This week on World Stories, tradition meets the modern age. Brazil is a world leader in franchising of all kinds, whether fast food or car rentals. Fast food and sweets are replacing the traditional Bedouin meat-and-rice diet and causing diabetes in Qatar. Liberian journalist Wade Williams takes a stand against social injustice, and in Bulgaria, older women take up cheerleading to stay fit.
Franchising is one of Brazil’s most successful business models, with well over 60,000 locations combined for some 2300 franchise companies, 97% of which are of Brazilian origin. It works just as well for products or services, whether Middle Eastern fast food or car rentals. The potential for rapid expansion helps to drive an already swiftly moving national economy.
Prosperity brought fast food and sweets to the Arab Gulf nations and supplanted the traditional meat-and-rice-based Bedouin diet. Now a staggering 20% of Qatar's population of 215,000 suffer from diabetes, compared with some 5% worldwide. The Qatari government has responded with a campaign to determine a person’s susceptibility via genetic analysis.
An essential element of Hindu marriages is conch bangles. Traditionally, they are slipped onto a bride’s arms during the ceremony much like the wedding ring that bridal couples place on each other’s fingers in other cultures. Around one hundred families in the Natore District of Bangladesh have making and selling them for generations.
Mercy Womeh is 18 years old and earns money for her school fees breaking rocks in a quarry day after day. An article about her fate and that of countless other Liberian women won journalist Wade Williams a 2013 German Development Media Award, which she travelled to Berlin to collect. She has braved death threats and more to expose social injustices in her country.
Five years ago, a group of female athletes past their prime founded the "Health" Sports Club in the Black Sea port of Varna. Now they're a known all over Bulgaria as the grand-cheerleaders, who perform complete with pom-poms. They’re often asked to open major sporting events around the country. They stay fit and healthy, have fun, socialize - and win awards and accolades.