eXp World Holdings Expands its Residential Real Estate Network to South Africa

BELLINGHAM, Wash., Oct. 13, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — eXp World Holdings (Nasdaq: EXPI), the holding company for eXp Realty, one of the fastest–growing residential and commercial real estate companies, today announced the expansion of its brokerage model into South Africa under the eXp South Africa banner. The addition of residential and commercial brokerage operations in South Africa represents the fourth international expansion for the U.S.–headquartered company. In addition to its robust U.S. presence, eXp Realty also operates in Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia, with more than 35,000 agents in its global network.

eXp Realty offers a unique financial model for residential and commercial real estate agents, going beyond just commissions to provide its agents with revenue share and additional equity programs that include opportunities for stock awards. The partnership model also offers proprietary marketing resources, including the company's cloud–based virtual environment and customized technology platform that enhances virtual prospecting, sales, training and communications for agents.

"The response to our innovative model has been phenomenal, and we're excited to bring this opportunity to the vibrant residential real estate community in South Africa," said Michael Valdes, President of eXp Global. "In addition to increased revenue opportunities for agents, our focus on virtual technology and ability to deliver valuable marketing resources gives agents an advantage and positions them well for the future of real estate."

"There are deep traditions within South Africa real estate, and we want to build on those. Our approach is to celebrate these diverse cultures and blend them with our innovative real estate opportunities to help develop agents throughout the country," said eXp South Africa Designated Managing Broker Andrew Thompson. "eXp Realty's global model and the expansion into South Africa further strengthens our international presence, and its unique revenue model is a game–changer for agents in our worldwide network. The kind of advanced technology and virtual experience that eXp South Africa offers will add massive value to both the agent and consumer experience."


The company's presence in South Africa will encompass a national footprint, including all major towns, cities and provinces. South Africa represents one of five countries eXp Realty and the global business has identified for expansion by the end of 2020, including France, India, Mexico and Portugal.

About eXp Realty
eXp Realty is an eXp World Holdings, Inc. (Nasdaq: EXPI) company. eXp World Holdings also owns VirBELA. eXp Realty, The Real Estate Cloud Brokerage, is one of the fastest–growing, global residential real estate companies with more than 35,000 agents in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. As a subsidiary of a publicly traded company, eXp Realty uniquely offers real estate professionals within its ranks opportunities to earn eXp World Holdings stock for production and contributions to overall company growth.

VirBELA is an immersive technology platform for business, events and education. Its modern, cloud–based environment provides a virtual experience for workers, attendees, students and more to communicate, collaborate, meet and socialize. For more information, visit the company's website at virbela.com.

Connect with eXp World Holdings and its companies: https://expworldholdings.com.

Media Relations Contacts:

eXp Realty
Alyson Austin
eXp South Africa
Amanda Wray

How the Pacific Islands are Balancing COVID-19 Survival Demands on Coastal Fisheries with Sustainable Management

Coastal fisheries provide vital food security and household incomes throughout the Pacific Islands. The fish market, Auki, Malaita Province, Solomon Islands. Credit: Catherine Wilson/IPS

Coastal fisheries provide vital food security and household incomes throughout the Pacific Islands. The fish market, Auki, Malaita Province, Solomon Islands. Credit: Catherine Wilson/IPS

By Catherine Wilson
CANBERRA, Australia, Oct 13 2020 – Coastal fisheries in the Pacific Islands have become a food and livelihood lifeline to many people who have lost jobs, especially in urban centres and tourism, following COVID-19 lockdowns and border closures. Now governments and development organisations are trying to meet the crisis-driven survival needs of here and now, while also considering the long-term consequences on near shore marine resources and habitats.

“In Vanuatu, we don’t have any cases of COVID-19. But around us the world is in lockdown and the incomes indigenous people usually get from tourism have all gone, they have completely come to a halt,” Leias Cullwick, Executive Director of the Vanuatu National Council of Women in Port Vila, told IPS.  Tourism accounts for an estimated 40 percent of Vanuatu’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

“But we still have our own land to plant crops and we can get fish from the sea,” she continued.

