Transforming Business

Ian Black Shopify Director of Retail
Ian Black is Shopify's director of retail.

Ian Black is the director of retail for Shopify, an e-commerce platform that helps retailers set up online stores.Black’s team is dedicated to expanding Shopify’s products beyond e-commerce to support brick-and-mortar retailers with products that support all points of sale.When the pandemic hit North America, Shopify paused all of its plans so it could focus on putting out products it knew would help merchants survive. Shopify aims to create products that enable smaller businesses to compete with retail giants like Walmart and Amazon. But it also partners with Walmart to help merchants reach a broader audience.Because of his work, Business Insider named Black to our annual list of the 10 leaders transforming retail.Visit Business Insider’s Transforming Business homepage for more stories.

Ian Black is on a mission to solve all the problems that keep entrepreneurs up at night.

Black is the director of retail for the e-commerce platform Shopify, which is best known for its tools that help retailers set up online stores. That’s just one of the reasons an entrepreneur might lose sleep, though. There are other concerns as well: the in-store experience, shipping and fulfillment, email marketing, banking, accounting, insurance, human resources — the list goes on.

“We don’t do all of that today,” Black told Business Insider in an interview. “But we’ve tried to build piece by piece and address their largest pain points.”

They don’t do all of it, but they do a lot of it.

Entrepreneurs are a broad category — on one end of the spectrum, an entrepreneur could be the sole team member, looking to Shopify on the first day of their company’s existence; at the other, a seasoned veteran entrepreneur could use Shopify to power its big-name brand (Shopify is used by both Allbirds and Kylie Cosmetics). Shopify aims to build a suite of products that works for the entire spectrum. But in recent months, Shopify has specifically focused on helping keep small brick-and-mortar businesses afloat amid the pandemic and recession.

“We basically paused all of our plans and pulled forward the work that we knew could help merchants the most right away,” Black said.

That nimble refocusing of Shopify’s roughly 5,000-person team led to the company going on a product-release spree during the early months of the pandemic, a time when many companies were caught on their heels or proceeding with caution. Black said the company oriented their work around the goal of being able to say, “Because Shopify exists, more small businesses will survive this period.” And then it went on to launch a dozen products that supported that mission.

In May, the company launched a new point-of-sale system that helps retailers turn their stores, many of which were closed because of state mandates, into fulfillment centers by adding a curbside-pickup feature. This tool gave retailers a way to answer new consumer interest in buying online and picking up in-store.

The company also released a buy-now-pay-later option at a time when payment flexibility was key for consumers facing economic uncertainty, as well as an online chat feature to help retailers stay in touch with their customers, even while closed. The e-commerce giant also launched a business bank account called Shopify Balance that caters to the banking needs of small-business owners.

It worked: Shopify’s retail merchants were able to replace 94% of their in-person sales with online sales.

But beyond boosting sales for retailers, Shopify also wanted its tools to connect consumers to their community during a time of difficulty that encompassed the pandemic, the recession, and the growing social unrest over police brutality that took form in the Black Lives Matter movement. Shopify released a consumer-facing app called Shop that allows shoppers to discover small businesses near them, as well as a feature that highlights Black-owned businesses.

“We have a strong belief internally that commerce is made better with more voices,” Black said. “We believe there’s a lot of room in the future of commerce for independent brands, and for a real sense of emotional connection between the people who are making things and the people who are buying things.”

To bring that vision to life, Shopify hopes to serve as a digital stage crew to its merchants — it’s never seen and makes the stars of the production shine when used right. This way, merchants can focus on the important task of bringing their unique voices and visions to the marketplace. While many consumers might bemoan the day that everyone works — and shops — at Amazon, Black says he doesn’t believe that’s the inevitable future of commerce.

“We know there are economic forces that drive consolidation, but we think really well-thought-out products and really well-thought-out business models can work in the opposite direction,” Black said. “We really believe the future of commerce isn’t one, or two, or three large marketplaces where the personal experience is lost.”

