RCA Flag
RCA Flag
Connecting Africa’s Skilled Professionals
RCA Flag

ReConnect Africa is a unique website and online magazine for the African professional in the Diaspora. Packed with essential information about careers, business and jobs, ReConnect Africa keeps you connected to the best of Africa.

Library of Articles

News from the UK and around the world

According to research by the Pew Center Charitable Trusts, one in every 15 Black men in America is incarcerated. When the study looked at Black men ages 20-34, the incarceration rate jumped 40 percent to 1 in every 9, compared to 1 in every 106 white men. Black Americans are more pessimistic about their futures, with just 44 percent expecting their lives to get better financially, compared with 57 percent back in 1986, according to the Pew Center poll. Thousands of Blacks and Latinos are foregoing much-needed medical attention in an effort to pull together dollars to save their homes and many have lost their jobs too. In 2006, at the height of subprime lending, 41 percent of Latino homebuyers and 48 percent of Black homebuyers signed on for subprime mortgages, compared with only 18 percent of white borrowers and 17 percent of Asian borrowers, according to ACORN. But all isn't lost. In 2007, the Black share of total buying power is 8.4 percent, up from 7.4 percent in 1990, according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth. This is expected to rise to 8.7 percent by 2012, which accounts for nine cents out of every dollar spent nationwide.

Female workers are being hit harder than ever before by the effects of the current downturn, a report suggests. A study by the TUC showed the redundancy rate among women had risen by 2.3%, almost double the rate for men, since last year. It said more women were in work and more households depended on a woman's wage than in previous downturns. It also found many job losses were occurring in retail and hospitality, where more women than men work. Meanwhile, a separate study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development showed half of employers had launched recruitment freezes in a bid to avoid making redundancies, while a similar number were shedding temporary or agency workers. The survey of almost 900 employers revealed one in seven had introduced short-term working or cut bonuses, while 7% had trimmed wage costs.

The colour bar is still alive for those seeking jobs and a home, a disturbing undercover investigation has found. Out of 30 recruitment agencies contacted, 25 readily agreed to a request that only white applicants be sent along for a job as a receptionist. The investigation, carried out for BBC One’s Inside Out West, also found letting agents were willing to discriminate, with 17 out of 30 agreeing not to offer a house to anyone from an ethnic minority. Prof Tariq Modood of the Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship, said: "I'm surprised how many people were willing to go along with a very blatant suggestion of discrimination. Past surveys have tended to suggest maybe a third of people will discriminate and you have found that it is greater than that." Tom Hadley, of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation said: "It shows there's still a lot of work we need to do. We will not tolerate this kind of discriminatory behaviour."  Source: Metro

During this current recession, certain groups are being affected by job losses to a greater degree than others. A report from the U.S. Department of Labor has confirmed that Blacks are at the top of list of the most adversely affected, with an unemployment rate of 12.6%. The unemployment rate for Hispanics was 9.7% and the rate for whites was 6.9%. The report also said adult men are losing jobs faster than women. The unemployment rate for adult men is 7.6% and the rate for adult women is 6.2%. Older Americans are also among the hardest hit by unemployment. The labor department report said that the unemployment rate for workers over 55 years of age was 12.8%. The trend during this downturn has been for employers to lay off older workers who earn higher salaries in favor of younger workers that they can pay less. Also, since the baby boomers approaching retirement make up a very large portion of the workforce, they have suffered a larger share of the job cuts across all industries. Taking these statistics into consideration, it may turn out that older Black men may be the group at greatest risk during this recession.

Bettertheworld.com, the world's first, effortless fundraising platform that provides tools to empower millions of people to raise money for charity simply by surfing the web, has been launched. The platform targets internet users who have no money to give to charity and charity supporters who want to do more. In less than two minutes, people can join through www.bettertheworld.com, download the tools, start raising money, and track the impact of their activities. The tools include a browser sidebar, and Google powered search toolbar, both of which seamlessly integrate to Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox. According to the Association of Fundraising Professionals, 2009 is expected to be a very challenging year for fundraisers. Many charities are viewing 2009 as an opportunity to re-evaluate and capture the trend toward low cost, high engagement models supported by the use of online tools and programs. By partnering with leading global and local charities and foundations like the Habitat for Humanity, TakingITGlobal, Children's Miracle Network, United Way Toronto, CANFAR, SickKids Foundation, the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, and Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario, Better The World plans to deliver high quality programs that are well managed and executed in the field.