Subsistence and small-scale commercial fisheries in coastal areas are a crucial source of nutrition and incomes to communities throughout the Pacific Islands. Fifty percent of coastal households in the region gain a primary or secondary income from fishing, while 89 percent of households generally consume seafood on a weekly basis, according to the regional development organisation, the Pacific Community (SPC).

The COVID-19 induced economic downturn has only increased the importance of traditional livelihoods and sources of food. At a meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency in August, the Director General, Dr. Manu Tupou-Roosen emphasised that “it is crucial for fisheries to continue operating at this time, providing much needed income to support the economic recovery, as well as to enhance contribution to the food security of our people”.

However, the increased movement of urban residents back to rural villages and to their extended family networks has, in some areas, had consequences. Dr Andrew Smith, Deputy Director (Coastal Fisheries) at the SPC in Noumea, New Caledonia, told IPS of some of the impacts, .

“What we have been seeing are cases where people who are not familiar with the areas, or not familiar with fishing methods, are either harvesting protected species or under-sized species or the wrong species. There have been reports of fishers going into marine managed areas or into other people’s traditional fishing zones,” he said, adding that: “There is also, in some cases, increased conflicts occurring because people are fishing in the wrong places and catching the wrong fish, both from a national fisheries perspective and the laws, but also from traditional cultural perspectives.”

In surveys conducted in 43 rural villages in the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu prior to July by WorldFish, national fisheries agencies in the Pacific Islands and the Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security, 46 percent and 55 percent of people respectively claimed that there was a shortage of food in communities.

Neither Pacific Island country has recorded any COVID-19 cases to date. However, restrictions on large gatherings and border closures across the region, to prevent any spread of the virus, have diminished shipping and trade. Vanuatu, for example, is under an extended State of Emergency until the 31 December and the government promotes social distancing and enhanced hygiene practices. 

“When COVID-19 first emerged, our country went into stopping main markets, they were stopped for a couple of months. It has now been lifted. People can go out fishing, but it is very difficult for people to sell fish because people are on lower incomes,” Cullwick said.

Coastal fishing, in the zone between the shore and outer reefs, includes species, such as finfish, trochus, lobsters and crabs. The vast majority of the coastal catch is for subsistence. In Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands, subsistence fishing makes up 71 percent and 75 percent respectively of the total coastal catch each year. And there is evidence this year that greater hardship has led to increased fishing for food.

This is an additional pressure on coastal resources in the Pacific, which are already being affected by climate change, greater exploitation due to growing populations and the environmental degradation of marine habitats by factors, including pollution, urbanisation and natural disasters.

“The region is a little bit more used to dealing with tropical cyclones, that are always devastating, but are disasters that happen relatively frequently, but they are usually more localised, and the initial impact shorter. Whereas COVID-19 has had an immediate impact, but will have a very long term effect across the region, more of a slow burn disaster, and then you’ve got climate change, which is impacting now, but it is an even slower burn. So you’ve got these multiple stressors on both the resources and the habitats,” Smith told IPS.

According to the development organisation, which is consulting extensively with national governments throughout the region on responding to the present crisis, but a major challenge is achieving a balance between meeting short-term survival needs and managing the long-term repercussions.

One strategy to address immediate food security is encouraging more households to take up aquaculture and establish fish farms.  The Vanuatu Government is supporting this initiative by providing free tilapia fingerlings and feed to families who have taken the first step in building a fish pond.  This is a way of both boosting nutrition and alleviating further over-fishing near to shore. The Pacific Community is also assisting countries to set up near shore fish aggregating devices, which are easily accessible by local fishers.

One positive outcome is that the COVID-19 crisis has driven more discussion at the national and regional levels about the key role of community-based fisheries management. Smith says that there is “clear recognition by the heads of fisheries, as well as at the ministerial level, of how important having effectively managed community-based fisheries are.”

