poverty and hunger, improving health and education, strengthening governance and promoting gender equality, investments must be made in infrastructure, energy and agriculture. The SDGs will also call for financing global public goods, including environmental protection and efforts to combat climate change and mitigate its impact.

With governments and international donors unable to foot the bill alone, they must develop programs and policies that can channel a larger share of global savings, which now amount to roughly $22 trillion annually, toward the SDGs. Specifically, national and local governments and international financial institutions should leverage their resources by deploying tailored financing measures, including public-private partnerships, performance-based instruments, and a variety of credit and political risk guarantees. This range of financing measures, adjusted to each countrys needs and strengths, can help mitigate risks and improve collaboration.

This will be especially pertinent for emerging middle-income economies. As these countries strengthen their creditworthiness and improve their capacity to manage debt and equity instruments, they will have at their disposal a larger toolkit of financing instruments with which to attract private-sector resources.

By tapping private resources, emerging economies can free up much-needed official development assistance (ODA), which can then be channeled toward poverty-reduction efforts and to countries that international private financial flows largely bypass (and that thus have a lower capacity to raise resources domestically). Viable financing solutions should be considered on a case-by-case basis across countries and sectors.

To ensure that the Addis Ababa conference produces the needed action, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and several regional multilateral development banks (MDBs) are working on a joint approach that will leverage billions of dollars in grant and ODA funds into the trillions needed to finance the post-2015 agenda.

MDBs already help, individually and collectively, to leverage scarce official assistance to attract enough capital to finance development projects. In fact, their financial leverage is built into their structure: they are fundamentally financial institutions, funded efficiently by small amounts of paid-in capital, which is backed by callable capital from shareholders.

The MDBs also have significant operational leverage, stemming from their capacity to establish – through innovation, intermediation, and market creation – conditions that are attractive to the private sector, thereby producing sustainable solutions and investment opportunities. And they provide integrated, cross-sectoral inputs, by investing in the systems, institutions, and capacities that are needed to achieve development goals.

To support this joint approach, the World Bank is providing an analysis, based on 11 case studies, of how countries in diverse circumstances can use a combination of public, private, domestic and international sources of financing most effectively to fund the implementation of the SDGs. The analysis will also recommend a pragmatic approach to assessing the SDGs financing needs at the country level.

The MDBs will discuss their common approach at Aprils IMF-World Bank Group Spring Meetings. Their ability to identify tangible financing solutions will be crucial to set the stage for the Addis Ababa conference in July – and, indeed, for the successful implementation of the SDGs and the post-2015 development agenda.

The authors are the Corporate Secretary and the Presidents Special Envoy at the World Bank Group and the Special Assistant at the Office of the Presidents Envoy on the Post-2015 Agenda at the World Bank Group.

Copyright: Project Syndicate, 2015.

bizopinion@globaltimes.com.cn.

March 3, 2015 · Fundings · Comments Off

Dropbox, in a move that will surely have investors wondering about the storage startups IPO plans, is replacing its insider CFO Sujay Jaswa with former Motorola Mobility CFO Vanessa Wittman.

The San Francisco company confirmed the move after Re/code called about the impending change.

The shift puts in place a top financial exec with strong public company experience, as well as a link to COO Dennis Woodside. Wittman worked with him at the Google-owned company.

Jaswa who has been at Dropbox since 2010 and has been a key exec of co-founder and CEO Drew Houston only got his CFO job a year ago, after the company looked at a number of external candidates. The former venture capitalist at New Enterprise Associates will be moving back into some kind of unspecified investing job, but will also remain a special adviser to the company.

At Dropbox, Jaswa led international expansion, several large deals and massive fundings, which have ultimately valued the company at $10 billion. Sources said it is currently working on some additional funding to expand its infrastructure that could raise its market value to $11 billion.

Wittman has longtime experience in the public sector. She was CFO at Marsh amp; McLennan and a corporate development exec at Microsoft. Wittman also worked in finance at Morgan Stanley, as a VC at Sterling Payot and as a CFO of both 360Networks and Metricom.

Perhaps most interestingly, she was also CFO at cable giant Adelphia in the wake of its epic implosion and was charged with cleaning up the vast accounting nightmare through its bankruptcy.

