Cooking Up A Storm: The Importance Of Migrants and Street Food

Upon my arrival in Bavaria as part of my Erasmus programme, I was met with many nuances which were wholly expected. Namely, würst, brezel and plenty of beer from the many breweries dotting Germany’s largest Bundesland. One thing I didn’t expect were the many cultural cuisines scattered across nearly every city in Germany and the rich variety of dishes offered at great prices. Döner and Falafel have become cornerstones of youth culture within Germany and further afield too. In Dublin one is prone to find themselves enjoying a burrito or spicebag among many other dishes, which certainly do not have their routes in traditional Irish cooking. Immigrant workers have long established take outs and restaurants as a means to plant their roots in their new homeland. In appreciating the wealth of food and culture stemming from this practice, it does raise the question as to why immigrants so often turn to this practice, and how important are such businesses to a country’s economy?

A brief history lesson

Street food vending was first legalized in renaissance-era Turkey, with the selling of kebab meat being a long-established practice in the country. With Istanbul acting as a gateway between Europe and Asia, many cultures had the opportunity to try new dishes and furthermore bring tales of these tastes back home. Street food had been long been a central pillar of society within China, the Middle East and African communities. Through the emergence of mass migration across the globe by many populaces, the recipes and pallets brought along with these migrants added further depth to the cultural melting pots beginning to brew.

The backbone of the fast-food industry

Work within the catering industry has long been a source of income for migrants. With work opportunities often limited through a combination of lack of qualifications, language and sadly discrimination, many newcomers find work in the fields picking crops, cleaning dishes in a kitchen, or working as chefs also. In the United States alone, 10% of the catering industry’s workforce consists of foreign-born workers. Often this work is unappealing and lowly paid, but with few chances many migrant workers seize upon the opportunity to establish a foothold on the work ladder. This is best represented with the United States’ agricultural workforce, which consists of over 50% of undocumented immigrants.

Rising above poverty

After gaining experience within the sector, it’s easy to see why migrants would build upon their knowledge and endeavour to establish their own chains and restaurants, specializing in dishes from their homelands. These ventures present a fantastic opportunity through the combination of skills and specific culinary knowledge passed from generation to generation, along with the ability to appeal to niche markets of consumers who can’t often access such tastes within their domestic market. For many people, street food is not only a tasty treat, but also a healthy cheap source of nutrition, helping to reduce poverty in cities such as Bangkok and in turn raise ‘cultural capital’, enabling for easier mobility of people through social classes, allowing for many to escape the clutches of poverty and secure a future for their children.

Creating a springboard

All of these factors combined with the convergence effects of globalization have allowed for many of these once street vendors to establish themselves as restaurateurs and even go as far as to establish food chains. In Berlin alone there are over four thousand Döner sellers. This large density of competitors is a result of a labour agreement with the Turkish republic in 1961, allowing workers into West Germany. These numbers rose in 1974-1978, with worker’s families allowed to follow their breadwinners to the DDR (West Germany). The proximity of California to its southern neighbour, Mexico, allowed for a large influx of immigrants. The introduction of the residents of Los Angeles to foods such as Tacos as early as the 1890’s highlights how foreign food can become synonymous with a new city, with Mexican food being a core element of Los Angeles’ food culture. The introduction of the hibachi restaurant concept to New York in 1964 by Hiroaki Aoki sparked a thirst for Japanese cuisine within the United States. The restaurant grew in popularity before expanding due to increased demand. This has culminated in the Benihana franchise, with over one hundred franchised restaurants around the world.

Breaking bread with strangers

While many of these operations are still small family owned operations, operating on street corners or out of kiosks in busy train stations, they play a massive role collectively. Over 20,000 people are employed within German Döner shops, helping to support thousands of families and livelihoods. Their success also stands as a testament to the integration of the Turkish people into German culture, with the love for great street-food being a unifying factor. As globalization continues to induce effects around the world, different cuisine can often act as a bridge in allowing for a start in a new country, so too can it help to create a wider and more diverse society in the world we live in.