The cornerstone of this approach is increasing the capacity of coastal communities to manage their fishing practices and take the lead on ensuring the future of their marine resources, supported by governments and development organisations. It’s an important element of the 2015 Noumea Strategy, also known as ‘A New Song for Coastal Fisheries,’ a regional vision of sustainably managing fisheries for the future.


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Indigenous Peoples & Local Communities Offer Best Hope for Our Planetary Emergency

Alianza Ceibo, a 2020 Equator Prize winner, unites four indigenous peoples in their struggle to counter environmental degradation to protect over 20,000 square kilometers of primary rainforest across four provinces and 70 communities in the Ecuadorean Amazon. Credit: Mitch Anderson

By Yoko Watanabe and Nina Kantcheva
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 13 2020 – Indigenous peoples and local communities offer the best hope for solutions to our planetary emergency. These solutions are grounded in traditional, time-tested practices and knowledge.

Indigenous peoples already steward 80 percent of the world’s remaining biodiversity, as well as nearly one-fifth of the total carbon sequestered by tropical and subtropical forests. Moreover, indigenous territories encompass 40 percent of protected areas globally.

Yet the voices of indigenous peoples and local communities are barely heard and are often excluded from decision-making. Their rights over land, territories, and resources are routinely overlooked, and they are frequently threatened and often subject of murder, assault, intimidation and detention.

Similarly, our planetary emergency puts the rights of today’s youth, rights to a healthy, viable and livable planet, at risk. Although they will feel the brunt of biodiversity loss and climate change in their lifetimes, they do not have a regular seat at the table.

UNDP, together with more than 40 partner organizations, has joined forces to create a virtual Nature for Life Hub where the voices of indigenous peoples, local communities, environmental defenders and youth can be heard.

Listening to youth voices on nature

One example of a group leading the way on youth action on nature is Youth4Nature. Their goals including mobilizing youth advocates to encourage political leaders to recognize that nature can provide up to 30 percent of our climate solutions needed by 2030; elevating the voices of youth by providing a platform to share their stories and have them be heard; and building the capacity of youth as stewards for a nature for climate movement.

Yoko Watanabe

They, and thousands of youth groups around the world, are leading a new generation in the movement to hold leaders accountable for action on nature.

The UNDP-led Equator Initiative hosted this year’s Equator Prize 2020 Award Ceremony in a live-streamed virtual event. Chosen from among hundreds of nominations, this year’s Equator Prize winners, the indigenous and local communities who protect, restore and sustainably manage nature, are the stars.

They showcase a new normal, standing in contrast to the unsustainable business-as-usual model of how we produce and consume virtually everything. The themes of this year’s winners, “Nature for Climate,” “Nature for Water,” and “Nature for Prosperity,” offer a powerful, local response to our global, planetary emergency.

Reimagining conservation: Aligning nature conservation and human rights

Over the last decades, conservation organizations have been repeatedly challenged to confront allegations of a fortress mentality and embrace a more inclusive paradigm, recognizing that we can only truly conserve nature with the full support of Indigenous peoples and local communities who live in and around protected and conserved areas.

Nina Kantcheva

While numerous examples of successful integrated conservation-development projects exist across the world, widely divergent views persist on what exactly ‘nature conservation’ is and should be. A reset is needed, one that includes communities, policymakers, and scientists, to reimagine how nature conversation and human rights can lead us toward a new era of a rights-based approach to conservation.

Local action and efforts at the community level are often seen as too small to address the global crisis of biodiversity loss. However, local action on nature is essential and should be at the core of our efforts if we are to bend the curve on nature loss, recognizing that Indigenous peoples and local communities have long acted as the stewards of nature, with deep traditional knowledge and nature-based solutions.

We must find ways to accelerate and magnify local action, and to scale up impact. Various pathways already exist, including through policy, advocacy, finance and technology.

There are many exciting initiatives that support local action including the GEF Small Grants Programme at UNDP that has supported more than 25,000 projects in 125 countries, Inclusive Conservation Initiative, Dedicated Grant Mechanism, Community-Based REDD+ initiative, and others that provide financial and technical support to civil society and community-based organizations, including indigenous peoples, women, youth, persons with disabilities, in their continuing efforts to safeguard the global environment while improving their well-being and livelihood.

