Episodes

  • Global warming means the world will need a lot more air conditioning - but will the AC just make global warming even worse?

    The Middle East already experiences peak temperatures over 50C, as the Kuwaiti social media influencer Ascia Alshammiri testifies. And things are only set to get worse. Ed Butler speaks to climatologist George Zittis, who says urban temperatures could hit 60C later this century, which combined with rising humidity could render some places uninhabitable.

    In any case, it means a boom for the air conditioning industry. But AC itself is a major source of greenhouse gases, as Radhika Lalit of clean energy think tank RMI explains. So are there tech solutions available to break this vicious circle? We hear from two entrepreneurs - Kevin O'Toole of Exergyn, and Aaswath Raman of SkyCool Systems.

    (Picture: Congested air conditioning units on a building in Mumbai, India; Credit: Kuni Takahashi/Getty Images)

  • The British Government says the BBC license fee, paid by millions of households, to finance its global broadcasting service, will be frozen for two years and wants a debate about future funding. So what are the options for the Corporation? Rob Young explores the way public service broadcasters are funded around the world and talks to Ismo Silvo, the Deputy Chief Executive of the Finnish public broadcaster YLE and Chris Turpin, NPR's Chief of Staff. We get some analysis of the advantages and limitations of each model and discuss the impact on other broadcasters with Steve Barnett, Professor of Communications at the University of Westminster and Gill Hind from Enders Analysis.
    (Image: BBC Studio, Credit: BBC)

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  • It’s no surprise to anyone that money talks in English football but lately it seems louder than ever. Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney recently bought a club in the English lower leagues, while the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund completed a controversial takeover of Newcastle United. Meanwhile, a founding club of the Premier League, Oldham Athletic, faces relegation into the non-league game after years of mismanagement. Vivienne Nunis asks, is private ownership the best way to run football clubs or is it time for a rethink? Wrexham fan Gareth Davies, Tom Hocking of When Saturday Comes magazine and Maggie Murphy, CEO of Lewes Football Club, join in the discussion.
    (Image: Wrexham FC owner, the actor Ryan Reynolds, attends a red carpet premiere in LA. Credit: Getty)

  • Mexico's cartels are thriving, and finding innovative ways to smuggle drugs across the border into the US, despite law enforcement and the pandemic.

    Ed Butler speaks to Dr Irene Mia of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, who says the closing of borders due to Covid has provided the cartels with a surprising shot in the arm, as they have proved far more adept at keeping their product flowing than many other legitimate international export businesses. Speedboats, tunnels, even catapults have been deployed to get methamphetamine and fentanyl into the US.

    And that's not all. The cartels have diversified, into people smuggling, wildcat mining and crude oil theft among other things, according to the Mexico-based author and journalist Ioan Grillo. And they aren't the only ones. In Brazil, a narcotics gang called First Capital Command has become so powerful that they have effectively replaced the government in some parts of the country, according to Marcos Alan Ferreira of the Federal University of Paraiba.

    (Picture: Mexican Federal Police officers patrol Iguala, Guerrero state, Mexico; Credit: Yuri Cortez/AFP via Getty Images)

  • Demand for beauty tweakments - small changes to your appearance – as opposed to full on face changing plastic surgery, is soaring. Hours spent on video conferencing has forced people to constantly scrutinise their appearance, so what exactly are people having done and how much does it all cost? Elizabeth Hotson speaks to tweakments fan, Eddie Wunderlich, a personal trainer and stylist at the Dop Dop salon in New York and we hear about the importance of appearance at work from Dr Stefanie K. Johnson, an associate professor at the University of Colorado Boulder’s Leeds School of Business. Dr Hazel Mycroft, a senior lecturer in social psychology at the University of Exeter talks through the thought processes of having tweakments done and Elizabeth visits skincare guru Sarah Chapman, in her Skinesis Clinic in London to see what exactly customers want..

    (Photo: LED light treatment,. Credit: Elizabeth Hotson).