Black’s team specifically focuses on building products that support brick-and-mortar retailers with often complicated omnichannel sales processes so they can continue to grow and compete with the retail giants. That being said, Shopify partnered with Walmart in June to bring 1,200 small- and medium-sized Shopify merchants onto Walmart’s Marketplace. This new partnership will enable Shopify merchants to apply to sell their products directly on Walmart’s website, reaching the site’s 120 million monthly customers. This will help smaller merchants get more exposure, but it’s certainly a benefit to Walmart as well. The partnership recently helped push Shopify stock to an all-time high after Walmart announced Walmart Plus, it’s new membership service. 

How can a company remain so optimistic about small businesses during a period in which big-box retailers like Walmart, Target, and Amazon have become more powerful than ever? It looks to the merchants it supports.

“We’ve seen merchants and entrepreneurs respond to the new world in amazing ways by having the courage to still launch new brands, by totally changing their business models on a dime, and we’ve seen a lot of success stories come out of that,” Black said.

“That’s given us hope that this vision of more voices and independent retailers is here to stay and can win out,” he said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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In India, COVID-19 efforts can be combined with tuberculosis prevention help defeat both illnesses. Photo: Shubhangee Vyas

With COVID-19, our lives are no longer the same. The pandemic has overshadowed other health issues and reversed the progress made over decades in our fight against other diseases, including tuberculosis (TB). In India, despite sustained and aggressive nation-wide interventions, this deadly disease continues to haunt the population with one of the world’s highest TB infection rates. 

Under the National TB Elimination Program, the country has successfully treated over 20 million patients since 1997. Efforts have been afoot to further reduce the TB burden, but the COVID-19 pandemic has created serious obstacles.

However, rather than being an obstacle, the pandemic should be seen as an opportunity to simultaneously combat COVID-19 and TB, in order to avert millions of deaths.

The respiratory route is the primary mode of transmission for both infections. Interrupting it will stop the spread of both.  In addition, global strategies to control COVID-19 and TB have common key elements: early detection, diagnosis, contact tracing, and case management. Both ailments also require a whole-of-society approach and active community engagement for implementing simple, doable, evidence-based and affordable non-pharmaceutical interventions.  

The National TB Elimination Program is a good place to start this process in India. It has demonstrated the strong involvement of civil society and community leadership in prevention and management of TB. This can be used to curb the spread of COVID-19 through community outreach that seeks to reduce close contact and promote use of non-pharmaceutical interventions (e.g. respiratory hygiene) in communities, public transport and overcrowded houses.

The program has also been instrumental in finding active TB cases. This can be expanded to include COVID-19 by strengthening the surveillance for influenza-like illness. The unification of surveillance activity for communicable diseases with similar modes of transmission is prudent, efficient, productive, and cost-effective.

This success can also be attributed to the involvement/engagement of the private sector, including use of the TB notification and patient management system ‘NIKSHAY.’ This IT-based platform can be strengthened to integrating notifications and responses to COVID-19. The strategies for COVID-19 can be synchronized with TB’s four strategic pillars of “Detect – Treat – Prevent – Build.”

India has scaled up diagnostic facilities by making highly effective tests available throughout the country. This has helped to make sure more people are diagnosed, receive proper medical treatment and thus reduce transmission of infection.

One of these tests, the cartridge-based nucleic acid amplification test, is rapid, highly sensitive, specific, and also detects resistance against recommended antituberculosis drugs. This system has also been extensively used during the COVID-19 pandemic, demonstrating the possibility of cross-use and integration of this system for diagnosis of other infectious diseases. With minor modifications it has the potential to become an affordable and reliable diagnostic aid across the spectrum of infectious diseases.

The pandemic should be seen as an opportunity to simultaneously combat COVID-19 and TB, in order to avert millions of deaths.

The other, TrueNat®, is a chip-based, portable reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) machine that is the fastest available test for COVID-19. It also has the potential to become an important diagnostic tool for multiple infectious diseases.

These tests can be made more effective by strengthening diagnostic outreach in the community with well-defined referral mechanisms. 

