BLOG – Balloon Kenya: One Hell of a Journey

Wednesday’s fire at Nairobi’s airport meant that the tents that they had erected were only able to cope with a small proportion of its normal schedule. This meant that the Balloon Kenya Fellows were sent to various airports across East Africa.

The night before Christmas was the only way to describe the amount of sleep I got prior to travelling to the airport – none. In all fairness it wouldn’t of been a great night’s sleep bearing in mind my alarm was set for 01:45 in order to catch my flight from Heathrow at 06:50.

The first flight left slightly late and was bound for Brussels, a 2 hour wait then saw us join a connection to Kigali, Rwanda’s capital. The flight was again delayed and was sat on the concourse for an hour longer than it should of meaning that we arrived in Uganda’s at gone midnight.

Our first night was spent in a lodge on the shore of Lake Victoria, near Entebbe. We arrived at the hotel at just after 01:00 and were told that an evening meal had been prepared. After eating we got to bed around 02:00 and set an alarm for 04:15 for breakfast before leaving for Kenya by coach at 05:00.

An entourage of 5 coaches were outside the hotel for the 10 hour journey to Nairobi – so we were told. We knew that Nairobi was 3 hours from Nakuru and thought that the journey would take around 7 hours to travel. Having only just crossed the Kenyan border after 7 hours we thought that it might take longer than we were told and arrived at the hotel at gone 21:00.

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However the bubble of the coach allowed me to witness the beauty of both Uganda and Kenya. Uganda notably has better roads for example. I’ll never forget watch the silhouettes of fisherman head out over Lake Victoria on a misty sunrise, it was beautiful!

We passed through Kampala, the capital of Uganda and it couldn’t be compared to our capital. I took note of different things on my journey and I’ll share them with you:

  • Shacks selling everything from bike parts to bananas to toilets, bed frames and coffins line the majority of the roads
  • Packed streets at 7am – Kampala was full of bikes, motorbikes, tuk-tuks and cars
  • A cow on a petrol forecourt
  • Motorbikes with up to 4/5 people on them (some children)
  • A Leicester City shirt in the small Kenyan town of Bungoma
  • People with AK47’s wearing high-vis acting as traffic lights at roadwork’s holding green and red flags

I’ve only been here three days, but I’m loving it!

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BLOG – Balloon Kenya: Hello Uganda!

As you will of probably been aware, yesterday morning Nairobi Airport suffered a major fire in its Arrivals Hall and flight are now bring sent all over East Africa.

Going into my business mode (thanks Bosch for honing this talent) I assessed all the possibilities and spoke to all the different stake holders to assess my options and kept cool.

Initially I spoke with my airline who would not allow me to check into my flight from Brussels to Nairobi as they were unsure of whether or not the flight would be going. A later call confirmed that the flight had been cancelled and that I would have to talk to my travel provider. After talking to numerous people I am now flying from London to Brussels at 06:50 tomorrow, Brussels to Entebbe in Uganda, landing at 11pm, spending a few hours in a hotel before a 5am bus to Nairobi that will take 10 hours.

I instantly googled Entebbe’s location (I didn’t have a clue where it was) and I have noticed the Nakuru (home of Balloon Kenya) is on route to Nairobi, so I hope they will be able to drop me off there! Otherwise the journey will have an extra 6/7 hours added to it as Nairobi is 3 hours past Nakuru.

I tried contacting the Ugandan High Commission when I got home just after 16:00 to find they close at 16:00 and at 16:03 nobody answered. Hopefully they’ll of taken the diversion into account in regards to the visa.

Entebbe’s Airport is on the tip of Lake Victoria so hopefully I’ll get some decent pictures!

Top marks to the Balloon Kenya team who had everything in place for our arrivals in Nairobi, but they have been great help with their contingency planning!

A family BBQ to enjoy and then an early start for Heathrow!

BLOG – Balloon Kenya: Nairobi Airport Fire

Not the greatest news to wake up to, as I leave in the next 48 hours!

Thankfully it looks like no one was hurt so that’s a positive!

If I get stuck it’s likely to be in Brussels as my connection leaves from there – maybe I’ll have a blog about a day in Brussels.

Nairobi Fire

It’ll be interesting from a business perspective how it’ll affect the Kenyan economy. Hopefully not too badly. I hear that cargo flights may resume this afternoon so that’ll help this problem.

BLOG – Balloon Kenya: The Final Countdown

Not a rendition of Europe’s hit from 1986, don’t worry!

3 more sleeps – makes me sound like an excited child counting down for Christmas! 4 if you include Thursday, but with a flight from Heathrow at 06:50 I doubt I’ll get much sleep.