1 Continent, 1 Billion+ People, Endless Opportunities – Maeve Rafferty, International Development in Africa Specialist

Think about the t-shirt you are wearing. Who sew it? What are their working conditions like? Where they paid a fair wage? The rhetoric of a global village means the habits of consumers of the Global North have wide-ranging ramifications, stretching from the factory floor to the price of your t-shirt on the high-street. However, student decisions as ethical industry leaders of tomorrow can break ground in new markets while leaving a positive footprint. As global business interest in Africa flourishes, I recently interviewed Maeve Rafferty, a Trinity College Business, Economics and Social Studies alumnus with a passion for international development, innovation, and identifying opportunities for entrepreneurship in the emerging African markets. She spotlights Africa’s underestimated potential as a market for innovation, investment, and social entrepreneurship for enterprising students. Maeve also discusses the interaction between social entrepreneurship and positive societal development.

Market Opportunities
As an MSc in Africa and International Development at the University of Edinburgh candidate, Maeve has extensive insight and practical experience in understanding how globalisation interlocks with policy, practice, and business strategy. Acknowledging the market reluctances on part of buyers and suppliers in the West towards doing business with companies in Africa, Maeve highlights two reasons driving opportunities in these markets for forward looking student entrepreneurs. Firstly, delineating the economic shift that is under way in the continent Maeve draws
parallels with development challenges experienced in the 1960’s Asian markets which turned into a rapid growth period for the Four Asian Tigers- Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, and South Korea. Where is next? Maeve suggests “Africa, as it is far too big of a global player to ignore.” According to a recent United Nations Forecasts, the continent is expected to double its population by 2050, from 1 billion to nearly 2.4 billion inhabitants. The implications of this growth present high long-term rewards for entrepreneurs who unleash Africa’s strategic position and potential.

Trends indicate rising incomes across the continent presenting an “attractive market” for those who identify gaps in the consumer market and seize the opportunity before competitors do. Secondly, innovation is needed where there is a lack of infrastructure. According to Maeve “Africa presents underexploited potential for sustainable industrialisation and innovation.” A 2016 report by Afrobarometer indicated that only 63% of the African population has access to piped water, and half the population live in areas without paved roads. It is important to bridge the distorted historical perception gap of Africa as a disconnected continent, 93% of the population has access to mobile networks. This reflects a continent of innovators and digital adopters. Developing sustainable infrastructure is an important step towards increasing productivity and competitiveness.

Social Entrepreneurship
Social entrepreneurship can create value in societies while also assisting their development. This is particularly pertinent in “lower or middle income countries which have less employment provided by the public sector, making the private sector a crucial employer.” For example, 3% of Tanzania’s employment is in the public sector. The remaining 97% presents opportunities in the private sector for social entrepreneurs seeking to create benefits which can improve “living conditions, and ensure people can live a dignified and secure life”. The wider knock on effects of entrepreneurship enables society to benefit from “more expenditure and higher demand for consumer goods which increases the ability for to create the supply to meet consumer demands”.

What can students do to drive social entrepreneurship? From Maeve’s experience in the education sphere, she suggests that students are already empowered to know that “decoupling needs to occur”. We need to decouple the idea that in order to have “economic growth there also has to be negative ramifications for the environment
and wider society.” Maeve views students as “ethical industry leaders of tomorrow, if they acknowledge and work towards ensuring the organisations they lead are conscientious in how their decisions are made, they have the power to contribute to sustainable development or hinder it.” The challenge of the COVID-19 lockdown presents opportunities for students to “reflect on society’s needs and meet consumer demand.” Maeve sees the student generation as social innovators, intuitively possessing skills that organisations are now acquiring, she recommends “reaching out to these global players and applying those skills positively to have a powerful impact” not just locally, but globally.

“Nowhere close” to enough climate action?

A new report from the United Nation’s Framework Convention on Climate Action (UNCCF) has announced that the world’s nations are doing “nowhere close” enough to keep the global temperature increases well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.

What does the report show?