Wittman starts her financial reign in March and will surely face a lot of questions about when Dropbox is going public. Most observers do not expect an IPO until 2016 its still not clear if the company is profitable, although annual revenue estimates are about $200 million.

“There are very few companies that have the potential to completely shape the way we interact with technology on a daily basis, said Wittman in a statement to Re/code. This is what has attracted me to Dropbox.

Said Houston, praising Jaswa: Sujay joined Dropbox back in 2010 and before long was running the entire business side of the company. He built our business teams from scratch, raised more than a billion dollars, and hired some of our strongest leaders.

And lets give Jaswa the last word (because why not?): The last four years have been an incredible journey as Dropbox has grown from just 25 people in a small office on Market Street to a multi-billion dollar company with hundreds of millions of users around the world, he said.

March 3, 2015 · Manage Debt · Comments Off

Operator

Welcome to the Forest City Enterprises Fourth Quarter and Year End 2014 Earnings Conference Call.

The company would like to remind you that todays remarks include forward-looking comments that are covered under Federal Safe Harbor provisions. Actual results could differ materially from those expressed or implied in such forward-looking statements due to various risks and uncertainties and other factors. Please refer to the risk factors outlined in Forest Citys annual and quarterly reports filed with the SEC for discussion of factors that could cause results to differ.

This call is being recorded and a replay will be available beginning at 4 PM Eastern Time today. Both the telephone replay and the webcast will be available until March 25, 2015 11:59 PM Eastern Time. The company would like to remind listeners that this we will be using non-GAAP terminology such as Operating FFO, FFO, net operating income comparable property net operating income or comp NOI and pro rata share in its discussions today.

Please refer to Forest Citys quarterly report filed with the SEC and supplemental package which are posted on the companys website at www.forestcity.net for an explanation of these terms and why the company uses them as well as reconciliations to their comparable financial measures in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. Participants on the call will have the opportunity to ask questions following the companys prepared comments.

I would now like to turn the call over to Forest Citys President and CEO, David LaRue. Please go ahead, Mr. LaRue.

Dave LaRue

Thank you, operator and good morning everyone. With me is Bob OBrien, our Chief Financial Officer. We are pleased to be with you today and share our fourth quarter and year end results and update you on where we stand today and what we see for the year ahead. We also look forward to your questions.

Before we go further we are deeply saddened by the news yesterday that a worker died in a construction related accident at the Barclays Center Arena. This is a terrible tragedy and our thoughts go out to the family and friends of this individual.

Today, we will be using slides in this call. If you are on the webcast youre already seeing the slides in the webcast player. You can advance the slides with us using the arrow in the lower right-hand corner of the player. You can also download todays earnings call slides from the Investor section of our website at www.forestcity.net.

Lets look at the agenda for todays call on Slide 3.

I will begin with an overview of the fourth quarter and full year 2014 results including development activity. I also will provide brief updates on our fourth quarter impairment and the NETS and Barclays Center and comments on our planned re-conversion which we announced last month. Bob will then provide more details into our results and give an update on asset dispositions. I will give an overview on our recent openings and projects under construction and offer some closing thoughts and then we will get to your questions.

Turning now to Slide 4, as you saw in our earnings release which went out yesterday afternoon, we closed out very positive 2014 with a strong fourth quarter results across our portfolio. FFO in the fourth quarter was $220.2 million or $0.95 a share giving us total FFO for the year of $394.6 million or $1.75 per share. FFO in the fourth quarter included net gains on changing control of interest at two properties that contributed approximately $140 million net of tax or $0.59 per share to FFO.

As we noted in our press release excluding those gains, FFO for the year would have been $1.16 per share versus consensus estimates of $1.11 per share. Operating FFO was also up significantly for both fourth quarter and full year. O-FFO in the quarter was $78.1 million up 52% over the same period in 2013 and full year O-FFO was $248.4 million up 51% increase over 2013.

Negatively impacting earnings was a pretax impairment in the fourth quarter related to our B2 Brooklyn project and the modular factory of $146 million of which $38.7 million represented the write-off of the factory. While the impairment is a disappointment we are confident in our ability to complete the building and expect to open in the third quarter of 2016. We are seeking to recover damages including the cost to complete the B2 project under our lump sum agreement with our former construction manager.