MicroPlace, a website that enables everyday people to invest in the world's working poor, has announced the launch of a new investment opportunity that offers a 5 percent return, a first in the microfinance investment industry for everyday investors. Through MicroPlace (www.microplace.com), anyone can make microfinance investments that lift people from poverty and offer a 5 percent rate of return. Investors don't have to compromise their financial goals to help people escape poverty. By visiting MicroPlace, people can invest as little as $20 and have the opportunity to earn 5 percent interest. With money market funds currently offering an average of 1 percent and the stock market yielding negative returns over the past year, MicroPlace investments offer a healthier return while simultaneously making a positive impact in the world. The 5 percent investment opportunity listed on MicroPlace is offered by MicroCredit Enterprises (www.mcenterprises.org), a nonprofit organization committed to reducing poverty by providing small loans to the working poor around the world. MicroCredit Enterprises currently finances microloans in 15 nations on four continents. Women are the recipient of 89 percent of its microloans. Microfinance has been recognized worldwide as a simple but powerful tool that enables the poor to pull themselves out of poverty. Most commonly, it involves making small loans – as little as $20 - to the working poor in developing countries. The loans are used to establish or expand small businesses that generate additional income for the family, enabling them to buy food, access healthcare, educate their children, put aside savings and lay the foundation for a better future.

The economic downturn has created a new north-south divide – only this time the tables are turned, with small London firms hit harder than those in any other region. Almost three-quarters of London's small and medium-sized enterprises saw sales fall or stagnate in the fourth quarter of 2008, a study of almost 1,300 firms found. Small firms also suffered in the south-east, south-west and the West Midlands. But Scotland and the north-east fared better than other regions, with many SME's still growing.

Almost a quarter (24%) of British employees went to work in January despite feeling too unwell to do so, according to a survey by the TUC. Of these, 28% said that they did so because they didn’t want to let down their colleagues. Only 12% of the 1,389 respondents said that they had never gone to work when they felt too ill. The TUC said that the survey "paints a very different picture of sickness absence from the caricature that British workers are always taking bogus 'sickies' and stay home at first sign of a sniffle". It also pointed to CBI research showing that sickness absence has been falling steadily: in 1998 workers took an average of 8.5 days off sick a year. Last year 6.7 days was the average figure.  Source: CIPD

Houlihan Lokey Howard & Zukin. Votes from its financial services readership resulted in the list of the Top 100 firms in the global financial markets by hereisthecity.com. The Top 10 includes (last year's Top 32 positions in brackets): 2. Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, 3(2). UBS, 4(1). Merrill Lynch, 5(12). Barclays Group, 6(4). Credit Suisse, 7(3). Nomura, 8(7). Bank of America, 9. TIAA-Cref, 10(5). Aviva Investors.  Source:  hereisthecity.com

The Siemens Foundation has announced the winners of the 2009 Siemens Teacher Scholarships in collaboration with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) and the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). The program provides recognition and financial support to students at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) who plan to become science or math teachers. Many Siemens Teacher Scholars gain their first interactive classroom teaching experience through the Siemens Foundation's Siemens Science Day program, a nationwide initiative in partnership with Discovery Education that has reached more than 50,000 elementary and middle school students since its inception in 2006. By participating in Siemens Science Days, Siemens Teacher Scholars are able to share their passion for math and science and gain a unique and concrete teaching experience.