I’ll be taking the 06:50 from Heathrow to Brussels and then taking a flight south to Africa, stopping briefly in Kigali, Rwanda before hoping over Lake Victoria and into Nairobi. There will be nine ‘fellows’ from my project on my flight, so its nice to know that the 14 hour journey will not be taken alone. Our Facebook conversations have been exuberating excitement and it seems as if they are going to be a great bunch to work with.

My playlist for my flight is under construction, with Tinie Tempah’s Trampoline being added yesterday  – I’m sure this will be a huge summer anthem. If anyone has any further suggestions drop me a message! Maybe something that’ll get me into a Kenyan vibe.

I was fortunate to be sponsored by my local Rotary Club (1070 Soar Valley) who have set up their own page for their Rotarians to follow my progress: http://www.rotary-ribi.org/clubs/page.php?PgID=387283&ClubID=448. Their current President Graham has been a great help with not only the funding but offering words of advice to working with different cultures. Over the past few weeks we have been trying to make contact with the Rotary Club in Nakuru and last week we made a link and I have been invited to look at their projects in the community.

As a proud Carlisle United supporter I was interested in looking at the Kenyan football system. After a few tweets (@djgarlick) I have made contact with the CEO of Nakuru Allstars, who play in the second tier of Kenyan football. I have been invited to watch their lads train and watch them play in the league, with a promise of one of their shirts. I’m excited to meet with them and discuss their squad development and their plans for the future.

Nakuru Allstars

 

Hopefully I shall be able to catch one of the Directors of Rockstar Youth this week, as we keep missing each others calls. Rockstar are the largest mentoring and funding organisation for young entrepreneurs in the UK and I know that their Director has worked in Africa. It’ll be good to talk to him about Balloon Kenya and also the plans for Sheffield Business School’s Enterprise Society, which I’ll be on the committee for next year.

Finally an e-mail from the Head of Business at University wants me to share the experience with the Business School and to the new students starting in September ‘to show what you can do when you put your mind to it!’.

My next post will probably be from a few thousand miles away.

Strap in! I’m sure it’ll be a bumpy journey from Nairobi to Nakuru!

 

BLOG – Balloon Kenya: Road to Kenya

With my trip to Kenya being under three weeks away I thought it best that I share a blog on my journey so far, which started in late February 2013.

Having earned an industrial placement with Bosch in June 2012, I was looking to continue to gain business exposure through the summer break before returning to Sheffield Business School in September 2013. Ideally I was looking to jump onto a large company’s summer insight scheme in London. However when looking through the various job sights I came across the Balloon Kenya Project.

Balloon Kenya select 48 students each summer (24 in June and 24 in August) to travel to Nakuru, Kenya to work with entrepreneurs to empower them to start their own business and lift their communities out of poverty. After a week in their intense Entrepreneurs School the volunteers then spend five weeks working with young Kenyans who dream of starting their own businesses. The last weekend sees the entrepreneurs pitch for micro-finance.

Balloon Kenya: http://www.BalloonKenya.com

Balloon Kenya Video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=czQm3KJkC7s

Kenyan Flag

I could see a direct correlation between both what I had been doing on placement and my course at University (BA (Hons) Business Studies) and therefore was attracted to apply in late February. The application form had a focus around the qualities that you could bring to the project, your compatibility to working in a team and with others, what you considered to be your greatest achievement and a short CV. I looked at my seven year journey with the Air Training Corps, the experiences I had gained from working for Bosch and my degree, my Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award and my time as the Lord Lieutenants Cadet for Leicestershire. A competency and situation based interview followed before I received an e-mail whilst on an exercise bike to say I’d been successful.

Having saved £1,000 I calculated that it would cost me a further £2,000 to make it from Leicestershire to the Rift Valley. My drive and opportunities of the project compelled me to raise the £2,000 required.

The first place I headed for was the doctors and found out that I would need nine vaccinations before heading out to Africa – which isn’t ideal when you’re not a fan of needles. I am now vaccinated against Rabies, Yellow Fever and both Hepatitis’ and didn’t faint in the process!

In early April I met with Loughborough MP, Nicky Morgan to discuss the project and get some ideas on how to approach my fund raising. Nicky and her assistant, Jane Hunt had prepared a number of different pieces on ways of funding and where to gain further information on business in Kenya. Nicky spent half an hour in her surgery talking to me and pointed me in the right direction which was a good help. The Leicester Mercury and the Loughborough Echo took an interest and both published articles in their newspapers.

Leicester Mercury article: http://tinyurl.com/l53vk8o

Following the talks with Nicky I was lucky to gain sponsorship from Leicestershire based charities the Sir Andrew Martin Trust for Young People, The Clarke and Summerville Foundation and the Soar Valley Rotary Club. I shall be exchanging the Rotary Clubs pendant with their fellow Rotarians in Africa and it was great to be able to meet with them, as they offered advice on working abroad and in Kenya. They all helped me towards my goal and I really appreciated it!