We had a strong fourth quarter operating results from our portfolio led by retail and office. The comp NOI in the fourth quarter was up 7.7% with an increase of 10.5% in retail, 9.2% in office and 2.8% in residential. Bob will provide color and comp NOI growth in each of our primary asset classes later in the call.

Stapleton in Denver also had a great year both in terms of sales and margins. On Slide 5, you will see a graph showing the sales of lots to builders over the last five years. 2014 was the third-best year in project history in terms of lot sales. Stapletons 2014 performance ranked as Colorados fastest-growing master-planned community according to Metro Study and is the sixth fastest growing in the nation according to RCLCO.

We continue to be activate in title development opportunities in our core markets and move new projects through our pipeline into our portfolio. You can see the renderings in some of our newest projects on Slide 6. During the fourth quarter we started four new projects including 1001, 4th Street, Southwest an apartment project at Waterfront Station in Washington DC that is part of our residential development fund with the Arizona State Retirement Systems or ASRS.

We also started 535 Carlton at Pacific Park, Brooklyn that is part of our strategic partnership with [Greenland, USA]. In addition, we staged a groundbreaking event with our partner on 550 Vanderbilt Avenue, the first condominium building at Pacific Park Brooklyn and expect that the building to be added to our under construction pipeline in the second quarter.

Also during the fourth quarter, we began work on 1812 Ashton Avenue, 164,000 square foot office building that is 70% pre-leased at our Science and Technology Park at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. I will provide more detail on the pipelines including overall anticipated starts in 2015 later in the call.

Before I turn the call over to Bob, let me provide a quick update on two other topics. First is the NETS and Barclays Center Arena. Slide 7 shows the current ownership structure of those two assets. As we stated previously, we are exploring the potential sale of our non-controlling minority interest in the NETS and a potential recapitalization of Barclays Center Arena. In addition, Onexim, our majority partners in the NETS has publicly acknowledged that they are open to listening to offers on the theme.

Our objective is to maximize value in any potential transaction and we believe we can best achieve that by coordinating with our partner. We would hope to have a potential sale or sales under contract if not closed this year. Of course, I need to add that no transaction for either our interest in the team or the arena can be guaranteed. In January, we announced that our Board had approved the plan under which we intend to convert to a Real Estate Investment Trust effective January 2016. That process is well underway. There is a lot of work ahead of us, but we anticipate meeting our deadline and achieving a smooth transition at year-end. As we indicated in our January announcement we expect to provide more details by mid-year.

With that, let me turn the call over to Bob.

Bob OBrien

Thanks Dave. Good morning everybody. I certainly want to echo Daves comments about the strengths that our overall business demonstrated in 2014. It was a great year, we have an ambitious agenda for 2015 and were excited about getting to that as well.

I also want to mention to everyone on the call that in addition to the slides that accompany todays call, we have a fully updated 2014 year-end investor deck that is now available in the Investor section of our website. Especially for those who may be new to following Forest City, I encourage you to take a look.

A number of the key elements of our strong 2014 performance can be seen in our operating FFO results for the year, so I would like to begin by walking through the year-end 2014 O-FFO bridge which is Slide 8 in the presentation, its also on Page 34 in our supplemental package.

On the left-side of the bridge, you see our 2013 O-FFO of $164.2 million. Moving to the right, we had decreased interest expense both corporate and in the mature portfolio of $33.2 million, a direct reflection of our efforts to delever our business, improve our balance sheet and effectively manage debt at the property level.

Next to that is increased NOI from our mature portfolio of $23.9 million. There are times when our development activity tends to overshadow our operating portfolio. This years NOI performance is particularly gratifying because it clearly shows the quality and productivity of our mature rental propertys portfolio and the strength of the core markets where we are focused.

The next block is $23 million of other increased O-FFO primarily lower expensed overhead as we have activated more opportunities from our development pipeline and capitalized more overhead to those projects. Notably with our strategic partners investing alongside us in the majority of this new development, we are able to effectively balance both risk and capital requirements a win-win for both us and our partners.

Next you see $21.9 million in higher land sales at Stapleton compared to the prior year. As Dave said, Stapleton had a great year and continues to contribute meaningfully to our results. The next item is $10.8 million of increased operating FFO from new property openings showing a net positive contribution for properties opened but not yet included in our mature portfolio.