Defending environmental defenders

In 2019, more than 200 environmental defenders were killed, and many more were tortured, beaten or intimidated. Environmental defenders are on the front line in protecting the nature that sustains us all.

If we are to make gains in protecting 30 percent of the planet, and ending and even reversing the loss of biodiversity, then we must consider that these gains will largely need to take place on the remaining world’s intact areas, a large portion of which are owned by indigenous peoples and local communities.

We must start by standing with those environmental defenders who are safeguarding their lands and territories, and we must secure a future for the planet by securing their rights, tenure, and governance.

There is something you can also do to make the change. UNDP with partners is coordinating a global campaign on the importance of nature for life and for sustainable development, and on the need to stand for nature.

Next time you are tweeting, sharing, liking or posting on social media about nature, consider adding the hashtags #NatureForLife and #StandForNature. Together with local action, they can have a big impact!


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Milton Friedman Versus Stakeholder Capitalism

By Jomo Kwame Sundaram
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, Oct 13 2020 – Milton Friedman was arguably the most influential economist of the second half of the 20th century, associated with promoting ‘neo-liberal’, free-market, shareholder capitalism.

Friedman’s monetarist economics is now widely considered irrelevant, if not wrong, especially with the low inflation associated with ‘unconventional’ monetary policies following the 2008-2009 global financial crisis.

Jomo Kwame Sundaram

Friedman’s doctrine challenged
Nevertheless, Friedman’s ‘shareholder capitalism’ doctrine remains influential in most financial markets, especially emerging ones in the developing world.

His doctrine, prioritizing short-term profit maximization, has long dominated Anglo-American corporate governance despite chatter about ‘stakeholder capitalism’ and ‘corporate social responsibility’ (CSR).

Chicago University’s Raghuram Rajan claims that long-term share value maximization can advance almost everybody’s long-term interests.

But even Glenn Hubbard acknowledges that long-term shareholder-value maximization cannot address many problems faced by firms, let alone societies. Having served George W. Bush’s conservative administration, he recognizes the need for public policy interventions.

Friedman’s shareholder primacy principle can also become absurd. Rajan’s former co-author Luigi Zingales argues, “if you take Friedman to an extreme, I should sue a CEO who doesn’t buy off all the members of Congress”.

More importantly, Zingales points out that corporations have duties as public institutions with special privileges granted by the state such as “limited liability, especially with respect to tort claims, is an extraordinary privilege granted by the state”, implying reciprocal obligations.

Friedman’s manifesto insisted that companies focus on making money, leaving ethical matters to individuals and government. US law enshrines shareholder rights as owners able to challenge or replace boards whose members stray from their fiduciary duty.

Stakeholder capitalism?
Friedman vehemently opposed stakeholder capitalism, whose proponents argue that companies have responsibilities to all stakeholders, not only shareholders, but also employees, customers, society and even nature.

He argued that ‘stakeholders’, typically ill-defined, will insulate directors from shareholders, reduce their accountability, and compromise corporate performance. This would allow executives to pursue their personal priorities or cover up their own failures.

Straying from Friedman’s singular focus on profit maximization would mean that corporate executives are no longer loyally and exclusively serving shareholders, worsening the ‘principal-agent’ problem.

For Friedman, government and other stakeholders should not be allowed to interfere with shareholder corporate governance in any way, or worse, undermine incentives for investors to risk their capital. In his doctrine, profit alone should be corporations’ sole motive.

Joseph Stiglitz has noted that US courts have ruled that firms are obliged to maximize profits and shareholder value, excluding all other objectives. Hence, ‘stakeholder capitalism’ is not rooted in US law as corporate executives are not accountable by law to the communities in which they operate, or even to society at large, let alone to nature.

What a wonderful world?
Friedman also presumed market imperfections did not exist, or would be fully taken care of by regulation. However, the rule of law has never really been adequate to such challenges.