A new fund offering assistance for Midlands-based businesses to train and up-skill their staff is accepting applications. First mooted before Christmas, the University of Derby is now inviting local firms to register their interest in the £250,000 Skills Development Fund. The programme, which is financed by a windfall received as a result of the Government’s 2.5% cut in VAT, will enable companies from across the Midlands to sign their staff up to undertake skills development and training courses at the University. It can also offer participating businesses in-depth consultancy worth up to £3,000 to help identify what areas of training would be most beneficial to them. The Skills Development Fund is available to businesses that are operating, or have considerable presence, in the Midlands, are a VAT-registered commercial business or voluntary organisation and are not in receipt of any other public funding or training. Participating SMEs (under 249 employees) are required to guarantee that at least two of their staff will undertake training, while larger companies (250 or more employees) must commit at least ten of their workers to the scheme. Interested businesses are asked to contact University of Derby Corporate, the institution's business-to-business operating division, and arrange a company visit to discuss what courses may be suitable for their staff members to undertake and determine what level of funding may be available to them. The deadline for signing up to take part in the programme is 30 April 2009.

Small firms can scoop a big prize package including up to £25,000 worth of new computer equipment if they can show how using IT has improved their performance. Entries are invited for this year’s Dell Small Business Excellence Awards, a global competition run across 13 countries by computer giant Dell Corporation Limited. Up to ten finalists in each participating country will get a Dell laptop worth £1,000, while the overall national winners will receive £15,000 worth of Dell products and support services, along with a ten-year membership of an Accredited Chamber of Commerce. The overall global winner will scoop £25,000 worth of Dell products and business support, along with lifelong membership to the International Council for Small Businesses. The awards are open to entries from any business that employs 100 or fewer staff. Participating firms are required to demonstrate how they have used IT to deliver a "superior customer experience" against criteria including : Innovative use of IT (20%) and How IT has led to better customer experience (40%).Interested companies can enter the contest online at the Dell website up to the closing date of 3 April.

Half a million pounds is being made available to fund skills training for West Midlands workers and businesses hit by the recession. Staffordshire University has launched their new Working Futures Fund, which will offer up to £3,000 to help people that have been made redundant, or whose jobs are under threat, to gain new skills and qualifications. The scheme has been funded by the windfall generated by UK Chancellor Alistair Darling's 2.5% cut in the rate of VAT last November. The university is believed to be one of only two educational establishments in the entire country to use to reinvest the cash in providing retraining. The £3,000 per person funding can be used to undertake a wide range of business-related courses at the university, including business leadership, management skills, public service leadership and counselling skills. For further information about the Working Futures Fund, contact Staffordshire University's Business Evolution team on 01782 294178 or email  c.watson@staffs.ac.uk

The EU directive on temporary agency workers should not be implemented in the UK until 2011, despite the plight of agency workers in the recession, employers groups have warned. The controversial legislation, which will entitle agency workers to some of the same basic employment rights as permanent workers after 12 weeks' employment, would have given some protection to agency workers laid off in recent weeks. But Kevin Green, chief executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, said that the legislation needed to be framed in such a way that firms should not be deterred from hiring agency workers in the first place. The Agency Work Commission's report recommends limiting the scope of equal treatment for agency workers to basic salary and other statutory rights and ensuring the 12-week qualifying period is easy to administer. It also states that highly skilled workers, who aren't in the group of "vulnerable" workers that the law is designed to protect, should be excluded from the regulations to ease the administrative burden.

A major year-long consultation into the future of UK third sector funding has been officially launched. Umbrella body the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) has revealed the eleven individuals tasked with exploring how the voluntary and community sectors can overcome the recession and look forward to a sustainable long-term future. The new Funding Commission will be headed up by former Deputy Governor of the Bank of England Rachel Lomax. The Commission will consult widely on how the voluntary and community sector can rise to the economic challenges and move towards a more securely funded longer- term future.