That last green block is increased operating FFO of $8.9 million around 2014 legal settlement. All those gains were partially offset by reduced operating FFO from property sold of $37.5 million, a reflection of our program of non-core asset sales bringing us to our full year 2014 operating FFO of $248.4 million, a 51% improvement over the prior year.

Moving on to Slide 9, you see the results of a very active year in asset dispositions primarily a non-core markets as well as our joint-venture activity with Greenland and ASRS. We ended 2014 with total net proceeds from these combined efforts of approximately $448 million. Our program of asset sales and joint ventures has been a key part of our efforts to delever our balance sheet, focus our portfolio on strong urban market and invest in new opportunities in those markets.

Turning to some of our operating metrics earlier Dave touched on our portfolio level comp NOI levels for the quarter. I will comment on a few of the major ones and the drivers behind them as summarized on Slide 10.

Retail comp NOI which is up 10.5% was partially driven by growth at our Westchester Ridge Hill in Yonkers, New York. Ridge Hill was added to our comp retail portfolio properties in the third quarter of 2014 and has shown good quarter-over-quarter growth and reached 80% leased in the fourth quarter. As we pointed out in the press release excluding Ridge Hill growth in our retail comp NOI wouldve been 7.4% that strong showing reflects the quality of our retail assets and the markets they are in as well as the impact of our ongoing program of renovations, expansions and remerchandising at regional malls.

On a rolling 12-month basis rents on new same-space leases rose 26.9% in our regional malls. Our office comp NOI which grew 9.2% in the fourth quarter was driven primarily by the lease up of vacancies at One Pierpoint Plaza in Brooklyn. Again, those of you who have followed us for the past couple of years know that significant vacancies at Pierpoint held down our office performance in prior periods. Were not benefiting from the successful lease up of the majority of that space.

Growth at Pierpoint was partially offset by the timing of vacancies at 88 Sydney Street at University Park at MIT in Cambridge. Approximately 70% of the vacancy at 88 Sidney Street has now been re-leased. As we indicated in our press release with these two successful lease ups in the stable fundamentals in our core markets, we expect continued solid comp NOI growth in the office sector for the balance of 2015. At year-end rents for new same-space leases in our office portfolio were up 5.5% on a rolling 12 month basis.

Comp NOI in the residential portfolio was up 2.8% as most of you know over the past 2+ years, our residential comp NOI growth has generally outpaced peer averages. So we are going up against some significant prior period gains. Also as anticipated new supply in certain core markets including Boston and Washington DC has put some near-term pressure on rent growth as new units are observed in those markets. We believe this is temporary and were certainly confident in the long-term strength and overall growth prospects of these markets, in particular the submarkets where we are focused.

In addition, we continue to see considerable strength in Brooklyn as well as in Los Angeles and San Francisco on the West Coast. In the fourth quarter, total comparable monthly average rents in our apartment portfolio grew 2.2%.

Before I turn the call back to Dave for a pipeline update and closing thoughts, let me give a brief update on our expectations around non-core asset dispositions as summarized on Slide 11.

Dave commented earlier on the NETS and Barclays Center. In addition to those, we are exploring a potential sale or joint venture of 625 Fulton, a development site at our MetroTech Center Campus in Brooklyn. As we have previously disclosed, were also looking at the potential sale or a joint venture of a majority of our remaining downtown Cleveland office assets in the adjoining retail at Tower City Center.

Were also actively marketing a potential transaction for our Illinois Science and Technology Park near Chicago. And lastly we have a legacy portfolio of assets consisting of 33 apartment communities and four office buildings mainly suburban where we are also exploring opportunities for outright sales or joint ventures.

In our January announcement about the Boards approval of the plan for re-conversion, we indicated, we expect total 2015 asset sales to generate total net proceeds well in excess of our historical averages. Given the unpredictable nature of sale negotiations however, were not prepared to put a specific dollar figure on total 2015 dispositions today. We expect to gain greater clarity as the year progresses and to update the market accordingly.

As Dave stated earlier though no specific transactions can be guaranteed, we will not transact if we feel the economics are not right. Its also important to note the successful completion of these or other asset sales in 2015 is not a requirement for our re-conversion.

With that, let me turn it back to Dave.