Using the same facilities for testing TB and COVID-19, with possible expansion and strengthening, can help in successful reductions of both diseases.  India has, in a remarkably short period of 6 months, scaled testing capacity for COVID-19 from the initial 15 testing laboratories to more than 1750 labs across the country. TB detection services can benefit immensely from this feasible, affordable and quality service network-based delivery model.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched the Tuberculosis Free India Campaign (TB Mukt Bharat), presenting his vision to eliminate TB from India by 2025. Similar leadership has been shown in managing the pandemic. India even allocated about $10 million to the COVID-19 Emergency Fund for fighting the pandemic in the neighboring countries in South Asia. The pandemic response can benefit from adopting best practices in India’s TB program, including telemedicine, doorstep delivery of drugs, insurance coverage, improved logistics, private sector partnerships and other benefits to community and frontline health workers.

The COVID-19 response has put the focus on public health interventions like social distancing, use of masks, cough etiquette, and hand hygiene. Continuing these steps will help in preventing new infections of TB as well. In the long term, strengthening efforts on providing properly ventilated houses to the poor contributes to the prevention of all respiratory infections. Initiatives such as the 30-second coronavirus mobile phone ring tone produced in India can be also be used to promote control of TB and other infectious diseases.

Managing the COVID-19 outbreak can help end tuberculosis in India in other ways as well. A major challenge in TB elimination continues to be “missing cases”. Sustained awareness amongst communities on various facets of TB – including the lethal consequences of late diagnosis and incomplete treatment of TB, will encourage people to seek health services more quickly. A strong network of diagnostic laboratories – on the pattern of COVID-19 labs, is needed to confirm the diagnosis and provide appropriate treatment.

Lessons learnt from pandemic should also include integrated training on related ailments. The disease dynamics and management of TB and COVID–19 can be communicated simultaneously to medical professionals and the public to ensure uniformity and better compliance. Other diseases can also be easily integrated into these training modules or platforms for broader upgrading of skills and efficient use of training resources.

Across the world, enormous technical and financial resources are being invested into fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of these are fortifying existing public health services and skills in managing cases and implementing effective measures for infection prevention and control. It will be prudent to sustain these achievements and use them to provide a swift response to future epidemics or pandemics as well as improved health services, especially those pertaining to respiratory infections.

covid, covid-19, coronavirus, novel coronavirus, corona virus, covid-19 response, communicable diseases, infectious diseases, emergency response, health response, outbreak, pandemic, covid-19 prevention, India, tuberculosis, TB, respiratory illnessSonalini KhetrapalSungsup RaPatrick L. OseweCountries: IndiaArticle

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Many of the workers on the front lines of the pandemic lack insurance and basic social protections. Photo: Olha Zaika

The “informal economy” is often seen as primarily daily-wage laborers, such as in the construction sector or housekeepers, but it also encompasses vast numbers of workers in short- term, usually contract jobs in the formal service sector such as hospitality, retail, and transport. It also includes those working in the new gig economy.

Their work is often characterized by uncertainty, instability and insecurity. As opposed to those in business or government employment, they bear the risks of their work and receive limited social benefits and entitlements.

The Asia-Pacific region accounts for around 60% of the non-farm global workforce, higher than in Latin America and Eastern Europe, ranging from about 20% in Japan to over 80% in Myanmar and Cambodia. They are twice as likely as formal workers to belong to low-income households and often live hand-to-mouth. If they cannot work for extended periods, their family’s income is at risk.

The informal economy is not a relic of the past or a sign of backwardness. It is also not a consequence of the failure of modernization strategies. Today’s informal economy is an essential feature of global production networks. It operates in an environment marked by complex formal and informal economic links, global economic cycles, and domestic economic concerns.

For many in the informal economy, savings are either nonexistent or extremely limited. Typically, they lack employment security, healthcare benefits, sick leave, pensions, and severance packages. Only some of these low-income households are beneficiaries of social transfer programs or other formal insurance arrangements. And here also coverage and adequacy of benefits remain an issue. In short, informal workers earn their living without a safety net.