To encourage innovation and entrepreneurship in Africa, EMRC and the Rabobank Foundation have collaborated in initiating the "Project Incubator Award". During EMRC's Africa Finance & Investment Forum 2008 in Paris, The Rabobank Foundation awarded the $10.000 prize to MUPECI, a microfinance institution from Cameroon. The next Project Incubator award will be next presented at EMRC's Agribusiness 2009 forum to be held in Cape Town, South Africa form the 14th to the 17th of June. The fund for the prize has been increased to US$15.000 and there will be 2 additional runner ups awards. The deadline for applications is the 10th of May. For further information on all the projects presented for the latest edition of the award please visit our website or contact us directly through Caterina Giuliano (cg@emrc.be).

The fifth Africa-Israel Economic Mission 2009 will be held from the 3rd to the 7th of May. This vocational trip will once again couple public and private sectors partners from Africa and Israel. Guided visits will include tours of greenhouses, drip-irrigation systems, solar energy plants, dairy and poultry farms as well as aquaculture sites. Biotechnology applications in agriculture will also be examined. This visit is organised in collaboration with Agritech (the International Exhibition for Technology in Agriculture), Mashav (The Israeli Centre for International Cooperation), CINADCO (Centre for International Agricultural Development Cooperation), the Israel-Africa Chamber of Commerce and the Israel Export & International Cooperation Institute. For further information please contact Francois Kacen:  fk@emrc.be

An annual business planning competition aimed at encouraging and rewarding new or early-stage science and technology ventures is open to entries. The Technium Challenge offers a prize package worth £30,000 to the overall winner, including £5,000 in cash, £5,000 worth of rent at a Technium facility, and £1,000 worth of consultancy and marketing support. The UK-wide contest, provided by the Welsh Assembly Government-backed business incubation network Technium, is open to technology or science-based businesses that have been trading for less than two years and can demonstrate a fairly well developed patentable idea or technology which involves a strong R&D element and a strong interest in receiving practical advice from external advisors to generate new ideas and support to develop a business plan.

A £100,000 fund to forge stronger relationships between Scottish SMEs and universities has been launched. Provided by the Scottish Further and Higher Education Funding Council (SFC), the initiative will help businesses and academics work together on developing innovative new products, processes and services. The scheme will be run by Interface - the national matchmaking programme helping businesses team up with universities – and is modelled on a number of similar knowledge transfer funds successfully run across the UK and Europe. It is hoped the programme will enable Scottish businesses to become more competitive whilst at the same time helping to promote a "culture of innovation" and lay the foundations for longer term knowledge transfer relationships. Universities will be able to approach a suitable industry partner, or use Interface to find a collaborator, then claim grants worth between £500 and £5,000 to carry out projects such as feasibility studies, technology audits or new process, product and service development. Funding is available across all business sectors and university disciplines, with participating SME expected to match the SFC's contribution. For more details about business-university collaborations, visit the Interface website.

A new £1.5 million fund has been established to help people living in disadvantaged areas of North Tyneside to start their own business. Up to 1,500 aspiring entrepreneurs are expected to be offered advice and start-up support through the Raising Enterprise North Tyneside project over the next three years. Half of the initiative's funding is being stumped up by regional development agency One North East via the European Regional Development Fund, with scheme providers North Tyneside Council contributing the other 50%. The scheme will set up a Neighbourhood Enterprise Team (NET) who will hold a series of seminars, workshops and business advice sessions throughout the area's four most deprived boroughs - Riverside, Wallsend, Chirton and Howdon – with the aim of inspiring the next generation of business brains. Meanwhile, a Business Opportunity Sourcing Service will operate alongside the NET, focusing on local openings for those looking to start-up in business, including franchises. It will aid around 450 up-and-coming entrepreneurs who would like to become self-employed but lack the business ideas to progress further by guiding them through the pre-start up stage of development and forging initial contacts with the Business Link service. Individuals interested in becoming involved with the Raising Enterprise North Tyneside initiative are advised to contact North Tyneside Council on 0191 643 6409.

The development of agriculture in Malawi is severely hampered by an inadequate supply of a basic farming necessity – seed. Foundation seed is used to produce certified seed, which is what farmers' plant every season.

Welcome to the new, upgraded ReConnect Africa website.
Please help us provide you with information relevant to your needs by completing the fields below (just this once!)