ULSB student’s recipe for business success

Posted by pm357 at Apr 05, 2018 10:15 AM |
Oceania Alfa, a current International Management postgraduate student at the University of Leicester School of Business (ULSB), is using her studies to develop a food-tech start-up in West Africa to address problems facing the area’s food industry.
ULSB student’s recipe for business success

Oceania Alfa

Oceania identified a growing deficit in Nigeria’s food industry, which was confounded by a lack of coordination in the supply chain as separate companies supplying different parts of the service led to high costs and increased waste, leaving many services inaccessible for small business owners.

She innovatively recognised a need for process automation and the utilisation of social capital to achieve efficiency, by providing enterprise resource planning software that offers an online marketplace with a simplified interface. She is now working with her two co-founders to provide software as a solution (SaaS) to businesses in West Africa’s agriculture and food industries to integrate a profitable and sustainable solution in the supply chain.

Oceania explains what she hopes to achieve: “The aim is to encourage the sustainability of small and medium sized businesses, by synthesising all their operations and employing precise data to aid their decision making, all at an affordable price.”

Having previously completed an undergraduate degree in Accounting & Finance, Oceania decided to undertake postgraduate study to broaden her management knowledge in a way that would be helpful to her start-up plans

“International Management MSc at Leicester was a great choice. I have not only been encouraged to challenge academic theories but have also gained a new perspective on international business, post-colonial hindrances and capability approach, which are important considerations for startups, when providing SAAS to businesses in West Africa. The International Marketing module in particular has taught me the importance of balancing standardisation and adaptation in communication, as a cost-cutting measure when bootstrapping (setting up an Internet-based business or other enterprise with minimal financial resources).

“I also really enjoyed living in Leicester, so when it came to choosing where to complete my postgraduate studies it was an easy option to choose to stay within the city.”

The ULSB MSc in International Management gives students a thorough understanding of how organisations work in an international context, and teaches them how to enhance their skills to be an effective manager in a global business environment. It combines a comprehensive grounding in the functions of management with a critical analysis of the international context in which managers work. It helps students develop a critical understanding of the global economic, social and political environments which affect organisational life.

The programme leader, Dr Richard Godfrey, said: “The course features a combination of modules that allows students like Oceania to focus in depth on the international dimensions of management and business. Students develop an understanding of the main theories, models, frameworks and techniques of management and have the opportunity to explore these within an international framework and through a range of real world examples.

“Oceania is showing great entrepreneurial spirit by taking on board what she is learning at ULSB and implementing this in the real world through her work at a food-tech start up.”

The Leicester Innovation Hub has also proved an invaluable resource for Oceania. It helps students develop business ideas to enable technology based start-ups by offering start-up mentoring and support. Oceania explains further: “I wasn’t sure how to execute my ideas, and so I talked through my idea and plan with a mentor at the Innovation Hub who pointed me in the right direction. A few months later, I managed to get in touch with a developer (and now one of the co-founders), who was also interested in business operations in West Africa.

“I’ve been back to the innovation hub a few times, and aside from getting great help and guidance from the mentors, I’ve met other founders and learned about their start-ups (and borrowed a few good ideas too). On my next visit, I hope to meet more students and entrepreneurs who would be looking to join our team.”

Rajinder Bhuhi, Business Manager at The Innovation Hub, added “We are delighted to be supporting Oceania in her new venture. Encouraging and supporting our student/graduate entrepreneurs is an important part of the University Strategy. This support comes through the accelerator programme, mentoring, event like the business start-up cafes and access to expertise from the Entrepreneurs in Residence based in the School of Business. It is a very exciting time as we expand the provision of how we can help our students and graduates in gaining enterprising and entrepreneurial skills, that any employer is looking for and have the capability to start a new venture.”

Start-ups are the bedrock of a thriving economy and strengthening the ecosystem all fits with the University of Leicester’s values and mission. Businesses are encouraged to visit the Innovation Hub on our Innovation Friday held on the last Friday of every month where there is chance to meet the team, enjoy free cake, coffee and conversation with other business owners, entrepreneurs, students, graduates and academics. The newly developed Innovation Hub is part funded through the ERDF (European Regional Development Funds) and the University of Leicester.

Notes:

MSc International Management

Innovation Hub

European Regional Development Fund

The Leicester Innovation Accelerator in the Innovation Hub project is receiving up to £2.55m of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Department for Communities and Local Government (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund.

Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.

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