Archive for January 2017

Has Vodafone finally got the right Idea in India?


After taking a £5.4bn hit from a rival, the telecoms group’s merger plan could make it joint owner of the market’s leading player

“Any company that gives stuff away is not a company, it is a charity,” grumbled Vittorio Colao, the chief executive of Vodafone, last November when a competitor in India started offering free mobile phone services, thereby putting a €6.3bn (£5.4bn) dent in the value of the provider’s local business. Vodafone shareholders, who hadn’t been terribly enthusiastic about India for a while, braced themselves for further instalments in a tale of disappointed dreams.

But here comes the fightback – or, rather, a defensive deal designed to ensure Vodafone can stay the course in India. Vodafone, No 2 in the market, has opened negotiations to merge its operations with those of the third-largest operator, Idea Cellular. The combined business would be the market leader in India with an astonishing 380 million customers.

Related: Rainwater-harvesting billboards offer lifeline to India’s drought-hit farmers

Continue reading…

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CIC or not to be a CIC? Is that your question?


Wellfit Health and Wellbeing became a CIC in 2012 and celebrated its 4th anniversary in July. It was just like any other birthday, there was a cake, there was fizz, there was a speech and a toast.

Birthday cake

But what made it slightly different was the general air of bemusement of some present. As what had started out as a short-term physical activity pilot for a local GP surgery became a fully-fledged business with:

  • contractors
  • employees
  • more than 150 regular customers in our weekly programmes
  • partners

When we started delivering for Cottage Lane Surgery which services the third worst place to live in Derbyshire, we didn’t exist. So at the time we managed the project using our existing communications company and treated the project as an, albeit interesting, ‘side issue’. So it was only when the participants in our seated exercise session said:

This is lovely, but will it be gone in two months like all the other projects they do here?

The light bulb moment

We realised we had a responsibility to our community to make the programme of physical activity for older people available. This moment led to WellFit Health & Wellbeing CIC being born; well, registered at Companies House.


In June this year I was 1 of 33 unsung heroes from across England announced at the Excellence in Public Health and Wellbeing 2016.  This was to recognise people in England who are leading local initiatives to improve the nation’s health and wellbeing. But at the time I didn’t attend the event as I didn’t know I was a winner and felt the cost was high for what is was. So I only found out afterwards that our MP Andrew Bingham nominated me without my knowledge and I was a winner. So when went down to play the Houses of Parliament at Walking football, our MP invited us to join him for a beer on the terrace. So a great day was had by all.

Wellfit team

Why did we choose the CIC vehicle?

Cynically? So we could apply for grants from:

  • Sport England
  • Comic Relief
  • County Community Foundation

Commercially? So we can sell our services at a market price and contribute to our bottom line with what we do. As people first see our company name and know we are a:

  • community business
  • not-for-profit
  • social enterprise

And, yes, we do put all 3 into every media release we write, in the hope that one of the descriptions chimes with the reader.

Ethically? Simply put, so that the people who take part in the programmes are involved in their:

  • delivery
  • design and
  • promotion

The same as the people who get paid or who volunteer to design, promote and deliver them.

Philosophically? Because we believe in our community and that we can make it a better place to live. We a have a dinky little phrase for this “doorstep wellbeing” by which we mean “delivering local programmes promoting social interaction based around physical activity.’

And selfishly? Because it’s lonely being in business, so when you make the decision to buy into the CIC movement, you also buy into a network of like-minded people who want to help.

We have a company saying at WellFit:

If you’re not having fun, why are you doing it?

So, if you’re thinking about going down the CIC route, this may help you decide. As CICs are fun! They’re businesses with the rapaciousness taken out, they do good and are here to stay!

 To keep in touch, sign up to email updates from this blog, or follow us on Twitter.


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Brunel MBA Maintains its Tier One Position in CEO Magazine’s MBA Rankings


CEO_MAGAZINE_LOGO adjustedThe Brunel MBA has maintained its Tier One position in CEO Magazine’s 2016 MBA Rankings in Europe, a category it shares with twenty-nine European MBA programmes including HULT, Copenhagen and ESCOLE business schools.

CEO Magazine has been showcasing top business schools from around the globe since it first launched in 2008. In 2012 the publication launched its annual Global MBA Rankings, profiling MBA, EMBA and Online MBA programmes. This year CEO Magazine reached out to over 300 business schools across North America, Europe and Australia and received responses from 140 institutions – an increase of over 100 per cent on the previous year.

“We are thrilled with the uptake and response to this year’s survey. The increase in the number of business schools participating, and the inclusion of some very well-known and highly regarded players within the market, serve to further establish the CEO Magazine Global MBA Rankings as a go-to reference tool for future MBA students,” says CEO Magazine’s Group Editor-in-Chief, Alexandra Skinner.

The CEO Magazine Global MBA Rankings are designed with applicants in mind, and examine the nuts and bolts of an MBA: the learning environment, class sizes, tuition fees, faculty, delivery methods, international diversity, gender make-up and more. The objective is simple: to identify schools which marry exceptional quality with great ROI.