The initial Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) Synthesis Report measures the progress of national climate action plans. The report described the findings, based on 75 countries that account for roughly 30% of the world’s emissions, as falling “far short” of what is required to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement and marking a “red alert” for the planet. Countries were required to submit their reports by the end of 2020, though many failed to do so due with Covid-19 further backlogging civil services. For this reason, the UNFCCC Executive Secretary insists that the report is just a snapshot, and that a clearer picture will have emerged before the COP26 climate summit in November.

Of those countries that did submit reports, the majority did indeed commit to lowering their emissions by 2030. However, the totality of the 75 countries’ current commitments would result in an estimated 1% total drop by 2030 compared to 2010 levels. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts that to meet Paris Agreement’s lower-bound of 1.5°C above pre-industrial temperatures, the cumulative reduction should be around 45%.

Why is it important that countries do meet the Paris Agreements standards?

The historic Paris Climate Agreement, signed in 2015, is a legally binding international agreement that mandates signatories to do their part in the common effort to limit global warming. Its goal is to limit global temperature increases to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and preferably only 1.5°C above these.

If temperature levels are allowed to increase by more than this, experts predict that serious and likely irreversible harm will be done to many of the earth’s natural and human systems. While the risks will not be felt equally everywhere in the world, the difference between 1.5°C and 2°C above pre-industrial temperature levels is likely to be significant. These facts are what have urged the UN and many of its members to call for more meaningful commitments from the Paris Agreement’s signatories.

Will 2021 see improvements from the initial report?

The UN’s General Secretary, António Guterres, called 2021 a “make or break” year for global climate action, stressing that global emissions must be reduced by 45% from 2010 to reach the 1.5°C goal, with the landmark COP26 climate summit taking place in Glasgow this November.

The inclination to imagine that reducing emissions by 45% compared to 2010 levels seems unlikely is understandable, given the report’s findings. Three of the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters failed to submit their NDC reports on time. It is still unclear if China and India will submit reports before the COP26 summits. Additionally, countries such as Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Switzerland and Australia, failed to improve upon their 2015 plans’ commitment to emission reduction. Meanwhile, Brazil’s plan made no commitment to reducing emissions by 2030.

However, despite the dreary premonitions that the UNCCF’s report may arouse, seeds of hope can be found in the dynamic, if not rocky, field of global climate action politics. The EU27 is the only one of the world’s four largest emitters to submit a plan on time, but Joe Biden’s American government, which has re-joined the Paris Agreement, is expected to submit an NCD plan by April. It is thought that strong American action to reduce emissions will signal to the world that green commitment is the future.

China has also promised to reach carbon neutrality by 2060. Many critics are understandably sceptical of the authoritarian regime’s commitment to the global attempt to mitigate climate change, given the behemoth scale of their brown investment. However, there are others who believe that the Chinese government’s changing rhetoric is not merely verbose signalling, but rather a recognition of the world’s (and its profit-seeking investors’) desire for trustworthy investments that will truly contribute to the fight against climate change.

With this in mind, 2021 may well be a “make or break” year for the effort to reduce global emissions.

Demi’s Basic Business Questions: What is Clubhouse?

“What is Clubhouse?”

That’s a really good question and I can almost guarantee that most of those reading this article are wondering what ‘Clubhouse’ has to do with business. In the following article, I will explore this current phenomenon and whether it does, in fact, have anything to do with business.

Clubhouse is an invite-only social media app ,first rolled out in America. It is an audio exclusive app that has been compared to a live podcast. Users join clubs and rooms where the content is digest through spoken word and user bios. It is also currently only available on the iPhone. As a result of Clubhouse’s perceived value, some people are purchasing iPhones to gain access to, and experience the app.

It came to Ireland late last year and there was a competitive fight for invites. Americans were selling Clubhouse invites for upwards of $20, and as someone from the UK or Ireland, you had two options. The first option was to just wait patiently for more people to join the app here, beginning the process of organic invites, and simultaneously miss out on the conversations that were being discussed extensively on Twitter and described as ‘life-changing’. The second option was to purchase an invite and be one of the first Irish people on the app, getting to the knowledge hub as soon as possible. I politely decline to answer what camp I fell into. 