Nicky Morgan, MP for Loughborough has been highly supportive with my Balloon Kenya Project. Nicky Morgan, MP for Loughborough has been highly supportive with my Balloon Kenya Project.

Before heading to New York for my 21st birthday I heard that my Cousin, Michael Londra would be running in Concerns Spring Run to raise money for their work in poverty stricken countries. I jumped at the chance to join him on the 6km run in Central Park and I now look forward to seeing how their money is spent in Kenya when I visit one of their programmes. Michael’s small team ranked highest in the sponsorship table, which was a great achievement due to the 1,500 competitors!

Michael and I in Central Park Michael and I in Central Park

I opened talks with the University whilst I was in New York. I initially contacted the Head of Business Studies and also my placement tutor to see if the University would be able to help me in anyway. The University said that nothing was currently in place for this type of activity and I thought that it was dead in the water until I got an email from Hallam’s Student Union. The email came from the Student Development Unit who said that I may be entitled to apply for their Innovation Award that has been set up to help students working on social enterprise projects. After a number of telephone conversations with Vanessa Marshall at the Union and their application form I was granted the Innovation Award which really helped me close in on my target amount. I got the chance to go up to Sheffield a few weeks ago to discuss the project with the Union and it was great to meet up with them and talk about how I can help them in my final year.

Carlisle United Football Club added an article to their website entitled ‘Show Us Your Colours’ encouraging fans to send in pictures of fans in their shirts around the world for use in their programme. I’d spoken to somebody who said that he had seen lots of retro Manchester United shirts on a visit to Kenya. I had a brainwave and e-mailed the club to see if they would be able to send out a bag of shirts to Lalwat – a small village on the outskirts of Nakuru. Unfortunately they were unable to help as they had given many tops to ‘Kits4Causes’.

Away from the fund raising I wanted to gain a greater understanding of Kenya, its culture and its economy. I have also been reading up about the ‘Canvas Model’ for business planning, which is used in the programme. Fortunately my network allowed me to talk a number of different people. One of Volvo Cars Vice Presidents in Sweden and I had a good talk about working within different cultures and how to approach them. I had a long conversation with my Managing Director at Bosch about using the experience to develop me personally and how it would help in the future. Former Apprentice finalist Nick Holzherr also put me in contact with somebody that had worked on projects in Africa, who gave me some really good advice on what to expect about the business culture. The Business Show in June held in London also allowed me to speak face to face with people who had worked in Kenya. Using their hashtags on Twitter allowed me to capture the attention of people who were also attending the event.

Following the Business Show at Excel I managed to grab a telephone call with one of their headline speakers, Brad Burton. The highly motivational Brad managed to get a couple of hundred suit wearing people off their chairs and going mental when he took to the stage, even if it was for a copy of his book (Amazon search him – great read!). Brad and I spoke about motivating people in the classroom to ensure that their heart was set on the right project and to make sure they understood the problems that they could face.

I hope that my experience in Kenya will help me in my final year of studies and when I become the Finance Director for Sheffield Business School’s Enterprise Society, giving fellow students an insight into entrepreneurial spirit abroad. On my return I shall be working with the Student Development Unit to run workshops on social enterprise and international business and also with the Business School as a Mentor for those seeking a sandwich year, similar to what I did at Bosch.

Flights booked, Malarone prescribed and Visa accepted, now just the long 18 day wait until flight SN2104 to Brussels, before heading south to Nairobi.

Online Articles:

Sheffield Hallam University: http://tinyurl.com/pvfq6st

Leicester Mercury: http://tinyurl.com/l53vk8o

Bury Free Press: http://tinyurl.com/mm2p6x3

Syston Town News: http://tinyurl.com/kvt5vry

Special mention to my sponsors:

Sir Andrew Martin Trust for Young People

Clarke and Somerville Foundation

Soar Valley Rotary Club

Sheffield Hallam Students Union

Sovereign Wealth Advisory

Binotto UK

And thanks to all my individual sponsors too!

BLOG – Balloon Kenya: What is Balloon Kenya?

Balloon Kenya brings young people from around the world to Kenya to work with budding local entrepreneurs to imagine and create new businesses that provide jobs and improve lives.

Working with and investing in Kenyan men and women from disadvantaged backgrounds we empower local people to defeat poverty through business, not aid.

How It Works

How It Works

1) LEARN: Balloon Kenya recruits young people from across the world (Enterprise Fellows) to complete an intensive week-long programme in business design, developed with leading entrepreneurship educators and 100s of young people.

2) SHARE: Fellows then work for 5 weeks with budding Kenyan entrepreneurs, leading classes and supporting groups to devise, develop and test new business ideas.

3) PITCH: On the last weekend groups present their business ideas to our Microfinance Fund and Balloon Kenya invest in the best ideas. Last year they invested £4880 in 20 start-up businesses. This year they will invest £15,000 in 75 businesses.