The complete CEO Magazine Global MBA Rankings 2016 can be viewed in the latest edition of CEO Magazine or online on the magazine’s new website.

Filed under: Brunel Business School, brunel MBA, MBA, News Tagged: brunel MBA, MBA, MBA Rankings

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Who are Bike Tours for the Wounded CIC?


Bike Tours for the Wounded aka BT4TW became a CIC in June 2014. We provide support to both serving members and veterans of the UK’s Armed Forces, who are:

  • wounded
  • injured or
  • sick

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can have a tremendous impact on the lives of those who are affected by the condition.  So we have supported, and continue to support many serviceman and servicewomen with PTSD.

How do we do this?

Each tour, we give 52 servicemen and women an opportunity to take part as a pillion on the back of a Harley Davidson motorbike down Route 66.


BT4TW Route 66 Tour

This is a life changing experience for them and these adventures are not for everyone.  They are also not jollies and are tough on the mind and body. The serviceman and women who accept a funded place are willing and wanting a life challenge.

WIS pillion on Route 66 Tour

WIS pillion on Route 66 Tour

How is this possible?

We recruit experienced riders who share our passion and desire to carry one of our wounded, injured or sick (WIS) pillions on one of our tours. So if riding down Route 66 on a Harley Davidson is on your bucket list, we say:

Why not make the trip extra special and share the experience with one of our wounded, sick or injured (WIS) pillions?

Rider and WIS pillion

Rider and WIS pillion

The benefits

These tours are proving to be an important part of their rehabilitation programs. They offer an opportunity to:

  • find alternative support networks
  • form new friendships
  • share experiences with others in similar situations and
  •  to take time to reflect on what they have achieved

Most of all they give each individual something to look forward to and focus on. The difference we have seen in many of the servicemen and women we have supported has been remarkable and this drives our desire to continue what we do.

We have a saying here:

When you wake up in the morning ………… decide!

So far

We have taken over 200 personnel on tour and this has only been possible with the continued support from the public at our fundraising events. Each place is not cheap and costs £1,795.

So if you’re an experienced rider with a passion for this, please get in touch. We can continue making this a reality and life changing experience for WIS pillions.

 To keep in touch, sign up to email updates from this blog, or follow us on Twitter.

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Like to work on one of the globe’s boldest API Models?



Hi, Lee Hawksworth here. I’m looking for talented people to join our Software Developer Collaboration Team to work on our pioneering API Programme.

When we launched our HMRC Third-Party Tax Software and API strategy just over a year ago it was described as ‘one of the globe’s boldest moves yet’. Getting the strategy right is a great start – now we need the right team in place to help us deliver it!

Working with the nation’s software developers, you’ll help deliver and support HMRC’s API Developer Hub, the APIs published to it and the software developers and organisations that consume them.

It’s not only an opportunity to work on one of HMRC’s key areas of its digital strategy, it’s also a great opportunity to work for what I think is fast becoming a cool digital company!

That’s not just my view, but also these guys, and similarly here, or from a number of bloggers who have blogged on HMRC digital.

And now is a very exciting time to join HMRC. Although not all our teams work has been visible over the last year, we have been laying down the foundations of our strategy and the first APIs are now starting to move into production. The ‘Married Allowance’ API is a relatively simple API, but again, behind it are some pretty fundamental foundations that will allow us to move more APIs into production.

So yes, we’re recruiting!

We are looking for people to join our team who can help develop, deliver and operate our APIs. Anyone can apply for these roles, including Civil Servants and Non-Civil Servants who would like to join the team. You’ll find all the details in the links below.

Closing date for applications is 25 November 2016. Good luck!

Lee Hawksworth, Head of Software Developer Collaboration

Digital Product Delivery Support Manager

Digital Services Operations Manager

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Small business owners overworked but content


In a poll of more than 500 freelancers and small business owners carried out by accounting software firm FreeAgent, nearly a third of self-employed people say they work more than 48 hours per week on their business, and 6% admit to spending more than 64 hours each week working.

They also found that holidays were scarce for the self-employed, with nearly half of respondents saying they had not felt able to take a week or more’s worth of holiday in the past six months.

However despite the long hours and lack of holidays, the poll surprisingly found that many micro-business owners are actually content with their working life, with 74% saying that they feel they have a good work-life balance.

“Although many freelancers and micro-business owners enjoy more flexibility over when and where they can work, our research shows that they are actually likely to work just as many hours as people who are not self-employed – and sometimes a lot more,” says FreeAgent’s CEO Ed Molyneux.

“That’s because they have to manage all of the admin and behind-the-scenes parts of their business, not just the parts that they get paid for.”

For some self-employed people, running a business can also be so consuming that they don’t even manage to take a proper break, Molyneux adds.

“We found nearly half of the people we spoke to hadn’t felt able to take a week’s holiday in the past six months – which means they could potentially be risking fatigue through being overworked and, as a result, putting their businesses in jeopardy.

“With the right tools in place to help ease the admin burden, however, we believe that micro-business owners can spend less time on the fiddly parts of running their business and gain the confidence to take a holiday without feeling like they’re abandoning their work.”

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