Without these protections, informal economy workers, especially the poor, face a wide range of occupational, safety, and health risks. They are disproportionally affected by natural hazards and human-made disasters. When affected, the poor tend to lose a larger fraction of their wealth, given their lower ability to cope and recover from disaster impacts. 

Even those whose employment is technically on the books, such as Uber drivers, face a raft of disadvantages. Being classified as independent contractors, many struggle to win unemployment benefits because their employers fail to pay insurance premiums or report wage data to state agencies.

Today, many at-risk informal workers are classified as “essential” to keep the economy going during the pandemic even though they lack basic labor protections.

The private insurance sector should see this as an opportunity to contribute to societal development by designing and offering fit-for-purpose healthcare provision, pensions, and insurance solutions for the missing middle. 

The extension of social protection or insurance to workers in the informal economy often concerns households already relying on informal support and risk-sharing. Insurers should gain insights from the interactions between pre-existing informal risk-sharing networks, social protection schemes, and formal insurance markets while designing new solutions. The design elements must reinforce rather than undermine the positive aspects of informal support mechanisms in risk management. 

Often the potential to build on community-based insurance like cooperatives and mutuals is overlooked. A thorough understanding of these mechanisms can help create positive synergies to manage the idiosyncratic risks. For covariate risks, financing the extension of risk protection needs to be done via risk transfer. 

Microinsurance provides a credible option to balance equity and sustainability. Post-disaster, microinsurance products can cover the cost of health care, deaths, and burials, loss of livestock or crops, or business assets. They can also support the business or income-generating enterprises while the overall system recovers. 

However, limited access to a range of risk management mechanisms and data prevents insurers from offering access to affordable insurance. A case in point is the challenge of developing business interruption products post-pandemic due to a lack of legal documents, proof of inventory and income, and insurance providers’ misperceptions about the client group. 

Today, many at-risk informal workers are classified as “essential” to keep the economy going during the pandemic even though they lack basic labor protections.

The COVID-19 outbreak and accompanying disasters due to natural hazards have exposed the challenges in protecting informal workers and vulnerable households in Asia.

In the new normal:

Mutuals and community-based insurance need strengthening through regulatory and supervisory oversight as they play a critical role in insuring the missing middle. In doing so, the women’s position as the households’ risk manager can be reinforced further and recognized at the community level. 
Governments should consider linking social protection programs with insurance to provide a safety net response. The use of digital technologies to target social protection programs towards households most at risk and targeting the female heads of families would be necessary. 
Subsidies do not automatically lead to high take-up, although evidence suggests that they expand coverage in different contexts. The role of smart subsidies needs to be further explored. And the same goes for smart technology.
The viability of insurance is a direct function of an insurer’s solvency of following a large-scale catastrophe or sequential disaster events. Well capitalized and regulated insurers can diversify their portfolios via reinsurance and help in growing this nascent market.
The design elements of new insurance products need to address the informal sector’s risks and the gig economy workers. They must also consider access to existing risk-pooling arrangements to offer optimal protection.
There is little awareness or understanding of the merits of insurance for managing large-scale disasters. More awareness-building is needed to instill trust and to involve women as change agents. Home is the best school, and the mother is the best teacher. In this manner, one can instill the value of insurance in an entire generation. At the same time, stringent action should be taken against those who are mis selling. 

To address the future of work, a shift in thinking is needed about private partnerships and putting the elderly, women, and youth at the center of loss prevention and building resilience for the households. This will be the most effective way forward for developing future protection solutions.

covid, covid-19, coronavirus, novel coronavirus, corona virus, covid-19 response, communicable diseases, infectious diseases, emergency response, health response, outbreak, pandemic, covid-19 prevention, insurance, informal workers, informal labor, social protections, health insurance, vendors, day laborers, contract workersArup Kumar ChatterjeeArticle

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Study: Forestry finance market could soar to $800bn as net zero goals multiply

But supply chain deforestation threatens to undermine vast market potential for nature-based climate solutions, PRI warns

Corporate demand for carbon removal and offsetting will establish forests as a major new asset class that could generate $800bn annually for investors by mid-century, according to the UN’s Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI).

