Dr Tolu Olarewaju

About Dr Tolu Olarewaju

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

Recent Trends in Microfinance

The term Microfinance is derived from the word microcredit which means “small credit” in simple terms. However, with the expansion of services from Microfinance Institutions (MFIs), different people, agencies, and institutions have defined Microfinance differently. Generally, microfinance is defined as the provision of financial and non-financial services from microfinance institutions to low-income households and small business who were excluded by commercial banks.

The term Microfinance now covers a wide range of product and services such as microloans, savings, insurance, and remittance. Some scholars believe that the first formal microcredit institution was “Grameen Bank”, which was established in 1976 in Bangladesh by Dr Muhammad Yunus, a Nobel peace prize winner in 2006.

The term Microfinance covers a wide range of product and services such as microloans and savings.

The institution was set up as a non-profit institution to provide small credit, especially to women in the rural part of Bangladesh because it was difficult for them to receive loans from commercial banks. Over time, Grameen Bank grew in popularity and customer base and more MFIs started to emerge following the Grameen Model.

What is the Grameen Model?

The Grameen Model was created by Grameen Bank of Bangladesh which has currently the widest replication in many developing countries across the world. In Grameen model Five unrelated, self-selected prospective borrowers are formed and required to make a savings deposit and payment on a loan at given period. The institution does not evaluate these loans as individual loans but as group loans and also leaves members to do most of the management and financial services.

First, two members of the group will receive the loan and then the group members determine the rotation of access to credit, and after timely repayments, an additional two members receive loans. If any member in a group fails to make an installment payment on time, then the borrower or group will be cut off from the future borrowing. However, if the borrower/group makes payment on time and in an orderly manner then bigger loans are granted in the future.

The Grameen model provides credit to the very poor in rural areas without requiring any collateral. The model also has low transaction costs and focuses on women. The Grameen Bank approach is currently being applied in many countries. A few of such countries are Bhutan, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Chile, Guinea, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Zambia Some developed countries like Canada, France, and the U.S., have also adopted a version where it is being used to help people become income generators.

Trends in Microfinance

Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) have had global influence and spread around the globe because microfinance has been regarded as one of the effective tools for fighting poverty. Initially, MFIs depended on donations, grants and government subsidies. However, in last decade, some microfinance institutions have realised that they might need to make a profit to provide continuous service, cover their administrative, financial and operational cost, and also budget for the future development without needing any government funds or donations.

In recent years, MFIs have been focusing slightly more on their financial side and as a result, the industry is moving towards profit-oriented MFI’s which means that these MFIs are applying market-based principles. This implies that we have had three stages of MFI’s since their conception which can be seen from the following figure.

Trends in Microfinance Institutions

Some of the first microfinance institutions to adopt the profit-orientated approach were Bank Rakayat Indonesia (BRI), K-Rep in Kenya, Mibanco in Peru, First Microfinance Bank (FMFB) in Pakistan, and CARD Rural Bank in the Philippines. Similarly, PRODEM, the leading Microfinance NGO in Bolivia, transformed into a financial bank called BancoSol.

In conclusion, although MFIs were established as non-profit institutions to provide social services, it seems that microfinance institutions are becoming more like profit-oriented institutions for various reasons.

Sanjib Sherpa (sanjib.sherpa@research.staffs.ac.uk) is currently undertaking his PhD study at Staffordshire University in the area of Microfinance under the supervision of Dr Tolu Olarewaju.

THE BIGGER PICTURE: BREXIT SPEECH VS DONALD TRUMP’S TARIFFS

On Friday, 2 March 2018, at the Mansion House in London, Theresa May delivered her most comprehensive Brexit speech to date. It was a speech designed to bridge the divide between Remain and Leave voters as she tried to explain Britain’s future relationship with the EU.

To international business economists like myself, this was a welcome speech, with very insightful details into how Britain was looking to trade with the EU and other countries after D-day a.k.a. “Transition Period“. The Prime Minister spoke about approaching a crucial moment in the negotiations and specified that existing models like the Norway model would not work because that would mean having to implement new EU legislation automatically and, in its entirety and would also mean continued free movement.

