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About a year ago when he was conducting research for a speech, Toby Nzewi was struck by the seemingly overwhelming challenges facing Nigeria.
Today, the 17-year-old Cypress resident is playing a role in addressing those challenges - in Nigeria and other African nations.
The Cypress Woods High School senior is founder and CEO of a nonprofit organization that provides consulting services and assistance to entrepreneurs in Africa. His Releaf Group is working with businesses in Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda.
We try to enable small businesses in Africa to grow and connect with other businesses that can help them, Nzewi said.
Those recruited by Nzewi for the group are mostly relatives: two brothers and three cousins. They are college students at such universities as MIT, Yale and Princeton.
Its a little tough being the youngest member of the group and CEO, Nzewi said. Thats why I spent this summer building up our Facebook and Twitter accounts and working. They (the other members) gained respect for me and my idea of whats in the best interests of the organization.
Although he is young, Nzewi is a talented leader, cousin and group member Isaiah Udotong said.
Toby has a rare ability to not only attract, but also to motivate talent, said Udotong, who is pursuing a bachelors degree in mechanical engineering from MIT.
Toby maintains high expectations of everyone in the organization. Much of the model we employ is Tobys creation.
In November, group members will travel to Nigeria to attend the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, meet with their youth agripreneurs and learn about ways to transform African agriculture from subsistence toward an industry.
Nzewi and his team also were invited to speak in Nigeria at an event intended to further the mission of TED, a global nonprofit organization devoted to idea sharing.
Participants will include representatives of Nigeria startups and investors.
The path that led Nzewi to the role of CEO began in the summer of 2014, when the teen attended a six-week summer program at Indiana University. The instructors encouraged participants to engage in public speaking opportunities, and Nzewi got a start on the research he would need to speak about Nigeria.
As he read about widespread poverty, corruption and the exploding population in Nigeria, Nzewi was moved to help. That was the inspiration for his nonprofit, which he initially named the Releaf Foundation.
His initial goal was to provide African farmers with rice, maize and soybean seeds and to encourage them to use new, high-performing seeds for improved yields. But Nzewi and his team needed money.
I was not able to get the funding we needed, Nzewi said.
As his junior year progressed, Nzewi shifted focus to his rigorous academic schedule at Cypress Woods and put the foundation on hold.
That was until May, when he resolved to pick up his efforts to make a tangible difference in Africa.
It was always in the back of my head, he said. It was just a matter of finding time.
Nzewi brainstormed with the other members of the group, and they decided to channel their interests in technology and business into a consulting service.
Tractors and a bus app
Thats when the foundation was repurposed, and The Releaf Group got its start.
Nzewi established a website and social media accounts for the group. As of early September, the group had more than 37,000 likes on Facebook and more than 6,000 followers on Twitter.
It has received dozens of applications for its free services, which can include managerial strategy, social media strategy, website development, drafting financial documents, connection to financial sources and mentors and software programming.
Clients include Hello Tractor (https://www.facebook.com/hellotractor), which has been described as Uber for tractors. The company provides affordable two-wheel tractors to small, impoverished communities in Nigeria to help increase crop yields, feed more people and provide people more income opportunities.
Earlier this summer, company founder Jehiel Oliver gave a presentation to a panel at the Global Entrepreneurial Summit in Kenya, which was attended by President Obama and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The Releaf Group also works with Bus Stop, which was selected to attend the 2015 MITx Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp. Out of thousands of applications, 50 candidates were selected from 24 countries.
The idea behind Bus Stop is to respond to erratic bus service in African cities with a mobile app that lets people know when the bus they need to reach their stop and their destination will arrive. A team from The Releaf Group is working with Bus Stop on the application.
The Releaf Group also is helping with app development for startup, PigeonEx, which plans to dispatch a delivery staff on bicycles to make food deliveries to customers in Lagos, Nigeria. The business is a response to the packed city streets in Lagos, where the population is approximately 25 million.
Udotong is among the team members working on technical solutions for clients.
As a software developer, it gives me the opportunity to hone my skills while contributing to the mission of helping millions of farmers through an app for an entrepreneur, Udotong said.
