England Week 2

Hey! I’m Helen Sheng, the last of the three Mobell interns with Tyler and Eric in Staffs, England. Two weeks ago, I was plopped down into the small, charming town of Hednesford (pronounced HENCE-ford) to help launch and market Mobell’s newest products—Mobal Freedom (a phone service for US travelers) and CascAID (Charity and Social Commerce Aid), with a specific focus on the latter.

Library

Library of Birmingham

A day in the office…

CascAID is an ambitious new nonprofit project that is designed to raise money for Krizevac, a charity in Malawi funded by approximately 90% of Mobal’s profits. Unlike most traditional charities, Krizevac believes in “hand ups, not hand outs,” encouraging education and social enterprise in Malawi. Rather than simply sending money or supplies, their work has managed to put hundreds of Malawians to work, and thousands of kids in school. CascAID, then, is a new charity phone service that helps fund Krizevac’s work while also helping raise awareness and even money for nonprofit organizations across the United States.

Unfortunately, due to a number of complications, the launch of both Mobal Freedom and CascAID have been pushed back several months. However, that does give us a bit a flexibility to explore other areas of Mobell, from going down to the Krizevac warehouse to helping research and update Mobell’s satellite phone service and world sims. Unlike a traditional internship with strict requirements and hand-holding, Mobell has given us difficult, open-ended challenges and the freedom to explore and develop solutions.

007

A group of new graduates in Malawi, thanks to the Krizevac project.

Tony

I’d like to take a moment to introduce Tony, our Mobell CEO and a true entrepreneur (one of these days I’ll get a picture). His story is quite a long and unconventional one (I’ll attempt to brief here).

Before being a business own, Tony was quite an unremarkable man with a mediocre education and no real business experience. One day in a pub, he, the shortest man there, was approached by another Tony, the tallest man there. Thus began a lifelong friendship between Little Tony (the tall one) and Big Tony (the short one). Little Tony would also be the mentor that led Big Tony to start, own, and co-own an eclectic collection of businesses from a rental business called Torrent in the very beginning, to manufacturing humidifiers, to writing risk assessments for insurance brokers. Today he owns Mobell (and all its smaller branches) to Paragon Projection, a plasma screen rental company. Though he didn’t know much about any of those areas when he first began, Tony has a knack of identifying a niche and a need in a certain market and an enthusiasm for business.

England

Winding path

A lovely winding trail in Hednesford leading to….Tesco.

As I’ve mentioned, Hednesford is…Small. I could probably walk all the way across it without complaining (much). So, here are a few generalizations about the whole of England, but mostly gathered from experiences in Hednesford and its surroundings.

  1. They drive on the wrong side of the road.
  2. They are very friendly and polite—In the mornings, there is a small chorus of “morning’s” and “y’alright’s” for every person that enters the building. And they also tend to be quite curious about America—last week, I had a long and enthusiastic conversation about war, charity, the environment, education, healthcare, and the shortfalls of American and British politics.
  3. They drink a LOT of tea. They drink tea in the morning. They drink tea before work. They drink tea during breaks. They drink tea when they are miserable, and when it’s raining. They tea drink at lunch and dinner. They drink tea after lunch and dinner. In fact, some of them call dinner “tea” instead of “dinner.”
  4. With all that said, it’s not really that different from America.

Anyway, stay tuned, I still have 6 weeks to go!

Pictures!

Museum

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

Fish and Chips!

Fish and Chips!

Street artist 2

Street artist in Birmingham

I’m drinking tea now.

By Helen Sheng.

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