Tolu

About Tolu

PhD, MSc, FHEA - Lecturer in Business Economics at Staffordshire University.

Our quest to improve the lives of refugees through the Hult Prize 2016/2017 and why YOU should compete in the Hult Prize

This is a blog post about the Hult Prize, written by Sarah Vitorino, a student. The Hult Prize has become the world’s largest student competition, as well as the most prestigious award on the planet for the creation of new social enterprises.

 

I first found out about the Hult Prize through a lecturer at the university. As a part-time student I wasn’t sure if I would be able to compete, but after finding 2 other members for a team, Dan, Dani and I signed up together. The challenge set by the competition was to help 10 million refugees by 2022. With the help and support from the university, our team (which we named “Team Reach”) finally decided that we would build a fashion company in Colombia, in which factory seconds and discarded materials would be used to create our own fashion line, working with up and coming designers. Since 1985, over 4 million Colombians have been displaced by the armed conflict, both within the country and crossing the border into surrounding countries. This was our chance to make a difference.

Team Reach with other International Students at Hult Prize 2017 (Sarah Vitorino is 4th from right).

After pitching to judges within Staffordshire University, we were put through to the continental finals in London. Before we went to London, we spent many hours perfecting our business plan with Tolu (our lecturer and mentor) and got support from other lecturers within the School of Business, Leadership and Economics. We were put in contact with experienced entrepreneurs who also gave us sound business advice and we also got to pitch to the university’s senior management team which included the Vice Chancellor. With the presentation and the pitch ready for London, the weekend of the finals quickly came around.  Once in London, we were introduced to, and listened to speakers including Cesar Del Valle who were so passionate about the Hult Prize and everything it stands for that straight away it wasn’t just a competition.  Yes, we wanted to win in London and go through to the next round, to eventually win, but that was secondary. What mattered was that we were stood in a room filled with students from across the world and we were all fighting for the same thing, to help refugees and to make the world a better place.

Eventually it came our time to pitch our idea. Before the competition, I would avoid public speaking at all costs. My heart was racing as we walked into the room, set up our boards and looked across the room at the judges and students.  It felt like the longest pause as we stood there at the front, then Dan started to speak. Everything fell into place.  We had run through this so many times we had it to near perfection.  We believed in what we were saying. We could see the future in the idea. I don’t remember many details from the presentation other than my constant reminders to myself of ‘make eye contact’.  We left the room relieved. It had gone as well as we could have hoped. The timing was perfect, we communicated all the information we had wanted to and the questions from the judges sounded promising.  We were called back to answer a few more questions,,, further elaborations on wages, why we had chosen Colombia? We took them in our stride…

Staffordshire University’s “Team Reach” at Hult Prize 2017

The winning team from London was a Canadian team wanting to connect refugees with locals to exchange skills. Nonetheless, our time in London was amazing. We heard ideas and pitches for things we would never have considered, we met people and made friends from all over the world, we took part in an experience that most people could only dream of. The memories of that weekend will always be with me; the atmosphere of the weekend will be something I could never forget and I became much more confident. I still get nervous at public speaking but I know now that I can do it. The biggest change in myself, however, is that I caught something that weekend. From the atmosphere, the passion of the speakers and the insights of our new friends, I want to change my life. I want my future to be about helping people and making a difference to the world because there are so many other people out there who have so much less than I do. I changed because I realised that I really can make that difference we set out to.

The Hult Prize is a fantastic event and I would advise all students to compete. It not only gives you practical skills, you get to interact with university students from around the world for a good cause. It is one of the best things that I have ever done and I am grateful for the opportunity. Go ahead and give it a try. You will not regret it.

If you would like to get involved or would like more information click here or contact:

Sarah
e: sarah.andrade.vitorino@gmail.com
t: 07496151612

Tolu
e: Tolulope.Olarewaju@staffs.ac.uk
t: 07808836580

 

The Economic and Social Impact of Stoke City FC

The English Premier League is a global brand. Stories abound of travellers from Stoke-on-Trent travelling to far flung corners of the earth, getting into a cab, pub, or conversation and being asked; “Where are you from?” the traveller responds; “I am from Stoke” only to be told; “I know Stoke FC!”, a list of players is usually reeled out including Peter Crouch and co, and from then onward, the conversation takes on a new dimension of familiarity and friendliness.

Peter Crouch Goal Celebration

 

English Premiership Clubs have fans in all corners of the world. Jerseys are sold in Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe and Australia. Matches are watched on all sorts of devices and football players are household names with kids dreaming of growing up to be like their heroes or even just meeting them someday.

 

Beyond the pitch however, there is another dimension that is closer to home. Football clubs are generating huge revenues and investing these in a variety of ways with a huge impact to their local economies. For example, Stoke FC’s revenue was £11 million in the 2007/2008 football season and then Championship promotion boosted the Club’s revenue even more from commercial, match day and broadcast streams. In the 2015/2016 Stoke FC’s total revenues rose to £119 million, making them the 9th in the Premier League. The growth in the Club’s income since joining the Premier League has enabled it to significantly increase its investment in the region and grow the profile of the Club and the city at home and abroad.  Some key regional and social impact statistics for Stoke FC for the 2015/2016 season are shown in Table 1.