    Presenter: Elizabeth Hotson
    Producer: Sarah Treanor

  • On this edition of Business Weekly, we look at the gaming industry’s biggest deal so far, as Microsoft stumps up nearly $69bn to buy Activision Blizzard, the company behind mega-games including Call of Duty and World of Warcraft. We hear how Microsoft wants to increase its slice of the gaming sector. Mobile stock trading apps have been booming in popularity during the pandemic, opening the door to millions of new, often young, or first-time investors. For many in the finance sector it is great news, but there have been questions raised about whether people always know the amount of financial risk they are taking on. Also, we focus on China’s economy, and hear what impact the ‘zero Covid’ policy and approach has made. Plus, we stop and smell the roses of the global flower industry - and follow one supply line from Kenya to Amsterdam to find out how green the sector really is. And as the original Winnie the Pooh book falls out of US copyright, we hear what potential new adventures might be in store for the “bear of very little brain”. Business Weekly is presented by Sasha Twining and produced by Matthew Davies.

  • To some it may sound absurd to consider hairstyles a workplace issue, but for millions of men and women with African and Afro-Caribbean hair, it is just that. For decades, some hairstyles have been discouraged at work. But things are finally starting to change. In 2021 the US Airforce changed its hair code to be more inclusive. We explore the historic racism behind hair-based discrimination and hear from the women who have united to change attitudes and laws. We speak to businesswomen, historians and those in the arts – from the UK, the US and East Africa – to find out what hair has to do with it all anyway.

    Presenter: Vivienne Nunis
    Producer: Sarah Treanor

    This is a repeat of a programme first broadcast on 19 Feb 2021

    (Image credit: Getty)

  • How deep are your pockets? Are they big enough to carry all the things you need? Your money, keys and mobile phone? If you’re a woman, the answer is most likely a no. This little pouch has a lot to say about gender roles and a woman’s right to financial independence. We hear about the great divide in pocket designs that has existed for hundreds of years with Ariane Fennetaux, author of The Pocket: A Hidden History of Women's Lives, 1660–1900. We take a trip to London’s V&A Museum to see how pockets – or a lack of them – led to the billion-dollar handbag industry, and we hear from Indian fashion designer and founder of the Meri Pocket campaign group, Taarini Saraf on the fight for pocket justice. Presented by Vivienne Nunis. Produced by Sarah Treanor. Music used with the kind permission of: @HebontheWeb Image: A women's small jean pocket. Credit: Getty images.

  • “Lying flat” - or tang ping - is a trend among mainly young Chinese to opt out of the rat race and it represents the antithesis of a development model that has delivered extraordinary growth for the country over four decades. The sentiment has been widespread enough to warrant a public condemnation from the President. Xi Jinping.

    Ed Butler hears from "Jeff," a computer developer from Hangzhou, but working in Beijing, who explains why he decided to give up on the Chinese dream in pursuit of a better quality of life. The BBC's China specialist Kerry Allen describes how the trend has developed online and how it has been accelerated by the forced slowdown during the pandemic. And Dr Lauren Johnston, a scholar of Chinese economics with a focus on the demographic shifts, says that both the privileged and the poorer 20 and 30-somethings feel exhausted by the Chinese ultra-competitive world of work and family pressures.

    Producer: Ivana Davidovic

    (Photo: Illustration of the lying flat movement. Credit: Sina Weibo)

  • Mobile trading apps have been booming in popularity, opening the door to millions of new, often young or first time investors. For many in the finance sector it is great news, but questions remain about whether people always know the amount of financial risk they are taking on.

    One criticism in particular is that some of these new platforms look, act and react more like a video game than an investment platform. Is that the essential appeal that attracts new users, or does it just obscure the risks?

    Rob Young speaks to the boss of one of the biggest platforms in this sector, Yoni Assia, the boss of eToro. He hears too from Vicky Bogan, professor at Cornell University’s business school, who studies the "gamification" of finance as well as Professor Erik Gordon, at the University of Michigan's Business School. And Sarah Pritchard from the UK's regulator the Financial Conduct Authority tells Rob about efforts to encourage young users to invest safely, and how protecting them is their priority.

