ARTICLE – Balloon Kenya: Out in Africa, Advising Its Entrepreneurs – Leicester Mercury Article

In January this year, mid way through a Finance Placement with German giants Bosch, I began to look at ways I could spend my summer. Many of my friends were heading to the Balearic’s for an alcohol fuelled summer, but I wanted to do something different that would help with my final year of University and also with the ever increasing competition in the graduate market. Whilst applying for internships with major banks I stumbled upon Balloon Kenya, a project based in Nakuru, Kenya that works with entrepreneurs in Africa’s fastest growing city. After an initial application form asking what I could bring to the programme and why I wanted to travel to Kenya I received a telephone interview. The interview was competency and situation based, asking how I would deal with certain problems in Kenya. Whilst on a treadmill I received an e-mail to say that I’d been selected to travel to Kenya to participate in the August programme.

Balloon Kenya was founded by recent graduates Josh Bicknell and Doug Cochrane in 2011. Josh travelled to Kenya in 2008 and based his Masters Degree dissertation on the political violence that the country had faced and witnessed a strong entrepreneurial spirit despite the struggles. Having struggled to find graduate employment themselves they headed to Kenya with six students (Fellows) from across the world in 2011. They had put together a syllabus for Fellows to teach to groups of Kenyans based around Osterwalder Business Model Canvas and also used small, but effective business principles such as Gross Profit Margins and Cash Flow Statements. The program has grown substantially and in 2013 sent 54 students to Kenya over two separate programmes and received over 400 applications, working with over 200 Kenyan entrepreneurs.

I’d saved over £1,000 from my placement year, I needed to raise a further £2,500 to be able to attend, however this target did not frighten me as I was determined that I’d be on a flight to Kenya. I was fortunate to be awarded the Innovation Award from Sheffield Hallam Student Union and also grants from Leicestershire the Andrew Martin Trust for Young People, the Soar Valley Leicester Centre and the Clarke and Somerville Foundaion. I also had full support from Loughborough MP, Nicky Morgan, who worked with me to reach my target.

I woke on the Wednesday, two days prior to leaving for Kenya, to see that Jomo Kenyatta Airport was ablaze. I kept cool and managed to re-arrange my flight to Entebbe, Uganda. Upon arrival in Uganda we were informed that we needed to take a seven hour bus journey to Nakuru, sixteen hours later we arrived at our destination. Although the bus journey took a while it allowed me to watch East Africa pass by the window, giving me my first encounter of poverty from the safety of the bus.

Although the first week of the programme was classroom based we spent very little time sitting down. We spent time sticking Post-It’s to walls and going out talking to Kenyans on the street. This is how they wanted us to deliver the program to Kenyan entrepreneurs, seeing us facilitate rather than lead. We didn’t want to force ideas into their heads, but encourage them to think outside the box. Steering them away from the ‘copy cat culture’ which see streets full of people offering the same products or services.

Weeks two and three saw me and a partner begin classroom sessions, working with two groups, consisting of eleven Kenyans in total. They had varying businesses from fruit stalls, shoe shops, Boda-Boda (Motorbike) transport service and another wanted to start an affordable recording studio. They all want to grow their businesses and improve their standard of living, as some earn as little as two pounds per day. Each of the two groups received ten hours of tuition over the first two weeks.

Testing and continued market research followed in week four and the beginning of week five. Armed with questionnaires the entrepreneurs took to the streets of Nakuru to gain opinions on their current service and their proposed change to see what their consumer would like. We also arranged meetings with people who had experience in the field they were venturing into.

Two days before my departure the individuals pitched for a micro-finance fund at Balloon Kenya’s partner Hope and Vision, who provide support for Nakuru based entrepreneurs. Each of them came out with huge smiles and said that even if they did not receive the investment, they felt that the education delivered would help them improve in business.

Balloon Kenya delivers welcoming news from Kenya, as the country has recently been at the centre of media attention. I am pleased that I have been able to attend a programme which has allowed me to work with people who may not be as fortunate as we are, but still have enormous smiles on their faces.

I now return to Sheffield Business School as the Finance Director of the Enterprise Society. Hoping to bring the Kenyan entrepreneurial spirit to the students of Sheffield. Away from my studies I shall be trying my hardest to attain a graduate position in either Consultancy or Finance, relating the skills I gained in Kenya to positions.

VIDEO – Balloon Kenya: Sheffield Hallam University ‘Global Graduates’ Presentation – Video

On Tuesday I had the pleasure to speak at the ‘Global Graduates’ event at Sheffield Hallam University.

The event saw students give presentations on extra-curricular activities that they had participated in all around the world.

I was invited to talk about my recent trip to Kenya. Apologies for the sounds quality:

 

ARTICLE – Balloon Kenya: Sheffield Student’s Advice Helps Businesses Blossom – Sheffield Star Article

Entrepreneurs in Kenya could see their businesses taking off – thanks to support from a Sheffield Hallam University student.