The forest finance market, historically small and managed by the public sector, is set to balloon into a trillion-dollar market over the coming decades as a growing number of corporates make investments in afforestation and reforestation projects that help them meet their net zero goals, according to PRI research today.

The research – which forms part of a new guide to negative emissions and land-use released by the PRI today – predicts the value of assets in the nature-based offsets market could swell to “well over” $1.2tr by mid-century, a figure that even outstrips the current total market capitalisation of oil and gas majors.

Major forest-related climate commitments from some of the world’s largest companies – including Shell, BP, Total, Apple, Microsoft and Amazon – highlight how corporate net zero agendas are already turbocharging demand for carbon credits from nature-based climate solutions, it notes.

Yet even prior to the explosion of net zero commitments from companies over the past 18 months, the value of forestry and land-use CO2 credits had been growing. The value of such credits traded in the voluntary offset market tripled to $172m between 2017 and 2018, while the share of forestry and land-use related offsets grew from 52 to 64 per cent of the total voluntary market, it notes.

But while reforestation and afforestation have emerged the earliest feasible negative-emissions technology investment opportunity for companies looking to offset their carbon, the report also notes that technological solutions could also grow to be a hundred-billion-dollar market. Direct air carbon capture, use and storage (DACCS) and bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) technologies could generate a further $625bn by 2050, it estimates.

Fiona Reynolds, chief executive of UN PRI, urged investors to take steps in the near-term to take advantage of investment opportunities in the bourgeoning forest market. “Policy and business momentum have now advanced to a critical mass for forests to begin emerging as a new asset class,” she said. “Investors can act now to unlock investment opportunities and to take an increasingly leading role in financing.”

It follows a number of high-profile investments in nature-based climate solutions from major corporates over the past year. Shell has invested in projects geared at planting five million trees in the Netherlands and regenerating a 800 hectare forest in Australia; BP is protecting a 40,000 hectare forest in Zambia; Apple is protecting a 11,000 hectare forest in Columbia; and Amazon plans to spend $10m on restoring 1.6 million hectares of US forest, according to the report.

However, the PRI warns that for investors to take advantage of the burgeoning market, they must take an active role in tackling deforestation, which not only harms the climate but constrains the total investible nature-based solutions market. Rates of deforestation have doubled during the pandemic, it notes, and as such investors must take steps to end investments in companies with deforestation in their supply chains.

“Afforestation activities are the most viable first move, but to ensure success actors must simultaneously focus on ending deforestation,” Reynolds said, adding that global forest laws need to be vigorously enforced and tightened.

The guide urges investors to take a stand in promoting sustainability standards for BECCS, warning that overreliance on the negative-emissions technology will push the world to its planetary boundaries on water and land availability. It also urges investors to promote a global standard for nature-based offset market.

“With more and more companies setting net zero targets, investors also need greater transparency about the negative emission technologies businesses will rely on to get there,” Reynolds added.

Elsewhere, the analysis highlights a number of emerging business models as holding the most promise for facilitating private investment in forest finance, ranging from green bonds, forest insurance provision, carbon off-taker guarantees, sustainable farming agreements and carbon farming agreements.

Distressed asset purchases – where investors buy and restore deforested or degraded public and private land to benefit from the carbon stock it produces – and a ‘stewardship model’ where an investor leases deforested or degraded land, are also included in the shortlist.

Allison Spector, director of sustainability at global investment manager Nuveen mused that private investors could “open the door” for major forest-related investments worldwide that could help companies meet their net zero targets and steer a Paris-aligned future.

“We believe there is a powerful role for forest-based natural climate solutions,” she said. “Yet the feasibility of implementing these strategies across the vast forestlands of the world is yet to be demonstrated and is predicated on an end to deforestation.”