 

Table 1: Key Regional Economic and Social Impact of Stoke City FC Statistics (2015/2016 Season)
2,391 international visits
119,000+ domestic tourists
£7 million visitor spending
301 direct Club employees (FTEs)
£1.3 million spent on local community initiatives
£29 million spent on Club supply chains (some local)

 

In addition to the impact highlighted in Table 1, the Club has also expanded its stadium to boost match day attendance and attract more visitors to the region, invested in players from the UK and abroad to extend the reach of its fan base to other areas of the globe, invested around £4million into its academy providing local young people with opportunities to develop their football careers at the Club, and invested in the Community Trust to work with the wider community to target individuals who want to get back into education, employment or generally improve their health or mental well-being.

 

Not only does success on the pitch attract visitors to the region who spend on travel, accommodation and food and drink, there is the indirect effect from the supply chain and the induced impact from increased employee spending. Analysis from Ernst & Young LLP shows that Stoke City FC generated a total Gross Value Added contribution of 132 million to the region during the 2015/2016 season. £108 million was directly contributed via the club and its tourism, a further £13 million was generated via indirect effects in local supply chains and £10 million was generated via induced effects. This activity also attracts businesses to locate their operations within the area.

Staffordshire University students and staff with Tony Scholes (CEO of Stoke FC)

 

Granted that a lot of the players might not live in the region, the activities of Stoke City FC resulted in an estimated £66million total liability to the Exchequer in 2015/2016. The presence of Stoke City FC also supported many FTE jobs in the regional economy during that period. 301 people were directly employed by the club, 853 people were employed by relevant supply chains, 401 people were employed via tourism to watch Stoke FC, and a further 682 were employed because of induced effects.

 

Beyond these, the Club supports a variety of initiatives to improve the lives of individuals and communities, working with a number of stakeholders including schools, local government and wider supporting organisations (e.g. the premier league). Community activities are delivered by Stoke City FC’s Community Trust (SCCT) which was founded in 1989 and became a registered charity in 2004. Ernst & Young LLP estimate that around 10,900 people have participated in community and charitable programmes in 2015/2016. 119,600 day trips were organised and 304 people have gained at least one qualification as a result of the Clubs initiatives. During the period under review, 10,246 hours of volunteering community work was done with the result of £8.7 million savings for the local community on physical wellbeing and £2.9 million savings on mental well being from increased physical activity.

 

With these key statistics, it is not hard to cheer for our local team. The sporting and commercial success of the Club in recent years, which includes breaking their transfer record twice in the 2015/2016 season, has allowed Stoke FC to further embed itself as a key member of our local economy. We at Staffordshire University will continue to cheer for the club. You should do the same too 😊😊😊!!!

 

Technology, Opportunity and Entrepreneurship

Technology has fabulously changed our jobs market since it transformed the production landscape during the industrial revolution, but even more so in the past three decades. Like in the 16th century, many jobs that were once considered crucial are now obsolete, and new job descriptions are being created in the labour market even as many forms of automation are presently being integrated into the production process. One does not have to go far to see how technology has changed our lives in forms of communication, transportation, work and leisure. Your being able to read this article has been greatly enhanced by technology and I as the writer have had to have some basic skills in technology to be able to deliver this article to you.

As an economist, there used to be a time when my profession worried about what humankind would do when we ran out of oil but recent technological advancements have once again rendered that discussion archaic. There also used to be a time when the factors of production were firmly believed to be land, labour, capital and entrepreneurship but some economists will argue that there is a need to include one additional factor of production in the modern era – you guessed it “technology”.

So what does this mean for young people as they decide their future? Should we be scared of this trend? How far reaching will advancements in technology be felt? Humankind has been very fortunate to have been able to grasp the benefits of technology and we have used it to live longer healthier lives, explore space and other planetary objects, and open great doors for the future but we have also made many mistakes along the way. Young people need to wary of this and know that they have to be the ones to decide on how we harness this power and what we use it for.

Business Management students at BMW in Munich

Business Management students at BMW in Munich

My area of focus in economic research right now is entrepreneurship and I became interested in entrepreneurship particularly because entrepreneurs are the ones who combine all the other factors of production to actually benefit humankind. Without the entrepreneur, other factors of production would be idle. Entrepreneurs however need to be somewhat knowledgeable to be able to do their jobs properly. Adam Smith, one of my favourite economists used the example of a small grocery to illustrate this point:

“The owner of such an enterprise [a business] must be able to read, write, account, and must be a tolerable judge too of perhaps, fifty to sixty different sorts of goods, their prices, qualities, and the market where they are to be had cheapest.”

This example shows that a business owner needs a modest amount of education to function profitably. This education might not necessarily be formal but the entrepreneur must know their stuff.

In our current society we are awash with technological advancements and these seem to be changing the way we live and do business. Businesses that have not kept abreast of current vagaries or have been slow to make investments in innovation have found themselves left behind, and entrepreneurs will need to know that they will face the same fate if they do not stay knowledgeable about technological developments that affect their customers and market.

This also presents some opportunities for entrepreneurs as they can be avant-gardists and influencers of the future. Imagine the impact that innovators have had on our current society not just in terms of social media but virtually in all productive fields. The world needs smart means of using its limited resources to improve the quality of our lives, and individuals who can do this successfully will be blessed with the commensurate rewards.

A holistic education is thus needed to be successful in the present climate as well as an open mind and the right sort of social capital. As the saying goes “no one is an island” and “many hands make light work”. Business owners and potential successful entrepreneurs will also be wise not to jump into the water with both feet but to test out their ideas and products carefully before venturing out boldly into the wide world.