2012 Impact

Impact

GLOBAL IMPACT:

Fellows joined Balloon Kenya from India, Israel, Germany, the US, England and Kenya.
They returned home to:
-Start businesses x3
-Teach social enterprise x4
-Work for charities x3
-Get other great jobs or continue their studies

KENYAN IMPACT:

Balloon Kenya invested in a huge range of businesses:
-Fish farm
-Doughnut shop
-Child care
-Gym
-Courier Service

2013 Plans

In Summer 2013 Balloon Kenya will bring 48 young people (24 June and 24 in August) from around the world to Kenya to work with over 1,000 local budding Kenyan entrepreneurs and invest over £15,000 in at least 200 start-up businesses.

http://www.BalloonKenya.com – to find out more.

ARTICLE – Balloon Kenya: Student Set to Help Business ‘Balloon’ in Kenya – Sheffield Hallam University Article

A Sheffield Hallam University student will join a team of young business moguls from across the world to help budding entrepreneurs in Kenya turn their ideas into reality.

Third-year business undergraduate, Dan Garlick, will fly to Nakuru in August after being specially chosen to be part of the ‘Balloon Kenya’ scheme by its organisers. Once there, he will join 24 other students in their quest to fight poverty by helping to introduce new business ventures.

Dan, 21, and his international team will spend six weeks working with local Kenyans to inspire, encourage and support them in developing their own business ideas that will help to lift their local economy.

They will complete an intensive one week entrepreneurship and social innovation programme followed by five weeks collaborating with groups of young Kenyans to devise, develop and finally, launch new businesses.

Dan, originally from Sileby near Loughborough, is currently on work placement with Bosch. After completing a lengthy application form followed by an interview which assessed his ability to handle potentially difficult situations, he was chosen to be a part of this year’s cohort.

He said: “I was keen on travelling this summer after my placement and I had initially looked at going to Thailand for a month, but after I saw this programme I changed my mind. As Balloon Kenya has a direct correlation to my course I thought that it’d be another chance to build on my CV and help other people in the process.

“The graduate market is getting increasingly competitive and hopefully this will benefit my final year studies. I think it’ll open my eyes too as the culture will be totally different to here.This is a really exciting opportunity and I can’t wait to go.”

ARTICLE – Balloon Kenya: Local Student Wins Place on Enterprising Kenya Project – Leicester Mercury Article

A business student from Sileby has been chosen to take part in a global scheme in Kenya this summer.

Dan Garlick, 21, will join 24 other students from all over the world to help Kenyan entrepreneurs set up businesses as part of the Balloon Kenya programme.

“I will be there for six weeks and I will team up with students from Vietnam, China, America and Germany to name a few,” he said.

“The programme is based in Nakuru, Kenya and aims to empower local people to fight poverty through enterprise rather than aid.

“I’m working for Bosch on placement while doing my degree in Sheffield and I saw this and thought it was a great opportunity to do something different that still had real relevance to my course and at the same time would help me learn some life skills.

“We’ll be training at first and acclimatising and then we’ll work with local entrepreneurs and help them to develop their ideas before, at the end of the six weeks, helping them pitch for finance .

“Essentially, we’ll be helping them with their presentations to pitch for micro-finance that will enable them to start up their own businesses.”

Dan is a former pupil of Redlands Primary School in Sileby and former student at both Humphrey Perkins School in Barrow and Rawlins Community College in Quorn.

He was also a member of Air Cadets and achieved his Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award with them, as well as being made the Lord Lieutenant’s Cadet for the county.

To make the trip, he has already saved £1,000 but wants to raise another £2,000 before he heads to Africa in August.

“I’m thinking of setting up an email account for people who want to help support me to donate and of course people can call me too,” he added.

Among those supporting Dan is Loughborough MP Nicky Morgan, who commented: “I am thrilled that Dan has earned a place on this programme.

“He will be an inspiration to young Kenyans who want to become young entrepreneurs.

“I’m sure he will reach his target of raising £2,000, and I wish him all the luck in the world with his endeavours,” she added.

ARTICLE – Balloon Kenya: Bosch’s Dan to Help Young Kenyans Start in Business – Bury Free Press Article

Business studies student Dan Garlick will be using his qualifications to help set up young Kenyans in business.

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Dan, who lives in Stowmarket where he is on a placement with Bosch, has earned a place on a charity project called Balloon Kenya which takes qualified youngsters there to help young entrepreneurs.

They help identify ideas that deserve backing.

Dan said: “ You can them food, but this makes them self-sufficient It has a direct correlation with my course. It gives me a chance to use my qualifications.”

To go in June he had to pass a series of interviews and has to raise £2,000 to cover his food and accomodation as well as the enterprises the charity backs.