  • The pandemic has been very hard on commercial aviation, but most experts believe the sector will soon be growing again – fast. The BBC's Theo Leggett takes a look at what new technologies are out there. Sandra Bour Schaeffer, Chief Executive of Airbus Upnext, tells him what the aviation giant is planning for the future. Neil Cloughley, from the much smaller Faradair Aerospace, makes the case for why their hybrid-electric technology is the way forward for flying. On the other hand, Blake Scholl of Boom Supersonic says that, two decades after the end of supersonic jet Concorde, it's time for airliners to break the sound barrier once again. But if we want to protect the environment, should we be flying at all? Matt Finch, UK policy director of the Brussels-based lobby group Transport and Environment, says yes - but not quite so often.
    (Image: the ZEROe blended wing body concept, Credit: Airbus)

  • On this edition of Business Weekly, we’re looking at the US inflation rate. It has hit 7% year on year, the largest rise since 1982. Used car prices and food costs are shooting up. We hear from Wells Fargo Economist Sarah Watt House and Gerald Daniels, an Associate Professor of Economics at Howard University who specialises in the economics of inequality.
    The BBC’s Ed Butler looks at the recent protests in Kazakhstan and we have a look inside the UK trials into psychedelic drugs for patients suffering with depression. Plus, we browse the shelves of ultra rare whisky, and hear why, and how, some parts of the Scottish industry are booming. The BBC’s Elizabeth Hotson talks to both keen collectors, and dedicated producers.
    Business Weekly is presented by Sasha Twining and produced by Clare Williamson.

  • It’s just over a year since the UK’s trading relationship with the EU fundamentally changed. So how are small businesses in Britain finding life outside the single market and customs union? The BBC's Vivienne Nunis speaks with chocolate-maker Jacques Cop of Coco Caravan and Kathleen May from the London-based independent publisher, Hurst, as well as Sally Jones, trade strategist at EY. Image: Hand drawing a red line between the UK and the rest of the European Union. Credit: Getty

  • Why can't multinationals like KFC source their ingredients locally? A shortage of fries at KFC restaurants in Kenya has led many to call for a boycott of the chain after it transpired that the company imported all of its potatoes, despite them being abundantly grown in the country. Potatoes are Kenya's second-most consumed crop after maize, and are cultivated mostly by small-scale farmers. As Covid hits global supply chains and words like sustainability and climate gain greater importance, is it time for multinationals to start looking closer to home for their goods? Kathambi Kaaria is a climate change and sustainability advisor in Nairobi and comes from Meru, a potato growing region of Kenya. She told Tamasin Ford that when KFC arrived in the country eleven years ago she tried to supply them potatoes. Leonard Mudachi, the CEO of a Kenyan restaurant management company Branded Restaurants Africa Ltd, said he wasn’t surprised to learn that KFC imports its chips but does think that multinational companies should start scrutinizing how and where they get their produce from. John Quelch is the Dean of the Miami University Herbert Business School in the United States. He told Tamasin that the issue for a major international brand is the quality and consistency of locally sourced produce and that one mistake by one supplier can lead to a massive fallout for the companies.


    (A boy looks at potatoes for sale in a market in the Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya; Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

  • How might the protests shake up the economy, trade and business in the Central Asian nation?

    Ed Butler speaks to Diana Kudaibergenova, a sociology professor at Cambridge University and herself Kazakh, about what motivated the protests, and whether the apparent ouster of former President Nursultan Nazarbayev plus a host of new economic reforms will be enough to appease the protesters.

    But what does all this mean for foreign business interests in the country? Kate Mallinson of Chatham House says many Western oil executives will be having sleepless nights, while Russia's President Vladimir Putin may require an economic dividend for his military help in stabilising the situation.

    And what of Kazakhstan's other giant neighbour, China? Raffaello Pantucci of the Royal United Services Institute says the upheaval has come at a time when many Kazakhs were questioning the seeming one-sidedness of their increasingly close economic ties.