Thus, he effectively gave companies ‘moral cover’ to be ruthless, free and unregulated to pursue their own interests, at the expense of the public good, while not worrying about society’s larger interests.

Friedman also criticized business leaders for straying from maximizing profits and worrying about their public image, the social good and public welfare.

While dismissing talk of stakeholders as attempts by company directors to be free to run companies as they like, and for public relations, Friedman approved of companies that “generate good will as a by-product of expenditures that are entirely justified in its own self-interest”.

But he was conspicuously silent about business interests lobbying, rigging elections, making campaign contributions, compromising research and public discourse, while reputation laundering with philanthropy and public relations.

Friedman’s world view is remarkably simplistic, typically ignoring broader, ‘longer term’ consequences. For him, business efficiency — due to shareholder primacy, not undermined by company directors, managers, government taxes and regulations — can and will solve all problems.

Stakeholderism challenged
Friedman’s neoliberal ‘doctrine’ shaped major economic reforms the world over from the 1980s until the 2008-2009 global financial crisis. Lacklustre growth since then has given rise to various new challenges to shareholder capitalism, not least in the name of other stakeholders, and appeals for corporate governance reform and CSR.

Multi-millionaires, even some billionaires and chief executive officers (CEOs), have joined the dissent, whom influential businessman writer Andrew Ross Sorkin would have us believe represent the future.

To be sure, many have undoubtedly turned away from Friedman’s thinking in recent years.

In 2019, the influential Business Roundtable, which had long advocated shareholder primacy, issued a pro-stakeholder statement. It replaced its Friedmanite Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation with “a fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders”.

A few months later, the World Economic Forum issued a similar 2020 Davos Manifesto, embracing stakeholder as well as environment, social and governance (ESG) principles.

Nevertheless, legendary investor Warren Buffett remains sceptical of ‘purpose-over-profit’ stakeholder advocacy. “In representing your interests, business-savvy directors [will] seek managers whose goals include delighting their customers, cherishing their associates and acting as good citizens of both their communities and our country.”

Meanwhile, most advocating a stakeholder approach to corporate governance argue that considering the interests of employees or other stakeholders is good for company profits and shareholders. Yet, they privately acknowledge that profits must come first, even if they feel constrained to say so in public.

Corporate social responsibility?
Some argue they are defending capitalist free enterprise in the long term by having a ‘social conscience’ and taking responsibility for providing employment, avoiding pollution and pursuing other trendy CSR reforms, ostensibly in companies’ ‘enlightened self-interest’.

Others insist that many contemporary problems are too urgent for slowly meandering political processes. Instead, they argue, CSR “is a quicker and surer way to solve pressing current problems”.

CSR is said to be a useful, if not necessary complement to government policy and regulation. Friedmanite critics object that CSR involves spending shareholder money for a typically vague public interest, reducing company returns and spending ‘other people’s money’.

Friedman warned that the doctrine of ‘social responsibility’ would take over if not checked. But the converse is more true today as ‘greed is good’ and the ‘short-termist’ shareholder mentality is clearly hegemonic.

Others object that CSR involves the ‘socialist’ view that political, not market mechanisms are better for allocating scarce resources to alternative uses. But CSR has also been invoked to justify wage curbs against trade union demands, ostensibly for some higher public purpose.

CSR has also been invoked when philanthropy and charity have been abused to minimize tax liability, and for public relations and marketing, e.g., by ‘greenwashing’ products and services.

W(h)ither capitalism?
Embarrassingly, US corporations that signed the ‘stakeholder capitalism’ statement have been more likely to lay off workers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and less likely to donate to relief efforts.

With growing opposition to neoliberal capitalism, ‘stakeholderism’ and CSR have been invoked to save capitalism by offering a more sensitive ‘human’ face.

As capitalism may well be the only ‘show in town’ for some time to come, popular demands for more thoroughgoing reforms, checks and balances are likely to grow as the realities of stakeholder capitalism and CSR become increasingly apparent.


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