Dan Garlick, a final year business studies student, visited the Kenyan town of Nakuru as part of the global Balloon Kenya scheme.

The 21-year-old was one of 24 students from across the world picked to take part.

He spent six weeks working with a group of 11 local entrepreneurs whose businesses ranged from clothing stores and fruit stalls to shoe shops and motorbike transport services, while another wanted to start an affordable recording studio.

“They all wanted to grow their businesses and improve their standard of living, as some earned as little as £2 per day,” said Dan.

“We wanted to steer them away from the copy-cat culture that you see over there with stalls on every street selling exactly the same products.”

Dan later had the task of preparing his class to pitch their business proposals in a bid for funding.

http://www.thestar.co.uk/news/business/sheffield-student-s-advice-helps-businesses-blossom-1-6128055

ARTICLE – Balloon Kenya: Student Helps Business Balloon in Kenya – Sheffield Hallam University Article

Entrepreneurs in Kenya have had their business prospects boosted thanks to support from a Sheffield Hallam University student.

Dan Garlick, a final-year business studies student, spent the summer in the Kenyan town of Nakuru where he provided valuable business advice to local traders.

The 21-year-old from Loughborough, was one of 24 students from across the world picked to take part in the global Balloon Kenya scheme.

He spent six weeks working with a group of 11 local entrepreneurs all of whom had businesses ranging from clothing stores, fruit stalls, shoe shops and motorbike transport service while another wanted to start an affordable recording studio.

“They all wanted to grow their businesses and improve their standard of living, as some earned as little as £2 per day,” said Dan.

“Some had little concept of basic business principles like profit margins or cash-flow systems so we spent the first fortnight in the classroom getting them to think outside of the box and look at ways they could improve their businesses. It was important that we were there to be facilitators rather than leaders in this project and we wanted to steer them away from the copy-cat culture that you see over there with stalls on every street selling exactly the same products.”

In the latter part of the project, Dan had the task of preparing his cohort to pitch their business proposals in a bid for funding from the scheme’s partner organisation, Hope and Vision.

“One of my proudest moments was seeing them all blossom in confidence, in particular, Jackson. He was 44 and had a wife and four children and he sold suits for women. He was so shy at the beginning and lacked confidence. He only focused on selling suit jackets and skirts but after some encouragement, I got him thinking about increasing his stock and he became really driven. He came out of his pitch with the biggest smile on his face so I really hope he gets the funding.”

Dan is now back in Sheffield but his Balloon Kenya experience has resulted in the University’s Students Union providing part-funding for two places on next year’s scheme.

http://www.shu.ac.uk/mediacentre/student-helps-business-balloon-kenya

BLOG – Balloon Kenya: The Penultimate Week – ‘1, 2, 3 Testing, Testing’

So we’re just finishing the penultimate week, how time flies! We are currently in the final stages of our testing, finding out whether there is a demand for the area that our students want to delve into if they are given a loan. I’ve been struggling to find time to hit the keyboard and write a blog.

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Each of my eleven Entrepreneurs has received four class room lessons which have been supported by individual meetings with myself and either Luke or Hannah, depending on which group I’m working with. Many hours have been spent drinking coffee deliberating over business plans or out on the street talking to people to see what people want and what competition exists.

The two groups I am working with are called CityNaks, who are based in the Freehold area of Nakuru and Hope and Vision Youth, who are in the heart of the city. I have been impressed by all of the members and have put some of them forward to become ‘Master Trainers’ which will see them teach the Balloon syllabus to fellow Kenyans in January – similar to what I have been working on with them.

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So from fruit barrows to recording studios, motorbikes to shoe sellers my time in Kenya is nearly up. There’s a lot of work to cram into the next nine days before my flight back to the UK, with my groups concluding their testing and research before their pitches next Friday and Saturday.

Hopefully some of them will be invested in! However many have said that even if they do not receive their investment they feel they will be able to improve their business due to the training they have received from myself, Hannah and Luke, which is really nice to hear. I have already been asked four times today about the next time I shall be visiting Kenya.

BLOG – Balloon Kenya: Hope and Vision

In a packed alley that running parallel with Nakuru’s High Street you will find an army of young entrepreneurs. You can find shoes, photocopiers, second hand clothes, tailors and fruit salad sellers in this tightly packed row. Small talk of the English Premier League can be heard, with the different sellers challenging one and other about their favourite team. All of the members in Kenyatta Line are members  of the Best Run Youth Society in Kenya, Hope and Vision Youth Sacco, Balloon Kenya’s partner.

The six founding members were all refused loans and in 2003 decided to start a co-operative, with each of the founders contributing 1,000 KSH (£7.50) a month to their fund. As the number of members increased, as did the funding pot, with loans given on trust and character.