Whats surprised me the most about all this is how passionate Toby has become about this project. It was just a small idea a year ago, but its quickly blowing up due to how contagious Tobys passion is. Everyone that encounters him is inspired by his desire to help Africa.
Even I didnt expect myself, a sophomore with a rigorous schedule at MIT, to become so committed to this project. But its Tobys enthusiasm that has energized me to do everything I can to contribute.
Nzewi says his role with the group has impacted his career goals.
He aspired at one time to become an orthopedic surgeon, but now he wants to pursue a career in computer science.
The consulting has taught me the importance of computer science in helping impoverished areas.
For now, he says, its encouraging to see The Releaf Group helping Africa in tangible ways. The entrepreneurs the organization is serving all have the potential to contribute to economic and social improvements in their countries.
Im extremely happy about it, Nzewi said. Its a remarkable experience. I didnt think wed be this far along by now.
I expect us to keep going and not get complacent.
To learn more about The Releaf Group, visit releafgroup.org, https://www.facebook.com/releaf.group or https://twitter.com/releaf_group.
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FRANKFURT Deutsche Banks new Chief Executive John Cryan praised the lenders revamped asset and wealth management operations at a town hall meeting in London on Friday, people attending the event said.
Cryan explicitly asked for tough questions from staff at the hour-long event, which was live-streamed to employees around the world, but he shed little light on his plan to set Germanys biggest lender on a stronger footing following debilitating fines and legal troubles that have damaged its reputation, the people said.
Cryan has a wealth management background and loves the stability of that business, one of the people said.
Deutsche Bank declined to comment on the event.
Cryan aims to present the banks future strategy by the end of October at the latest, completing a process started by his predecessor Anshu Jain, who had lost the confidence of large investors as the banks troubles grew. Jain resigned in June.
Boosting profitability, cutting costs and repairing relations with regulators are seen as crucial objectives for Cryan, who joined the banks supervisory board in 2013 and once served as chief financial officer at rival UBS.
Some elements of the revamp are already known, including plans to split off and float its Postbank unit. Deutsche Bank also aims to slim down the rest of its retail business and rein in capital intensive investment banking operations.
Deutsche Bank may also cut nearly a quarter of its 100,000 staff worldwide to reduce its costs, financial sources told Reuters last week.
Asset and Wealth Management is likely to be spared much of the trauma, after its revamp - and hundreds of job cuts - over the last three years.
Earnings in the segment have been rising despite restructuring costs. Business head Michele Faissola, who moderated the town hall for Cryan, has made clear he intends to move asset and wealth management from savings-mode to growth.
Takeovers are not on the agenda but Deutsche has said the business would be getting around 800 million euros ($900 million) for investment in new talent and IT.
($1 = 0.8933 euros)
(Reporting by Kathrin Jones; Writing by Jonathan Gould; editing by Susan Thomas)
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Neymar Jr., the global soccer legend, is in trouble with a Brazilian court, where a judge alleges the Barcelona and Brazil star has evaded many millions in taxes.
On Friday the São Paulo federal court froze assets belonging to companies jointly owned by Neymar, who is a popular PokerStars brand ambassador, and his father Neymar Santos Sr. The businesses are reportedly worth some $47.6 million.
Judge Carlos Muta said that the soccer player and his father had dodged paying around $15.7 million in taxes between 2011 to 2013, just before Neymar made his high-profile transfer to Barcelona FC from Santos.Barcelona Beef
The court order also covers property and cars owned by the superstar soccer player, freezing three times the amount of the alleged tax avoidance as a preventative measure to ensure that the assets are not sold before the investigation is complete.
According to Judge Muta, Neymar Jr. declared assets worth just $4.9 million for the two-year period, adding that he and he alone "is solely responsible for the income declaration" and that he omitted "sources of income from abroad." Barcelona FC is alleged to be one the aforementioned financial sources.
The transfer of Neymar to Barcelona is already one steeped in financial controversy. In May, a Spanish judge demanded that Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu and his predecessor, Sandro Rosell, stand trial on charges of tax fraud in relation to the signing.