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From the Mint team: Mint may be compensated if you click on the links to our issuer partners’ offers that appear in this article, including Chase. Our partners do not endorse, review, or approve the content. Any links to Mint Partners were added after the creation of the posting. Mint Partners had no influence on the creation, direction, or focus of this article unless otherwise specifically stated.

A luxury when they were first introduced decades ago, cell phones have become a ubiquitous part of life. And along with a phone in every pocket comes the worry about replacing it if it breaks. While cell phone insurance was not as big a market when phones were simpler and less expensive, it has become much more common with cell phones costing hundreds if not thousands of dollars.


What you might not know is that some credit cards that you may already have offer a type of cell phone insurance. Having these credit cards (and in most cases paying your monthly bill with the card) will qualify you for some or all of the replacement costs if your phone is damaged or stolen. In this article, we will take a look at some of the most popular credit cards that offer cell phone insurance.

Chase Freedom Flex

The Chase Freedom Flex is a relatively new entry to the credit card world. Like many World Elite Mastercards, the Freedom Flex offers cell phone protection. With the Freedom Flex, you are covered up to $800 per claim and $1,000 per year in cell phone protection. The coverage applies to any phone that is damaged or stolen that has been paid for with your Freedom Flex card. There is a maximum of two claims in a 12 month period, and each claim comes with a $50 deductible.


READ MORE: What to Know About the New Chase Freedom Flex Card

US Bank Visa Platinum

If you have a US Bank Visa Platinum card, you are also eligible for cell phone protection if your phone is damaged or stolen. Again, you must pay your cell phone bill with your US Bank Visa Platinum card, and the coverage applies to your primary line and any secondary, additional or supplemental lines. With the US Bank Visa Platinum Card, you are covered for up to $600, with a $25 deductible per claim. There is a maximum of two claims per 12 month period.

Chase Ink Business Preferred

The Chase Ink Preferred is a business credit card, with cell phone coverage targeted to business owners. You do have to pay your cell phone bill with your Ink Preferred card in order to qualify for the bonus, but one nice thing about the Ink Preferred card is that it is one of the few cards that offer cell phone protection that ALSO give you a bonus for paying your bill. You will earn 3 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on your cell phone bill.

With the Ink Preferred cell phone coverage, you can be reimbursed up to $600 per claim for covered theft or damage. You are limited to a maximum of three claims per 12 month period, and each claim comes with a $100 deductible.

Citi Prestige

The Citi Prestige is an ultra-premium credit card that comes with a $495 annual fee but offers the highest dollar amount for a claim of any of these cards with cell phone protection coverage. Citi Prestige cardholders are eligible to be reimbursed for the replacement cost for a stolen or damaged cell phone. There is a $1,000 limit per claim, and a $1,500 limit per 12 month period, with a deductible on each claim of $50. You must pay your cell phone bill with the Citi Prestige in order to be eligible for coverage.

American Express Wells Fargo Propel

The Wells Fargo Propel American Express is one of Wells Fargo’s cards that offers cell phone coverage. In order to be eligible for the Wells Fargo cell phone insurance, you need to pay your regularly occurring cell phone bill with your Wells Fargo card. You are eligible for up to $600 per claim for covered damaged or stolen phones. There is a maximum of two claims per 12 month period, and each claim has a $25 deductible.

The Bottom Line

If you are looking for peace of mind about your cell phone, you’ll want to check out one of these cards that offers cell phone insurance. In almost all cases, the coverage only covers damaged or stolen phones, not lost phones. Also, you will need to pay your monthly cell phone bill with the credit card in question in order to be eligible for the insurance.


Keep in mind that the exact terms and benefits of the cell phone protection with each of these cards varies slightly. You will want to make sure to look through the card’s benefits guide to find the exact terms and conditions that apply to your card. The benefits guide will help you understand what exactly is covered, what your claim limits are, and how soon after making your payment you become eligible for cell phone protection.


These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

The post 5 Cards That Will Pay for Your Cell Phone if (When?) You Break It appeared first on MintLife Blog.

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