Now in 2013 the group has over 140 members from across Nakuru from varying diciplines. With a repayment rate of 97% the Sacco has proved to be a great success.

Mostly aged between 20 and 30 the members pay a 2,600 KSH (£19.50) joining fee and follow this up with a 1,500 KSH contribution per month to the Hope and Vision Pot. They offer 10 different loan products and are currently looking into home and health insurance packages for their members. Members are charged much lower interest rates than those offered by banks and micro-financing companies.

Balloon Kenya joined forces with Hope and Vision in 2011. Hope and Vision vet the groups before the fellows arrive and provide ongoing support after the Balloon Kenya team has departed.

The community spirit from the group is evident, with members watching each others stalls whilst they attend our training sessions and long may this continue.

BLOG – Balloon Kenya: Marshmallow Challenge – Video

18 minutes. 18 strands of spaghetti. 1 marshmallow and 1 meter of sticky tape provide the resources for one of the most well known team building exercises, The Marshmallow Challenge.

The first task for me during the introduction to the task was to describe what a marshmallow was, as they are relatively unknown here in Kenya.

The challenge is heavily used within team building and I was first introduced to it during my time in the Air Training Corps, to improve communication skills within a team.

There are several instructions that each team must follow:

  • Build the tallest freestanding structure
  • The entire marshmallow must be on top – the marshmallow cannot be sliced and used to hold the spaghetti together
  • The team can use as much or as little as possible of the given resources
  • Break the spaghetti and tape – the teams are allowed to break both of these resources
  • The team has eighteen minutes to build their structure

Over the past week I have given the task to two separate groups, delivering it to ten people in total. The two sessions we have delivered this week have been based around the Business Model Canvas, the ‘River of Business’ showing the route we shall be taking over the next five weeks and then the Marshmallow Challenge and problems that they could face.

One problem the majority of the groups faced was that their structures flopped after the eighteen minutes and we used this to tie in with the ‘River’ that we had been teaching. It has been proven that children have the greatest amount of success in that they have standing structures after the time. The main reason is because they test their structure using the marshmallow at a number of heights, whereas older groups over think the structure and don’t touch the marshmallow until the end.

We used the example of the children using the marshmallow throughout and related it to how we wanted the groups to work over our five weeks. We used the marshmallow in two senses, one pretending that it was the entrepreneurs’ consumer and they should look after them from day one and then used it to describe the risk of their projects.

In regards to risk I described that it would be better for them to test their ideas at regular intervals at differing heights. Using the marshmallow on a structure with a low height, using low resources would allow them to see if the idea would be worth taking to the next level. In their businesses it is important to use their resources as effectively as possible to see whether or not their idea which they are going to pitch for is viable, as in Kenya resources are limited in comparison to the UK.

I am going to try and test the entrepreneurs again in the coming weeks with the same challenge to see if they have learnt from their mistakes and use this to relate the overcoming problems.

BLOG – Balloon Kenya: The Wait is Over – Group Reveal

The wait is over. 10 days into our Africa adventure our partners and the groups that we shall be working with have been revealed. It’s a bit like the X Factor contestants waiting to find out who their mentor is.  Each fellow shall work with two other fellows and two groups of Kenyan entrepreneurs, starting lessons tomorrow (Wednesday).

The fellows shall be working with the groups for the next five weeks, creating ideas, testing them and then preparing them to pitch for micro-finance. Two 3 hour classroom sessions per group shall be supported by a similar amount of time out with the entrepreneurs developing their businesses.

I have been paired with Hannah and Luke, who are both great and I’m looking forward to working with them.

Luke is a bit of a joker and is currently studying Business at Plymouth University. A local haggler refers to him as ‘Rugby’ due to his regular trips to the gym. Hannah studies Social Care and Health Studies at Northampton, so it’ll be interesting to work with someone from a different educational background.

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Luke and I shall be working with a group called CityMax Entrepreneurs who are a group of 3 men and 2 women, based south of the city. We have been given a profile for them, however we haven’t for our second group – Hope and Vision Youth that I shall be working on with Hannah.

CityMax have varying business ideas, some with existing business and some ready to break into the entrepreneurial bubble. We require a Swahili facilitator which could make the lessons interesting, but both Luke and I step up to the challenge. Three of the group are currently clothing vendors in Nakuru, one has a fresh fruit stand, with another wanting to start his own recording studio.

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I am currently sat planning tomorrows session by the pool at the Marika Hotel with sun coming out – bliss. We plan to work through a timeline of the entrepreneurs life as a starter, looking at their education, work experiences and projects they have started and we shall then get them to talk through it. The introduction to the Business Model Canvas shall follow, going through the 9 seperate stages and getting the group to work on an example that they can relate to. The ‘River of Business’ which shall run through our 5 weeks with the groups to conclude.

The wait is over, this is what we are here for, can’t wait to get stuck in!

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.