Prosecutors have demanded a prison sentence of seven and a half years for Rosell, and are holding Barcelona FC liable for fines and back taxes totaling around $70 million.Team PokerStars Sport
As well as Neymar Jr., the PokerStars elite squad of brand ambassadors includes Cristiano Ronaldo and the original Brazilian Ronaldo, and, until recently, Rafa Nadal.
Its latest campaign featuring these sporting megastars has been paying off. PokerStars has reported a big increase in sign-ups in the countries where the campaign has been running, as the appeal of these global superstars is clearly planting poker into the consciousness of the great soccer-adoring public.
While Cristiano Ronaldo, with his 100 million-odd "friends" on Facebook, has been a dream acquisition, the signing of Neymar, although undoubtedly a huge coup for the online poker giant, has not been without its issues.Too Junior for UK
Concerns about financial improprieties aside, the marketing campaign featuring Neymar Jr. hit a snag when it turned out that he was a little too junior for the UK Gambling Commission’s liking.
UK gambling law stipulates that no one under the age of 25 may appear prominently in gambling marketing, which meant that PokerStars' had to replace the soccer maven’s face with that of over-forty Daniel Negreanu.
Still, it's going better than 888.com's ill-fated decision to sign-up Luis Suarez as a brand ambassador, just one month before he unfathomably chose to sink his gleaming ivories into the tempting flesh of an Italian defender during the 2014 World Cup. Suarez was promptly fired.
Whether or not Neymar will lose his PokerStars’ gig as a result of allegedly evading the long arm of the Brazilian treasury remains to be seen.
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The FSB did not publish details of the agreement, but a source familiar with the deal said it mirrored proposals made at a G20 meeting in Ankara earlier this month.
That would see the two-stage introduction of a buffer of debt from 2019 that can be bailed in to raise equity equivalent to 16% of a banks risk-weighted assets, the source said, rising to 20% from 2022.
The FSB said members supported consistent implementation of the robust minimum standard, adding that the TLAC standard and its timelines would be finalised by the time of the G20 Summit in November.
Separately, the FSB also approved the first version of a similar rule for major insurers, the Higher Loss Absorbency standard, which requires them to hold an extra buffer on top of the basic capital requirements.
Meanwhile, thousands of jobs cuts, business closures and billions of euros of capital raising are all on the cards as the new bosses of three of Europes biggest banks respond to pressure to devise new strategies to revive them.
Credit Suisse chief executive Tidjane Thiam, Deutsche Banks John Cryan, and Standard Chartereds Bill Winters are putting the final touches to their plans, which Thiam and Cryan will unveil next month and Winters is expected to deliver in early December.
All have been in charge roughly 100 days, a period when new chief executives typically formulate strategy after meeting investors, regulators, politicians, customers and staff. Big job cuts loom in a bid to cut costs and improve profitability, their main target.
Cryan is to cut 23,000 staff, or about a quarter of headcount, mostly from disposals, financial sources told Reuters earlier this month.
Winters could axe several thousand, sources said, although they said no final decisions had been made and much will depend on disposals.
Meanwhile Thiam has said he plans to use his engineering background to take a hard-nosed look at efficiency.
Senior management ranks are also being shaken up, Winters has named a new management team and is cutting layers of bureaucracy to simplify and speed up decision-making while Thiam immediately brought in a long-time confidant as his chief of staff and moved a couple more staff.
Other banks, including CEO-less Barclays and Italys UniCredit are also going through the process, but new CEOs are under pressure to come in with a fresh view to take bold action.
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THOUSANDS of job cuts, business closures and billions of euros of capital raising are all on the cards as the new bosses of three of Europes biggest banks respond to pressure to devise new strategies to revive them.
Credit Suisse chief executive Tidjane Thiam, Deutsche Banks John Cryan and Standard Chartereds Bill Winters are putting the final touches to their plans, which Mr Thiam and Mr Cryan will unveil next month and Mr Winters is expected to deliver in early December.
All have been in charge about 100 days -- a period when new chief executives typically formulate strategy after meeting investors, regulators, politicians, customers and staff. Big job cuts loom in a bid to cut costs and improve profitability --their main target.
Mr Cryan is to cut 23,000 staff, or about a quarter of headcount, mostly from disposals, financial sources told Reuters earlier this month.