By my estimation, it was early-mid January when Clubhouse gifted several invites to those who were already on the app. Before long, the incentive to purchase invites decreased as more and more Irish people gained access to the app. The dynamic of Clubhouse has also very much shifted from social to business in terms of the conversations being started in Ireland.

Now the next thing to address is what Clubhouse has to do with business. Primarily influenced by the American experience, there are a lot of Clubhouse rooms based on business-centric topics. These range from business tycoons advising on how to build million-dollar businesses to media experts telling you how to harness the power of social media to maximise the profits of small business. Users are allowed to join the “stage” and ask questions to those who started. This has been one of the most attractive features of Clubhouse. Just last week, Elon Musk – the owner of Tesla – engaged in a room in Clubhouse, which as you can imagine gathered quite the audience.

People who have engaged actively with a business or through a career-focused lens have boasted that it has truly changed their overall perspective. Those hosting rooms have since discussed being approached for paid speaking engagements, people have been offered investments in their ideas and much more. The way that people view their business strategy has changed and I have been offered paid freelancing opportunities from the platform.

However, it is important to note that one builds their own Clubhouse experience. It depends on how you choose to use this app, whether it is the aspect of a social club that appeals to you or its potential as platform for personal and professional development. You can cater your experience depending on who you choose to follow ranging from career coaches, business experts, leaders in different industries to influencers, friends etc.

Thank you for reading Demi’s Basic Business Questions. If you have any Basic Business Questions that you’d like me to address – email me at dadenira@tcd.ie

Yours in Learning,

Demilade

Goodbye 9-to-5, Salesforce to offer flexible work schedules to employees

By Matthew Quick

“The 9-to-5 workday is dead.”

Coronavirus has drastically changed the way business is handled since it first began over a year ago, including the way we work.

Last Tuesday, Salesforce announced that the company will no longer expect their employees to follow the 9-to-5 work schedule that has defined the modern workplace. Instead, Salesforce will be introducing a new system in which employees can choose a more flexible working schedule that determines how often they come into the Salesforce offices.

The company has offered three separate options to employees. A flex option will see employees returning to the office one to three days a week, once it is deemed safe to do so. The company states that most Salesforce employees will work via these conditions, as 80% of those surveyed still seek a physical connection to the workplace. A fully remote and a more traditional office-based option will also be offered based upon the employee’s needs.

The changes come after the company surveyed its employees at the start of the pandemic. “We learned that nearly half of our employees want to come in only a few times per month, but also that 80% of employees want to maintain a connection to a physical space,” Brent Hyder, President of Salesforce, wrote in a blog post announcing the changes.

Hyder also wrote that offering a more flexible work schedule is aimed at increasing productivity and creating greater equality in both terms of hiring and work-life balance. “In our always-on, always-connected world, it no longer makes sense to expect employees to work an eight-hour shift and do their jobs successfully,” Hyder wrote. “Whether you have a global team to manage across time zones, a project-based role that is busier or slower depending on the season, or simply have to balance personal and professional obligations throughout the day, workers need flexibility to be successful.”

Salesforce is among a growing list of tech giants allowing their employees to have more freedom over their work schedules. Last October, tech giant Microsoft announced that the company would be embracing a more flexible workplace that would allow some employees to work from home even after coronavirus restrictions are lifted. Salesforce is also looking to update its office spaces once employees return to work. Diverting from a more traditional workplace, “community hubs” will replace desks with breakout spaces meant to foster human interaction.

Salesforce employees began working from home in early 2020 and are expected to continue working from home until at least July 31, 2021, the company stated. The latest changes being made by Salesforce and fellow tech companies indicate an evolution brought on by coronavirus. Companies and employees alike have developed different expectations from one another as a majority of the global workforce works from home.

“This isn’t just the future of work, this is the next evolution of our culture. We’re combining the strength of our values, our platform and our people to reimagine the way we work for the better — whether in-person or in the cloud,” Hyder wrote.

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