Dave LaRue

Thanks Bob. Details of on our recent openings and projects currently under construction are included in our press release and filings. I will touch on a few highlights here and we will be happy to answer your question – any specific questions during Qamp;A.

As you can see from our year end pipeline on Slide 12, for the full year 2014, we opened five new properties all of them multifamily apartments and completed the renovation and expansion of one of our regional malls in Southern California. These projects added almost 300 million of completed rental properties to our pro rata balance sheet.

We ended the year with nine projects under construction, six of those projects are apartments and of the six three are part of our ASRS development fund and one is part of our strategic partnership with Greenland, USA. The remaining projects under construction at year-end include two office buildings one at University Park at MIT that is fully leased and one at the Science and Technology Park at Johns Hopkins that is already 70% leased.

The final project is an expansion of our Galleria at Sunset regional mall in Henderson Nevada outside of Las Vegas, which is part of our partnership with QIC. Upon completion these projects currently under construction will add approximately $500 million and completed rental properties that are shared to the balance sheet.

As we stated in our press release in 2015, we expect to start nine additional projects at a total cost of approximately 950 million at 100% or 390 million at our pro rata share. Of the nine, five are expected to be undertaken through our partnerships with Greenland, USA, ASRS and QIC. As Bob mentioned earlier this level of activity reflects our strategy of activating title opportunities on our balance sheet and if we are doing so together with strategic partners, the balance risk.

Before we get to your questions, let me summarize by saying how excited I am about the companys performance in 2014 and the fourth quarter of that year. The results are direct reflection of the dedication and hard work of our associates that are working to execute our strategic plan. We have got a path forward they are focused on the strategies and where executing on those and again, I think they show up clearly in our results.

Based upon this strong performance, we have a positive outlook for 2015 and we set an aggressive agenda as we continue to transform the company including through a re-conversion. There will clearly be challenges along the way, but we are confident in our ability to continue to deliver increased shareholder value.

With that, lets get to some of your questions. Operator?

March 3, 2015 · Financial Partners · Comments Off

Cleveland, OH, March 01, 2015 –(PR.com)– Howard Slater, MBA, MSFSreg;, ChFCreg;, CLU, a partner of Cedar Brook Financial Partners LLC, one of the regions largest independent wealth management firms, is volunteering his time to another program devoted to educate youths called College Now. Mr. Slater is now mentoring young adults through Clevelands 50-year old College Now, college-preparatory program.

Students who receive college scholarships from College Now agree to participate in the mentoring program, which has attracted tremendous community interest. In fact, only two-thirds of the adults who apply to be mentors are selected.

Mr. Slater is mentoring two students. His goal is to teach them financial and business knowledge theyll need to navigate through college and beyond.

Mr. Slater dedicates his time and expertise to several other local volunteer programs. The veteran financial advisor is also leading the Junior Achievement (JA) program at Fuchs Mizrachi, an independent school for children 18 months old through high school. The JA Company Program is a comprehensive business, entrepreneurship and economics curriculum for students in grades nine through twelve.

Mr. Slater just completed a financial literacy program for seniors at Laurel School, an independent school for girls in Kindergarten through high school in Cleveland, Ohio. Over sixty young women attended the four-session program.

Im thrilled to be part of College Nows mentoring program. Its wonderful to be part of a program with a track record of having students be five times as likely to graduate from college as other low-income college students. My students are genuinely interested in gaining important business and financial knowledge that they can use now and throughout their lives.

About Cedar Brook Financial Partners
Headquartered in Cleveland, OH, with offices in West Bloomfield, MI, and Palm Beach Gardens, FL, Cedar Brook Financial Partners is one of the largest independent wealth management firms in the region, according to Crains Cleveland Business 2014. Cedar Brooks seventy-plus professionals deliver customized, personal services including comprehensive wealth strategies, investment and insurance advice, retirement plan consulting, and group benefit programs to physicians, corporate executives, privately held business owners, and families. Cedar Brook has been recognized again, as a Top Workplace in Northeast Ohio by WorkplaceDynamics according to the Plain Dealers 2014 study. The firm offers securities through Securities America Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services are offered through Securities America Advisors Inc., an SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Cedar Brook Financial Partners LLC and the Securities America companies are not affiliated. For more information, please visit www.cedarbrookfinancial.com.