work with African entrepreneurs to grow businesses that change lives
Balloon ICS is a once in a lifetime volunteering opportunity funded by UK Government and led by VSO.
After training in the UK and fundraising for the programme, you'll spend 12 weeks in Uganda or Kenya working with local entrepreneurs to launch exciting businesses that create jobs and improve lives. You will then return to the UK inspired and create 'Action at Home'.
Join one of the first ever international programmes to bring together entrepreneurs, youth volunteers and microfinance to positively change lives.
Meet your team of 10 UK volunteers and 10 local volunteers
Complete the Balloon Enterprise Curriculum developed with leading entrepreneurs and experts from across the world
You'll learn the key entrepreneurial tools and approaches covering topics like customer development, lean startup, design thinking and the business model canvas
Training is fun and hands-on, getting you into the community to design a vending machine or create a new brand for a local shoe seller
Don't worry if you don't have prior business experience, we'll give you everything you need to do a great job
Week 9 is home to a Dragon's Den style pitching event. Each entrepreneur will have 30 minutes to present their idea and answer questions in front of an expert pitching panel
You will prepare your entrepreneurs to pitch for investment by working with them to build a funding proposal full of the evidence and learnings of the previous weeks
Post-pitch you will join the expert panel to carry out due diligence on the entrepreneurs and their ideas and collect further information
At the end of this week, with your input, around 50% of the entrepreneurs will receive funding
For the final period of the programme you'll support the successful entrepreneurs to implement their business ideas
This might involve helping to launch new products, initiating marketing strategies and generally putting the plans in action
You will also help plan future strategy for growth to ensure that your impact in East Africa is sustainable and continues long after you leave
Through this process in just 12 weeks you will experience the entire startup journey from ideation through the implementation. This will give you a unique insight and skillset to take back to the UK
Immerse yourself into East African life, staying with host families, experiencing a new culture and working side by side with teams of local volunteers and micro-entrepreneurs
Gain impressive business skills and experiences that employers and investors value highly, setting you up for whatever comes next in life
Have a real development impact, launching businesses that will continue to grow and create jobs for years to come
200 UK volunteers
200 in-country volunteers
£200,000 of investment
April and Verena worked with John to scale his potato growing venture and Balloon Ventures invested in him to double his output.
But John also has big ambitions in the bio- fuel industry. After selling charcoal for many years he realised that current approaches are not sustainable. With the help of our Fellows he developed detailed plans and secured external funding for a pro-environmental alternative.
Mama Glo lost her job in 2010 and began cooking to provide for her 3 children. When we met her she had a small business delivering packed lunches to 10-15 people in Nakuru Town.
Our volunteers worked with her to identify new customers, market the product better and win new orders. By the end of the programme she had more than tripled her customers, now delivering over 50 lunches each day! We funded her to open a second kitchen in town to grow her business further.
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