A Canada model would also not be suitable on World Trade Organisation terms because that would mean customs and regulatory checks at the border and damage the integrated supply chains of both EU and British firms – inconsistent with the commitments that both Britain and the EU have made in respect of Northern Ireland.

The most positive thing about the speech however was its tone. It was in many ways a call to partnership and not protectionist mantra. Mrs May is right in many aspects but in one key detail in particular.

 

When other countries seek to become part of the EU, they have to make their laws, regulations and standards align with those of the EU. In this case however, Britain is already aligned with the EU. What Britain wants is some leeway to be different in certain respects. When Britain leaves the EU, the Withdrawal Bill will bring EU law into UK law.

In the future, Parliament might choose to pass an identical law to EU law in some cases – when businesses who export to the EU indicate that it is in their interest to have a single set of regulatory standards that mean they can sell into the UK and EU markets. If Parliament on the other hand decides not to achieve the same outcomes as EU law, it would be in the knowledge that there may be consequences for British market access.

 

 

TRUMP’S PROTECTIONIST TARIFFS 

A few days after the British Prime Minister’s speech, the US President, Mr Trump signed an order for a 25% tariff on imports of steel and a 10% tariff on aluminium into the US, saying some exceptions will be made for Canada and Mexico, prompting fears of trade war. While the US steel industry is obviously happy about the plans, it seems everyone else is upset.

Recall that Mr Trump campaigned on saving US steel and aluminium jobs, which have been lost to cheap foreign imports. But these tariffs threaten to undermine decades of agreement in international trade and have split the Republican party. There was no congressional member of his own party present for the White House announcement.

The US President is planning tariffs on $60bn worth of Chinese goods, in part because of alleged Chinese theft of intellectual property – which means design and product ideas. The White House said it has a list of more than 1,000 products that could be targeted by the tariffs of 25%. Companies will get a chance to comment before they are put into effect. Mr Trump wants to cut the trade deficit with China – a country he has accused of unfair trade practices since before he become president.

Officials from China and Europe have threatened retaliation. Richard Warren, head of policy at UK Steel, said the US was a significant export market for British producers, accounting for around 15% of UK steel exports. “This really does throw a spanner in the works” he said. The European Union has indicated it could retaliate, potentially starting a trade war with the US.

 

 

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “We will not sit idly while our industry is hit with unfair measures that put thousands of European jobs at risk.” “I had the occasion to say that the EU would react adequately and that’s what we will do.” “The EU will react firmly and commensurately to defend our interests. The Commission will bring forward in the next few days a proposal for WTO-compatible counter-measures against the US to re-balance the situation.”

It’s not just Europe and the UK that have voiced concern, Australia’s trade minister said it will distort global trade and cost jobs. He also highlighted the risk of retaliatory measures as Asian exporters sought more detail on the plans.

 

 

AN OVERVIEW

trade war is when countries try to attack each other’s trade with taxes and quotas. One country will raise tariffs, a type of tax, causing the other to respond, in a tit-for-tat escalation. This can hurt other nations’ economies and lead to rising political tensions between them. This is a form of protectionism. Protectionism is trying to use tariffs to boost your country’s industry and shield it from foreign competition.

trade war will be bad in this scenario, but Mr Donald Trump does have a point. China has been flouting international property rules and will have more to lose in a trade war. This flouting of international property rules has also resulted in a huge US trade deficit with China.

No party wants a trade war. Britain’s tone on Brexit is much softer and open to compromise. The US tone on trade seems to indicate a much tougher stance. Analysts might argue that this is because one side has more to lose than the other. Maybe what all sides need however is a more reconciliatory tone. Partnership will be better than conflict.

On Monday, 2nd of April 2018, China imposed tariffs of up to 25% on 128 US imports, including pork and wine, affecting some $3bn (£2.1bn) of imports. Beijing said the move was to safeguard China’s interests and balance losses caused by new US tariffs. The markets fell as a result, International Business Economists continue to monitor the situation.

Dr Tolu Olarewaju is a lecturer in Economics at Staffordshire University. For more information on International Business and Business Strategy courses at Staffordshire University, please visit www.staffs.ac.uk.

 

 

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.