    (Picture: Kazakh security officials stand guard in the aftermath of protests in Almaty; Credit: Pavel Pavlov/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

  • Does the global economy need to start dismantling 'global white privilege'? The Black Lives matter protest movement has focussed lots of attention on racial attitudes in rich western countries. How easy is it for instance, for people of black or Asian heritage to get on the ladder to business success in those countries? But is the economics of what's now called 'white privilege' a global problem too? Ed Butler speaks to Chandran Nair, the founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Global Institute for Tomorrow, an independent think-tank in Hong Kong and the author of ‘Dismantling Global White Privilege: Equity for a Post-Western World’. And also to Lucinda Platt, from the London School of Economics, who has recently written a report for the IFS on the degree of social and economic mobility being achieved among the UK's minority racial and ethnic groups.

  • Psychedelic therapy could provide a major breakthrough in the treatment of mental health disorders like depression, and now it's caught the attention of start-ups and venture capitalists.

    Laurence Knight hears from one man whose life was transformed by a single dose of the drug psilocybin - the psychoactive ingredient in magic mushrooms - after he volunteered for a research project exploring whether it could cure depression. He also visits the research team at King's College London, who have just wrapped up the latest trials of the drug.

    The trials are being sponsored by the healthcare start-up Compass Pathways, and its founder and chief executive George Goldsmith explains why he hopes to use them to bring this therapy to the general public. Plus Amanda Eilian of venture capitalists Able Partners describes how quickly attitudes in the investor community are changing.

    (Picture credit: Getty Images)

  • On this edition of Business Weekly, we’re looking at the tech giant Apple. Its value tipped over the $3 trillion mark on the New York stock
    Exchange at the start of the year. We hear from Dan Ives of Wedbush Securities on possible further avenues of growth for the company.
    We’ll take you to the United States to hear from different communities all hoping to benefit from President Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan. We focus on projects designed to improve the quality of drinking water, and public transport. The BBC’s Will Bain covers examples from Alaska, Michigan and California.
    Plus, we remember the work of the world renowned Kenyan paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey, who died at the start of the year. We hear from Dr Paula Kahumbu who knew him from childhood, and now runs one of the organisations he founded.
    Business Weekly is presented by Sasha Twining and produced by Clare Williamson.

  • Mapping the human genome led to big advances in diagnosing rare disease. But diagnosis is only the first step in dealing with an illness. So what do you do if your child is found to have a condition that has no treatment? We hear from Michelle Teng, a mother who co-founded a biotech firm called SynaptixBio, that is looking to find the world’s first treatment for a rare neurodegenerative disease. Also in the programme, the Chief Medical Officer at Genomics England, Dr Richard Scott, tells us his hopes for the future of genomics medicine. And Dr Segun Fatumo of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, explains why Africa is so important when it comes to genetic research. Presented by Vivienne Nunis and produced by Sarah Treanor. Image: Scientists look at a DNA model. Credit: Getty Images.

  • The rise of electric vehicles could see traditional service stations closing across the planet over the next two decades, and replacing pumps with fast chargers is unlikely to save them.

    Justin Rowlatt speaks to one entrepreneur hoping to profit from the rollout of EV chargers in every home and parking space, Erik Fairbairn of Pod Point. Meanwhile Isabelle Haigh, head of national control at the UK's National Grid, explains why she is confident they can meet the electricity demand from all these new vehicles.

    Across the Atlantic, another entrepreneur - Sanjiv Patel of National Petroleum - says the writing is clearly on the wall for his chain of 25 gas stations in California - but maybe not for a while yet. But could he turn them into restaurants or use them to hold séances? That's the fate of one petrol station in Leeds that is now an arts centre. We hear from its owner, Jack Simpson.

    This is a repeat of an episode first broadcast on 2 June 2021.

    Producer: Laurence Knight

    (Picture: Abandoned gas station along old Route 66 in the California desert; Credit: Lynne Rostochil/Getty Images)